meditation is love

March 9th, 2015


Whether we know it or not, everyone comes to meditation for love. And the good news is, everyone leaves with it. It can’t be any other way, because we are each beings of immeasurable compassion. This runs contrary to the way we think about ourselves — our motivations, virtues, and abilities — but the way we think about ourselves is usually stingy and wrong.

We typically think we lack compassion, or the capacity for unconditional love. We want to define it, learn it, teach or acquire it. But none of us lacks it in the least. We are simply unaware of the compassion we possess, preoccupied by the judgmental thinking that darkens our hearts with fear, greed, and anger. When we quiet our thoughts through meditation, we finally see the truth about ourselves. This kind of seeing is called “waking up,” like waking up first thing in the morning before your headed is clouded by even a single distraction.

The awakened mind has two natural attributes. One is compassion, what some would call love. The other is clarity, what some would call sight. They are not really two things. Each is a function of the other. When you see, really see, you just love. When you love, really love, you just see. You see things as they are, not as you expect, and in that wide-open clarity is love.

This is the kind of love that everyone wants, the kind that everything needs. It is love at first sight, unconditioned by definitions or demands. Nothing can come in between the pure seeing, not even a hairbreadth of difference, judgment, or hesitation. Not the filter of so-called understanding or an extra layer of elaboration, just the streaming of light unhindered by thoughts.

Rightly realized, compassion is not an idea or a feeling. It’s not an intention or even a certain kind of action. It is palpable state of oneness: effortless, complete, peaceful, pleasing, happy, and alive. When you live in compassion, you instantly transmit it to everything and everyone you encounter. You give care where it is needed, and you withhold the anger and judgment that is not needed. The entire universe is filled with the compassion you alone bring to it. This is reason enough to sit down for a while.

Sit down for a while:

Beginner’s Mind One-Day Retreat, Los Angeles, Sunday, March 22
Zen Retreat at Grailville, Loveland, OH April 9-12
Beginner’s Mind Zen Retreat, West Hartford, CT, April 17-19
Prairie Bloom: A Zen Retreat, Madison WI, August 6-9



  1. Dear Karen, Thank you so much for this letter. I made two copies to take to lunch with my friends today. It really hits everything that I am currently, of course, as are many, becoming aware of. I especially appreciate the words,” you give care where it is needed, and you withhold the anger and judgment that is not needed.” I recently realized I could drop the anger and judgment that was not needed and instead focus on the positive aspects of my grown children and it felt right. Love to you

    Comment by Lana Wertz — March 10, 2015 @ 5:35 am

  2. Thank you. What a beautiful read to begin my day.
    All I have to do is drop it. And drop it. And again. Whatever it is. Love is the way and the answer. I’m going to go sit now 🙂

    in gassho,

    Comment by Mary — March 10, 2015 @ 6:06 am

  3. Thank you Maezen. Time to sit.

    Comment by Jane — March 10, 2015 @ 6:53 pm

  4. Just wonderful. Each day I’m alive. I see all life with the eyes of compassion.

    Comment by Rory — March 12, 2015 @ 1:38 pm

  5. Thank you. This is simply beautiful and full of hope. And thanks, too, for a recent post about Mary Rose O’Reilly’s work: what a rich blessing her writing is. By the magic of the Universe, you plus Katrina Kenison and Jena Schwartz have become a gorgeous triumvirate of wise and generous souls lighting a way for me across the world. Thank you for sharing your life work.

    Comment by Chris — March 14, 2015 @ 1:55 am

  6. I just sit. I cannot compare myself to all the gorgeous writers in the world. I am only lucky to know a few.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 14, 2015 @ 6:18 am

  7. I just realized that I am trying to attain everything you wrote about in your last paragraph of this post, without meditation. How do I get out of my own way?

    Comment by Victoria — July 31, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

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