Behaviors and Expressions of Love

Apr 13, 2024 | Virtues of the Heart

My wife and I were recently discussing how challenging it is to witness the suffering in many parts of the world today. We find ourselves bombarded 24/7 by news and social media, portraying endless displays of violence, cruelty, and indifference to humans and nature. Unfortunately, this is not new, and we’ve become somewhat desensitized to it. It can leave us feeling overwhelmed, evoking feelings of sadness, fear, depression, frustration, anger, and hopelessness in the face of so much negativity and alarming events unfolding in the world. It all seems too much to take in.

We agreed that witnessing these upsetting activities is difficult, yet we were also united in our desire to stay informed about what is happening globally and locally. Finding meaningful and truthful sources of information is not easy. I’m suspicious of any information claiming truth but perpetuating the “us” against “them” duality framework. Fighting division with division is not a solution. The answer is not disconnecting entirely from news, social media, or other informational outlets, but finding a balance between observing, processing information, and actively participating in the world as vital and responsible participants.

But how do we achieve this?

I have written several times about the importance of taking responsibility for my own actions and behaviors. I argue that behaviors are more effective carriers of love than thoughts because they require the body to deliver in the present moment. In this context, the action (energy) is embedded with the intent to express love. Behaviors are thoughts in action, manifestations in the world of form. Thoughts, on the other hand, mostly dwell on the past or future and are influenced by limited dualistic thinking. However, thoughts can be focused and directed in the form of blessings or prayers to a target in partnership with the heart.

It’s easy to dismiss the notion of love as nothing more than a naïve sentiment reserved for the wide-eyed romantic. But love, as spoken here, is something more; it is an intelligence transmitted in the form of behaviors. These behaviors are expressions of virtues, like compassion or forgiveness. When transmitted, they have power and intelligence that can reshape our perception of the world around us. These expressions also affect other life forms in our orbit. When a behavior is expressed as a virtue, it becomes a ripple that knows no end. We are energy creators, and as such, we create energy through our behaviors, and we know that energy does not end; it only transmutes. Its impact can be felt by anyone and anything in our sphere of reality and beyond.

So I ask myself, what energy do I want to transmit? The feelings that I mentioned above when I’m confronted by the troubled world around me, or do I strive to reset my emotional state to a higher version of myself in any given circumstance? The latter gives me a clear mind, and emotional coherence, and opens space for creative responsible expressions.

When the six heart virtues of appreciation, compassion, forgiveness, humility, understanding, and valor are expressed as behaviors, we transmit and receive love.

In this redefining of love, we recognize love as more than a physical attraction, emotional warmth, or the ego’s need; it is an understanding that we are all interconnected, we are both individual and collectively linked. We are much more than meets the eye. It is possible to begin to reframe our world from this perspective, where fear is replaced with an understanding of how we are connected and thus not separate. It’s not easy to wrap our heads around that, even though many wisdom teachings and religions have tried to broach this topic, even though it remained an abstraction to most. But we begin to contemplate the ramifications of interconnectedness.

This new understanding of love as interconnectedness requires that we re-evaluate our old beliefs, judgments, and social programming embedded in our culture. The heart virtues are portals through which we communicate with the universe. While the universe’s vastness is beyond our ability to comprehend, we occasionally tap into its essence through emotions, intuition, and imagination. However, for the most part, our connection is very limited and unacknowledged. The mind alone cannot establish this connection; it must collaborate with the heart to process insights and translate them into behaviors and actions, thereby integrating the universe into our lives. In doing so, we become conduits for the universe’s essence, embodying its beauty and intelligence. We have strayed from our connection to the universe and have adopted a belief, a story based on separation, which is a deception of who we are. We cannot see the larger picture of our interconnectedness.

To reconnect with the universe, I must do something—something that will invite the universe into my body/mind/ego personality, because that is the reality I inhabit at this time. I will need to practice this repeatedly. I want the universe to be inside me as me. This will give me a new understanding of who I am and why I am here. It will also change my interactions and relationships with the world I experience. It will empower me to be a co-creator for the good of all beings. Fear will come up, but it will not be an obstacle; it will be a reminder that I have the freedom to choose how I respond to the world I am interacting with at any given moment.

There are many ways to express this connection to the universe; the six heart virtues are one that I practice. However, one can express the essence of the universe in many ways.

I can liken myself to a diamond with many facets, each facet is a means by which the light of the universe can shine through me. The only requirement is that each facet is aligned with the universe’s core vibrant state of love. As the diamond, I am a transmitter of the universe here on earth, through my body into the world of form, expressed as behaviors.

My day is like your day. I go about my daily activities, and something shows up, as things always do. In this case, while walking my dog, I see the recycling and garbage cans still out in the street at my neighbor’s home. I know the cans had been emptied earlier in the day. I have a choice: to walk by or help my neighbor, who is much older than me and not in good health. It’s an inner choice, an instant. My mind is in the future. I’m rushed; I don’t have to do this today is the instantaneous thought to justify my lack of involvement. But my heart is aglow with compassion and humility at this happening in my reality, and I feel it. I must act. I stop and return to take his cans off the street—an act unseen with no strings attached. It may seem inconsequential, but if this is repeated twice, three times, or ten times a day, it will invite the universe into my life. I will begin to BE the universe in my actions and behaviors. Some behaviors will be much more dramatic in their expression, but the point is that they are genuine in their intent without a need for any acknowledgment. The quiet expression of the universe shines through one facet of the diamond at a time.

This is the power we all share equally; it is the answer to what can I do now.

The power is not in the words or thoughts or intentions; it is in the practice, the doing.

It is a way of life, no matter what is happening in the world.

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