The world of form is an external manifestation of the formless, or Spirit; and even though the mind cannot grasp Spirit, it can talk about it: it is pure Wisdom, pure Love, vast Power, and it has no beginning and no end.
Love seeks to fulfill itself – as any force in the Kosmos – and it does so through self-expression. The ‘One Love’ has become the ‘many’ which, distanced from each other, allow for love’s expressions to unfold in ways that allow Love to know itself as itself in an ever enriching way. One could say that the Divine Love shows up as relationships, but it is more reflective of the truth to say, Love shows up as ‘relating’, the action of engaging with each other, the giving and receiving of time, energy, attention, gifts, labor, produce etc between a ‘self’ and an ‘other’.
Exchanges between beings are expressions of love ranging from lower grade self-serving contractions to high-grade selfless service; and individuals with sensitive perception can easily tune their attention in any exchange and sense, feel and calibrate the purity of the exchange.
Mindful listening, seeing and feeling into another is the highest possible grade of love: one being grants the other none less but his or her own consciousness! The art of presence, thoroughly cultivated through meditation, allows one to first be present with himself, then to be present with another. The conscious exchange of attention between two individuals is called intimacy.
Any exchange is valuable to the extent to which attention is part of the exchange. We are so annoyed when receiving gifts – even expensive ones – which are not according to our taste or desire, because it shows that the giver’s attention was not with us in the giving. A thoughtful gift is best received because the true value of it resides in the listening to who the receiver is.
The deeper the seeing and listening, the deeper and wider the flow of love finding expression between the two individuals – and this is true for couple relationships, friendships, family-relationships and any other kind. As human beings evolve, the need for intimacy changes with each level of development reached; each individual yearns to commune in intimacy all the way to the depth of consciousness achieved. We seek to see each other’s face and body, mind and emotions, soul and deepest dreams, ideas and capacities. Indeed, exchanges between evolved individuals are closer in purity to Divine Love.
A giver can give to only one being: himself, and claim the virtue of self-love in the process. Love’s human expression must necessarily start with the Self, through self-love; but if it stops at self-love, the individual remains contracted into small ego, living as a self-absorbed narcissist, drawing on too little of the universal love to flourish and thrive.
The greater the circle of care of an individual is, the greater and wider the flow of love in her life and in the world is. Giving and receiving between two individuals can grow to giving and receiving among a group of people, then giving and receiving to all humanity, then all sentient beings, thus contributing more and more to the enrichment of Love consciousness in the world.
An exchange can range in flow from a modest dripping of giving and receiving to an abundant, generous exchange. In the context of interpersonal give-and-takes, being frugal is not a virtue, but an unfulfilled potential to love, and making do with less is a failure to acknowledge the infinite, eternal nature of Love. One can give a pinch of time, money, gifts, compliments, services, attention to others, opening up just a crack to receive a pinch from the blessings coming her way; or she can give abundantly, generously, consistently from her very best, her arms and chest wide open to graciously accept all the goodness that others bestow upon her.
In any regular transactional exchange, the giving and receiving is, ideally, based on the principle of fairness and merit: one individual gives services or goods to the other, and receives a fair amount of money, or services or goods in return. The ideal exchange is earned through merit (both individuals have earned the right to receive something from the other) and is enriching for both of them, and – ideally – it is enriching for the world at large.
Charity is the kind of exchange when the giver gives to the receiver, and receives back directly from the Kosmos; it is Love expressing itself as ‘Grace’, through gifts of love without merit, but in love’s name and for the love’s own sake.
Stealing, cheating and manipulating are equivalent to closing doors to the flow of love; to the mindful, sensitive human, it feels like a knot in one’s throat, and tightness in her chest or a hunching of the shoulders and back. Any kind of unfair exchange – taking without giving, or taking or giving too much – creates a kind of imbalance which impairs the flow of love and diminishes it, like a bad investment that brings no revenue; or like a leak of sorts.
Gratitude is the acknowledgement of reception of goods, services, gifts etc, as well as the loving kindness that they represent. “Thank you” means “I value that which you give me, and I fully accept it”; deeply felt gratitude stems from the awakened eye which recognizes the divine nature of the exchange for which it is grateful.
The difference between gratitude and appreciation is where the attention is placed: appreciation places the attention on the giver, acknowledging the value of what is given; gratitude acknowledges the receipt!
Prayer is an exchange between the finite human being and the Divine infinite Mother / Father / All That Is. From a non-dual perspective, the one who prays and the one who answers the prayer are not two. The most likely prayer to be fulfilled is the kind of prayer that is both wise and kind for all; thus, prayer is answered on merit, the infinite, eternal Wisdom, Loving-Kindness and Power granting the answer to a prayer uttered from Wisdom, Loving-Kindness and Power. Love’s requests to Love are instantaneously granted!
The granting of prayer without merit is the ultimate expression of Divine Charity, and referred to as Grace. When an individual gives to charity, she gives to others who do not merit her giving (they need her gifts but they do not pay back for them); thus she opens up doors to Charity for herself and in the world.