Dharma Topic: Interbeing, Love, and God

Dharma Topic: Interbeing, Love, and God

Discussion date: Thu, Mar 30, 2006 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

One of the Buddha’s central teachings is that there is no individualself. We are interconnected with the rest of the universe and, like theuniverse, we are eternal. This Thursday, May 30, after our meditationperiod, long-time Still Water practitioner David Martin-McCormick, willshare with the community his thesis that love is the force that bindsus to the rest of the universe; that our capacity to love makes useternal. (His notes on this topic are below.)

You are invited to join Still Water this Thursday for the meditationand program, and to share with David and the community yourunderstanding and experience of love.

The best times to join us are:

  • Just before the first sitting at 7 pm;
  • At 7:25, at the beginning of walking meditation; or,
  • At 7:35, at the beginning of the second sitting.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher


Love is God
David Martin-McCormick

Shakespeare said that”To be or not to be. That is the question.” In No Death, No Fear, ThichNhat Hanh notes that the Buddha might answer “To be or not to be is notthe question” because it misunderstands the entire issue of being andnot being. Thich Nhat Hanh uses the metaphor of the cloud to explainthe Buddha’s understanding:

Sometimes peoples ask you: “When isyour birthday?” But you might ask yourself a more interesting question:”Before that day which is called my birthday, where was I?”…

Ifyou ask a cloud, “How old are you? Can you give me your date of birth?”you can listen deeply and you may hear a reply.  You can imagine thecloud being born.  Before being born, it was the water on the ocean’ssurface. Or it was in the river and then it became vapor.  It was alsothe sun because the sun makes the vapor.  The wind is there too,helping the water to become a cloud.  The cloud does not come fromnothing: there has only been a change in form. It is not a birth ofsomething out of nothing.

It’s easy to see how our bodiesrecycle, but what about that intangible thing that feels like “us.” Where do our “spirits” come from and where will they go when our bodiescease to function?”   I think that spirit is love.

When Christsaid, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” [1John 4:8 ],  I believe that Christ meant literally that God actually is love-that love and God are identical.  Love is the interconnectednesswhich the Buddha experienced, though he didn’t call it “God.” The God(love) in us is what makes us eternal.

Love is real in the sameway that the four physical forces (gravity, electro-magnetism, strongforce and weak force) are real.  Like other physical forces, it can betransmitted.  The love we give to others becomes a part of us in themthat continues after our bodies die.  The love we receive from othersis a part of them in our bodies. The love continues in them and in useven if our feelings of love for them and their feelings of love for usgo away.

The love we give to others increases their happinessand, since that love actually is a part of us in their bodies, itperpetuates our own happiness.  If we give a great deal of love toothers during our lifetimes, we experience that same love as happinessin their bodies.  

So the essence of our selves is not ourintelligence, nor our abilities or accomplishments, but the love wefeel.  This love continues to be transmitted and retransmitted so thatit eventually connects to all living beings for all eternity.  The morewe love, the greater the rewards we experience throughout theuniverse.  This is what heaven is.

And love extends beyond theconfines of our bodies both before, during and after our bodies areavailable to accept, hold and give love away.  Our real essence is thelove that passes through us.  Thus, The Buddha’s teaching that we haveno selves means that these bodies are transmission stations for lovethat we receive from others and transmit to others.  We can nurturethat love. We can express that love. We can reach out and feel the loveof others.  What Christ told us is that this love is the God who givesmeaning to our lives.

Discussion Date: Thu, Mar 30, 2006


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