From an unedited draft of a forthcoming book on Reclaiming Eros by Marc Gafni.
Devotion means that I am devoted to you, I worship you, not in the sense of giving up my freedom, but of being engaged in witnessing the miracle of who you are. The word ‘miracle’ means ‘to behold with rapt attention’. So to be a lover, to be an outrageous lover, is to make a commitment to have eyes to see.
And what do I see when I see you with rapt attention, with God’s eyes? I see your Unique Self, for love is a Unique-Self perception. Love means: I see your infinite specialness, I see your infinite gorgeousness, I see that there are outrageous acts of love that you can commit that no one else in the world can commit but you. I see that you are God’s verb, I see that you are love in action, I see and I bow and I kiss the ground in devotion before the outrageous acts of love that are yours to commit.
Have you ever heard the command ‘love God’? That phrase always bothered me. What does it mean to love God? I mean, just between us, how many people woke up this morning and said, “Man, I am in love with God”? Now, why is that? The reason is that God is not obviously lovable. On the one hand, God manifested all of this reality in several billion years, with all of its physics and biology that we’ve talked about, holding us in every second, so we are madly in love with God. But then we get confused, because there are also these 100 million people who got killed and that gets real complicated, right?
So what does it mean to love God? To love God means two things. It is to have a direct realization, as Rumi had, that I’m always in the arms of the Beloved. Just study molecular biology for one day. I really invite everyone in the room to get a book of molecular biology and learn what’s going on your body right now, in this very second. It will blow you out of the water, and you will realize that you are held every second. But let’s go in deeper.
And to love God is also to let God see through your eyes, because you are holding a perspective, a unique insight, a unique understanding, that no one else that ever was, is or will be, can hold but you. That irreducible, unique perspective is an irreducible expression of the love inside, the love-intelligence and love-beauty that lives in All-that-is. So if you don’t clean your doors of perception, you are trying to blend in, but you are blinding God. Because the only way God can see through that perspective, the only way Divine Spirit can see into that corner of unlove, is through your eyes. So actually to love God is to let God see through your eyes.
That’s what we mean when we say, God needs your service, Spirit needs your service, reality needs your service, which is powerful. It means that there is an outrageous act of love that you are chosen to commit that can only be committed by you. If you forget everything we said this whole week, just remember this, let’s just be together now. There is an outrageous act of love that can be committed by no other person in the whole world that ever was, is or will be than you. If you don’t awaken as an outrageous lover who will penetrate the world and fuck it open with your outrageous acts of love, there will be a corner of the world that is in unlove, that can never be touched, for you are the only being that ever was, is or will be that can do that.
Now, why don’t we do it? We don’t do it, my friends, because we get stuck in our own pain. In the woods, we get stuck in our own story, in our own depression, in all those 95 per cent of the things that we worry about all the time. We are trying to work out our own individual love game. Now should we? Of course we should do the work, but you know what, if you begin to step up and play a larger game, your wounds matter less.
When you begin to step up and play a larger game, your wounds matter a whole lot less. Because as long as you are using your wounds to create your identity, you can never be an outrageous lover. You’ve got to move, I’ve got to move, we’ve got to move from being victim to being a player. I’ve got to leave it behind and get out of my own way. When I’m in the woods, in the darkness, there is one shot that needs to be shot that seems impossible, and everyone has given up and I say, “You know what, I’m going to put my burden down, I let it go.” It might mean that I’m getting a good anti-depressant, because those work well. It might mean I get off my anti-depressant and do a ritual in order to close the story of my wounds.
I may come back to my wounds occasionally, but that’s not my identity, that’s not where I spend 95 per cent of my time thinking about. I know about outrageous pain, I’ve been persecuted and crucified, okay, big deal. Let it go, put it down, and let’s awaken together, all of us. An outrageous lover commits the outrageous act of love that you have to commit for a strange attractor that pulls you out of the mud, in a way that nothing else ever can.
In ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’, the caddy told Matt Damon, “See the Field, then get out of the way, for there is a swing waiting to choose you.” Bagger Vance, played by Matt Damon, is now doing much better, but then he gets stuck, he can’t find his outrageous act of love. He is in the woods in the middle of the tournament because he hit a bad ball, so now he’s got to hit it out, which seems just impossible. He is lost in the woods, lost in the pain, and then he remembers the war.
There is not one person anywhere in the world who cannot hit that ball out of the dark forest into the light. There is not one person in the world who hasn’t experienced outrageous pain, who is not carrying a burden. There is not person in the world who is not wounded, who is not in some way traumatized. There is not one person who doesn’t experience genuine loneliness at real times, and there is not one person that doesn’t have a whole bunch of unfulfilled dreams. Friends, we live in a world of outrageous pain. But it is time to stop making the outrageous pain the excuse for not awakening as outrageous lovers.
I know you have outrageous pain, do you think I don’t honour that? Do you think I don’t respect that? I have outrageous pain, do you think I don’t know that you honour that and respect that? We could bow before the wounds of every single person in this room, but that’s not who we are. There is a moment that you’ve just got to decide, “I’m going to put the burden down.” Let me tell you a story.
There was a monk who had spent 27 years practicing in Tibet but he was unable to achieve enlightenment, so he finally asks the head of his order for permission to leave. He’s old now and wants to go on a solitary retreat up the mountain, thinking perhaps he could find enlightenment there. As he is walking up the mountain, he meets another old man walking down, carrying a big burden of sticks, whose face was just radiant. This was Manjusri, the great Bodhisattva in Buddhism who helps you into that last place of enlightenment. His face was so kind and so radiant that the old, tired monk said, “Listen, I’ve been looking for enlightenment my whole life and I just can’t find it, so I’m on my last quest.” And Manjusri just lets all the sticks fall, and as the sticks hit the ground, the monk experiences satori, full awakening, and becomes enlightened.
So it’s about deciding to drop the burden that we’ve been carrying around. You know why I have been carrying it around? Because I get a very big payoff for it. My wounds give me a lot. They give me identity, they give me something to focus on, they give me sympathy, they give me so many hidden payoffs. And the only way to let my wounds go is to wake up erotically and erotically engage all of life, so I don’t need my wound any more as the source of my Eros.
What is the experience of Unique Self enlightenment? What does it feel like? Here I want to introduce a word into our space together and it is a hard word, you are not going to like this word, but I want you to hear it anyway. The word is ‘obligation’. Obligation doesn’t mean option, it doesn’t mean maybe yes, maybe no; it doesn’t mean, “It’s my life and I can do whatever I want with it.”
That’s about the biggest mistake you can make in the world, for it is not your life. ‘Your life’ means: you are contracted into separate self. We are in a boat, we are all there together, but I say, “Let me just drill a hole in my part of the boat. It’s my part of the boat, don’t bother me!” No. When life just means ‘my life’, I de-eroticise all of existence. My True Self is part of the seamless coat of the Universe, of which I am a unique and gorgeous expression.
In the original Hebrew, the word ‘obligation’ and the word ‘love’ are the same word. So obligation doesn’t mean what the state, the teacher, the culture or my parents want to impose on me. Obligation means the love-intelligence pouring through me that calls me to the fullest potential of my life.
Imagine you’re shipwrecked and now you are on an island. The only two people who survived were you and Mother Theresa. Now, Mother Theresa was a great woman, but if you read her three biographies, she was also a very complex woman and not an easy person to spend a day with. You do not create a worldwide movement based on the sweet image of holding a child. You create a worldwide movement because you are a kick-ass, brilliant bitch who loves God and moves the world, and that was who she was.
Tragically, for 50 years, she never had a direct experience of Spirit. That’s what she writes in her letters. She never felt God in meditation, never felt God in prayer, but she was utterly committed to her mission of liberation. She was the most difficult person in the world, and I am very sad to report to you that you are now shipwrecked on an island with Mother Theresa and you will never get off that island. That’s our situation: you are never going to get off and never going to be liberated, and you’ve been there for 10 years already. She is driving you out of your mind, and that is an understatement. If she says one more word, you are going to take a knife and do something.
It so happens that from the shipwreck you have some scuba diving equipment. So after ten years, you don’t want to hear her talking anymore and you decide to go scuba diving together. Now there are coral reefs outside the island and she gets caught and sadly breaks both of her arms. You pull her out and because you are compassionate and also happen to be a doctor, you set both of her arms in castes, so both of her arms are straight out and now she can’t eat.
You start pondering. She can’t eat, and it’s just me and her on the island, it’s a big island and I might just walk to the other side. Not a good deed, not a great option, not something I choose to do for my own autonomy, but do I have an obligation or not to feed Mother Theresa?
How many people think I have an obligation? Okay, all of us. I agree, but why? It took me literally 15 years to formulate this clearly and it actually changes everything.
1: There is a need.
2: It is a legitimate need, it’s a real need.
3: I recognize the need.
4: I have the capacity and ability to meet that need
5: I am the only person in the entire world who can meet that need.
That’s what creates obligation.
And the enlightenment of the outrageous lover is the realization that that is the nature of my reality, that is the nature of my life. I live in a world where there are needs, legitimate needs, and I recognize some of those needs and I have the capacity to meet those needs. I see there is a corner of the world which is unloved, and I am the only person who ever was, is or will be, who can shine light on that unloved corner of the world with awakened, outrageous acts of love. Wow. That’s what it means to be an evolutionary lover. We live in a world of outrageous pain and the only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love.