Romantic or erotic love is about the body feeling good, whereas transcendent love involves a giving up of the self or self-interest. If the focus of your attention is on birth, life and death, and events contained therein, you probably tend either to idealize or denigrate the conditions of everyday existence. There is an expectance or desire for fulfillment within the confines of the flesh. This is the illusion, the propaganda of the ego, where the mind tries to persuade the heart to be identified with what is transitory. For a person of some depth, self-fulfillment invariably results in compromise or stalemate, or a kind of ennui.
Any yet we find ourselves committed to it as if there was some ultimate purpose in it, as if it was at some point, going to become self-fulfilling, absolute or ultimate, or as if it was that way to begin with. This idealizing of physical events and material existence happens both individually and collectively.
To be aware of the bodily is to be aware of duality. There is no singleness to it, for it is all paired, positive and negative. Ordinary existence is necessarily about duality, conditional existence and mortal body-mind concerns. Whatever is proposed in one moment is always countered in the next (duality arguing with itself). This is not to imply that it is all abstract or negative, or mere suffering. But bliss is only abiding when it leads beyond the self.
Conditional existence is a duality, a play of opposites, seeming happiness is fleeting, you get a taste of what you think to be desirable, and then it is gone. That is why some traditions say that life is suffering which leaves us yearning for a more abiding reality. Mystical traditions teach that suffering can be understood and transcended.
Whatever positive there is to be experienced is usually temporary, or occurs through considerable struggle, yet humankind is often at its best when conditions are at their worst. A transformation takes place and the ordinary becomes the extraordinary or heroic. This is the stuff that dreams and myths are made of. Religion, art, even music allude to transcendent reality beyond duality.
Unwittingly we may choose to suffer a destiny of submission to mere effects, illusions, and mediocrity. Or you can grasp beforehand the results of this choice, and choose rather to be profound and contemplate the ultimate nature of existence. If you are only longing to be fulfilled bodily or to have a sense of consolation, it points to a lack of awareness of the nature of conditional reality versus unconditional reality.
Many people assume that spiritual achievement has to do with somehow perfecting material existence through conforming to, or strict application of a set of rules. Alan Watts went so far as to say that this sort of religion intentionally uses guilt to control the minds of humans by "forbidding every natural human act." This invariably proves to be an illusion, a religion invented by the mind. Watts and others have said that western religions in general tend to be based on exclusion, whereas the religions of the east tend to be based on inclusion or unitive consciousness.
True religion, by its very nature, is and always has been a matter of the transcendence of conditional existence. Without this as a motive, conventional religiosity degenerates into a form of bigotry as the result of a kind of dismemberment of the psyche into a good and worthless portion. Bigotry is always dangerous. It is invariably the excuse for the inexcusable, mans inhumanity to man (and women).
Transcendence can come from withdrawing from conditions, or from feeling and going beyond them. But before there can be a real beginning of transcendence, there must be some awareness of the unconditional. This happens when we achieve a realistic understanding of conditional existence and a respond to the transcendent (some would say divine).
Understanding is the gift of grace.
Dreams and myths serve to bridge the gap between what is and what might be. There is something more going on than just escapism. We long for stasis in a dynamic world. Life is a struggle to be and become, to adjust, to stay in the moment. Perhaps it is out of the anguish of this struggle that we grow into spiritual maturity.
When you stop taking the ego seriously (deluded love or narcissism,) and stop indulging or acting for your own sake, then you can begin a commitment to an unconditional existence. Devotion is the gesture of contemplation, so it is more of an action than it is an emotion.
Our minds generate illusions of reality, usually a set of idealistic beliefs that make us feel good about living. That’s not religion. Profundity and epiphany lie beyond the experience of the practical, daily context. The way of the heart is about the transcendence of conditional existence.
"If the doors of perception were cleansed,
man would see everything as it is, infinite." -Blake
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