All you need is love?

On June 25th 1967 the Beatles broadcast via satellite to the world their new song “All you need is love” . It was the height of the swinging sixties and the summer of love. The concept of universal love was being celebrated and shared by the hippy youth underground culture with its explorations of eastern religion and experimentation with drugs such as LSD and Cannabis. Several years later by the end of 1969, things had changed and the optimist view that a new positive society would take over from the old seemed a faded dream. By 1970 John Lennon declared “The dream is over”.

So were those young men & women who were swept up in the idealism of the sixties wrong in thinking that they could change the world? From the viewpoint of history we might say yes. Some of the idealism of the sixties was naive, but to dismiss the whole movement seems not appropriate either. I still believe the world needs love and acts of kindness towards other human beings but also in relationship to the environment and the planet. For thousands of years wars have been fought and acts of cruelty and suffering have been inflicted on people of all groups and races. The world still needs love and compassion, but compassion imbued with wisdom. The Buddha taught that as long as craving, hatred and ignorance are at the root of our experience we will continue to cause suffering towards ourselves and others. We need to see more deeply that all things are impermanent, constantly changing and moving, nothing static that we can hold onto, that we are interconnected to all life, and that we are not a separate fixed self. If we can develop awareness and a deepening sense of wisdom in our lives then compassion and the simple selfless acts of kindness will become an outward expression of how we engage and relate to other people and the world around us. Then our practices of yoga and meditation can become radical tools of transformation that take us off our mats and into the world.

“I would say awareness is all you need, and then love proceeds from awareness. I think the saying ‘Love is all you need’ is a sentimentalization because ‘love’ after all is a word and anybody can interpret it differently, but I think awareness is a little more ample.”

Allen Ginsberg, Poet