The History of Love

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As the story goes, 13.77 billion years ago the universe was born from a “point” of near-infinite temperature and gravity, a point described as a “singularity” appearing before time and space had any meaning. And then, woosh! from this impossible-to-comprehend love galaxysingularity the entire universe of energy-matter expanded in all directions, which it apparently keeps on doing even now. Yet as it expands there’s another movement — the energy-matter obeys a call of mutual attraction, a drawing together into stars, galaxies, planets, and us wondering about it all.

One of the things we wonder about is the nature of these two “forces” of expansion and attraction — what are they? what moves them? The “woosh” emerging from the singularity — what propels it into becoming? And conversely, this attraction — what causes it? What’s inside the “wish” of isolated particles to come closer, to draw together into stars and planets, you and me? We’ve named that wish “gravity.” Astrophysicist Brian Swimme calls it allurement — a sexy word for something so vast!

The woosh and the wish — let’s play with these words — the woosh is the divine, holy halleluiah! and the wish is its desire for intimacy and connection. The woosh in the Koran is Allah’s universe-creating decree — kun faya kunBe! and it is! and the wish is Allah’s statement overheard by Mohammed, “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known. Hence I created the world so that I would be known.” The woosh in Buddhism is the light-body of the Buddha called the sambhogakaya; the wish is the Buddha-body of everything we see around us, the nirmanakaya. In Christian mysticism the woosh is the flight of the Holy Spirit everywhere, and the wish the incarnation of Christ as the world.

All these metaphors — a singularity, a Big Bang, Be! and it is! Buddha bodies, Holy Spirit, Christ, the love to be known — ultimately they’re all poetry, flinging us into a wordless space where we might glimpse what we’re made of, what calls us, and what guides us.

From this perspective we witness the history of the universe revealing both the forces of unimaginable generosity — the woosh — Here! a universe for you! — and the desire within it — the wish — toward connection, inter-relation, intimacy. Generosity — the gift of becoming; intimacy — the joy of communion.

What can we call this but love?

The history of the universe is the history of love. We can feel how the universe’s love story is alive in our own experience, in the feelings of expansiveness and intimacy that simultaneously appear in our hearts when we love. We might think these are strictly personal feelings, our own good luck, but in fact they’re the life of the whole universe as it comes into being. As above, so below. As everywhere, so here.

I realize this vision of a universe made of love may seem like wishful thinking, especially as we witness in our time so much selfishness and injustice, and so much of the beauty and life of our planet being destroyed.

But it is not a wishful vision. It’s evident in the history of the universe, in its boundless generosity and its desire for communion. We’re made of it. We’re made of its generous and intimate love. Knowing this is true, not just intellectually but in our bones, in how we experience our becoming moment by moment, can give us the courage to carry on, no matter what happens. The force — of the entire universe! — is with us.