My teacher, Gaya, used to repeat this to me all the time during our sessions; but like with most of her pearls of wisdom, I didn’t get it right away. It sounds nice. Sort of like “all’s fair in love and war” kinda thing, right? (I never understood exactly what that phrase meant either. Either way, not important. Back to where I was going…). So, love is ruthless. The more I thought about it, the less it made sense. In my view, at the time, love was soft, warm, accepting, gentle, and tender. It was all of these really beautiful, safe, sensitive, caring, protective ideas. Love was a respite. Love was ever-forgiving. Love was a warm comfortable blanket, surrounded by oversized down-filled pillows, on a really cold day. Right?
Nope, not so. Not even close.
Over the past year, I’ve come face to face with the energy of love. I mean face-to-face with the actual spiritual force that is love itself. And let me tell you something; it’s nothing like I imagined. I’ve been shown three faces of this energy: that of God (or the divine entity), that of Kundalini (often depicted as the Goddess Kali), and that of another spiritual force that runs my life, which I affectionately refer to as Gilda. Love is, in fact, in all three instances, absolutely ruthless!
There is, no doubt, a time and place for tenderness in our often painful lives. There is also total unconditional acceptance; of the self, and of the other. There is a tremendous reservoir of compassion and empathy. But the energy of love is a fierce, intense, incredible power. It does not pity. It does not have sympathy. It doesn’t care about your victim stories or your martyrdom. It wants what it wants, and until you comply, there will be no salvation. Love will hurt you again and again until you learn her lessons.
My experience of God (over several episodes really) is the subject of another post. Suffice it to say for now that each time I encounter this power, I’m left on the floor, sobbing for hours in humility, reverence, and gratitude. This power is infinite beyond anything words can convey. And when it comes, to me, at least, it arrives with a gravity and fierceness beyond descriptions. Neither soft, nor gentle.
The second face of love, Kundalini energy, is often depicted as Kali, the Goddess of Destruction, Creation, Darkness, Fire (and a whole bunch of other things, depending on what you read). She burns everything in sight with unflinching momentum. She destroys all that is not truth. She removes all that doesn’t serve, with a swift and severe motion, without giving you a chance to say goodbye. She doesn’t care much for human attachments or promises. My writing ability doesn’t do justice to the incredible magnitude of this force. And yet, all she wants, all she’s really after, is for you to love yourself completely. Doesn’t that seem quaint? (I’m not talking about the fluffy cutesy variety of self-love. I’m talking about the really scary vulnerable painful truth version. Still it seems strange somehow.)
If you love yourself, in a way that is in your own unique spiritual alignment, Kundalini becomes as gentle as a kitten purring softly in your lap. But if you go against yourself, if you do not speak and act in your integrity, she will reign terror upon you without remorse. She will, literally, take away your will to live. There is actually no cruelty, malice, or vengeance in her approach. Just a matter-of-fact ruthless demand: surrender completely to her will (that is to say, come into complete self-love and awareness), and the pain stops right away.
And the third experience of this is my own local divine force, or higher self, who is similarly ruthless. Not long after my ego death experience, this spiritual force showed up in my life, and essentially moved into my body and mind. She, Gilda as we call her around here, directs everything I do. This isn’t quite as schizophrenic as it sounds, but close.
When the ego dies, and the true self emerges and begins living authentically, a profound, consistent connection to spirit accompanies it. At some point, there is a subtle dissolution of the true self in favor of the spiritual higher self. There is a kind of humble surrender to the will of spirit, and a getting-out-of-the-way experience for the personal will. In practical terms, there is very little of my old personality left. My own decision-making ability is almost non-existent these days.
Gilda guides me from within nearly all the time. She tells me what to say, when to speak, when to end a conversation, etc. And everything is in greater service, to my own life and the lives of those around me. It is through Gilda that all of the healing happens with my clients. It is through Gilda that all of the teaching and wisdom is conveyed. She has been running the show for a while now, I just didn’t have a tangible experience of her until recently.
Interestingly, Gilda is not as docile, tender, or gentle as I would have imagined (or preferred) the force of love to be. It turns out that she, just like Kundalini, is fierce, intense, and demanding. Never mean or gratuitously hurtful, she blurts out the brutal unfiltered truth (without judgment), without any hesitation. She encourages me to stand up against injustice and ignorance in ways that are not always comfortable for my former conflict-avoidant self. She has given me a level of confidence that commands respect (or irritates those with large egos). She brings out anger, which is one of her favorite tools, when the situation calls for it. In short, she is nothing like the sweet, peaceful, grandmotherly concepts I had about love. And definitely not the ever-peaceful zen monk images I had of spirituality.
And yet, Gilda is all love. She is nothing but love and service. She is the Divine Feminine power, in action, without apologies. So is Kundalini. And so too is God (which is both masculine and feminine). It turns out that my infinitely wise teacher had it right from the start, as always.
Love is absolutely ruthless.