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The Sea of Love and the Life Force

Our divine essence has two parts, the space-like sea of love and the blissful, creative life force.

By Tara Springett

IN ORDER TO understand kundalini we need to go back a little bit and look at our innermost nature. White Tara [the Tibetan goddess Drolma] called this nature our ‘divine essence’. This is what she said about it:

Your divine essence is your innermost being, your essence. It has two parts: the sea of love and the blissful life force. The sea of love is still, space-like love. The blissful life force is essentially desire and creates all inner and outer experiences and phenomena. Kundalini is particularly concentrated life force.

These two parts, love and blissful life force, of your divine essence only ever exist in conjunction and within beings and never on their own or outside of beings. The divine essence in all beings is identical and, in its virgin state, it is felt as rings and undulating spirals of energy meandering through space in endless ecstasy. Pure bliss.

So, White Tara teaches that the divine essence is our innermost nature and that it is the same in all beings. The question may arise of why we are all so different if, essentially, we all have the same deepest nature. White Tara explains that our differences arise through the very fact that we have lost touch with the bliss of our divine essence and experience our life force in a distorted way. This distorted life force is experienced as our usual confused thoughts and negative emotions. It is this confusion that makes us different and the end of our confusion – our divine essence – is experienced in an identical way in all beings.

The sea of love

What does the sea of love feel like? White Tara explains:

The sea of love is absolute love. It is very still, an absolute letting be, giving space and allowing being. It is goodness without distinction. This is why it is called sea of love – it is like the ocean: endless, embracing and all-allowing. The sea of love on its own is not an intentional act of healing – it does not want to change anything. It is sheer benevolent acceptance.

In meditation you come nearest to a pure experience of the sea of love in a state of absolute stillness. The breath stops and all movements of the body and mind stop. However, this state is always temporary because the sea of love only ever exists in conjunction with the blissful life force.

Most people do not like the sea of love on its own very much because it feels a bit empty and deadening. It needs to be balanced with the blissful life force. The highest state of mind is a state that unites both the life force in its virgin state, which is bliss, as well as the sea of love in perfect balance.

This article is reprinted from the book Enlightenment through the Path of Kundalini.

I found these teachings very exciting and I was astonished to hear that most people do not like the pure experience of the sea of love very much because it is experienced as too empty or even boring. But when I looked at this phenomenon a little bit more closely it became obvious that most of us are trying to escape any experience that feels empty, quiet and still. Instead, we are constantly seeking distraction, entertainment and something to ‘fill us up with good experiences’.

White Tara said that we need to learn to balance the sea of love with the life force but it is obvious that most of us veer too much in the direction of the life force and rest too little in the stillness of the sea of love. It is for that reason that all world religions admonish us to focus more on love or to become still in meditation.

White Tara went on to explain the function of the sea of love in the bigger picture of the entire universe:

Love is the ‘glue’ of the universe. It can be compared with water that penetrates all living things. As long as water or love is there, it keeps plants and beings alive and in their shape. If you take the water or love out, everything will wither and die. Love keeps the atoms together on the micro-level and the galaxies in their beautiful shape on the macro-level.

It is important to remember that White Tara said that the divine essence could only be found within beings and never outside of them as some independent and life-less material. In her world-view everything is a being, even the entire universe itself.

Recognising the sea of love

White Tara teaches that we cannot recognise the sea of love by ourselves but that we need someone else to show us that love is our innermost nature. White Tara emphasised to me over and over again the importance of the fact that spiritual development can only happen through loving relationships with those who are further on the path than we are.

When I was younger I thought that spiritual development was mainly a question of the right meditation technique but White Tara made it very clear to me that this is not so and that we always need someone else to open our eyes and help us along. We will explore the relational nature of all spiritual development in more depth later on. For now, White Tara tells us this:

You cannot recognise the sea of love solely by yourself. You can only be awakened to its existence through the love of others, through other humans or through celestial beings. Once awakened to love, you can awaken others to the awareness of love simply by loving them and uniting with each other in love.

In order to understand this teaching we can try to imagine how children experience love. It is difficult to imagine that a child who has never experienced love from anybody being able to generate a loving attitude ‘out of nowhere’. It is much more likely to imagine a very frightened being, unable to trust anybody and only concerned with his or her own survival. So, White Tara is telling us that we can only be as loving as the most loving being we know.

The life force

The second part of our divine essence is the life force and kundalini is defined as particularly concentrated life force. When we investigate the life force we need to keep in mind that the distinction of the sea of love and the life force is artificial because in reality those two parts of our innermost nature only ever exist in conjunction. White Tara says:

All forms of energy have certain vibrations. By comparison, the sea of love has no vibration, just the potential for it. However, this distinction only exists in theory. In reality the sea of love and the life force always exist in conjunction.

All phenomena of the universe are made of the divine essence. The life force is like the building bricks of reality and love is like the cement. There is an endless process of creation going on that can’t be stopped.

So, White Tara is saying is that everything we perceive is made from the life force – inner experiences like thoughts and outer things like plants and matter - but there is also an invisible part of creation that is the sea of love. The sea of love acts like a unifying force that keeps things in the shape that they are. She also points to the fact that everything around us is changing all the time and that new objects and beings are created indefinitely through the ceaseless play of life force, which is essentially our desire.

Recognising the life-force

White Tara teaches:

Life force is essentially desire or willpower. In its most basic form, life force is simply awareness. Awareness is a form of desire because it is always associated with an intention of what you want to be aware of. In other words, willpower, awareness and life force are essentially the same.

I initially found it hard to understand how awareness and willpower could be the same because, at first sight, they seem to be quite different faculties of our mind. But White Tara explained that we choose what we focus on and that this choice is inseparable from our awareness. For example, at this present moment we may choose to focus solely on this book and forget most other things that do not interest us, such as the room temperature, our feelings or anything else that may be going on around us.

For most of us these choices about where to direct our focus are largely unconscious. It seems that we are simply aware of what is in our mind or in front of our eyes and ears. But contrary to experience, this is not so. It is common knowledge that a large part of our mind is unconscious and only becomes conscious when we choose to direct our attention towards it. Also, a simple conversation about what has happened in a situation that we experienced with a friend will prove that our experiences differ depending on our choices about where to direct our attention. It is for that reason that White Tara describes awareness and desire as being one and the same thing.

The life force creates what we focus on

Our life force – or our awareness – has an amazing quality – it creates what we choose to focus on. White Tara teaches:

Awareness creates what it focuses on. The most basic ‘things’ you create with your life force are your thoughts, beliefs and emotions. These are the building blocks of your reality because they manifest when you focus on them for long enough.

Therefore, the more awareness, desire or life force you have, the more you can create everything you focus on. So, strictly speaking, everything you focus on becomes part of your being. This is particularly true for everything you focus on for a longer period of time.

It may appear odd that White Tara teaches that everything we focus on for long enough becomes part of our being. But remember, White Tara explained at the beginning that there are only beings and nothing outside of beings. Her teachings reveal that we created everything in our life – the good and the bad – through our choices of focus. This idea corresponds to the Buddhist understanding of karma. Karma means that our life now is the outcome of our previous actions and that we have the freedom to create a better life by acting in a more loving way.

At first, this idea may seem daunting and I know a lot of people who get upset about the idea of karma because it feels somehow guilt inducing or even like ‘blaming the victim’. But we need to understand that most of our karma has been created unconsciously. We often focus on negative ideas simply because we do not know any better or we do it completely unconsciously. For example, nobody gets married with the intention of getting divorced – yet this is exactly what happens to many people because they were not aware of the early warning signs that could have prevented this painful development.

White Tara’s teachings are neither about blame nor guilt but about empowerment. What she is saying is that we all have the capacity to create our future exactly in the way we desire by directing our focus on positive altruistic aims.

Using our life force to create the life of our dreams is not an instantaneous process. It requires patience and persistence to see our positive thoughts and desires manifest. Most people find it hard to stay positive in the face of adversity and give in to anger and hopelessness. As a result, they often see their negative thoughts manifesting even though they do not want this on a conscious level.

When White Tara first taught me that we all create everything in our life, I immediately imagined that people would question the fact that we all seem to live within one material universe that we all share like a house. Surely this house (or the universe) was there before us and we have not created it? White Tara refuted this idea by saying:

Everybody lives in the universe of his or her own creation. There are universes within universes within universes that all co-exist. People usually share physical matter but all these universes have very different vibrations. That is why some people live in hell while others live in heaven in the same physical environment.

What the life force feels like

Pure life force in its virgin state is free from any egotistical motives and it feels like bliss. White Tara explains:

When you feel the basic life force in its primordial form – undistorted by egotistical fear and greed – you feel it as the five different facets of bliss in the five different chakras. The strongest amount of life force can be felt in the abdomen in the form of kundalini.

Bliss is more dynamic than love. It moves forward and it creates because in bliss there is a subtle intention. This intention is to share the sea of love with others. This is the purest wish.

Your feelings in your different chakras are always associated with images and thoughts. These images and thoughts are the building blocks of your personal universe. The five different vibrations in the different chakras are the beginning of all phenomena. If they are blissful, you will create a beautiful surrounding and if they are painful and negative, your surrounding will manifest in a painful and negative way, as well.

Unfortunately, most of us are not capable of experiencing the life force as the five facets of bliss in our chakras. Instead, we feel it as our usual negative emotions like anger, greed, sadness and fear. White Tara explains:

It is your intention that determines what happens with your life force. Loving intention produces bliss and fearful intention produces negative emotions, which is a form of distorted life force. As soon as you develop ego-driven fears, the basic life force takes the form of your usual negative emotions. Through your habitual tensing up you lose touch with the bliss of your unspoilt divine essence. Through relaxing and focusing on love and bliss, you can reconnect with your divine essence.

The strength of your desires indicates the strength of your life force and the amount of love and bliss indicates the purity of your life force. If you focus all your desires on love, you have the highest purity and also the highest power.

Let’s summarise what White Tara has taught us so far in order to make it clearer: Our deepest nature is the still and all-accepting sea of love in conjunction with the life force. The life force represents our awareness, which contains by nature an element of intention. This intention manifests first in feelings within our chakras with corresponding thoughts and images. If our thoughts and beliefs are loving, they are balanced with the sea of love and can be felt as five different forms of pure bliss in the five chakras. But if our thoughts are selfish, our life force gets distorted into our usual negative emotions like fear, anger and greed. If we focus for long enough on our positive or negative thoughts and images emerging from our chakras, they will manifest in the physical world as positive and negative surroundings. Kundalini is intensified life force located mostly in our abdominal chakra and the more kundalini we have, the more easily we can manifest our desires.

These teachings are extremely powerful. White Tara is actually pointing us to the solution to all our problems and also to the fastest way to reach enlightenment by saying that if we focus all of our desires on love, then we will reach highest bliss, love and power in the fastest way possible.

The balance of the sea of love and the life force

White Tara stressed to me over and over again the importance of the perfect balance of the sea of love and the life force. She also explained to me the many negative consequences of the sea of love and the life force within us being out of balance. These are her teachings:

The sea of love and the basic life force can never be entirely separated but you often lose the perfect balance of these two qualities of your mind. If that happens, the life force appears as negative emotions and love appears as a passive, depressive or listless state.

Most people rest more in the life force pole so that their desires are insufficiently connected to the sea of love. In that case, their desires arise directly out of their distorted life force. They can then be used to manifest mundane wishes, fuel addictions or even be used for evil aims. The remedy for this dynamic is to focus more on love. However, life force can never be entirely separated from love, which is why even the most evil person believes that they are motivated by some benevolent impulse.

I found this last point exceedingly interesting because it explains why even the most selfish people usually cannot see their errors. Knowing about the dynamic made it easier for me to understand why people can be so selfish, yet see no need to apologise or make amends. But some people also go too far into the sea of love pole. White Tara says about those people:

When you go too far into the sea of love so that it gets divorced from life force, it feels like depression. The remedy is to focus on bliss.

It may be difficult to imagine why focusing too much on love to the detriment of life force can lead to depression. But we need to remember that within the life force lies great power and if we do not have access to this power, we can easily feel victimised and depressed. We can get an understanding of this problem by thinking of a self-sacrificing mother: she is very loving and even self-sacrificing in the way she attends to her husband and children but lacks the sense of power and entitlement to assert her own needs. The natural outcome of this problem is that her family will treat her more and more like the proverbial doormat and this will eventually lead to a feeling of depression.

Finally, there is a third problem that arises when we have trouble going from one pole of our divine essence to the other:

Fear arises if you feel stuck in one pole and do not dare to go to the other pole. It happens when you do not dare to relax and trust in the experience of the sea of love or if you are too frightened to go for your desires.

To summarise: Anger, jealousy and greed arise when we are stuck in the life force pole; depression arises when we are stuck in the sea of love pole and fear arises when we are unable to freely move from one pole to the other.

The perfect union of love and life force is enlightenment

White Tara explains that the perfect union of the sea of love and the life force is called enlightenment or deity-state and that this is the goal of all our spiritual endeavours. She says:

The sea of love and the basic life force can never be entirely united or separated; but you should try to bring both these aspects as closely together as possible. Doing this results in a state of greatest happiness and power and ultimately in the deity-state.

The deity-state, or enlightenment, is the perfect balance of the sea of love and life force within you. It is not a state of static frozenness but a dynamic wave of back and forth between the two poles of your divine essence. By uniting the sea of love and the life-energy as closely as possible, all your mental impulses are saturated with love as well as being very blissful and energetic. In that way, the sea of love and the blissful life force come very close to each other without ever entirely merging.

In its purest form this dynamic looks like this: there is at first a union and utter stillness in the sea of love. Then there is a stirring of energy, which is a wish to reach out to others to help them to experience the sea of love, as well. This is the beginning of the life force. If your intention remains purely loving, only loving thoughts, feelings and finally a paradise-like surrounding will arise from this first stirring.

I was very amazed and impressed by these wonderful teachings. After digesting them, I asked White Tara how her teaching related to the idea of non-duality that is very popular nowadays. Non-dual teachings assert that there is a final state of mind that transcends all polarities and all subject and object divisions. White Tara gave me this succinct answer:

By focusing all your desires on love, satisfaction is instantly achieved. For that reason one can speak of a non-dual final state. But this state is dynamic – there is always a movement and never a standstill. You always move either towards more love and acceptance or towards more bliss, desire and energy.

These teachings of White Tara were a great surprise to me. I had always thought of enlightenment as a ‘state of mind’. White Tara, however, made it clear to me that anything static or one-dimensional is just another form of suffering. The true final ‘state’, she says, is a form of vibration, a back and forth between the sea of love and the blissful life force in its unspoilt virgin state.

The same misperception can be found in the popular teaching of ‘simply being in the here and now’ as the be-all and end-all of all our spiritual endeavours. White Tara explains:

Being in the here and now and having long-term goals needs to be united and just like the union of being in the sea of love and the life force it can never be entirely achieved. We need to go back and forth - being in the present moment, which correlates more with the sea of love, and working in a planful way on our long-term goals, which can only be achieved by using the strength within our life force. So, we have always a vibration, a back and forth and never a standstill or a single state.

This article is reprinted from the book The Five-Minute Miracle.
Copyright © 2009 Tara Springett.

Tara Springett is a psychotherapist and practicing Buddhist. She has been working with meditation students and counseling clients for more than twenty years.


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This page was published on September 7, 2016 and last revised on January 25, 2019.


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