John 15: 1-17
I am the true vine…
Here we have a wonderful metaphor of a vine with infinite and fruitful branches. Jesus comforts and encourages the disciples telling them that his voice will go with them, and that he will always be with them, abiding with them even when he is not physically there. Indeed, the manifestation of his teachings has little to do with the presence of his physical body – it will be in the nurturing of the word of God through each and every awakened one that will carry this Light and fruit forward. When Jesus says, “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me,” I hear God’s voice in the ‘me.’ The consciousness of God must be known and realized in the human form. We, the branches of the vine, must abide in God.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” This is so beautiful – a love letter to all of us. This is perhaps the most important message that Jesus has delivered – that we are beloved, not only to Jesus, but to God. This love is so pure, so encompassing, unconditional, eternal, and unchanging. I think it is difficult for us rational types to wrap our minds around this message, a message clearly intended not for our minds, but for our hearts.
I read a meditation that had one begin with imagining the greatest love you have ever felt for another person. “Let that love saturate every cell of your body. Now expand the feeling of love, like an encircling sphere embracing all your friends, family, all your loved ones. Feel you love ever increasing; include in that sphere all the people in your city, then all of your country. Now everything in the world is bathed in that love. The whole earth, the solar system, the far-flung galaxies and island universes – everything floating in this vast sphere of love. Feel, meditate on, merge yourself in that love which permeates and upholds the infinitudes of manifestation – a demonstrate-able heartbeat of God’s bliss…” This is the universal love of Christ, the infinite love of God. This love was manifested in Jesus, as well as Krishna and Buddha, and many other enlightened beings.
As I let my ‘self’ go, and put my heart into this meditation, I feel an ever expanding warmth, moving out in concentric circles; I feel so much loving energy for all seen and unseen. This love overwhelms me with emotions I cannot even find the words to describe. Perhaps sad/joyful comes close, but also it is a tremendous energy, a rousing and compelling opening and expansion of my heart, of my ability to feel with others, to give and to receive love. I sense that this love that Jesus spoke of is uncontaminated, pure, without human flaws of selfishness, lust, or greed. This love seems to be elemental within each of us, only buried by culture, shame, and suffering. This love is, perhaps, our truest nature, our original nature.
The two greatest commandments are these: “Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Matthew 22:35-40
Jesus demonstrated these commandments by loving God so fully with his heart, his concentration, and his strength, and by loving all he came into contact with, his ‘neighbors’. I don’t really consider these commandments – as in rules I must obey, or guidelines I must follow. To me they are simply the fruit of the vine, the essential outpouring of reciprocal expression I am compelled to offer in return for God’s love, and that is to be “that of God” for others.
Can I do this as Jesus did? Probably not, but I try. As I raise his love into my awareness, I look as though to see the light of Christ within everyone I meet. I increasingly consider others as not separate from myself, but of and a part of who I am also. If I have trouble finding a loving feeling toward another, I imagine them as a small baby, immediately loveable and infused with the presence of God. I bring forth the word, greeting, and salutation, Namasté. With every ounce of my being, I want to love as fully as possible – to love as I imagine Jesus loving.
I admire that Jesus spoke of Friendship – not of servants. Friends are equals, helpful to one and another; Friends notice the Christ-light within one another. The term ‘Friends’ indicates that we choose to love fellow travelers; Friends are not loved simply out of obligation. Friends, in particular spiritual Friends, have the opportunity to demonstrate divine love to one another. I have had this experience of loving spiritual friendships, and it is fruitful, it is truly life changing.
This has me wondering: what is the opportunity here for expanding a kind of loving energy to each of us as Spiritual Friends, and to carry this love out in concentric circles to our loves, our Friends, our family, our neighbors, all? What are your thoughts on this?