We usually look for love “out there”; we want to be loved. Perhaps we find a perfect lover or a new BFF, and for a time we feel like everything in the world is just right. But then something changes; maybe we get hurt, and we fall out of love. Then the world sucks once again. If we want to experience the world as a loving place, we need to practice being loving. You might reasonably wonder: “how could that possibly work?”
When I was young, I used to get angry a lot. If you read the story in “Radically Happy” about my road rage, you’ll get the picture. When someone cut me off on the highway, I might get really pissed off; I might even try to weave through traffic to cut them off. But one day I saw my friend, who was telling me about a new piece of software he was developing, not even notice when a person cut in front of us on Silicon Valley’s highway 101. He just lightly stepped on the brake and kept excitedly talking about his newest creation. The same event that may have sent me into a rage, he didn’t notice. It isn’t entirely circumstances that cause us to experience love or anger; it’s how we habituate our mind.
If you cultivate anger, you encounter a world that makes you angry. If you cultivate love, the world becomes a place of love. The good news is that our very being is already love; we have just covered it up with habits. By igniting little sparks of love in our life, we gradually uncover who we really are and what the world really is— awareness suffused with love.
Create sparks of love, through letting go
Letting go is a kind of generosity, a major dose of self-care. Clinging to thoughts, emotions and sensations is a subtle form of stinginess, trying to keep something. The weird thing is that we are clinging to something that can’t really be held onto anyway. If we generously allow the thought or emotion the space to just be, without trying to maintain it or chase it away, it can’t cause any trouble at all.
So we practice inner generosity by dropping inner miserliness, the clinging that is the root of all our trouble. But it is important to practice outer generosity as well. Outer generosity strengthens the inner and vice versa. Outer generosity means being fully present and available to others, especially their needs.
When you have inner generosity and outer generosity, there is no clinging to a result. It’s the most powerful way to give, care for yourself and care for others. Letting go uncovers the naturally aware love that is the basis of everything.
Spaciousness as the basis for accumulating sparks of love
Anger is the antithesis of love. When we are angry, we risk hurting others, but for sure we are a victim. Freedom comes from accumulating sparks of love, anger goes in the other direction. When we are angry, we won’t progress on the spiritual path, we will be miserable, and we may lose sight of what we value most.
Patience overcomes anger. When we are patient, though anger may flare, we don’t act; we patiently wait. Patience comes from spaciousness. In spaciousness, a little anger can arise, but it’s a little ripple in the limitless space of our awareness—it can’t overwhelm. Inner spaciousness leads to outer patience; outer patience gives us the freedom to choose our actions rather than react out of habit.
Our mind is naturally spacious, but we become focused on the reasons for anger instead of the space that the anger arises within. When we focus on the reasons, we lose the space. So, again and again, remind yourself of the naturally spacious mind by taking mini-breaks throughout the day. Take a minute or two to just reconnect with the spacious quality of mind. I have put a guided creating space exercise on SoundCloud to help.
From spaciousness, comes patience. Both are bigger than anger. Without anger, our sparks of love will flow.
No moment of love, kindness, care and compassion is too small. Through the power of letting go and spaciousness, your natural limitless capacity for unconditional love becomes more and more available. Don’t worry if in the beginning you can’t do it for everyone, or you can’t do it all the time. Celebrate the sparks you ignite and you already create the auspicious conditions for more to arise. It’s radical; look inside and the outside world transforms.
Upcoming Virtual Retreat
For those of you who are interested in more deeply exploring this topic and others like it, please join us for Samye’s very first online retreat led by Erric Solomon: Radically Loving: Transcending Anxiety and Stress. To read more about the retreat program or to register, please click here.