Alberto, a reader of my website posted a very thought provoking comment. I really appreciated it and thought that I would form a new post with my comments. Alberto asks the question on my about page: if love is the basis of our existence, then why is mother nature and evolution full of suffering and violence? Thank you very much for such a great question!
Looking at it from the physical perspective I can see that in the beginning of our universe out of matter came life, and as we became more complex creatures, we developed complex emotions that helped us to survive. The complex emotions that helped our ancestors survive in the savanna and jungle are those of fear, desire and love. The monkey that sat on the ground enjoying the beautiful sunrise without worries got eaten by the tiger, and the monkey that was scared for his life, filled with sexual desire and loved his children desperately, this is our great great great … grand parent. So why do we love, because it help keep our children alive. It’s no fluke that babies are so darn cute! That is why there exists fear, desire, jealousy, even hatred – they served a purpose in the unfolding of our physical beings. Our powerful brains overrun with thoughts also evolved for the same reason – to help us survive better. But these emotions which were once gifts of survival are now the cause of our greatest suffering.
That is the view of physical evolution, what about consciousness? From the perspective of mind and awareness, matter itself arose out of the ground of consciousness. But until there was a complex enough form for the consciousness to know itself, it remained somewhat dormant. The wise sages of the past and the present (because they still exist) were the first to become self aware – aware of their own nature as consciousness, one with the universe.
So to try to answer your question Alberto, I believe that love is simply an emotion that we experience, part of our array of emotions, and this experience of love is the closest thing that we can come to describe or relate with the great oneness that is everything. When we catch a glimpse of this cosmic oneness in either meditation, shamanic journey or entheogenic experience, it is most similar to our experience of love. So we call it that. But I think it is more than that, it just is. In the Buddhist Dzogchen tradition, they call it the great perfection, everything is completely perfect as it is.
From this point of view, even the deep suffering that beings experience is seen as perfect as it is. That might sound harsh, but if one can realize this truth in actuality then the suffering ceases to be. But most of us (humbly including myself) fail to recognize this great perfection and remain caught up in the swirling fantasy, chasing happiness which is always just around the corner.
So the question of why do we suffer, why do we have all this baggage of confusing emotions, for myself it can be answered by looking at evolution. The only ‘why’ in evolution is: that which is successful continues. Fear and anger are competitive emotions and love and compassion are cooperative. But all of them helped us survive so we got ’em in us.
Another way I like to look at evolution is that it is simply karma. As I attempt to learn more about what karma is, the more my definition of it grows and grows. In the west our understanding of karma is generally: if I do something bad, it will come back to me. The most basic definition of karma is cause and effect. It is my growing understanding that karma is in fact everything. What is evolution but a very long chain of cause and effect. Everything we see, including us, is a result of myriad causes and effects, nothing more. And while we cannot change the karma of our human bodies, and our basic emotions, we can decide how we work with our minds. We can work with that karma.
I could probably go on and on about this, but I think I’ll stop here for now 🙂