By Pranada Comtois
There is a love where the melding of hearts is complete; a love in which we experience inseparable, supreme union.
This love, wise-love, is what we all hanker for most in life. We seek it out more than we do knowledge, wealth, community, honor, and a host of other worthy gains.
Wise-love, is characteristically unconditional and pure; a state of being that fuels our actions and breaths with meaningfulness, and is nourishing to our very core. Even life-sustaining food cannot nurture a soul who is without love. Therefore we see well-fed infants die if they are without human touch, without love.
Bhakti, the ancient yoga system of wise-love, describes the self as a lover.
The self is inherently joyful, illuminated, wise, and more. But the predominant feature of her personhood is that she is a lover. Her profound thirst is for wise-love. Not for a drop of love, but an ocean of love! Not for a pale form of love, but the wise-love that ceaselessly wells from her source. Her nature insists that she must be able to freely swim, always and continuously, in the expression of the ocean of wise-love.
Each of us is, of course, the immutable inner self. And our original nature never changes, even when we are in the material realm. For this reason, we each have an unquestionable yearning within our cores, to become one in a consummate togetherness with our beloved. Even though we cannot always experience or express this ideal in this world, we feel the great potential and hear its call.
Like a breeze gently caressing a vast rippling field of golden wheat, love invisibly, but tangibly, touches us, causing us to bend under its touch then stand tall to spread its gift around. All we have to do is open full access to our self.
Our experience of this world, which the Buddha identified as a place of suffering, shifts to an exhilarating participation in wise-love when we learn how to open. Indeed, the Bhakti tradition says the great magic, the secret of secrets, is that this world is a divine love affair!
The cosmos is an invitation to love, all life forms, the earth and the source of all.
This invitation from the universe welcomes us to see behind the suffering to the offering—the offering of our love outwards, via our open hearts. Suffering exists only to show us our way toward love. If we take without reciprocating we become unhappy; if we give without receiving we also become unhappy. Wise-love thrives because of mutual reciprocation.
In the wise-love–affair, we become extremely joyful as we engage in our hearts with those of other souls, and with our source. This world is a wonderful field of opportunity to practice love! This is where we all have an opportunity to hone love and exercise our heart muscles to express wise-love in perfect harmony.
So how do we manifest wise-love?
Though inherent in us, wise-love hides beneath a few prominent misconceptions. One is that we are a creation of this world. We have forgotten the world of love—our homeland—though it beckons us moment to moment. But are we aware of this beckoning?
–Calming the mind in meditation to become aware of the self, who is the observer and experiencer, is advantageous to help us shift away from an incorrect perspective of ourselves deprived of love. For love is always attainable to us. This, then, becomes our meditation.
–Additionally, we can dip into Bhakti texts—and other sources of inspiration—to repeatedly remind ourselves of our true identity. The Gita (2.20) says, “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” These powerful assurances fix our sight on our eternal nature and give us philosophy to ground our ranging thoughts. We need to repeatedly hear such inspiring truths, and remember that we are spiritual beings whose state of being is love. This practice is called Bhakti yoga.
–Another way we can find wise-love is to practice curbing our tendency to feel deprived and, instead, give–give our time, money, well-wishes, intelligence, and any talents we have to love and protect others and our world.
To cultivate wise-love we open our hearts to the characteristics that attract it. Compassion, gratitude, and humility are attendants that welcome and nurture wise-love. They are traits that allow the generous part of our beings to surface and grow. When we give, consciousness expands—the self expands.
Love is always ready to engage with us like the easy breeze running across the wheat field!
We can create the favorable breeze by remembering our identity as a lover. With our newly opened hearts, we feel ready to engage ourselves with others and the world around us in a generous way, a way that joyfully declares our conscious intent to be present as a lover and respond as a lover!
For instance, even when doing something as simple and ordinary as taking a sip of clean water, (so necessary for the functioning of our bodies), we can pause in gratitude for the miracle substance we cannot make, but which is gifted to us, and without which we would die. We might also remember that many people do not have access to clean water. In that simple, conscious act we may choose to do more than sign a petition, but to give our time, intelligence or money. These are all heart-opening meditations that nourish wise-love.
Moment by moment, as we engage in our world with depth compassion and awareness, our thoughts and acts become saturated with wise-love, which grows, and grows within us as we open our hearts.
So take a chance, and answer the call of your own, wise-loving heart!
Pranada Comtois teaches Bhakti’s Wise-Love: the practice of living and loving unconditionally. She illuminates this practice in her new book Wise-Love: Bhakti and the Search for the Soul of Consciousness (Inword Publishers, 2016) Pranada lived for 20 years as a contemplative-ascetic in the ancient Bhakti tradition. She then spent the following 20 years raising a family and running two multi-million dollar businesses dedicated to teaching practical spirituality in the world. Her own teachings draw from both experiences, and she has published them in Integral Yoga, Rebelle Society, Elephant Journal, Journey of the Heart: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry or Women and her own blog Little Ways of Being. Pranada served as managing editor for the BacopaLiterary Review for five years. She is featured in the film Women of Bhakti as she was one of the first to speak up for gender harmony in the Bhakti tradition in the late 80’s, successfully organizing the first steps against gender injustice while publishing Priti-laksanam, a quarterly journal advocating women’s rights. Her passion to inspire women continues to fuel her work to this day. Her memoir Krishna’s Pajamas: A 45-Year Odyssey Towards Wise-Love is due out in the fall of 2016. You may connect with her via her website, Facebook or Twitter.
Editor: Sherrin Fitzer