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July 5, 2012

The Love That Never Dies

by Seijaku Roshi
“Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.” – Ella Williams

The life of Jesus, like the stories of the Buddha, have been told in thousands of different ways. Whether one is a Christian or a Buddhist certainly ones choice of stories, explanations, and interpretations will vary. In the end both Teachers emphasized that what was important was the life we lived, and not so much theirs. Was what we believed about ourselves, and not so much about them. Even so their lives and teachings remain the central inspiration for my own and continue to inform my practice, as they do for millions.

I was once asked if I believed in the Resurrection story. I said that it didn’t matter to me, “Jesus had me at the Crucifixion.” At the very young age of seven the “crucifixion story” was my first lesson in what I have called since then, “The Love that Never Dies”.

Like so many people I believe that we are here to learn, and to give back. Unlike so many people I believe the lesson is the same for all of us, no matter our social, religious, political, or national identity. It is the lesson of “Love”. Not so much specifically its romantic or sentimental component, but the Love that created the Universe and everything that exist. Love is – the force of nature, it is as the ancient Jewish mystic explained, “Anyone who knows love, knows God. God is Love.”

I have always chosen to make up my mind about what I will accept as necessary for living my life. I have never been willing to accept anything unless I have looked deeply, thoroughly, and with open eyes, including and especially what others tell me to believe. Faith for me is not a matter of following someone else’s opinions, judgements, beliefs or belief system blindly, but rather remaining true to my heart-mind even when my small-mind cannot explain.

It was Jesus’ life and death that inspired and informed me about the meaning of the “Love that is God” and, what it really means to be a human being. This meaning has also been an understanding for me of what Buddhist’ mean by “realizing our true-nature” or “enlightenment”. Our “true-nature” is Love, and our lesson is to fully realize, or “make real” this Love which is our fullest potential, “The Love that Never Dies”.

As the ancient story goes, Jesus spent his life teaching Love for ourselves, for God, and for others. Including the components in which love is fully realized: Forgiveness, Kindness and Compassion. In his lifetime he experienced the fullness of life as the Buddha explained it when he said, “Life is Suffering”. Whatever one’s beliefs about Jesus’ divinity, he was a “human being” who suffered loss, betrayal, rejection, physical torture, emotional despair, and in the end murdered. He fully experienced the pain of suffering of a human-being. Before his death he taught us from the cross the fullness of Love, and what it meant to be a true human-being. While dying his only concern was one of compassion for others dying with him, consideration for his Mother’s welfare when he would be gone, and for a dear friend who yet had so much to learn about life. Finally after all that happened to him, his loyalty to his heart-mind could not, he would not allow it to, be broken. His dying words were the only words an enlightened being could speak, “I forgive you”. His was – “The Love that never dies”.

The love that never dies is the love we refuse to let die. Even death cannot destroy it, confine it, or limit it, unless we choose so. I have always told my students, “It never matters who others choose to be, what matters is who you choose to be in your lifetime.” Certainly it was the love that Jesus lived and taught that lives on even today. Death could not confine it, death could not end it. It is the Love I choose to keep alive even in the face of death, the thousands of deaths we all experience in a lifetime. The Love that refuses to harm others, even if we think we are justified. The love which refuses to be mean and unkind, no matter how much we hurt from others offenses. The Love that does not judge. The love that remains loyal to that which is larger than ourselves. The love which, “blesses them who curse you, and prays for them who persecutes you”. It is the Love that when one’s very soul is crushed, remains true, noble, and honorable, even after death, refusing to betray even when betrayed, to defame even when defamed, to extract “an eye for an eye”. It is the Love that lives far into lifetimes after lifetimes.

The Love that never dies, is certainly a hard lesson to learn, but nonetheless a lesson we must all learn, if we ever hope to “see the kingdom of God” or “wake-up”; If we ever expect peace-on-earth; global sustainability; good-will, and prosperity. It is a lesson we never stop learning. Like Jesus, even unto the grave.

Well I need to get back to class. I love you.

“Dear God, if I must cry – help me cry. If I must die – help me die. But never, never, permit me to be a lie.”

– Seijaku Roshi

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