Wednesday, December 9, 2009

when love is not a means

j.m.w. turner yacht approaching the coast

it’s strange the stages we go through as people -
stranger still that the features of those stages
are clearer to us on the inside
than to those outside us,
who have to settle
for the physical markers
which tell something of the story
being written
but not of the story being told.

these internal stages
are like waystations that have been passed.

somewhat like those points in a journey
that we pass at dawn or dusk.
indistinct, until we return
to pass them in the broad daylight
at which time
they appear clearly etched
against the backdrop
of our life.

waystations that are far removed
from the chronological markers
we ascribe names to like

those are terms that allow us to bracket a set of experiences we assign to an age.

i know many grown men - myself included - who love to “play”.
play ranges from the simple pursuit of fun
right through to “hard play”
or creative play
which for me is play in the truest sense of the word.

in turn,
i know many children who have features that
i would hope for in adults.

one of the many observable changes in myself is my understanding of love.

this poem begins to open out
something of my emerging knowing of love
as a fifty-plus year-old man.

when love is not a means

when love is not a means

wondrous worlds emerge,
stars shatter,

colours vibrate to the sounds of immortality,

and the universal form thereof,
the container of the cosmos,

is love,

when it is not a means.

i remember reading something by david bohm long ago
in which he suggested that love is the force that binds the universe together.

unconditional love that is!

i think that it’s there that you begin to see the face of God.
rené magritte le retour


Jenny Stevning said...

Love and play! As I continue on in my 38 year old life, I want those two things more and more. Simple love and joyful play...especially creative play.
I was just going to share a segment from Krishnamurti, Think on These Things. I was going to share his thoughts on simple love, but then my eye dropped to the next paragraph. This seems more suiting:

"Now, how is love to come into being? Surely, love must begin with the educator, the teacher. If, besides giving you information about mathematics, geography, or history, the teacher has the feeling of love in his heart and talks about it...if in his conversation, in his work, in his play, when he eats, when he is with you or by himself, he feels this strange thing and points it out to you often, then you also will know what it is to love."

There you go. And yes, the Glory in unconditional love...well, there are no words. When my friend Gary was dying I experienced it and I felt like I was glowing.

Phoenix said...

I have been often surprised by emotions within myself which I normally wouldn't associate with my age. I have surprised myself with how fast I "grew up", and how much I remain a child. What has given me joy and a reason to look forward to every new day in my life is the unconditional love that has been showered on me. And I remain ever grateful.
Thank you for such a beautiful post!

Anonymous said...

You may be right. I would pray love is unconditional and everywhere, but I would think by now, or this late in our civilization, we would have found love among fellowmen but we still seek new ways to destroy each other and we don't show much respect for our environment let alone love it.

steven said...

hello jenny - i hope that people who visit here today, take the time to read your comment. it's inclusion of the krishnamurti quote - well that's stunning. i'll be sharing that 'round a select few of my teacher-friends for sure!
love and play - if these two qualities were present in more people as a matter of course - well it would be a different, possibly happier place. so i use my role as teacher to spread the word, spread the vibe. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello phoenix, thankyou for your kind comment. i too find myself surprised not so much by the chronological descriptor attached to me as by the ways in which i am who i am andthen also the ways in which i am not what i am not! i love to be childlike without being childish. being around children every day allows for me to have a richer knowing of the distinction. have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

abe i see our civilization as being very young - as evidenced by the sort of behaviour it displays - more typical of a young teenager in the irresponsible way in which love and power are used as much as weapons as tools. i am eternally optimistic for the future of this world in whatever form it takes as we represent a stage in its becoming and not its crowning achievement. have a lovely day. steven

Golden West said...

You are so right about the difference between the story being written and the story being told. I would add to that the story being revealed, by the Power greater than we are.

Pauline said...

The words and sentiments you express are beautiful but I can't help thinking that love is a human thing and another force altogether (that I can't name) holds the Universe together. The Universe is too vast, I think, to ascribe human emotion as the ultimate cohesion. We'd like it to bind us even here, but this is a planet of opposites, of relativity where love's counterpart, fear, often drives us apart. Love is certainly a force between humans. I sometimes wish I could see it as something beyond us as you do but more often I find more comfort in the vaster reaches of the great I-don't-know.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

So true and so beautifully expressed.

Friko said...

you do find the most beautiful words and images to reproduce here for us, so that we don't have to go and laboriously hunt them out for ourselves.

thank you for that.

Dan Gurney said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow! Jenny's Krishnamurti quotation is so good. I'm gonna clip it and post it onto my teacher blog. Thank you steven, Thank you Jenny!!

jinksy said...

Just thought you might enjoy a visit to

as you so often post beautiful paintings, too...

ellen abbott said...

Unconditional love being the face of god. Yes.

I had not seen that painting by Magritte before. Thanks.

steven said...

hi ellen - that's been my view of God for along time. the idea that God is the purest unconditional love. that this love is the filiment screen on which our entire experiencing of this place is fixed. have a peaceful evening. steven

steven said...

jinksy thanks. i love visiting that blog periodically and i encourage all my readers to do likewise. it's a stunning and beautiful place to visit. steven

steven said...

hey dan it's one of the more magical elements of blogging is the opening of awareness through images and words. it astonishes me sometimes. jenny's krishnamurti quote is a fine example of that. have a lovely evening out west dan. steven

Dan Gurney said...


Is that doing we call "conditional love" really love at all?

Somehow, I think it's something quite different from love. For me, "Conditional love" is another way of saying "not love."

steven said...

hi dan - i know that there are qualities of love - i think there is love as we experience it emotionally which has conditions attached to it, there is love as we experience it physically - conditional also - i think then that there are degrees of condition and uncondition that permit travel along the metaphor of human love into the realm of unconditional love. in the human experience, (and i bet many readers have experienced moments of unconditional love where it is available for whatever amount of timelessness and can tell the difference) we can hover in the interstic between conditional and unconditional love as both describe each other. that's as cerebral as i can get at this early early hour. have a peaceful loving day dan. steven

BT said...

Sometimes your intellectual blog leaves me breathless and feeling rather inadequate, but I love the flow of the words and your gorgeous choice of photos, so I'll just absorb it all if I don't always understand it. I always enjoy reading the comments from others too and Jenny's quote is beautiful. Unconditional love, so difficult, maybe the love we feel for our children mostly.

I bet you are an amazing teacher.