Our Love Affair With God (Part 1)

By Eric Butterworth
Our Love Affair With God

Some of the clearest insights into the mysterious cosmic energy of love have been revealed by Teilhard de Chardin, the Catholic priest-paleontologist. In his concept of the whole universe and the whole human, he found love to be an attraction exercised upon each conscious element by the Center of the universe, “the call toward the great union, whose attainment is the only real business in nature.”

There is a center within every person and a great center within the universe. Teilhard refers to this center as Omega—the cosmic point of total synthesis. And he sees love as the energy that seeks first to lift each person into wholeness, the totalization of one's true self; and second, it seeks to bring each person into harmony with all other people with whom one may be involved-and all this out of a communion or oneness with “the conscious Center of total convergence.”

A Center of Love Within
Now the obvious and very exciting implication of all this is that love is not something that comes and goes by our changing moods, something we can fall into or out of or feel strain or drain through expression, or something that can ever be depleted. Love is an energy force that emanates as naturally from the center of us as radiation from uranium. We are always “loveful.”

Living at the surface of experience, the energy of love may be felt simply as an emotion or as sensuality, or even as a drive for materiality. We may experience it chiefly as a restless hunger, a passionate desire for fulfillment. We may thus be impelled to a continuous search in the world "out there" for conquests and achievements and possessions, while what our heart really longs for is to be united in a conscious sense of oneness with the heart of the universe.

It is often said that the greatest need of every person is to be loved, which is true. But it is a mistake to think that this need for love can be filled by others. Our yearning for love can be satisfied only by touching the Love Center within us. It is a "remembering" that "In the beginning ... love" is the root of our being. The key to developing a consciousness of this love so that the energy of love may flow easily in and through us is in meditation, ''Man's love affair with God."

Charles Fillmore once said, "One should make it a practice to meditate regularly on the love idea in universal Mind, with the prayer, Divine Love, manifest thyself in me.... This produces a positive love current, which, when sent forth with power, will break up opposing thoughts of hate, and render them null and void.... The love current is not a projection of the will; it is a setting free of a natural, equalizing, harmonizing force that in most persons has been dammed up by human limitations."

Meditation: Accepting What Is Already There
Meditation is a subject that is both popular and greatly confused in modem times. To the Eastern mind, it comes naturally because the religious conditioning of people of the East is more inner-centered. Western religion has been centered in ritual and ceremony and wordy prayers. The followers of Judaism and Christianity, for instance, have had little experience in the withinness of spiritual seeking. Their God has always been "out there" or "up there," and their prayers have been a reaching out and up, an attempt to relate to or communicate with a deity who is much like an absentee landlord of the world.

Thus the tendency in attempts at meditation is to try to experience inner communion with the same kind of tense reaching. As Teilhard puts it, "The presence is so universal and we are so surrounded and transfixed by it-there is no room to fall down and adore it, even within ourselves." The goal is not to reach something, even to reach for something. It is letting go of the very desire to reach. There is really nowhere to go, nothing to do. We simply get ourselves out of the way and let the transcendence of us become the living reality of us.

Plotinus had an amazingly simple and yet extremely dynamic insight. He was probably one of the very first people to conceive of humanity as being at the center of a totally supportive universe. He suggests that we let the soul banish all that disturbs it and the body let go of its tensions and then think of Spirit as streaming, pouring, rushing, and shining into us from all sides while we stand quietly. In other words, God is seeking us!

Meditation is an experience in loving and being loved at the Center of us. This Center is not a place to go but a level of consciousness to feel. In this consciousness, we love God and God loves us. There is no question of the latter, for "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). Our need is to accept it, to experience it, to bubble over with it. It is a consciousness that we are in love with God, and God is in love with us. And this sense of oneness in love "is the only real business of nature."

There are many techniques for meditation, which we will not attempt to describe or outline in this study-partly because of lack of space. But chiefly because we want to emphasize that meditation is not a mental practice, but an awareness that takes place in the heart. It is essentially an experience in and of love. It is an awakening and unfolding of our true nature-by love. Just as a flower unfolds in the rays of the sun, so the heart center opens through daily meditation and the practice of the presence of divine Love.

The Power of the Smile
When we feel the emotion of love, it is customary for the face to light up. The constant experience of transcendental love imparts to the face and to the whole being a spiritual radiance. The smile becomes alight with spiritual beauty. The smiling face is not only beautiful and joyful—it is "loveful."

Why not put on a smile as a preparation for meditation? By the law of reversibility, could the smile not provide a vessel to be filled? Close your eyes for a moment. Smile. You do not really have to have something to smile about. Just let your face relax, and let the corners of your mouth turn up. Think of the smile as a vessel with its own form and shape and character. Now recall that the Spirit is "streaming, pouring, rushing, and shining into (you) from all sides while (you) stand quietly." Don't try to feel anything or do anything or reach for anything. Just be still with that smile held out as a cup to be filled. You will suddenly sense the "joy of the Lord" welling up within you and pouring into you, filling and justifying the smile. This kind of joy is the emanation of the cosmic energy of love. Let the warmth of that love sweep over you. Feel it, glory in it, give thanks for it!


 

Life Is for LovingReprinted from Life Is for Loving with permission of Harper One, San Francisco, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.

Eric Butterworth served as the senior minister at The Unity Center of New York from 1961 to 1963. Over the course of his career, he wrote 16 best-selling books on spirituality, including the Oprah Winfrey favorite, Discover the Power Within You. Thousands of recordings and documents produced during Butterworth’s lifetime are now part of an historic collection inherited by Unity Institute & Seminary. For more information on the Butterworth collection visitwww.ericbutterworth.com.