Way back towards the end of the first loop around the Transcendence Spiral, we talked about love, in all the many meanings of the frustratingly imprecise word.
Our meditation back then was designed to let you conjure up the feeling of love, of agapē in particular, and let it spread throughout your body, and then from there explode out into the universe.
Of course we don’t actually believe in love-rays that can beam out your emotions, but showing those images to your brain pushes it towards exploring and experiencing those feelings, those states of mind, and that in turn affects your behaviour, how others see you, how they see the society they are in and so increase the general level of love in your world.
We take it for granted that spreading love is a good thing, that love is indeed an end in itself, but in what ways does increased levels of love in your life, and your society, affect the other skills in the Transcendence Spiral? In what ways does it depend upon them in turn?
People who are in love talk about the world looking brighter, more vibrant. This is not just colourful metaphor, a loving state of mind really does appear to colour and brighten the very perceptions of the lovers. The states of mind at and around those we call ‘love’ are more outgoing, more care-free, more alert and aware of the world that they are living in. A loving state of mind actually, it seems, increases awareness.
Why should this be? It should in principle be possible to have a mind which was as aware in one emotional state as in another. Yet when psychologists examine the connections between mind-state and perception they consistently find a link between the two. Perhaps, as basic emotional systems evolved, a creature feeling more loved and doing more loving indicated a relative security, and a secure nervous system can afford to spend more resources on exploring it’s external world than a threatened one. Whether this just-so story is true, or some other evolutionary pressure caused a link between emotional state and perception, we do find that this link has evolved.
Likewise loving people describe themselves as feeling more relaxed, their whole body losing tension, and certainly a lover’s touch can bring thrills and awareness of your body through their fingers. Hormonal changes associated with loving states of mind reduce stress, enabling the immune and digestive systems to operate more efficiently.
Loving also makes you more relaxed, more confident and happy and these things reflect in the way you move, the way you stand, the way your pheromones smell. All these things are social cues, and so improving them improves your social skills.
Love isn’t something that you get from the universe, its not a scarce resource to be hoarded or locked away. We will never use up all our love. So using basic bio-programming techniques like meditation, visualisation and hypnosis you can excercise your brain’s ability to move into that state.
Love is, in fact, a state of mind. A type of consciousness in itself. And as we’ve seen, a type which is typified by more awareness, less stress, in general a pretty desirable state of consciousness to be in. Improving your own experience of living in your body, and improving the society in which you live.
A loving state of mind is one of the surest foundations for behaving ethically, for people wish to protect that which they love, so loving more will lead you towards treating others well. Spreading the values and attitudes for treating people well improves the entire welfare of your society, it’s aggregate karma.
The states of mind which we refer to with the myriad of different meanings of the word love are both an end in themselves and a step in the ladder to transcendence. These mind-states support and buttress all the other spiral skills, giving them a boost which means they can then support each other better. Learning to love is tremendously important for mental development in general.