~by Pranada Comtois
*To listen to an audio version of this blog, spoken by Pranada Comtois, please click on the “play” button
Holding a book in my hands, the author beckons me, “Imagine feeling more love from someone than you have ever known.” Yes! I muse and settle in for a journey with the 300-page book. The line on the back cover “love is a state of being” had garnered my full attention.
I read on, “This lover doesn’t need anything from you . . . only wants your complete fulfillment.” Two paragraphs later, I’m introduced to the lover, “It’s the subatomic texture of the universe, the dark matter that connects everything.”
Whoa, can we back up a second? The “someone” on the first page just became an “it.” Then onto the next sentence, “When you tune into that flow you will feel it in your own heart . . . ” Well, now I have love as a vague flow; a lover that is an it.
Maybe the author needed a better editor, I think, and I brave my way forward. After several chapters I set the book down disappointed. When did our experience of love and loving manifest as an amorphous mass? Have we ever loved an indescript, indeterminate, shapeless something/nothing? Can we talk or share our heart with dark matter? How might we sculpt subatomic texture so we can embrace it? Will the unnamed flow receive our gifts and send a thank you note?
To confirm I’m not asking more from the author than ought to be expected, I turn to the dictionary: “Love; a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.”
This reassures me. Love is what I thought it was: an exchange between two people. When love is used colloquially in a statement like, “I love sunsets,” we use love loosely—imprecisely—to mean a liking. We’re not talking about the nuanced relationship we can experience with another person.
Even love of oneself, though genuine love, is not a full expression of love. What give and take of thoughts, emotions, and gifts take place with oneself? The exchange is one-sided and thus limited. The full face of love involves two sentient beings.
A “state of being” refers to a condition of the self that exists eternally. Such a state isn’t modified by time or space, what to speak of lesser influences like moods or shifts of opinion.
When we go inward we can make contact with the eternal self, whose nature is described by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (2.16):
Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both.
The self, or the soul, is a unit of consciousness, a spiritual substance, comprised of Being (sat), Knowing (chit), and Loving (ananda). In short, the self exists, knows, and loves. In her original condition—in her eternal state of being—she is a knowing, joyful lover. That original state is called wise-love.
Since we are not experiencing wise-love as a state of being now, how can we achieve it? The Bhakti texts describe that when the self connects with her Source, the Supreme Person (from whom she garners her characteristics of Being, Knowing, and Loving) in love and service through a practice of Bhakti, she can wake from the current dream that has her believing she is either the male or female body she is currently inhabiting.
Waking from the dream of the false ego to the real self through a Bhakti yoga practice of hearing and chanting about the Supreme’s name, personality, and activities, she finds wise-love as a state of being. Such pure love flows ever-fresh and ceaselessly from her heart toward other souls and her Significant Other.
In that illumined dance of love she can hold her Supreme Beloved – who is infinite gorgeousness itself – in her real arms and gaze upon the unmatched beauty of her Beloved’s face with the soul’s real eyes.
Pranada Comtois is a devoted pilgrim and award-winning author of Wise-Love: Bhakti and the Search for the Soul of Consciousness. Her writing sheds light on bhakti’s wisdom school of heartfulness. At sixteen she met her teacher A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and began her lifelong study and practice of bhakti. Her writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications and she is a featured speaker in the film “Women of Bhakti.” Her second book, Bhakti-Shakti: The Goddess of Divine Love is due out in 2021 through Mandala Publishing. Connect with Pranada here.