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Being Love

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Being Love
by William Pennell Rock
From The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 2, Spring 1979.

“…love is not a function of doing; love is a function of being.”

EXPERIENCING THE WORLD WITHOUT LOVE is very cold and meaningless -- a mere acting out of some nightmare. When we experience the world in that way, it is because we have lost touch with the basic substratum of love energy. Love is not something that you can force. Love is something that you can become receptive to, because it is there, underneath the surface.

Each of us has to learn how to be receptive to love (i.e., how to let love do things to us). All the expressions that we have in our language suggest that love is something you do, that love is something you go and get, or that love is something you manufacture. It is seen not as something given in reality, but to be had with effort.

There is an alternate view that love is an integral part of existence and of our individual lives. Underneath everything, underneath what we perceive, underneath the coming together of the fragments of a molecule, of an atom, somehow love is there. We have the choice to experience love or not to experience love. We are always choosing to experience ourselves as a function of love or as loveless beings living in a meaningless universe.

Now the difficulty is that we are a consumer society. We have a grabbing and holding mentality; to go out and make, create, and build. We think that if we don't run the house, business, spouse, and children, it's all going to fall apart. We are convinced that we have to do in order to justify our being.

There is something basically wrong, and it has to do with the way we relate to nature. It has to do with the way we believe we have to create those things that are good in our lives. What we want in life we see in terms of activity, doing. But love is not a function of doing; love is a function of being, of simply what you are. That's what it means to speak of it as a substratum. It is the energy from which you are made, from which you come.

The thing about love is that you can't bring it about through any of the ways that you usually go about getting the things you want. You may have tried it -- looking for love. You may have lost your lover and decided you would go out and find another one. You went to all the parties, "Maybe this one will be it." You may have noticed that it didn't work, and the way love came was that it slipped up on you when you were not looking, when you were not expecting. Why is it that love comes like that? Why is it that this energy, which is the basic substratum of our being, has to sneak up upon us in order for us to experience it?

This essence of love has been forgotten. In fact, the tragedy of our time is that we have forgotten how to be. We have only learned how to do, and that is why love comes hard to us.

Deep in our cultural metaphor there lies the error that the human being is a machine. The metaphor of a plant would be more appropriate. Your being grows like a plant. The love being in you is also like a plant in its growth. It doesn't have any mental content. It doesn't have a perceivable direction. It just does its thing as a function of your being. Just like a plant does.

Look at the life of a plant. It begins with a seed. From that comes a small shoot, and from that small shoot comes a stem and leaves, from the stem and leaves come the flowers. It grows; it doesn't do.

Plants do not make choices. They are not active in any way. Their growth is a pure receptivity to nature moving through them. That is the way our being is. It grows on its own. It grows as a pure response to nature.

For the most part, our doing is our vain trying to shape our being in a certain way. It is like a rosebush trying to be a daffodil, or a daffodil striving to be a rosebush. If you are a rosebush, you cannot be a daffodil. Only the human mind can conceive of such madness. It does so by making so much noise with thought, chatter, and doing that it can no longer hear the growing inside it.

Our active, striving doing has created our "civilization." We can choose, do, create, and dominate nature. But then we come to see ourselves in a way that is not real. We lose our touch, our rootedness, our sense of who we are and what nature is. The most important aspect of creativity that we so often forget is receptivity. Those of you who are artists know that the creation comes through you. The painting that you design in your head way before you execute it does not have the beauty of the one that comes through you, where you become a pure channel for the creation. This is the way art is, and this also is the way love is.

Love Energy

We cannot be creators of love. We can make a valentine, we can send it, we can tell someone we love them. We can go out and look for a lover. We can find someone and convince ourselves that we love. But this beingness, this being that is like a plant, that is a pure receptivity to nature, is not responsive to love on that level. There are many who try to use the ways of love to their own advantage. They marry for money, power, or security. They place themselves in prison. They place themselves in situations where nature's wonderful unfolding of meaning cannot take place.

So love, in a sense, has false faces that reflect the flawed state of our consciousness. Love becomes an antagonist. It comes into our life and disrupts it. It takes us to places that we believe we shouldn't go. We fight it. We try to shape it. "No, I won't love this one, I will love that one because it is more advantageous to me."

And so we move, and every time we make a choice for expediency we sacrifice something. And the happening is so silent in us that we may not hear what that sacrifice is.

What I am saying to you is that love is nature reaching into you and taking hold of you. You know what it feels like when you have been in love. Or when you have been in a situation when you could not allow love and suddenly love comes. Maybe it is the milkman. Or the girl next door. Something happens in you, and the sap starts flowing in your being. And it is like feeling a new kind of life, but you say "no" to it because it doesn't fit your structures. Yet this is nature's way of reaching into you and saying "Come back."

Now the manifestation of love energy in a human being is a very magical thing. Like all things that are intangible and really valuable in life, love is a process, a constantly transforming, transmuting way of being within us. It passes through phases like the plant; the seed, the seedling, the leaves, the branches, and the ultimate flowering. All of those phases in a plant's life also exist in us as the possibility of love.

There is a law by which the flower grows from the seed to the blossoming. What is that law? Love in your being is a seed which wants to sprout, to become a plant and a flower. What is this growth? What is this way that love has with us? How does it function?

Each human being is a threesome; a body, a mind, and a heart. All three of these levels are manifest in the world that we experience: the physical, the mental, and the emotional/spiritual. All three are always present, no matter how they may be suppressed. And love, this calling from nature, accordingly becomes manifest in different ways, and it grows by its own mysterious laws.

Sexual Love

The seed of love, the gross form, is the energy that exists in your body as cellular movement and regeneration. Your cells regenerate themselves totally every seven years. This regeneration of the cells again is something that is happening to you as a function of your being. It has nothing to do with what you decide. You do not decide, you do not engineer this constant renewal of cells within you. It is your body at its most primary level manifesting love. That activity of cells in love manifests itself in the body as sex. We experience love coming in. We experience the dependency of childhood, we experience the many forms of love as we grow, but the first real stirrings are those that come with sex.

Sex is the seed form of love energy. This seed cannot begin its growth unless the love is allowed to happen, unless the sex is allowed to happen. It cannot begin to germinate and create that small shoot, unless it is watered and tended and cared for.

It is very hard for us to have a receptive attitude toward sex. All the religions are against it. Politics is against it. Your parents are against it. The people who care for you are against it. All that you learned is against it. All of these things, the ways of stopping sex in the body are programmed into you from the very beginning, from the first time you want to touch yourself, when your mother slaps your hand. Through a thousand subtle cues you learn that the lower part of your body is not to be recognized. This deep negation comes into our whole sexual way of being, and we censor. Our bodies become rigid, fixed with the tensions that come from doing other than what we are, fixed with tensions of fear because we are afraid of what is coming forth through our bodies. We are fixated with fear of the unknown, because those sensational saps that flow through our bodies fill us full of wondrous stirrings that we don't know about.

Experiences that take us beyond what we have known are frightening. People are afraid of death, they are afraid of insanity, and they are afraid of sex. Those three are the great fears. And it is very interesting that all three represent forms of going out of control before the mystery of nature.

When we really enter sex, that controlling, that doing mind has to be set aside. And there is nothing more frightening to the human mind than being threatened and over-ruled, or even destroyed. Death and sex both do that. They destroy the doing, controlling mind. They will not work according to the doing and control of mind. They come from nature and they are nature's doing. And nature's doing comes through our being, not through our will.

There is no greater threat than sex within our life, and that is because we lose control, and society loses control. If you really love, you won't go to war, and therefore, the politicians need to suppress it. They need to tell you that love is wrong so that they can take your twisted energies and send you to the wars to manifest their power.

When we can't really move into sex, we localize it. We push it down there into the genitals so that it can't exist elsewhere. We don't allow the whole body to experience it. But when we suppress sex, our minds become obsessed with it. We become puritans in our bodies, and our minds become hedonistic. We can't get enough. And so sex, that flowing of love energy through the body becomes deeply perverted. Sure, we go on through the mechanics of loving. We get married and we do our duty, and occasionally we run off, perhaps, and have an affair. But the true allowing is censored early on. You cannot open up to sex, so this love energy, this gift, this possibility, the deepest, subtlest substratum is cancelled out in its first phases.

So there are many, many difficulties. Picture love as this seed that is trying to grow forth, moving within to become the flowering of your being, but suppressed. It gets stuck down there in the seed form. And we go on stomping on the soil on top of it. We will not allow.

This does not mean that we can become fruitful by simply going out and being promiscuous. That is what happened with the Sexual Revolution. Suddenly everyone decided that they had been too repressed sexually, and so they went out and "had sex." This is just another way of not doing it. Because sex is thrown out there. It is still not experienced and known from within. We experience sexual desire, and then it's the object that we are concerned with. We forget the source. We lose touch with the seed in our own being.

So in every way possible, we interrupt that fundamental receptivity to the being. But in its subtle way, nature is mighty. That force of love in us is so great that it will push. Have you seen a tree whose roots are impeded by a rock, how the tree manages to keep on growing? That also is true of love -- it will go on. You deny it at the level of sex, and it will keep pushing there. The more you deny it, the more it will push. If love is not allowed to grow through the body and spirit it will divert into the mental, the doing, the manipulating, and the controlling.

But that seed is very hearty. Because it is the most subtle substratum of energy in the universe, it has great force. We really cannot get away from it. We can shut ourselves off from it, we can say no on many levels, but somehow that love will keep exerting force.

Being in Love

Now, if love happens at the level of sex, and if sex moves and really happens, a mysterious energy is created between two people. The seed bursts and roots begin to go down into the ground. A seedling comes -- the first green shoots. And this is love moving into the second level, which is the level of the mind. Not the volitional mind, but the creative mind. When the energy of love reaches the mind, becomes transformed in that way, you may have noticed that sexuality suddenly becomes another matter. It's not available just here and there and anywhere any more. It goes some place. You suddenly can't have sex with anyone other than the beloved. Just as in sex two bodies become one, so in love, suddenly, two minds become one. There is a merging of the minds. Some transformation has taken place.

When the substratum of love energy reaches the mind, flowering there in its own way and becoming love, you have a whole new series of trials before you, for love is the destroyer of ego. For love to move beyond that "in love" space, there are many hurdles to overcome. So when love, that hand of nature, reaches up and creates that state of being "in love," then suddenly we have been given a school. To work out that love, that being "in love" space with another human being, is the greatest workshop. When the drive to experience that love in a pure form is so great, what has to be accomplished is the bringing together of two minds. That is very difficult. Minds are separate. They are not prone to becoming one. Our will is to be separate. Our ego, our mind is set to see itself as separate, not merged. So there is a tremendous fear, too, of falling into love, because to experience that new love space, we have to let go so much of our isolation, of our sense of aloneness. And even though we all say we want to do that, we are scared to death of it. There is nothing more frightening than intimacy.

Now notice that two things are frightening, and they both have to do with love. Sex is frightening because we lose control. Love is frightening because we lose the independence and autonomy of mind. We lose the capacity to control in love. When you are in love you are crazy.

To sacrifice to sex, to sacrifice to love, really represents the annihilation of the ego. The ego has to be annihilated, and love is a way that ego annihilates itself. This is why my teacher Rajneesh speaks always of surrender. The surrender to that love energy is the most difficult task. It is the task of a courageous man and a courageous woman to give up their securities.

God and Love

My teacher said to me, "Sacrifice everything for love." I was willing to sacrifice a lot, but everything?

But the "everything" is all that separates us from nature, and now that we are talking at this level, we can bring God out of the closet and call nature "God," because at this level we are beginning to reach a higher perception of the whole matter.

To surrender to God you have to surrender everything. It is precisely the same kind of surrender you experience when you really let go into sex. You lose that autonomy. You lose that capacity to control yourself. And it is the most frightening thing to give up that autonomous doing and controlling that you identify yourself with. It is the most frightening thing to surrender to that being that you are.

The mind is so tricky in this way. Rather than surrender, it criticizes the love object, "This one is not quite right." "This other one is wrong in some way." "This one's eyes are not brown -- I want brown eyes." We become very choosey.

But see what is behind all that. It is that fear of loss of self, that fear of loss of autonomy. It is fear of the loss of that part of ourselves, our ego, that we have separated out from nature.

So you see, love is a great gift, in this way. And in order for you to give, really to give yourself in loving, you have to drop your ego. And this is why my teacher says that love is the highest way. And it also is the most difficult. Many things get in the way, many illusions.

Most of us, even if the perfect lover comes along, soon find something "wrong" to justify our egocentricity. It is so difficult to drop our selfishness. Sacrifice is necessary, not to the other, but to the energy of love. That's the true surrender, rather than abdication to the will of the other. Abdication is a trap; you just become a function of the other's ego. That's not what love is all about. Both lovers have to surrender to the love energy that is there.

So, love is a great opportunity. It is the greatest thing going in the Human Potential Movement. We've forgotten about it. We have techniques, facilitators, and workshops. Love, I am telling you is the greatest of these. It is what is called in India a Sadhana, a personal spiritual discipline. Love is a way to come to God. But it requires a constant purification.

You may have heard of the ancient mithuna ceremony, or Tantric ritual intercourse. The two people who engage in this ceremony require six months of purification before the ritual actually takes place. Now what is happening in this purification?

What is happening is that their essence is being purified of their ego. They are fasting and dieting. They are on a very special regime. They undergo various forms of training where they learn to stand aside and let energy pass through their bodies. They learn to become a pure function of the love energy. Many people in my workshops want to see the mithuna. They think that is what Tantra is all about. That is what Tantra is about, but its secrets are hidden away on the other side of any egoistic desire to get-off in some superlative way. They cannot yet even grasp what it is to put mind and ego aside. They want more egoistic satisfaction. They are greedy.

In love, the possibility for Tantra is always there. But as soon as we love, attachment comes into play.

When love happens to us, our lover becomes so important that we treat him or her like all other things in the world, we want to possess. We may even neglect our usual possessiveness toward money and material things. Our mania to control and hold on becomes fixed on the beloved. He or she becomes an object to have. Then we have attachment. We have the whole tragic love story that ensues when we try to create a possession out of that person.

And the paradox of love is that if I manage to possess my lover, I destroy him or her and the love.

Love as Teacher

Our institutions and our society feed the process whereby the other becomes a possession. It's a great spiritual lesson in life to learn how to drop that possession, to learn how to let go. So this becomes the great spiritual challenge of love; the state of being in love presents the opportunity to deal with attachment at a fundamental level. We must love and let go of the other, allow them their freedom to themselves, otherwise we kill the love. It's a paradox, a disastrous paradox. You need the discernment to see beyond it. Lucky are those whose lovers are so independent that they will not allow themselves to be possessed. But then there is pain, the worst pain. Hellish pain. Your lover goes off with someone else and spends the night. Your guts ache. But yet that is the great opportunity of love: to deal with possessiveness and attachment. When the Indian sages speak of attachment, that particular quality of fixation that comes when you are in love is precisely what they are talking about.

So love is the greatest teacher, the greatest danger. That loved one becomes your vehicle to God, but also your hell. And the task is to discern your way out of that web, whereby you experience attachment as pain and work yourself to the point where the love is just there and pure. It is a process of letting go of the other, letting go of your expectations.

You see, these are all things of the mind, all mechanisms of the ego, and they are the same mechanisms that separate you from your sense of God and your own being. Those same forms of holding that create attachment in your love relationships are the same obstructions between you and the experience of divinity within yourself.

So this second stage, this second manifestation of love energy is a great growth opportunity. Learn to let go. Learn to discover how you are holding in love. Go deep in yourself and find those fears within yourself that make you possess. Don't brutalize your lover by trying to control. Find in yourself, and deal in yourself, with the real existential issues.

It comes down to your attachment to things and to persons becoming your fear of death, your fear of the unknown. Just as love is an unknown into which you can fall, so is death the unknown into which you will fall. There is a nothingness at the core of the need to possess.

Now, that nothingness doesn't mean eternal darkness. It means without the content of the mind. It means just pure being. It means that thing that you experience in love, and in sex, when you disappear and there is only One. Not two, but One. It is frightening. It is the most desirable thing to us and the most frightening to our egos. Take that as your beginning point in your dealings with love. Take that and find in yourself the real fears that are there and stop trying to manipulate the lover. Find the real thing in yourself, because that is the thing that is preventing your love. It comes down to fear of loss of control; fear of death.

Manifestations of Love

First we have the green shoot. We have the energy of love that is first manifested in the body as sex, and if all goes well with sex, which is very difficult, then it becomes manifest in the mind as being in love -- the second manifestation. If all goes well with being in love, the energy reaches toward a third transformation. This transformation we know less about. We have obscure intimations of it from the Christian mystics. When you have known what it is to be in love and you move deeper and deeper, then you come to the third, which is the heart. This manifestation of love energy is called "prayer" or "devotion."

I am not talking about an object -- God -- out there that you love. I am talking about when you look into the eyes of your lover and you see the lover is not there any more; all you see is God. When you look into the eyes of your child, the child suddenly disappears and all that there is there is that awesome presence. Or a dog. It can happen with a dog. What matters is not the object, but the quality of love.

When you come to know devotion through love, you begin to carry it with you everywhere. This is the love that we know of through Jesus, Buddha, and the other great religious leaders of the world who have emphasized the heart, the way of love.

In this prayer made of love, there is a kind of awesome sense of presence. In sex, two bodies become one. In love, in being in love, two minds become one. In devotion, the one disappears, and only a presence is there. It is easy to miss. You look into the eyes of a child and for a moment the mystery happens, and then you come back to the child and to changing the diapers or whatever you are doing. I am telling you to look at these moments and take them as reality. When you experience them, look at them as something fundamental. In fact, the highest level at which most beings can experience love is through this prayer.

What I call prayer here is a way of being. When it completely takes you, it can be as though you were in a cloud. A presence is there, and your sense of self is riding on that presence. That happens with lovers. When that in-love state moves very high, you look in your lover's eye, and suddenly that presence is there. That is the third highest transformation.

To move to that place requires letting go. You cannot experience that prayerful place if your love is an attachment. If your lover is a possession, it will stall or prevent the transformation. That is why you have to get out of the way in order for that devotional way of being to come to fruition.

In India there are several cults, primarily the Tantric cult and the cult of Krishna. "Krishna" is a wonderful word. It means "the attractive." It is God as whatever is attractive. Krishna is always portrayed as being totally loved by frolicsome female cowherds or gopis. The sages who interpret these myths say that these gopis represent the deep attraction that our souls feel toward this lure of being. Again, we are talking about the plant. It's a figurative way of saying that the plant is attracted to becoming full grown. That attraction is Krishna, God, the energy of love.

This devotion is the fourth and highest level that we know of love in the West. Beyond this we know very little. We have the works of St. Theresa and her rhapsodic, mystical communion with God. She is talking about this love where she ceases to exist and only the rhapsody is there. Love is always prodding us toward that state, but we are all impeding it by attachment, by holding on, by possessing. But the possibility is there.

When you see that plant, how could you recognize the seed in it? It's the same with sex. When you experience that devotion, that love energy is totally transformed, and yet it comes from sex. That seed is where it came from. Those roots in the earth are necessary for the plant to reach its fullness.

We know very little about the fourth manifestation of love energy. Even the sages in the East who have talked about it haven't given it a name. They call it simply turiva -- "the fourth." The fourth is a mystery, the highest level that love energy can reach.

The fourth is ecstasy. Ecstasy where nothing exists. It happens only to certain mystics, to certain individuals who have passed beyond that third level of love. The only person I know personally who has reached that level is my teacher, Rajneesh. Then, I am told, ecstasy becomes an all-the-time thing. Someone who reaches that level is in ecstatic love unity with all that is, always. And that flower, that possibility, that highest development, that highest ecstatic manifestation of the energy of love throughout being is the flowering.

Love is a manifestation of God, and it has all these forms. We can stop it and our lives lose this meaning, but we can also learn to surrender to it. If we can let it be, we can come to rest in it.

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