At the end of The Divine Comedy, Dante enters the final region of heaven, the Empyrean. He is encircled in light so bright that he can’t see through its veil of radiance. He tries to put together all of the previous spheres of heaven into one understanding, but can’t quite do it … until in a flash of understanding, he comes to see that the universe is bounded together by Love.
“But already my desire and my will
were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed,
by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars.”
We are at the end of our journey, and I could try to tie together all the previous chapters for you, but it’s a task so hard that perhaps it’s “not a flight for my wings.”
Instead, I would like to talk about Love.
We started this journey talking about my struggles in life, with health and finances and stress and habits. These struggles are no different than the struggles everyone faces in some form: we all struggle with major life changes, with frustrations with others, with changing our habits, with illness and loss. These struggles are painful and difficult, and it’s hard to see the way out.
We started out by picking one small change and taking one small step. We took one at a time and examined the Resistance we face. We talked about the problem of the Mind Movie and the Childish Mind and talked about mindfulness and appreciation and gratitude. We learned to embrace the impermanence of life and see the beauty in it. We learned to make the most of life.
These can all be used to make a small habit change and grow that into gradual progression. And these tools can be used to deal with any life change, any frustrations and struggles.
But the missing substance that binds all this together is Love.
A boundless love
Like Dante at the end of his journey, I’ve had a flash of understanding. It’s nothing mystical, as I don’t believe in that.
It was simply a feeling: I love everyone in the world.
I’ve actually had this feeling a number of times now, and it’s truly amazing. Try it yourself: imagine everyone else out there in the world as a sea of humanity, and let a feeling of love spread from your heart and envelop this entire sea.
That might take a little practice, but don’t worry — you get better the more you try it.
What does all this mumbo jumbo matter?
In the end, after letting go of my ideals of perfection, after letting go of my striving for goals, after wanting things to be a certain way … what am I left with?
I’m left with Love. This feeling of boundless love, not for one specific person and not even limited to human beings, can motivate me to get up in the morning and write. It motivates me to be vegan, because my love extends to animals. It motivates me to work out, because my love extends to me, and to my kids for whom I’m setting this example of an active lifestyle. It motivates me to let go of my attachments that lead to frustrations, because why fight with someone you love?
Love can move you to be mindful, to appreciate the reality of this current moment, to appreciate and embrace impermanence as something beautiful, to be grateful, to make the most of this dewlike life.
Love can move you to overcome struggles.
Love can transform bitterness into softness, anger into kindness, self-hatred into self-compassion.
Love is both the path, and the mover.
Love moved me to write this for you, and I hope that you will pass it on for me.
“We will develop love, we will practice it, we will make it both a way and a basis…” -Buddha