What is love and where is it
found? We search for love and try to get love,
and yet it seems like we never get enough. Even
when we have found love, it can slip away as
time passes. What if there is a source of love
that never fades and is always available? What
if love is as near and easy as breathing? What
if we have been “looking for love in all the wrong places” instead
of actually lacking love?
Love is both simpler and more mysterious and
subtle than we have imagined it to be. Love is
very simply the spacious, open attention of our
awareness. Awareness itself is the gentlest,
kindest, and most intimate force in the world.
It touches things without impinging on them.
It holds all of our experience but doesn’t
hold it down or hold it back. And yet, inherent
in awareness is a pull to connect and even merge
with the object of our awareness.
It is this seemingly contradictory nature of
awareness—the completely open and allowing
nature of awareness and its passionate pull to
blend with and even become the object of its
attention—that gives life its depth and
sweetness. There is nothing more satisfying than
this delicious dilemma of being both apart from
and at the same time connected to something we
see, hear, or feel.
Awareness is the beginning of all separation.
Prior to awareness, there is just “oneness” or “is-ness,” with
nothing separate from the oneness that would
be able to experience it. With the birth of awareness,
there is the subtle distinction of two things:
that which is aware and the object of awareness.
And yet, those two are still connected by this
mysterious force we are calling awareness, or
This flow of awareness and love that connects
us to all we experience is the true source of
satisfaction and joy. We have all experienced
it to some degree. Whenever you fall in love
with a person, pet, piece of music, or beautiful
object, you have felt this flow of intimate,
connected awareness. Unfortunately, we have been
taught to believe that the source of this good
feeling was in the object of our affection. So,
we suffered whenever we lost our apparent source.
When our lover leaves, our beloved pet dies,
the concert ends, or the bank repossesses our
dream home, we feel bereft of that loving, connected
But what if we are the source of the awareness
that connects us to everything? What if the love
we have been seeking has always been right here
inside our own hearts? What if it doesn’t
really matter what our awareness is touching,
but only that there is awareness flowing? That
would profoundly simplify the search for love.
Anything or any experience would be a suitable
object for our love.
The sweetness of love is in the flow of awareness
itself. The completely allowing openness and
freedom we might look for from a perfect lover
is already here in our own awareness. It doesn’t
have to try to be accepting because awareness
is by nature open and allowing. Awareness by
itself cannot do anything but touch. Awareness
cannot push or pull or demand something from
or limit the freedom of what it touches. And
yet, awareness is not an aloof distant observer.
Awareness is deeply and intimately connected
to the object of awareness. In fact, awareness
and the object of awareness are ultimately the
This connection and intimacy that is natural
in awareness is satisfying and fulfilling regardless
of the object of awareness. In other words, whatever
you are experiencing right now is your true love.
Whatever you are experiencing is an opportunity
to also experience the depth of your true nature
as open, loving awareness. Your true nature is
true love. It is the perfect lover you have been
seeking, and not only is it always here, but
that is who you really are.
You might be thinking, “But wait, I don’t
feel like I am in love or loving all the time.
Sometimes I feel lonely or angry and cut off
from love and satisfaction.” So how can
it be that love is here, but we don’t feel
it? Is love really absent in those moments, or
is it just limited in its expression and flow?
Are there really moments when there is no awareness?
Or is there always some awareness even if there
isn’t a lot? If there truly was no awareness,
then there would be no problem because awareness
is the beginning of separation, and the end of
awareness is the end of separation. Practically
speaking, without awareness, there cannot be
loneliness, anger, or anything else. So when
you are lonely or angry, there is at least some
awareness, although possibly not much.
Even when awareness is contracted and tight,
as it often is when we are lonely, angry, sad,
hurt, or afraid, the awareness has the same nature
as when we are happy and excited. Even a single
drop of water is still wet, and even a single
drop of awareness is still open and allowing
of whatever it is touching. The only trick to
experiencing the open and allowing nature of
awareness is to look for it in the actual experience
you are having. When our awareness is contracted
by judgment or fear, it is not actually touching
the object of our judgment or fear. Instead,
it is touching the judgmental or fearful thought
we are having. Awareness is completely allowing
and open to that thought. That is the definition
of awareness: it is the open and allowing recognition
of the content of our experience. If awareness
is not open to something, then we are not aware
The key to experiencing love is to notice where
awareness is flowing right now. That flow of
awareness is love, and it is the most satisfying
and nourishing thing we can experience. There
is naturally a direction to this flow of awareness.
It moves from within our being to the objects
and experiences we are having. We can only fully
experience this flow of aware love as it moves
in this direction.
When someone else is lovingly aware of us (not
of their judgments or desires regarding us, but
simply of us as we are), we can experience the
outer expression of their love. We can see the
way they are looking at us, the smile on their
face, and the responsiveness of their reactions
to us. But the awareness of us is arising in
them. The love is flowing from them towards us,
and so it is filling them with this sense of
satisfaction and joy. If we are to feel satisfaction
and joy, it will depend on whether we are experiencing
a flow of love towards them. It is our own open
awareness that fills us with that sense of connection
and appreciation. We are filled with love when
we are giving it to someone or something else.
Obviously it can be easier to open your heart
and allow a fuller expression of your own love
when the requirements of your conditioning are
being met. When someone who matches your ideal
for a lover is exhibiting attraction and interest
in you, it is often especially easy to give them
that same openness and attention in return. So
naturally, when two people are falling in love,
they are both feeling the fullness and richness
of the free flow of awareness. Yet the contact
each person has with the love is within themselves.
It is their own love and awareness that is filling
them up so richly.
This truth, that we are filled with love when
we love someone or something else instead of
when we are loved, can free us from the search
for love outside of ourselves. If you are still
not sure that it is your own love that fills
you, think of a time when someone else was in
love with you, but you were not in love with
that person. The flow of loving attention towards
you was not satisfying, in fact it could have
been uncomfortable having someone so interested
in you when you were not feeling the same way.
In contrast, when we are falling in love with
someone, it can be rich, exciting, and energizing,
even if it is not reciprocated. There is an intensity
and beauty even in unrequited love. It is the
outward flow of love that is filling us in that
moment. So, along with the disappointment and
hurt of not being loved back, we also experience
a fullness and aliveness just from loving the
other. In the Renaissance, unrequited love was
even seen as an ideal. It is the love flowing
out from our heart that fills us with joy and
satisfaction. The source is within you.
There is just one awareness and one Being behind
all the individual awarenesses. The way we as
can reach that oneness of Being is by experiencing
the flow of love from within our being. Paradoxically,
the place where you are connected to others is
inside your own heart. You cannot really connect
to another externally. Even if you used super
glue to attach yourself to another person, there
would still be a sense of separation in your
outer experience, not to mention how hard they
might be trying to disconnect!
On the inside, you are already connected to
everyone and everything. The connection is this
flow of awareness that is here right now reading
these words. It is in the loving nature of awareness
that the sense of connection is found, not in
the objects of awareness. We are connected to
others in the awareness flowing from within us
to them. Connection is not found in the flow
of awareness and love towards us as, by definition,
that flow is connected to its source inside the
This is good news! We can experience limitless
love no matter what anyone else is doing. The
only thing that matters is how much we are loving,
not how much we are loved. Right now you can
be filled to overflowing with the incredible
sweetness of love, just by giving awareness to
anything and everything that is present in your
experience. Don’t take my word for it,
test it out:
Exercise: Allow your awareness to settle
on a physical object nearby. Take an extra
moment to allow your awareness to fully touch
the object. Just for the sake of this experiment,
give as much love, appreciation, and acceptance
as you can to that object. Then notice another
object. As your awareness rests for a moment
on that, give it as much love, appreciation,
and acceptance as you can.
Now allow your awareness to notice a sound
in your environment. As you listen, give that
same loving appreciation to the sound you are
If you have any difficulty giving love and
appreciation to a particular object or sound,
try another object or sound. It will be easier
at first to experience loving something for
no particular reason if you pick a more neutral
object or sound.
Continue allowing your awareness to land
on various objects, sounds, colors, tastes,
smells, and sensations. With each one, allow
as much love and appreciation to flow towards
it as you can. Take as long as you like with
each experience, and if it is difficult to
feel love towards something, just move on.
It will get easier to love for no reason as
you repeat this exercise.
Now notice other things that may be arising
within you: an uncomfortable sensation, a thought,
a feeling, or a desire. Take an extra moment
to send loving attention towards it. Just for
now, you can love each sensation, thought,
feeling and desire that appears within you.
As you get the hang of this, you can just
allow your awareness to move naturally to whatever
it touches next, either inside or outside of
you. Whatever it lands on, give it love and
acceptance. Just for a moment, let it be the
way it is.
What is it like to give simple awareness
and love over and over to things that appear
in your experience? How open and full does
your heart feel when you are able to give love
in this way? If you come to something that
is difficult to love or accept, just notice
that it is difficult and then love that it
is difficult right now. You can even take a
moment to simply love the way some things are
harder to love than others. Then move on to
whatever is in awareness next.
Just go ahead and love whatever is in front
of you, and in that way be filled with love.
It is that simple if you remember that the essence
of love is awareness and space. The ideal human
lover is someone who gives you lots of space
to just be yourself but somehow connects with
you as you are. Awareness is like that. It doesn’t
limit the object of its awareness, but it makes
Awareness is easy to give, and it doesn’t
cost anything or deplete you in any way. We sometimes
withhold love and awareness because we think
that true love requires more than this simple,
open attention. Our conditioning suggests that
love requires things like compromise, sacrifice,
and unconditional giving of our time and effort.
Perhaps some of these are necessary for a relationship,
but not for the essence of love.
This is an important distinction, as we sometimes
confuse love and relationship, which is another
example of how our conditioning leads us to believe
that the outer object of our love is also the
source of our love. If we recognize that the
true source of love is within us, then relationship
can be seen in perspective. Relationships are
important, but they are not as important as the
essence of love. This is clear when you consider
how a relationship without love is not satisfying,
but the experience of this inner flow of love
is satisfying either with or without a relationship.
You can experience it with a beautiful object
of art in a museum, a moving piece of music,
an exciting moment in a sporting activity, or
in the deep connection of a relationship with
another person. The love is what makes relationships
and everything else worthwhile.
What a rich possibility: that all of the love
you have ever wanted is available right now,
just by giving it to everything you encounter
both within you and in the environment. Love
is for giving, not for getting. And the more
you give, the more fully it fills your heart
||I may think I feel love
||but it is love that feels me
||constantly testing the woven fibers
||that enclose and protect my heart
||with a searing flame
||that allows no illusion of separation
||and as the insubstantial fabric of
my inner fortress
||is peeled away by the persistent fire
||I desperately try to save some charred
||by escaping into one more dream of
||I may think I can find love
||but it is love that finds me
||meanwhile, love becomes patient and
lies in wait
||its undying embers gently glowing
||and even if I now turn and grasp after
the source of warmth
||I end up cold and empty-handed
||I may think I can possess love
||but it is love that possesses me
||and finally, I am consumed
||for love has flared into an engulfing
||that takes everything
||and gives nothing in return
||I may think love destroys me
||but it is love that sets me free
For information about Nirmala’s
satsang* schedule and to download free copies
of his other books and publications, visit:
You can contact Nirmala at Nirmalanow@aol.com.
For information about Nirmala’s teacher,
Neelam, visit: www.neelam.org.
For information about Nirmala’s teacher,
Adyashanti, visit: www.adyashanti.org.
For information about Nirmala’s wife’s
books, visit www.radicalhappiness.com.
Nirmala has also been profoundly inspired by
the teachings of A.H Almaas and his work, The
Diamond Approach: www.ahalmaas.com.
* Satsang is a Sanskrit word that
means coming together to speak about and share
After a lifetime of spiritual seeking, Nirmala
met his teacher, Neelam, a devotee of H.W.L.
Poonja (Papaji). She convinced Nirmala that seeking
wasn’t necessary; and after experiencing
a profound spiritual awakening in India, he began
offering satsang and Nondual Spiritual Mentoring
with Neelam’s blessing. This tradition
of spiritual wisdom has been most profoundly
disseminated by Ramana
Maharshi, a revered Indian saint, who was
Papaji’s teacher. Nirmala’s perspective
was also profoundly expanded by his friend and
Nirmala offers a unique vision and a gentle,
compassionate approach, which adds to this rich
tradition of inquiry into the truth of Being.
He is also the author of several books including Nothing
Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate
Self. He has been offering satsang throughout
the United States and Canada since 1998. Nirmala
lives in Sedona, Arizona with his wife, Gina
About Nondual Spiritual
Nondual Spiritual Mentoring with Nirmala is
available to support you in giving attention
and awareness to the more subtle and yet more
satisfying inner dimensions of your being. Whether
it is for a single spiritual mentoring session
or for ongoing one-to-one spiritual guidance,
this is an opportunity for you to more completely
orient your life towards the true source of peace,
joy, and happiness, especially if there is not
ongoing satsang or other support available in
your location. As a spiritual teacher and spiritual
mentor, Nirmala has worked with thousands of
individuals and groups around the world to bring
people into a direct experience of the spiritual
truth of oneness beyond the illusion of separation.
He especially enjoys working with individuals
in one-to-one sessions because of the greater
depth and intimacy possible.
Mentoring sessions with Nirmala are an opportunity
for open-ended inquiry into whatever is arising
in the moment. In your session, you can ask any
questions, raise any concerns that are meaningful
to you, or simply explore your present moment
experience, which is a powerful doorway into
a deeper reality. Regular weekly, biweekly, or
monthly mentoring sessions can be especially
These mentoring sessions are offered either
in person or over the phone and typically last
an hour. You can email Nirmala at Nirmalanow@aol.com
to arrange a time for a spiritual mentoring session.
Please include your phone number and location
in your email. At the arranged time, Nirmala
will call you if you live in the United States
or Canada. If you live in another country, you
must initiate the call to 928-282-5770.
'Nothing Personal', is recommended in
PDF file of Part 1 of the book
may be downloaded - follow links from
the website. The
complete book may be purchased from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.]
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