Some of you may be familiar with Marc Gafni’ s popular quote: “We live in a world of outrageous pain, and the only response to outrageous pain, is outrageous love.”
What Dr Gafni so profoundly reminds us in this appealing sentence, is that we cannot escape or fight the world’s pain – or our own – nor can we ignore it. These common responses to pain do not allow for us to solve or transform the outrageous pain that is part of human experience.
What actually has the power to transform the pain then?
Outrageous love does.
But what is outrageous love, really, and how can it transform pain?
One of the basic principles in Integral philosophy is that all events and situations – in fact, all of reality – has an interior subjective aspect: what is experienced individually or culturally is an inner subjective experience. And it also has an exterior aspect: what can be seen, touched, measured factually, by an individual or a collective. It is based on this premise that I declare that outrageous love is the inner face of reality.
This is the revelation that all mystics across the traditions have come to realize . . . the world is a web of interconnected relationships and what holds the Universe together is a force experienced subjectively as Love. The source of all suffering and all pain, personal or planetary, is therefore to ignore our experience that we are part of that love and more than that, we are literally bathing in it.
By Love, I do not mean the conditional emotional love, we humans experience – although this love is really a distorted version of that purer, more fundamental Love. This Love is what, in our Unique Self “lexicon” we call “Outrageous Love.” Dante spoke of it as the Love that moves the stars and the planets, and it is the cement that bonds the myriad manifestations of Life as One.
How do we access this Love and why is it important in our Unique Self emergence?
Because it is only when we have clarified our perception and realized that we are sourced by this primordial goodness that we can understand that we are a unique expression of it. Once we realize this, we then have an obligation to become that unique expression of Love in the world.
At this time of crisis in every corner of the planet, the world desperately needs Outrageous Love. The world needs more people awakened to the reality that they are unique expressions of the Love that moves the stars and the planets and all of creation.
This Love, as we said above, is not an emotion, it is a perception; through practices such as writing outrageous Love letters, (link to love letters website) and other contemplative practices, we can learn to expand our capacity to perceive Love.
It is not enough to understand this intellectually. It takes dedicated practice to open our heart center, to open our whole being to Love.
This is why much of our Unique Self emergence involves a shift in our attention from the head to the heart. While they are only a short physical distance from each other, these two centers of perception are worlds apart in the ways we experience life.
Try this now (or listen to the meditation here):
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths . . . Turn your attention to the interior of your body. Without trying to change anything, notice where your attention is seated. Where is its center of gravity? Is it in your head? Is it in your chest area? Or perhaps lower down in your belly?
We live in our head most of the time. While your head is where our thinking occurs – and there’ s nothing wrong with that, we all need thinking – the problem occurs when we identify with our thinking. When we think we are our thoughts, we separate ourselves from a deeper knowing, which we can access only with our heart’s innate intelligence.
Now, try this:
Think of something that you experience as painful in your life – for the sake of this exercise, do not pick something that is overwhelmingly painful like a traumatic experience, but rather an existent source of pain in your life that affects you or someone close to you. Hold this experience and rather than think about it, feel what this existent pain causes you to feel at the center of your physical chest. Stay with this feeling for five or more minutes by focusing on the bodily sensation of the pain; does it feel contracted? Full? Empty? Just notice while breathing into the sensations.
If you get distracted and lost in thought, just notice that you got distracted and return to the felt sense in your chest.
After you have engaged in this exercise for a few minutes, you may notice a sensation of expansion in your chest or some slight change in perception that feels somewhat like an opening. Opening is a feature of our heart center –(and by heart, we mean our spiritual heart, and this opening is the window that, with time and practice, allows you to experience yourself as a unique expression of Outrageous Love.
When we welcome our pain and the pain of the world with that sense of opening, it is as if – to use Marc Gafni’s expression, “we cry with one corner of the mouth and laugh with the other corner.” Only by holding the totality of reality, both the pain and the outrageous love of the world can we love the moment open and transform the outrageous pain in our world.