Notes on the nature of love
We have been looking at the requirements of a scheme of creation from the Creators point of view, bearing in mind that He wishes to bring into existence real, wise, independent friends, rather than children or servants. I think we can echo this in the depth of our own awareness. So, if we ask ourselves what the gift of greatest value would be for use if we could choose anything we liked, the immediate thoughts would centre around happiness, joy, love, harmony and all things to make life easy and put us in a state as close to blissfulness as possible. But, as the echo penetrated to the deeper layers of our Being we would discover that the thing we wish for most is the very thing that we are taking for granted at the shallower levels of our nature. That is, in the first place, the reality of our own Self and, in the second place, the reality of other different Selves to exchange the content of our Being with. In any case, are we sure that we understand what bliss is? If it is a continual state of supreme happiness, it must be happiness about something. Now we cannot understand what that something could be unless it is related to a sense of fulfilled purpose. It does not seem possible for us to be very happy about something which is not a very fundamental aspect of the nature of our spirit. This we have suggested to be a sense of growth towards more valuable values in, what we have called the past present and future of growth-time (as against space-time). But we can understand that, after being deprived of the experience of heaven and the beautiful immediacy of our Creators Person, a holiday in heaven would be blissful, and this feeling could last for a long time. But, eventually, the other side of our nature would become restless and require attention; this is the purposeful growth side, which wants to live and experiment and expand it’s awareness, rather than sit in a deckchair on the sunny sands of heaven.
So when we get to the fundamental level of our deepest wish we will discover that it is to be a ‘real someone’, and to be a ‘valuable’ real someone. Such value cannot exist alone, for part of the meaning of its valuability is in the way it behaves or relate to other valuable Beings. We discover that we have a healthy spiritual need to grow, which is endless, and the other independent and uniquely different ‘persons’ are one of the means of discovering new attitudes and viewpoints which are necessary to that growth. Together with this is a realisation that the gladness and joy which comes from the experience of endeavour with other persons is also one of the most fundamental measures of growth itself. So there is a bliss of contented basking in the Divine ‘maintenance’ state of love, and there is a bliss in engaging in the creative and exploratory experiences of the ‘growth’ state of love. One of the engagements which at present is so vital to the conditions on earth is engagement in rescue work, which is concerned to remind the people of earth that they need to believe in the higher attitudes of their nature which they each carry in the Divine Spark of the true Being; to remind them that these attitudes are very different from the attitudes of the small ego, which has been so conditioned by the negative and diminished values of civilisation.
Let us try to imagine that we have a spiritual holiday away from the conditions, problems and pains of earth, and then let us ask ourselves, again, what is the greatest gift we can be given. In this more balanced position of ‘plateau joy’, we are able to seek the answer to this question with more objectivity and less compensatory need. We can now give full weight to the realisation that our most valuable gift is the one our Creator has already given us, which is to be given a separate spiritual individuality. The gift we desire most continues in the same vein by being growth towards more individuality and more spiritual quality and character. If we now put our greatest wish, which is to be ‘real and valuable’, together with all the equations of Being which we have previously worked out and discussed, we will see that our God has forestalled that wish itself, because he knew the answer before we did. We will also see that He has been giving us all that we most deeply want, even at the expense of pain to Himself and to us, and even at the expense of His motives and person being misunderstood, devalued and even hated. Yet we ourselves, as physical personalities, know that in bringing up children here on earth, the same situation has occurred to us in relation to our children. Many is the time we have to play the role of angry parents who restrict freedom of our children, when we do not feel angry and we know that the temporary discipline is for the sake of a greater freedom later on; which we can foresee and they cannot.
If we can stand back and realise that our life is more than the physical space-time of one seventy year spell in a human body, we can know that there is nothing we can possibly wish for that we are not already being given. For if we take our imaginary stance, for a moment, in that place of holiday rest from all the immediate worries of life, we will realise that we would wish to take on difficult situations again in order to discover and prove ourselves, to explore and grow and witness ourselves in situations where opposition is in the nature of the environment. We will discover that in the spiritedness of our spirit is ‘the warrior’ who needs a battlefield for the fighting of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual battles. It is only when we have been on the battlefield too long, and been sickened by it, that we would give anything for a rest. After the rest, a battlefield of sorts is not simply a desire, it is a positive need. But we are not talking about the crude forms of battle that we know in our history of wars; for whilst they are difficult enough, the battles of Peace are far more difficult, because the enemy is often not even visible to us, for it is a form of psychological sickness or sleep.
What I am referring to as psychological sickness can also be understood as immaturity of the spirit of the pupils of the first form, and sometimes the aberrations of sixth formers who are overcome by the difficulty of the physical nature of experience. These forms of sickness and aberrations which they produce have been dealt with in my other book ‘A Geography of Consciousness’, and they can be seen there to be the result of the build up of patterns of response and behaviour which are thrust into the various levels of our nature without being understood by our true Self. Consequently, they continue to be active without the knowledge of the Self that we truly are. Thus a ‘false person’ is often formed, who is made up largely of these arbitrary enforced responses, which are mechanical and not considered. This false person is so much more at home in the world than the real person, that it forces the real Self, that we truly are, off the stage of life altogether. But even if the physical personality is healthy and relatively free from mechanical circuits of reactive behaviour, it is still very difficult for us to realise the Self to be more than the physical reality of the personality. In fact, as we have already said, there are many experts trying to define our reality purely in terms that can be measured and understood by scientific instruments and processes.
For those who do not respond to the Personal reality of the Creator, the system of schoolroom environments continues in the same way as it does for the ‘believers’. The value of the growth situations is real to them, and the friendship relationships can flourish between them and their fellows. The exception to this latter situation are those who are trying to give up the individual stance of the individual spirit in the belief that it is a hindrance to their full enlightenment, which consists of ‘being God’, rather than ‘being a god’. In the sayings of Jesus for instance, there are many references to us being gods, but never a reference to us being God. The distinction is always clearly drawn between our identity as individual children and the idea of God as a Father, who is a Person in His own right. However, as in our earthly schools, the personality of the headmaster pervades the way the school functions, and the better he is, the more the worth of his personality permeates the classrooms. Often the pupils will not meet or know the headmaster at all, but they will have been affected by his spirit nevertheless. This is not a perfect analogy to our God, for His teaching methods are too subtle for us to understand as yet; in any case, He is concerned with us as a Creator and Friend in a way that the headmaster is not. But we must not become too concerned to know more of the activity of our God than He wishes to show us, or else we may fail to actualise our true Self on its own terms. So we must be delighted with the opportunities to taste of the flavour of God’s Personality, but not become obsessed by the idea of God to the exclusion of all else. For if we understood the summit of love to be friendship, in the way of equality and mutual valuing, then an excessive clinging to God would rather cause Him to retreat a pace than come closer to us. However, a drowning man clings desperately, but the drowning situation is not normal and will not last for ever. When the drowning person feels spiritually safe again, he will then be able to let go his grip and realise that it is no longer necessary or helpful. During the rescue period on earth, there is much desperate clinging and this is of course understood and allowed for. But, as we move into a more mature phase of our schooling, a totally different understanding of religious purpose will help us to know it more in terms of education and growth.
My friends and I often play a game at my home which we call ‘The Painting Game’. The purpose of this game is to actualise the spontaneous creativity of the relatively unknown Self that we truly are. A very important part of this game is to be able to enter into the higher attitudes of the higher Self, where we are free of possessiveness, hostility, envy, anger, superiority, inferiority, fear and anxiety. This sounds like a big step to take, and for some people it is too much for them; but the game itself is a great help towards overcoming the ordinary human negative responses. What we do, is to take a piece of hardboard and a set of ordinary household emulsion paints in tins, ordinary household paint brushes, paint scrapers, rags and cold water for mixing and cleaning. We then take it in turns between two of us, to ‘make marks’ on the same board with the colour we choose. We say ‘marks’ because we do not set out to be clever or to paint pictures. We actually set our upon a voyage of discovery in which we have to try and give ourselves up to the spirit of higher ‘gladness’ about one anothers unknown unique potentiality, which we delight in helping to actualise as part of the journey of discovery.
To begin with, the marks we make are often tentative and vague in order to give an opportunity for some unknown hunch from our unknown self to enter the game. As the spirit of the game grows with each turn of play, so the intuitive sense of fitness of the next move becomes an integral part of our consciousness. In this way we are encouraging our ordinary consciousness to combine willingly with the ‘extraordinary’ consciousness of the higher, bigger, spiritual consciousness of our real Self.
Because we discuss the purpose of the game beforehand, we enter into the spirit of it in such a way that we give encouragement and ‘faith’ to one another; which, in the climate of today, is very necessary, for our faith in our ability to respond creatively to anything which confronts us has been almost eroded. Now the purpose of the game is to play it with this spirit of mutual enhancement, acceptance and encouragement, which begins the process if re-education of the external personality ego in such a way that it can combine consciously, with the real, spiritual ego. Because the higher attitudes of friendly co-operation are natural to the Self, the game becomes a witnessing of every step on the road to this higher attitude. Each player can also realise where and when a difficulty arises, and they can help one another through the difficulty so long as the spirit is willing and friendly.
What the game is trying to portray, as it becomes more fully understood and exercised by both players, is a miniature version of the whole purpose of creation which we have been talking about in our discussion. For the two players are living out, on a small scale, the exact replica of the friend to friend relationship of gladness, discovery, growth and creativity which we have said that the Creator wishes to meet us in. The theory that we have been discussing can then be felt and experienced, so that we can decide for ourselves if it is satisfactory or not; if it explains and fulfills the nature of our true Self or not.
We must not be impatient with the game and expect to be able to play it properly the first time we try. The first few attempts to play will, almost certainly, throw up areas of hostility, anxiety and non-acceptance of the other persons rights. But, with practice and talking the situation out, acceptance grows quite quickly and we will be feeling that we have created a space for one another, which is so rare, where we can trust and feel glad without needing to be on the defensive or proving ourself to be ‘as good as’ or ‘better than’ the other person. The quality of the game is always reactive, and there is no limit to the delicacy of understanding with which it can be played, or the period of time taken between each turn. One can play a ‘long distance’ game, for instance, in which the board may be bigger and an interval of days or weeks taken between each turn. Other mediums can be tried, as there are no rules to abide by; and one discovers that what one takes out of the painting, to simplify it, can be as creative as what one adds to it.
The point of the game is, of course, that each player continually confronts the other with ‘problems’ which they would be unable to confront themselves with. It is because of the continual demand to respond to new problems that the creativity is exercised in us, and in witnessing it on the board in front of us, we acquire an increase in faith in all that we have been talking about. Conversely, one must enter the game with a real intention of giving it a chance, or else the lack of success will be used by the negative side of our nature to pour scorn and doubt on the value of the game and the value of the philosophy behind the game.
The reason that painting seems to be the best form of this experience is that, unlike music or dancing, it is not tied so directly into time. The paint brush can pause over the game and then act upon the game just as though we were able to step into time and step out of it again. This encourages us to recognise the distinction in ourselves between space-time experience and growth-time experience. We can learn consciously to ‘stand back in ourselves’ and sense the purely qualitative awareness of our true Self as it exists in growth-time (which feels like ‘timeless’ time) and then we can feel the decision coming over us to enter into the space-time of the game to make our next move. At any moment during the painting of what move we can, as it were, stop the time of the game in space and return to our relatively timeless condition in growth-time (which is the time of the spirit). On certain occasions on can feel a growth sequence taking place in the awareness of the true Self, as a realisation drops into place.
This experience and understanding of time in terms of our ‘physical ego’ and again in terms of our ‘spiritual ego’, will also make us realise that when we leave this physical condition behind at our physical death, we may well be in a state of consciousness which is very much conditioned by what we have come to believe and what we have come to have faith in. We can realise, while we are Self-aware in a condition of ‘pause’ while playing the painting game, that our imagination is quite free; and that we have never allowed ourselves to use it or feel that it is valuable. It is quite difficult at first to play the painting game simply because the worldly ego will not easily allow us to do something which does not have an end result which it considers to be valuable. Most of the free imaginative response that comes from the Higher Ego that we truly are, is inhibited by the conditioning of the lower ego in terms of survival, money making and self-importance. When we leave the physical body at death this imagination conditions where and what we experience. If the imagination is restricted to the views of a worldly personality, we shall only experience what come close to those ideas of worldly values. But if our imagination has become free and has developed a sensibility towards ideal qualities, whether these be ‘religious’ or not, they will allow us into realms of experience of a more spiritual nature.
If, for instance, part of the tuition in class three or four is to learn to use and delight in our creative abilities, we may be shown, in those much more responsive realms, how we can play a sort of painting game; but in this case with more subtle means. We may find that the creative game here would be the invention of whole environments and atmospheres, which would include sound, colour, movement, forms and even people. Not real people, but fictitious characters that we might find in a book. In such ways we would be able to learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and one another by giving full expression to subliminal longings, loves and values.
If our way was a more religious way, we may find ourselves meeting up with the God that we have consciously or unconsciously learned to believe in. In meeting this projection we may well discover that our ‘God’ image, that we were carrying about with us, was not nearly good enough; for, when we saw the projection face to face, we would quickly feel if the qualities which our innermost sensibilities required were present in this god or not. From this experience we may well re-assess our conscious attitudes and understanding, and create another picture in our mind which is far nearer to the truth of our Creator’s person. We will also realise, in playing such games, how much the content of the various levels of consciousness and classrooms will inter-relate; and how, when we reach a certain level of growth, the whole university begins to come together quite naturally in ways that we had been prepared for without knowing it. For such is the wisdom of our Head Teacher, and the system which our God has designed for Him to teach in, that our innermost hearts are read by Him long before we have come to be conscious of their inner desires. Because of this the ground is often prepared for us long in advance of what we come to know we need. Not that this is taking the initiative away from us, or over-ruling our will, it is simply the way in which our wiser friends can tell that we are beginning to love before the significance of it dawns upon us.
1. The gift we greatly desire is our own Self.
2. This is not the physical personality ego, but the spiritual ego, the Divine Individuality,
3. This Self needs to enjoy the beautiful qualities that emanate from the Personality of
God, and also the creative and exploratory activities of its own nature.
4. We thus find that we are at present being given exactly what we want.
5. ‘The Painting Game’ is a microcosmic experience of Divine creative friendship.
6. The game strengthens our faith in the ‘unknown Self’ that we truly are, and in the
ability it has to respond to any situation.
7. The game allows us to sense our ability to step in and out of space-time, and to
feel what growth-time is like.
8. The game, as it may become in higher classrooms, would be an extension of the
painting game into a multi-media situation, where our experimental
constructions were far more mobile.