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Excerpted from The Heart of the Mind by Jane Katra and Russell Targ. Copyright 1999 by Jane Katra and Russell Targ. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"It is possible to reside in love as a way of life."

Jane Katra and Russell Targ
The Heart of the Mind
, Part 4

Contemporary writers have stressed the commonality of this experience. In her encyclopedic A History of God, Karen Armstrong calls us all Homo Religiosus. "Men and women started to worship gods as soon as they became recognizably human," she writes. In his most recent book, The Marriage of Sense and Soul Ken Wilber identifies the Great Chain of Being as a teaching common to almost every religious belief system. "According to this nearly universal view," he writes, "reality is a rich tapestry of interwoven levels, reaching from matter [physics] to body [biology] to mind [psychology] to soul [theology] to spirit [mysticism]. Each senior level 'envelops' or 'enfolds' its junior dimensions."

Whenever we sit peacefully on a rock and quiet our mind, we have an opportunity to experience an oceanic connection with something outside our separate self.  To many, that connection is experienced as an overpowering feeling of love, and it may well constitute part of our evolutionary process as a species.

A feeling of universal love, without any particular object, is often associated with the realization that we reside within an extended community of spirit enveloping all living beings. Such feelings of unbounded, interconnected consciousness have been described by many as an experience of God. The gift of a quiet mind allows us to understand what it means to be in love, like being in syrup, as contrasted with being in love with another person. It is possible to reside in love as a way of life. This experience is the source of the often-heard expression that "God is love," which in an ordinary context is easily dismissed as a simple cliche, or worse, as incomprehensible.

These oceanic, loving, peaceful experiences are examples of the compelling feeling of "oneness" that mystics have been urging us to explore for millennia. Jesus called this state of awareness "the peace that passes all understanding," and a "kingdom which is not of this world." Hindus call it "bliss," or ananda. And the Buddha called it a state of "nirvana" or "no-mind," meaning the absence of thoughts disrupting an awareness of indivisible unity.

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