Something that keeps making its way back to me to truly assimilate into wisdom the past few years is the ramifications of unconditional love and how to fully understand what it would look and act like. One teaching in particular that has perpetually baffled me is Jesus’ demonstration of tipping over the tax collectors tables and casting them out of the temple. Another being Krishna’s command for the warrior Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita, to fight and kill his ‘enemies’ and extended family. As far as our own lives, I have often wondered when is it appropriate to stand up for ourselves, defend our beliefs and rights, and when is it appropriate to turn the other cheek? For the past three years or so I have believed that enlightenment and the subsequent unconditional love that it evoked would be a nonattached, liberated stance on all things. Or as my greatest teacher Dr. Hawkins referred to it, non-positionality, implying that we do not accept the ego’s assertions of any opinion (position) on anything in life – all thoughts, judgments, and opinions are the ego’s vanities and thus short-sighted and always in error.
I applied this concept consistently in every situation of my life as best I could and it worked well over the years, and I noticed I was truly ‘blissed-out’ in all situations because I did in fact have no position. Due to my radical view on things that most people were getting frustrated and energized about, I would often be asked the extreme question of, “What would you do if someone was trying to kill or hurt you, your family, a friend, or your lover, would you just sit by and do nothing?” My answers would always vary depending on who I was speaking to, yet all had the message of whatever was supposed to happen would happen. Meaning if I was supposed to defend I would, if I was destined to do nothing, such as Jesus allowing Himself to be crucified, then no matter what I wanted that would be the outcome. However, I admit that my answer was always a nonattached answer, which as far as most of humanity is concerned, was basically not answering at all since I stayed surrendered and unbiased about it. Which brings me to another teaching that is confusing within this context, “Choose this day who you will serve [God or Ego/Devil]… If you are luke warm (hypocrite) I will spew you out.”
As mentioned, having gone the path of Advaita or radical Nonduality, the realization dawned on me that nothing can be labeled or judged, everything just IS, and there is only the All Encompassing Infinite I as the Source and essence of All That Is. Absolutely everything imaginable is just a projection of this I and thus all concepts and dualities are an illusion of perception and don’t actually independently exist. While I was able to radically accept this over time, and it also made life extremely blissful and liberated, there was often the lingering question of what do I do then if I’m still in the body – I’m still here? How do I make decisions towards a future, have goals, support and relate to others, or participate in the human game? What do I do if evils (egoic violations of my rights to a Godly life) are confronting me in my human experience that I am still a part of? Such as the example question above that was always asked of me.
Understanding Our Existence First and Foremost
It is exactly due to this unmistakable fact that I still exist in this human form that I cannot deny my experience of choices, emotions, and desires. I found that when I maintained the ‘enlightened/nonattached state’ I was basically transcendent of the human experience and thus was in love with everything: war, violence, suffering, hate, greed, kindness, neutrality, liberation, peace, love; it was all the same – just as the sages had promised. While this was radically liberating, what was really the point of being human if I wasn’t actually participating in the human game (standing for something and having goals and desires)? Many found it strange and unsettling that I didn’t prefer living to death, happiness to grief, or my loved ones dying or suffering to living and thriving. So even though my body was interacting, it might have well been in a cave or withdrawn to a monastery. Yet that was, and is, evidently not my destiny. Doing so, to me, would seem to be an escape and running away into a blissful, yet participation-less, passionless, void, like a renounced ascetic – hence I wasn’t meant to do it.
Messengers of Clarity
So many times over these years of embracing this radical truth, messengers in my life have tried to remind me that so long as I am in the human experience there is no point to resist it and try to escape it. Ultimately the conclusion being, there is no where to go. And so I have since sought to make sense of the Absolute Truth of the Infinite Divine Self that cannot be denied, yet also reconcile my remaining existence within this human body. When I let go of attraction to the void – absolute desirelessness and non-participation (no stance on anything) – I realize that the human experience is actually flowing through me. If I maintain this illuminated awareness (I am not the ‘doer’) while participating and know what my life truly is (a gift), I am therefore always free from attachment to it even while choices, goals, and emotions arise. In other words, ‘Mathew’ goes about his business and character roles according to the alignment of the universe’s cosmic play, yet I am un-removed and eternally present as the Source of Existence. Thus it dawns, could it really be true that we are not actually the human personality and character that we think we are and are in fact the subjective essence and light of awareness that illuminates its existence?
Standing for the Glory of Divine with Fearless Resoluteness
This brings us back to my original question of what then does unconditional love look like and act like in a truly liberated being that knows the Absolute yet simultaneously embraces the current human experience without resistance. In pondering the stories of other mystics and avatars such as Jesus, Gautama the Buddha, Ramana Maharshi, Neem Karoli baba, Dr. Hawkins, Alan Watts, Paramahansa Yogananda, or Ramakrishna (to name just a few) who still took a stance against defilement of Divinity (innocence) and what they held to be sacred, my understanding is maturing through seeing that unconditional love is not always passive, but instead, it is fearlessly resolute. When all becomes clear, it is revealed that the human experience can be embraced and fully surrendered as that which it was all along, never our own. This would then allow us to realize that there may be times when we will stand for something contrary to our understanding at the time, as well as say ‘no’ to other things that may seem contradictory to our comprehension. Yet on a long enough timeline, all things are in divine balance and order.
It is perfectly plausible and understandable to me now that there are things that I must say ‘no’ to because they are not in alignment with the truth and level of consciousness that I hold and not doing so would be contradictory and hypocritical. Unconditional love doesn’t ‘love evil’ or condone negative choices, it acknowledges and understands that ‘evil’ is really just ignorance, and therefore has compassion while waiting for others to remember the truth of their love and forgiveness. Does this mean that I have to go around declaring war on evil and proclaiming gospels? No of course not; there may still be plenty of times when the best action is to turn the other cheek. Yet the important thing to note is that if we are consciously choosing to forgive and surrender to compassion then that is still a choice. Surrendering to God is a choice even though on the surface it may not seem like much of anything. On the other hand, it is being weak-willed, easily swayed, and hypocritical that is the confusion and source of this struggle.
Sitting on the fence helps no one, serves nothing, and stagnates our evolution. As Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” In terms of Krishna and Christ’s alleged demonstrations of endorsing seemingly ‘unloving’ behavior, I see that in all actuality they were very clearly showing unconditional love through embracing and honoring their own awakened wisdom first and foremost and surrendering their human experience to Divine as the only Doer. Meaning their experiences were not of their own egoic doing but rather they were serving as surrendered agents of consequence to uphold the perfect balance of the universe. They knew that unconditional love actually means liberated freedom to do as we are so guided to do. It is vital that humanity sees that all situations and decisions are in perfect agreement with the consequences of any and all involved. There are no accidents or coincidences. So when it comes to unconditional love the question is, “How radical are you prepared to be?”
Remember Who You Are
Jesus incarnated to serve as a messenger of Divinity through proclaiming Truth and standing for the protection and remembrance of innocence and subsequently cast out endless demons, healed those who believed in loving themselves again, and sanctified temples and homes. He loved the ‘sinners’ in that he offered them forgiveness if they so chose it; He did not condone their behavior – that is not what unconditional love is – instead He offered them another way.
Krishna outlines very clearly to the distraught Arjuna, that all his enemies are already slain by Him, implying that Arjuna is not the doer and his enemies are inheriting a fate beyond his comprehension (eternal consequence). Furthermore, Krishna instructs him to surrender all attachment to his labor (in this case fighting) and know that Divine is the only one guiding all things, so be free from all attachment to his actions and only devote and surrender himself to Divine Love.
Therefore if we maintain this surrendered, humble state, standing up for sacred innocence and that which we hold close, remembering our existence is not our own, protecting and proclaiming Truth through our example, giving thanks and praise to our Creator, and casting out the demons from our temple (our experience) is perfectly justified so long as we exist in this dualistic dream. From the perspective of the Absolute, does it actually matter, is it actually “real”? Not at all, life is but a fleeting dream of glorious joy and nonsense. Yet the truth is, so long as we exist in this seeming reality, all things are guided and directed in an incomprehensibly beautiful, orchestrated dance of divine synchronicity. Every moment of life is actually a display of interconnections of karmic consequence in which there are no victims and all is in perfect harmony and fairness. Not a single soul is given what it hasn’t rightfully inherited. On a long enough timeline it is clear, there are no mistakes, accidents, or coincidences in our lives and experiences. So be that which you were meant to be, stand firmly resolute in your devotion and surrender, giving all credit and glory back to Divine knowing that we, of our own, are not the doer. Our existence is a gift and without the Infinite, we could not be. So long as we remember this in its fullness, there can be no fear or doubt in our action.
So what does this all mean in our daily lives? Coming back to the original examples that people would propose to me, the answer would seem clear now that I absolutely would defend my rights to life and that which I hold sacred (my beliefs). So long as my motive is based in a surrender to Divine then I know that whatever I am aligned to do is according to a universe based in consequence (karma).
Recently a situation arose in my life where someone crossed this boundary of respect and slandered my character. My initial response was to not care, I knew that it was just their own projection and had nothing to do with me, yet with some thought I also realized that in this case (someone I was going to be interacting with on a weekly basis) it wasn’t just to allow them to walk all over me and not stand up for myself. Because the path of least resistance (nonattachment) has always been the most attractive to me, I’ve never been good at confrontation and would rather go along with others than make a stance counter to theirs. This of course meant that I would frequently go against my own beliefs and sacrifice my values (hypocrisy) so others could feel validated in their, most often, poor choices.
This I can finally see is not constructive, of service, or loving; and as I said before, sitting on the fence benefits no one and only hinders our evolution. So the next day I finally stood up for myself by confronting this particular person and addressing with them how I do not accept their slanderous accusations nor will I accept someone speaking to me in such a disrespectful manner. Although it was completely against my usual nonattached approach I realized that in some cases, nothing good comes from doing nothing and just rolling over at any sign of confrontation. The person respected my stance and has since treated me accordingly.
As an elementary teacher, I have seen a profound parallel in my experience with my students. When I don’t demonstrate and explain consequences for our choices it is enabling my students to think that there are no consequences to their choices and thus they can do as they please, not caring about their impact on others. Seeing how the truth is we are all connected and one, allowing others to think they are independently existing and can do as they please is not conducive to evolution (remembering our unity). So as an example, I have noticed that if a student chooses to behave inappropriately in class or doesn’t do an assignment, there must be a direct consequence otherwise they will never assume anything was ‘wrong’/’undesirable’ about what they chose. As a clarification, it is not the being, but the action that bares the consequence of ‘undesirable’; the being is always perfect and lovable.
If a child is continuously never shown consequence they will believe that no one is actually paying attention to them and thus they can get away with whatever they want. Ironically, I’ve noticed that children will actually push this ‘negative boundary’ until they finally do get attention! In other words, they just want to be seen – good or bad they just want to be loved and acknowledged and are confused about how to get it. They want to know the boundaries, expectations, and clear consequences. They feel safe and secure and actually perform much better, feel confident, and loved when such things have been outlined and demonstrated consistently. This has taken me some time to understand and perfect in my teaching style, but being around my innocent students has fast-tracked this realization exponentially.
Now the reason I offer this example is because all of humanity are still children for the most part; we are all still going around pushing the boundaries trying to find out what to expect from life, how does it work, what can I get away with, what can I not get away with? Most of us are still trying to feel ‘right’ and secure; searching for something to make us feel our innate, unconditional acceptance and wholeness. It is because of this lost feeling that humanity wanders in darkness trying to find fulfillment from the external world that will never actually satisfy us. During my time in college studying child psychology, I became thoroughly convinced of this concept, especially after reading The Continuum Concept, by Jean Leidloff.
So it’s clear why Jesus, Krishna, and other sages have done the things that they’ve done that may seem ‘unloving’ on the surface, but with closer examination we will see that their choices were powerful demonstrations of consequence and radical unconditional love. Likewise, it is important to see that sometimes doing nothing is just as strong of a choice as doing something as well, such as Jesus’s demonstration on the cross.
Unconditional Love is Unbiased Consequence
What is the most powerful teaching we can accept for ourselves and demonstrate to others? It is that all choices have consequences and there is nothing ‘wrong’ or ‘sinful’ about it, it’s just a neutral, impartial law of the universe. Deep down, I realized that I have been afraid of being, what I referred to as earlier, an agent of consequence. Meaning I was afraid to have to do things that may confront others as a direct consequence of their choices, but it’s not personal it’s just the way it has to be if I desire to be of the highest service. For example if I let my students disrespect me, not turn in assignments, not take tests, etc. then nothing productive would ever occur. They wouldn’t learn or evolve and mature, they’d be enabled to be entitled, irresponsible, and disrespectful, I’d lose my job because I’m not teaching, I’d feel demeaned and powerless, and it’s easy to see the error in this thinking. And just as I experienced with an adult that was being disrespectful, there were consequences to such choices and I had to declare it clearly so there was no mistake what I expected. All of us face this challenge daily in sometimes small to large doses, and it really comes down to what are we willing to accept. What do we think of ourselves? We are the product of what we believe, and as such we dictate to the universe who we are and what we expect in every moment. When we have unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves and clearly have defined our heart’s desires and intentions, we will live a life not meagerly hiding in passivity, but fearlessly resolute without doubt or wavering in our actions.
~Go within and start knocking on the Door~