By Life Positive
American guru and founder of What is Enlightenment? magazine Andrew Cohen reveals why love is absolute in its demand for integrity
The current of love, intimacy and intense vulnerability that runs in and through those who have gathered around me over time has attracted many, but has also repelled others. That is because I have never been able to divorce the experience of love from its absolute demand.
The extraordinary revelation of true love is overwhelming in its depth. When the floodgates open, it unhinges the lover temporarily from all points of reference. In that expanse there’s only love, and in that only perfect goodness.
The power of this kind of revelation is usually like an earthquake that shakes to pieces all previously held assumptions about the nature of reality and the meaning of existence. In its wake is left a heart that has been opened so painfully wide that it has eclipsed all fear and doubt.
Wounded by absolute love, the lover now knows the truth. In light of that knowledge, the lover has to answer the question: is he or she willing and able to live up to love’s demands, to be an undivided expression of that love in a world characterized by fear, doubt and division? The unconditional demand of love is to be it, and in order to be it we have to come out from all hiding places in time and history, from all that is false and wrong. We must be willing to stand alone-in that, as that.
At the end of my own first experience of revelation at the age of 16 came the following message from the unknown: ‘If you surrender your life to me and me alone, you will have nothing to fear.’ It was clear at that moment that if I chose to do otherwise, I would indeed have a lot to fear.
True love, and the freedom that it brings, demand everything from us. As long as we want to have anything for ourselves, even freedom, we will not find true emancipation in this life. True love demands everything, and liberation can only be ours when we are willing to sacrifice even that.
‘Thy will be done’ is the war cry ‘I surrender!’ of the seeker who has now become a finder. Only love, only love, only love. Only that, only that, only that. Not my will, but thy will be done.
What has always intrigued me is how many people appear to be interested in the experience of love while they so often seem mysteriously able to avoid its implications.
If the experience of love is not merely a superficial event, then in that experience must be the revelation of the emptiness of a separate or personal self. Therefore, ideally bliss becomes not the possession or object of fascination for the ego, but that ocean of being within which the ego loses itself.
It is because the demand to drown and lose oneself in that ocean for eternity is not made often enough that so many seekers end up satisfied with being mere voyeurs of their own Self. Because the attachment to the ego and the world of becoming is so strong, most seekers feel threatened by the possibility of drowning forever.
The course of my life as a teacher has been defined by my insistence that the experience of love and bliss is meaningless when it is not supported by a life lived with true integrity. Integrity, in a life based on the pursuit of freedom, is the unconditional willingness to renounce all that has been discovered to be false and wrong. Ironically, it is because of this that I have been the object of controversy.
In retrospect, I can see now that even from early on this was my message, implicitly if not directly. Little did I know that this would often pose what appeared to be an almost overwhelming challenge for many. The integrity or lack of it, in the manner in which one lived one’s life, became an issue of fundamental importance for those who gathered around me. In fact, for those who became one with me in spirit, soon it was expected that integrity be the expression of one’s response to the experience of love and bliss. It was this that simultaneously attracted some and repelled others.
The call was absolute, and the response ultimately had to be also for the circle to remain unbroken. The very substance of that circle was love. But if true love was the substance then any obstacles to that love had to be given up, because true love demands the renunciation of all that is false and wrong-if one is going to be able to truly dissolve into it. Such is the law of love. It is only through allowing this to become manifest as ourselves that the profound evolutionary leap can occur in which Love and Truth become indistinguishable.
Excerpted from Andrew Cohen’s book What is the Relationship Between Love and Truth?
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