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March 16, 2014

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Zennist: I haven't. I will read it.

In the Christian world it seems that to understand love is to idealize suffering. Let's just slap suffering up there on a cross, with gobbets of flesh and blood dribbling down and call it love.
I think both religious and secular alike can agree that without love humanity is completely lost, but no one can seem to provide an adequate description of what love is.

Is it worship? Is it the validity of the orgasm? The desire to save our own child instead of our neighbor's, given a fatal choice betwixt the two? Surely we can test this gold plated chunk of lead and recognize how thin the layer of love is, how empty this vain idolotry is, when we have a division between what is and is not loved. We love our things, our nation, our religion, our God, our customs, our duties, our obligations, our hopes and dreams so much that we give a name to it and in doing so we create an endless corridor of duality: me and it. We love our images because they permit us to create a barrier between what is and what we are. Us/them. Our religion/their religion. Our god/their devil. And in that gulf where is love?

I think when we look into that question, very deeply, love, like nationalism, patriotism, socially engaged Buddhism, and infinite other isms, becomes quite terrifying to most people, especially the devout who have so deeply swallowed the hook of religious doctrine that they willingly allow themselves to be exploited through a society which creates religion expressly for that purpose.
If we are sincere and honest, and look very deeply into our notions and concepts about love and all these other things, without all the belief crammed into our minds by the "elect" or “ariyan”, which so many people seem so eager to identify with themselves (and not with others, again the duality), it can be difficult to disentangle that which we idealize from everything else in life that our minds chase after or run away from endlessly. There must be love – indeed an object of love -- because otherwise life is terrifying.

And so by naming love we will cease to observe what is really going on with this mental process of living and instead paint the world the way we would like it to be, as the balm for the basic human fear of it all coming to a complete halt upon bodily death.

I am not willing to say what love is because I simply do not know. Love is certainly not the thing we are discussing here as some kind of object, some kind of rubber ball to bat back and forth, because love is not a thing at all. Love, like the soul, like God, like religion, are concepts we idealize in an effort to make sense of our suffering, to give meaning to our lives and erase the fear of non-being that haunts us from the moment we recognize everything we love will not last.

The spiritual aspect of Christianity or Buddhism or Hinduism is of one essence, it is the practice, the formality, the scripture, the dogma which turns one against the other.

As another point I most vehemently disagree that love and hate can be juxtaposed in the way Jure presents them because love doesn't have an opposite. Love either is there or it isn't and to claim love and hate as halves of the whole strikes me as utter nonsense. Hate and love can occupy the same space and most frequently, in religion, they do.

Jure: Have you read John Ashton's book, _The Religion of Paul the Apostle_?

(Footnote 2: the main difference between Buddhism and Christianity is actually love. Buddha doesn't hate, doesn't love. He has compassion, infinite compassion, and infinite knowledge, but no love. God hates, and also Christ hated (for instance the merchants in the Temple). Knowledge (gnosis) is the ultimate thing in Buddhism. In Christianity, not so: "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 1 Cor 13)

(Footnote to my longer comment. I wrote: "It is not something given only to special people who had mystical experiences, but to everyone." This can be misread as "everyone is saved" - of course I didn't mean it that way. There's only a few people who can actually believe. Only the elect. The vast majority of people do not believe, and even the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians. However, the difference between spiritual elitism and the doctrine of election is that 1) everyone is "equipped" to believe - we are all made in His image so everyone possesses faculties for salvation ... so in principle, anyone can believe, but not many actually will (Matthew 22:14: "For many are called, but few are chosen.") ... --- 2) that it doesn't depend on us ... it means that salvation is not our own work, but only His work. Nothing we do makes us deserving of salvation, except faith alone by grace alone.)

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