Conversations: Grief is Love, Isn't That Unsettling?

Been getting quite teary during metta meditation.

I've had this happen during metta, too, several times (and, as an aside, while tripping on psilocybin). I have not kept up with the metta but I have noticed that when I've cried over my grandfather's dementia, the grief has the same flavor as it had during the metta.

This is very curious to me and, after poking at it, grief now manifests as an expression of love. The 'sting' of grief has fallen out of it—the tears feel like tears of love, indeed, like a more intense and (maybe?) 'fundamental' expression of love than anything I managed to achieve when effortfully cultivating metta.

I would say this is a welcome improvement on the standard anguish of grief but now I wonder: was the anguish ever really there? Or was I just conditioned to imagine that it was? How much difference is there even between the two, really, between conditioned expectation of an emotion and an "actual" emotion? Aren't both fundamentally empty, with the first just easier to see? What is an emotion actually, anyway?

It troubles me. It seems like heresy to question love but isn't it weird that it's so close to grief, to anguish, that grief can appear as it? I don't know what it means but I have a familiar feeling about this, that same feeling that Truman must have had in The Truman Show when he discovered that he couldn't get out of town, something isn't right here...

Doesn't grief have a personal sense of the self suffering though? I'm grieving because somebody close to me has died, but I wouldn't grieve if I hear of a stranger dying. The boundless states are for everyone equally.

Good point! I don't know. I hope to find out.

Currently I'm feeling like this identity is fundamentally born out of resistance to what is, a reaction for or against some experience. Like experience is just free flowing until, I don't know, a mosquito bites me and I don't like that so I spin up into being, annoyed, thinking about how awful the itch is going to be and how much better off the world would be if we just eradicated these fuckin' things, and in the midst of all this selfing the world around me—"what is"—goes unnoticed, distorted, as if seen from the center of a cyclone. From here, emotions seem like "me" and part of the whole rotten tree of dependent origination, "obscuring the view" if you will, so going from a bounded I to a boundless I, haven't I now just crafted a boundless ego?

On the other hand, I mean, hell yeah, bring on the persistent boundless love, man! Perfect or no, sounds a lot more pleasant from the inside than the default! My hope is that love is an automatic manifestation of stabilized boundlessness (working on it, still flinch too much) and, then, eventually the boundless self and love, now expanded onto and identical to the experience itself, is seen/dropped as a superfluous overlay. I think something like that is what happened to Bernadette Roberts.

But, as they say in the business or whatever, I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice, just wild speculation.


If you have questions, perspective, doubt, or a simple longing for general camraderie, you can communicate with me directly by emailing robert at 99theses dot com. Don't hesitate. Your correspondence is personally enriching.