What is Love?

by Dennis E. Bradford, Ph.D.

in moral well-being

Love is joy overflowing.

Howdy! I’m Dr. Dennis Bradford.

Let’s talk briefly about love.

The joy that overflows from love is the abiding joy of Being.

That joy is not the common, temporary emotion joy that fluctuates with sorrow.

Love is Being overflowing. Love is Being. So love is a unitive state without any kind of separation.

(Since the word ‘God’ is sometimes used to refer to Being, this explains why some have claimed that God is love.)

Since a human being is Being, love is what we are.

Probably most humans don’t realize this, but that’s only because they are so addicted to, and blinded by, compulsive thoughts that they have never realized their own true nature.

Everyone is love. You, for example, are love. So am I. So are we all.

Since you, for example, are love, love is not an encounter or relationship with anyone (or anything) else.

When your Being, which is love, overflows onto another, that’s when we may justifiably speak of “being in love.”

However, I’ve never liked that terminology. It suggests something passive like being trapped in a pit or having fallen into a hole.

In fact, using ‘love’ as a noun is problematic. When we ask, “What is love?” it seems that we are asking for an object, a thing, some separate entity. To me, that’s confusing.

It’s less misleading to use it as the verb ‘(to) love’ and then ask, “What is it to love?” or, using the gerund, “What is loving?” This is less misleading because it denotes activity.

Love is the activity or action of overflowing Being. Love is overflowing Being.

What can be done to achieve this state?

Since you already are love, there’s nothing that you have to gain, no goal to pursue.

It’s senseless to think that you have to do something else in order to be what you already are.

There is, though, something to be done to realize that you are love, namely, realize your true nature. This does not mean merely to think about it.

That realization is not some positive goal to be achieved; instead, it’s a letting go or dropping of what is obstructing you from directly experiencing your own true nature.

What, exactly, does that mean?

It means dropping (releasing, letting go of) the incessant thoughts that are obstructing realization. That’s a very simple idea, isn’t it?

How might you benefit by such realization?

It’s an awakening to what has been called by many names including abiding joy, love, peace, beatitude, Being, True Self, True Nature, and heaven.

Direct experience of that is what happens when thoughts are separated from awareness. That insight is breaking through to Being.

An initial breakthrough can be indefinitely expanded. The more you live in Becoming from Being, the more you open Becoming to Being, the more loving you naturally become.

This is why we admire sages (saints); they are the greatest lovers, the greatest givers.

If you have not realized that you already are a sage, why don’t you?

How could anything else be more important?

How might you realize your own true nature?

By teaching yourself how to liberate yourself from compulsive thoughts. Do that for just a single moment and you directly glimpse Being.

That’s also experiencing the eternal. It’s liberation from time.

“Becoming” is temporal. “Being” is eternal. Human beings are both.

As long as we stay stuck only in Becoming, we are never free from dissatisfaction (suffering, misery, discontent, unhappiness).

There is no dissatisfaction in Being.

So curing our dissatisfaction really is possible.

Since dissatisfaction is based on separation, freedom from dissatisfaction comes from unity, the absence of all separation.

Another way to express this is to state that the word ‘ego’ is just another word for separation.

Insofar as we continue to take ourselves to be separate egos, we continue to experience dissatisfaction.

To practice ego reduction effectively is to erode the power of the ego, which is our false and separate self.

Loving requires letting go of ego. Letting go of ego requires letting go of the concept of self, dropping all thoughts of separation.

This naturally changes our attention from being self directed to being other directed.

When we are other directed, we naturally do what is best for the other, the beloved.

That’s the focus of sages or saints, isn’t it?

In other words, love is identification with the beloved.

The immature identify only with themselves. They take everything personally.

The mature take others to be Self. They take nothing personally.

That’s one way to unpack the claim that love is joy overflowing.

(For more on the nature of love, see my book Love and Respect, which is available at Amazon.com.)