Unconditional love is a universal longing of the human heart. We all experience the agonies of rejection, not-belonging, and love tainted by strings attached. We seek unconditional love from romantic partners, peers, social groups, and from ourselves. We benefit from experiencing love through these sources, yet at the same time, they cannot fulfill our deepest love-need. They are not ultimately even necessary to knowing love–you can experience unlimited oceans of love alone in a cave for decades, or even in a concentration camp. The quest for unconditional love in people and things is doomed to failure from its outset because perfectly consistent and purely unmotivated love does not reside there. We will inevitably experience rejection and disappointment if we seek unconditional love from its channels instead of its source. Objects and people are temporal and therefore inconstant sources of love but love itself is always only love, purely and immutably.
Being is Belonging is Love
Love is a function of belonging, and belonging comes from being. I exist; therefore, I belong and am loved. Existence is the universe’s affirmation of belonging. I can never be rejected, at a deep level, because I am. The universe affirms my belonging because it has made my existence contingent on nothing outside of existence. I do not belong to life any more or less because of performance, goodness, or badness. Even when I die, the things that constitute me now will continue to exist and therefore belong in the universe–they simply change form. Therefore, neither death nor life can nullify my being and belonging. There is nowhere in the universe where I do not belong, and no one and no thing can deny or detract from my inherent value that results from my inherent being.
I belong to the universe. I belong to the stars, the earth, and the sky because I am made of them and they are made of me. I belong to humanity because I am human; my goodness and capability are irrelevant. The sociopath and the serial killer belong just as much as the saint and the martyr, the bodily and mentally incapacitated just as much as the superhuman entrepreneur. But we have bought into the deception that there is a standard for belonging and love. This has caused us to make love a function of worth, instead of worth a function of love. This is “the Fall,” metaphorically, because through the deception we have lost our identification with our nature as love.
The Deception of Conditional Love
The fraudulent standard that love is a condition of something else is the basis of many constructs, including societal meritocracy, religious doctrines of original sin, and penultimately, ego-bound perception. Meritocracy functions on the premise that human worth is based on performance and ability. On the contrary, you cannot deserve or not deserve love, you cannot earn or lose love, because worth is premised on being, not merit.
Most religious doctrines of original sin represent the perverse opposite of unconditional love. Original Sin is the desert of love. Original Sin teaches that the natural state of being human is not love, but evil and not-belonging. As a result of being born into an imperfect reality and our supposed genetic and spiritual participation in the rebellious act of a primitive human (Adam), it is said that we are worthless, hated and cast out by the universe. Being is wretchedness. The redemption offered by the religion for original sin is likewise perverse because it is premised on the condition of faith and obedience; conditional doing instead of unconditional being. This “love” is little more than a ploy for subservience.
This worst and ultimate distortion, universal to humanity and undergirding all other distortions, is our self-identification with mental constructs. Ego-bound (I-bound) perception insists on a standard and condition for love because it identifies existence with the mind; I believe myself to be my thoughts, sensations, and emotions, and my judgments about them. The ego detached from the self-as-being confuses personal identity with judgments about what I should or should not be. If I judge my thoughts and actions to be bad, I become bad because I perceive myself to be the sum total of my thoughts, actions, and feelings. Or if I measure up to my idea of success, I become my idea of worthiness–that is, until I fail. The realm of judgment, which is based on identification with mental objects, is a castle of quicksand. It is inherently unstable and bound to collapse with the slightest, inevitable winds of change. Our salvation from this mental prison lies on a firmer foundation that exists beyond the limitations of the ego–awareness.
The Liberational Experience of Unconditional Love
We can understand love-as-being at a philosophical level, but true comprehension of love can only ever come from experience. The experience of pure love is a meditation on unconditioned existence, an experience of awareness, of pure being without diluting mental constructs. Being-in-love is the key to the transformational knowing of deep love.
I belong in love. I do not experience love by understanding it intellectually but by realizing it as my essential nature. Love is the beating heart of consciousness. It is the pure essence of life, the why within the what. When I am aware only of (and as) awareness–pure being in what is now–then I find that the bedrock, essential nature of my consciousness and all consciousness–who I am and the whoness beyond me–is an ineffable, overwhelming experience and conviction of Love. There is no good enough or not good enough in consciousness unconditioned by mind, there is only being in Love.
No philosophical or scientific proof can demonstrate this experience because it is experience. It cannot be taught or believed in because it is beyond thought and belief–it is unconditioned awareness, which turns out to be unconditional love. To know experience as love is fully be in it. How often do you experience an experience for what it is, not what you think and feel about it?
Because pure experience is without conditions, the love that we find pure experience to be is also without conditions. It is simply and purely nature; our nature and the nature of consciousness, which many believe may be the fabric of the whole cosmos. In this respect, my soul’s essence is “God,” if God is understood either symbolically or literally as the creative principle behind the cosmos. Love is a kind of divine awareness, an awareness that who and what we are is synonymous with the experience of who and what all is. And all is, at an ultimate experiential level, love.
Some call this realization of being nirvana, Source, God, being-consciousness-bliss, and many other names. It is the universally consistent conviction of countless spiritual people, religious mystics, and atheists who have arrived in and as this Truth by similar means. It is a reproducible, empirically verifiable experience; that is, when scientific methodology is applied to the realm of experience, subjectivity. Perhaps this experience is only a function of brain chemistry. But even if it is, transforms the philosophy, morality, and peace of mind of the people who experience it. This transformation may hint that there is something else other than the brain taking place, a real interaction of subjectivity through the brain with reality outside of the mind, if not more (similar to how language connects independent subjectivities in a way that is objectively more than the brain). Nevertheless, the conceptualization and worldview one constructs around the experience of being-as-love are almost inconsequential when compared to actually having the experience. Being transcends and transforms thinking, and thinking cannot grasp being–it can only faintly and imprecisely describe it. And, generally, all agree on the value of the transformation regardless of how they imperfectly conceptualize it.
Foundational love is the experience of Liberation because it assures us that it is solely sufficient, and so we are sufficient solely and completely within it. We are set free through this experience from all the bondage of trying to find ourselves in impermanent things, which results in inevitable trauma of rejection and unlove when we fail or things change. As long as we remain in Love, we know no lack of love and we cannot be swayed by the illusion of object-dependency, for love always is no matter what happens. Even though we still experience the pain and pleasure of existence, by being aware in and as experience these vicissitudes do not move us. We are eternal, beyond space and time and the agonies that come along with that, as awareness of existence that simply and always is.
Love is Good(God)will, the Positive Intention of Existence
Love entails not only belonging but also total goodwill. Love is total goodwill and acceptance based on a shared experience of being, a shared identity of consciousness by conscious beings. It is the experiential truth that we are accepted by the cosmos and each other and ratified as beautiful because we are. Love is not being devoid of intention or feeling. It contains an affirmation of life as precious and good. What we are is “meant to be,” in the sense that it is within the scheme of things, and no purpose can be higher than this. Existence, therefore, is on the side of good, not evil, love, not hate. (Transcendent good, that is. There is a transcendent “good” but not a transcendent evil. Within transcendence, evil does not really exist; it only “exists” as a pregnant possibility to be expressed in the realm of duality. The real expression of evil only exists in the realm of duality). Though suffering, evil, and hatred exist, they are not fundamental to being itself. Being itself affirms existence and infuses it with positive intention.
In this sense, “sin” is being out of alignment with true nature; yours and existence’s. Sin is not knowing that you are not sinful, that you are not shameful or wretched. Sin is the identification of yourself with sinfulness. When we believe ourselves to be evil and unworthy, then we end up embodying that, because we have become identified with what we are not and lost touch with awareness of what we are. Sin is the reverse of conventional religious righteousness because religious righteousness is based on conditions instead of existence. Redemption from sin is the opposite of religious salvation because it is the awareness that we are not sinful and what we are is “god”–eternal, pure, ineffable, immutable, and creative as the Love-awareness fundamental to the experience of existence. And this salvation comes only by gnosis, not faith. It cannot be received from a god without because it is experience that comes from within.
As love we are God-belonging, the experiential incarnation of unconditioned belonging and goodwill. The universe is love and you are a shining star in its skies. Let your light shine brightly.
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I’m Andrew Jasko, Master of Divinity (M.Div.), MFT Trainee, and I work to help you transform your trauma into the place of your power and connect to a healthy, authentic spirituality that works for you (whether that’s as a spiritual not religious, atheist, religious, transitioning, or agnostic identifying person). I was born into a minister’s family and became a preacher and missionary to India, after studying theology at Wheaton College and Princeton Seminary. As a Christian, my relationship with God was my passion, but unhealthy religious teachings caused me an anxiety disorder, sexual repression, and spiritual disillusionment. I felt alone, traumatized, and abandoned by the divine. After an agonizing crisis of faith, I rejected religion and spirituality. Then, I reintegrated a healthy spirituality through mystical and spiritual practices like meditation, psychedelics, and connecting my heart’s desires and intuition. My passion is to help you to heal and connect with your authentic spiritual wholeness.