“Loving awareness” teachings

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Griffin, modified 5 Months ago.

“Loving awareness” teachings

Posts: 161 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
What is your stance on “loving awareness” teachings? (The term originates from Ram Dass.) I am talking about teachings that somehow equate awareness with love, saying that “love is not a feeling, but an expression of receptive awareness” etc. So the idea is that awareness (when free from craving and delusion) has this quality of unconditional acceptance of every object that appears, and this quality can be called love. This view has strong resemblance to some theistic and new-age claims (“God is love”, “Everything is love” etc.).

Could you “translate” those views to the language of traditional dharma paradigms? Vajrayanic phrases like “unity of wisdom and compassion” come to mind… Your initial response may be that Buddhism is above this hippy “all is love” shit. However, I see most Buddhist authors subtly or openly talking about love/compassion in some similar contexts (including Daniel, Shinzen, Culadasa…).
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Could you “translate” those views to the language of traditional dharma paradigms? 

As a theistic new age hippy-ass "God is love" dipshit, I spend a certain amount of time here on DhO trying to do exactly that, lol. But not much, and less and less. I think it really gets sorted out on the mat, honestly, and that the reason most people on DhO might look down on someone saying "God is love" is not that it is so outrageous or philosophically off the wall or even unviable, but because you very seldom see it being said by someone who has really done to work to get to the place where "God" craps out, and "love" is emptied of all conceivable meaning. Meister Eckhart prayed to God to relieve him of "God," which is sort of pointing at what I mean here. What I think when I hear that all you need is Love stuff is usually, "Say that after a good dark night." That's the acid test for even beginning a meaningful conversation. 

I think that it is also clear that, as you pointed out, there is a vast array of Buddhist angles on this love territory and you won't get far in contemporary Buddhist circles without hearing about love/compassion. There are plenty of people here on DhO working it.

Speaking for myself, if awareness freed of all the fetters and bullshit does not have the quality of love, then I want my fucking ticket money back, lol.
 
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Griffin, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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Speaking for myself, if awareness freed of all the fetters and bullshit does not have the quality of love, then I want my fucking ticket money back, lol.
Haha well said emoticon

What I think when I hear that all you need is Love stuff is usually, "Say that after a good dark night."
Aren't loving-kindness practices one of standard recommendations for easing the Dark night though? Maybe a little bit of love is exactly what some darknight(er)s need emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
tim: What I think when I hear that "all you need is Love" stuff is usually, "Say that after a good dark night."
Griffin: Aren't loving-kindness practices one of standard recommendations for easing the Dark night though? Maybe a little bit of love is exactly what some darknight(er)s need emoticon


Griffin, I think you ask a great question here, and my response feels like it might be way off what this beautiful thread has happening, so rather than risking a derailment into the dukkha nanas here, if you're okay with the leap, I'm going to answer you on my home turf/practice thread, The Bar(do) of Last Resort 3.14, a.k.a., the sewer grate at the bottom of hell, where discussions of the dark night can't derail anything because the whole thing is already off the rails. emoticon

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22244714
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Ni Nurta, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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You can make awareness to feel any way you like.
I see absolutely nothing stopping anyone from having theirs to feel like love, whatever feeling of love means for them.

Adding qualities of metta is simply beneficial, not to mention it feels nice thus the recommendations to do it, and not only from teachers you mentioned but also from the Buddha himself.
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Griffin, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

Posts: 161 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
So, do you think that the inherent relationship between awareness and love is not greater than the inherent relationship between awareness and hate? emoticon
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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I'm pretty much the opposite of a hippy, but I'll sometimes catch myself in meditation thinking 'god is love' thoughts, which generate jhanic ecstasy and warm heart feelings. There's usually a faint feeling of self-disgust afterwards, like I can't believe I fell for that b/s, but it's still a net positive. It's probably activating some of the same pathways as the brahamaviharas, but with more emotional resonance due to Christian cultural conditioning, albeit very loose and with a heavy dose of cynical scientific materialism layered on top. It seems quite common for western “buddhist converts” to underestimate the latent power of their own cultural archetypes. Two of my favorite films are The Mission and Life of Brian!  
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Griffin, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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There's usually a faint feeling of self-disgust afterwards
Maybe you should try to find out what's behind this... I have some similar reactions. For example, although loving-kindness is something I deeply regard as one of highest life values, when I try to speak about that to someone else, every time I say the world "love" I have this subtle feeling of sounding pathetic, it doesn't come of inspiring and "authentic".

Not being a hippy nutcase is good, but I think that having an aversive reaction to love is the opposite extreme, and surely has something to do with psychological "stuff" (self-disgust inferiority complex unloving parent type of thing)... 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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Thanks Griffin, you hit the nail on the head! I'm working on that stuff but clearly I still have some issues there. I also feel like I need to make peace with my Christian shadow in some way ...
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Ben V., modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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I remember reading somewhere that Dipa Ma said she did not distinguish mindfulness and metta anymore. That sounds like loving awareness.

I find there is an application of that in what we could call 'deep listening', where you listen to a person in a state of accepting, open awareness, creating a space where the person listened to can increasingly fell safe to express different aspects of their experience. Hopefully, the person being listened to may gradually internalise that space of loving awareness to meet their own feelings. The listeners here would also listen (be lovingly aware) of the feelings and perceptions that arise in themselves, without grasping. This kind of listening is taught in certain schools of psychotherapy but everyone can develop it, and I have experienced Buddhist groups doing exercises to develop it. Of course, it's a skill that needs to be exercised and developed for a lifetime...

Although 'loving awareness' may sound hippy-ish, I definitely think there is something genuinely 'Dharmic' about it.  
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Griffin, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

Posts: 161 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
This kind of listening is taught in certain schools of psychotherapy but everyone can develop it, and I have experienced Buddhist groups doing exercises to develop it.
There is a great book that talks about this at lenght... "Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation" by John Welwood. I don't hear it being mentioned much, but it's an awesome book.
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Ben V., modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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Thanks for the recommendation, Griffin and Chris! I definitely want to read that!
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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"Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation" by John Welwood. 

I second Griffin's recommendation of this book.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

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My understanding of love came from studying 1 Corinthians 13 in the bible.  Reconciling Christianity and Buddhism has always been a conundrum for me.  The verses that stood out were 4-7:  
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
There wasn't any reference to feelings, it seemed more like an attitude.  I came to identify love with clear awareness. It's the only outlook that allows such an opening of the heart, the acceptance of what is.
genaro, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

Posts: 80 Join Date: 11/23/19 Recent Posts
"My understanding of love came from studying 1 Corinthians 13 in the bible. "


hmmm ....  it's quite an about farce (sic) for me to say thanks for some christian teaching, but that's rather sweet. 
You're such an angel ;-)


"There wasn't any reference to feelings"


superb!
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Griffin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: “Loving awareness” teachings

Posts: 161 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
I've just read something relevant for this discussion:
Yet even though human love usually manifests imperfectly, there is another dimension of love that is perfect, unbroken, and always available. It flows directly into the heart from the ultimate source of all - whether we call that God, Tao, or Buddha-nature. This is great love, absolute Iove, pure, unconditional openness and warmth - which actually abides at the very core of our nature.
I would define love very simply: as a potent blend of opennes and warmth, which allows us to make real contact, to take delight in and appreciate, and to be at one with ourselves, others, and life itself. Openness - the heart's pure, unconditional yes - is love's essence. And warmth is love's basic expression, arising as a natural extension of this yes - the desire to reach out and touch, connect with, and nourish what we love. If love's openness is like the clear, cloudless sky, its warmth is like the sunlight streaming through that sky, ernitting a rainbowlike spectrum of colors: passion, joy; contact, communion, kindness, caring, understanding, service, dedication, and devotion, to name just a few.
- J. Welwood, "Perfect love, Imperfect Relationships"

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