Uh, oh . . . Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. The Lovers tarot card could almost be an emblem for it.
The Waite tarot deck portrays it as a pretty little scene from the Garden of Eden: a nude man and woman are posed in the foreground while an angel with flaming wings floats protectively overhead. Their love is pristine and pure and heavenly. Don’t look at the snake climbing up the tree.
I said, DON’T LOOK. They’re in love. No snakes, goddamnit.
Well, okay. Probably we can get a better picture from an earlier Tarot deck.
In the Swiss deck, we see a couple who are actually touching each other. An old hag of a witch has obviously just whomped them with a love spell and – just in case that’s not enough – an angel is about to shoot a Love Arrow right THROUGH that girls head.
They’re thunderbolted and flabbergasted, glimmered and glamored. They’re in Love, L-U-V!
And it’s wonderful and it’s fabulous and it’s the best thing in the world. But . . . what IS it, exactly? What is it that makes our brains pump out floods of endorphins, walk around with silly grins on our faces, and talk about our partners to a point where our friends want to strangle us?
A reductionist would tell you that it’s just chemicals in the body. Hormones. Random encounters in the process of looking for a mate that somehow become permanent relationships. Ultimately it’s all driven by the need to fuck and reproduce and then we . . . sort of . . . get fond of each other after we’ve had our orgasms and THAT, by golly, is love.
Ram Dass spoke of it quite differently. He said that sometimes another person is the key that unlocks us and we’re the key that unlocks them and we exist in love. That the other person is the vehicle for us to get to love. And, when the other person dies or leaves, it feels like all of the juice, all of the magic, all of the love has gone out of our lives.
Think about that: the vehicle that gets us to love.
One of the more interesting meditation exercises we can do is to just sit with the feeling of love. Open our heart chakras and let ourselves relax into love. It may be that when we start that kind of meditation we need something to refer to in order to start the flow of love. Perhaps we think of a person we love deeply or a place that brings us great peace or even a dog or a cat or a horse. The thought of the beloved starts the flow of loving energy. The beloved is the vehicle that takes us to love.
As we continue to practice that meditation, though, the need for an outside reference, for a thought, memory, or person to take us to that place of love lessens. Our heart chakras become stronger and clearer and more open and we find that we can enter into loving feelings spontaneously.
We can just exist in, just float in, a sea of love. And it feels SO good. At that point we’ve gone from needing something outside of us to, “cause,” love to just being love.
Here’s another way to look at it: the Buddhists teach us that clinging and desire bring suffering. We feel miserable and we tell ourselves, “If I just had that ___________ (fill in the blank with new car, new computer, iphone, house, dress, shoes, degree, etc.) then I’d be really happy.”
And so we torture ourselves with what we don’t have, that thing that will finally make us happy, and the more we lust after it, the more miserable it’s absence makes us feel. Maybe we get two jobs so we can afford it. Maybe we eat rice and beans for a year so we can scrimp and save and FINALLY we can buy the thing that will make us happy.
And it does! For a while. But it’s a total sugar rush and after a very short period of time we don’t feel so happy anymore.
And then we start thinking about the NEXT one thing that will finally make us happy and we feel miserable because we don’t have it.
That’s really the basis of capitalist society and advertising: convincing us that there is some THING outside of us that’s going to make us happy. And, by golly, when that happiness wears off, we’ve got some other neat stuff to sell you that will make you REALLY happy. For a while.
Or . . . we can just short circuit all of that process and say, “I’m happy.” We really can. Like the love meditation, we can start out just thinking about things or places or people that make us happy. We don’t have to buy them or worry about losing them because they’re our thoughts.
The trees make me happy, the clouds make me happy, my lover makes me happy, my vibrator makes me happy, a stream, or a river, or a lake, or the ocean . . . those thoughts make me happy. And, as we continue that process, we can eventually move straight into BEING happy, without having to possess anything external to us to MAKE us happy.
Walmart hates that, but it’s one of the most important lessons we can learn. Happiness exists independent of things.
And it’s the same dynamic with love. When our lover leaves us or dies we feel crushed because it feels like we’ve lost all of the magic of love. But love exists independent of people. We’ve lost the vehicle that brought us to love, but we haven’t lost the love. It’s always right there waiting for our hearts to open and return to it’s embrace.
And there’s no snake climbing up a tree. Just love, L-U-V!