Jerry Toth
Feb 25 · 26 min read

We’re going to start with sex in the trees of Africa, rewind to the moment the physical universe was born, and then attempt to illustrate the mystical experience of non-duality…all in pursuit of a better understanding of love. Anthropology, neurochemistry, physics, cosmology, and the words of the prophets are all called into action. Ultimately, this is a thickly-veiled love letter.

One of the most controversial books on the nature of the human being is called The Naked Ape. Written in 1967 by a zoologist by the name of Desmond Morris, it is a zoological examination of Homo sapiens as an animal. It dissects contemporary human behavior according to our origins as a tree-dwelling primate that fed mostly on leaves and fruit and then later evolved into a pack-hunting carnivore of the grasslands. In the process, we became lovers.

The reason that our ancestors climbed down from the trees and began to roam the plains was an environmental one. Previously all primates lived in the tropical rainforests of Africa. A few million years ago, a period of global cooling had the effect of reducing their habitat, in the sense that much of the African rainforest was converted into grassland. Most primates chose to remain in the dwindling forest, where food sources were increasingly scarce. Their strategy was to make do with less. Our ancestors, on the contrary, chose to leave the forest in search of new food sources in the grasslands. This was the evolutionary bifurcation that separates us from our primate cousins. It is also the cause for many of the characteristics that govern our family institutions and even the appearance of our genitals today.

The Naked Ape is not without its share of critics, and some of its conclusions have since been challenged, but much of it still stands today. Aside from its most fundamental flaw, it’s a compelling explanation for what we humans look like, what we do, and why we do it. This pertains to all the main spheres of human activity — social hierarchy, feeding, fighting, child-rearing, sex, and so on. My purpose here is to focus on just one of these spheres: the so-called “pair bond.” This is the anthropologist’s word for love.

When our forefathers and foremothers were monkeys who lived in trees, monogamy was rare — and still is among most primates. In some species, the alpha male lives with a harem of females. In other species, the troop is populated with several males who share sexual privileges with the females in a general way. Female chimps, for example, intentionally mate with multiple males so that no one male can be sure about an infant’s paternity. In many species of mammals, including primates, males often kill the offspring of their rivals.

A polygamous social structure like this works just fine in the forest because of what monkeys eat — namely, fruit and leaves of trees, notwithstanding the occasional omnivorous treat. Fruit and leaves are not moving targets, therefore no concerted effort between the monkeys is required to capture the food. Nor is there much need for males to leave the females in search of food. The troop moves about the forest together because the food is in the trees.

When our human ancestors left the forest for the grasslands, they faced a vastly different range of conditions. Here there was not enough fruit and leaves and roots for them to subsist on. Most of their nutrition would have to come from the meat of animals, which were moving targets. Moreover some of these animals were much larger than our ancestors, and also dangerous, and they ranged over great distances. To manage this new range of conditions, early humans were forced to radically adapt their behavior and their social structure, not to mention their physiology.

Rather than leisurely move about the forest as a group, pulling leaves off trees, early humans were obliged to hunt. In the art of hunting, there were already some tried-and-tested models for them to draw upon. One model was that of the felines, who often hunted alone and relied on stealth. The other model was that of the canines, which generally hunted in packs. This second model was better suited to our ancestors, whose social structure was already built around group dynamics.

Thus the canine model of hunting is the approach that early humans chose to emulate, albeit with a few proprietary enhancements. The canines had colonized the grasslands before the humans, and their bodies were already well-suited to the hunt. They were great long-distance runners, and they had sharp teeth and strong claws. Humans had only recently learned how to walk, and their teeth and claws were disappointingly short.

The early humans compensated for their physical limitations by developing their intelligence. Their unique hunting style depended on strategy, communication, and tools. They were also forced to adopt a new social structure. The grasslands were expansive and the animals they hunted were often far away. This required the hunters to travel vast distances. The juveniles, however, were not yet capable of traveling these distances, and likewise they were often too big to carry.

This brings us to another implication of our ancestors’ hunting style. Strategy, communication, and tool-making requires intelligence, know-how, and training, and this takes time to develop. Baby monkeys and wolves need only a year or two of development before they reach maturity because their feeding style doesn’t require such extensive preparation. Baby humans, on the other hand, need more than a decade of growth and maturation before they’re ready to significantly participate in the work required to sustain the group.

Early humans solved this problem through a division of labor among males and females. The females tended to the young and also — which Morris failed to emphasize — did most of the work of procuring locally-available food and resources. Meanwhile the males went far and yonder into the grasslands to hunt for meat in packs.

This division of labor was a new development for primates. Although it solved the problem of long-distance hunting, it created the problem of sexual infidelity. Back when our ancestors were apes, the males and females were always in close proximity. When the females bore offspring, the alpha male entertained no doubts that they were the product of his loins because the females lived by his side at all times. And among polygamous primates like the chimpanzees, the males in the troop can at least be reasonably sure that the offspring belong to one of them, as opposed to some randy outsider.

In the grasslands, the situation was different. The males were often gone for many hours or sometimes many days. Who’s to say their females didn’t receive the advances of males from another tribe in their absence? How can they guarantee that these new offspring are, in fact, the extension of their own bloodlines, rather than someone else’s? Likewise, what is to stop the men from abandoning their women and offspring during the course of their hunts, if by chance they happen upon another group of ready females? The problem went both ways.

Natural selection has programmed us to advance our own genetics. For all mammals — primates included — this is a matter of fundamental importance. Early humans needed some mechanism that would allow the men and women to periodically separate for extended periods without sacrificing the viability of the social unit. Hence, the great evolutionary adaptation known as the pair bond, from which the phenomenon of love and the institution of marriage have both arisen. Indeed, the bulk of human family dynamics can be traced back to this clever work-around devised by mother nature in the grasslands of Africa a few million years ago.

Early humans depended on group dynamics for survival. They needed food, much of which roamed far and wide on the grasslands. And they needed to slowly prepare their young for the complex activities required for survival, which required child-rearing at the home camp. To make this work, men and women had to not only divide their efforts, but they also had to be physically apart for days on end. And to make this work, they had to love each other. Or at the very least, they had to form a strong bond — one male with one female — that persisted over time.

So the deal was for the father to hunt meat, the mother to gather other sources of food and provide care for the child, and for both father and mother to commit to each other and their own offspring above all else. A commitment like this, however, is more easily said than done. To make it work in practice, a complex network of characteristics — physical, sexual, emotional, and behavioral — gradually developed and ultimately came to dominate our species.

The Naked Ape attempts to comprehensively catalogue these evolutionary adaptations, which makes for a fascinating read. For example, the female human is one of the only primates with a vagina built to receive the male penis from the frontal position. Granted, it is capable of receiving the penis from behind, as indeed it was originally constructed to do when our ancestors still dwelled in trees. But the human vagina has the unique adaptation of allowing for frontal entry.

Why? This is one of the many interesting questions that Morris delves into. Although it is true that rear-entry sex is a valued element of the human sexual canon, all studies across a wide range of cultures indicate that frontal sex is the predominant sexual form. Frontal sex allows man and woman to be face-to-face in the act of intermingling their genes, which allows a level of intimacy that is difficult to achieve from behind.

Morris emphasizes that this feature is in no way advantageous for child-bearing or child-birth. If anything, it’s problematic for both. Pregnancy and birth for the rest of the primates is a breeze compared to human pregnancy and birth, primarily on account of this and other unique anatomical adaptations in service of sex…but not just sex in the mechanical sense. These anatomical adaptations evolved in service of sex that is intimate, that instills a strong bond between man and woman.

The more enjoyable sex is, for both man and woman, the more likely they are to remain together, and the more likely they remain together, it is more likely that they and their offspring will survive. The nerve endings on the clitoris and the head of the penis, the muscle spasms released by stimulation of these nerve endings, along with the emotion-forming hormones released before, during, and after sex, are all in service of the pair-bond phenomenon.

Anthropologists and neurobiologists both agree that the chemistry of love is an evolutionary adaptation. First, we excrete pheromones and pump our bodies full of norepinephrine, dopamine, and testosterone, which encourages man and woman to come together. Then once we’re together, our bodies switch the chemical drip to vasopressin and oxytocin, which promotes attachment and long-term bonding. According to The Naked Ape, all of the these fun drugs are courtesy of the demands of chasing down big game on the grasslands of Africa.

It is not coincidence that the shape and color of our lips mimic the shape and color of the vagina, says Morris. Likewise, female humans’ breasts are significantly larger, rounder, and more visually declarative than that of all other primates, for reasons that are independent of the production of milk. In fact, breast-feeding is much harder for humans than the rest of our primate cousins because the breasts of the rest of the female primates are built solely for breast-feeding, whereas the function of human female breasts has been partially commandeered for sexual signaling.

The list goes on, but I will desist here. In summary, the unusually strong pair bond between man and woman can be viewed as the outcome of millions of years of evolutionary biology. The question is: what does this imply about love? Is love merely a biological mechanism? Do I love you because the entire weight of my animal past impresses me to do so? Did you love me because your behavioral inheritance and biochemistry dictated it? When you died and it left a deep hole inside my internal universe that is still gaping, is this just a mechanistic consequence of a programmed emotion?

To these questions, the evolutionary anthropologist will probably say yes. And he or she may be right. But I propose another way of looking at the matter. It is actually another way of looking at all matters, not just this matter. But this matter is a good window into the much wider picture. In order to go down this path, a radical first step is required, which I believe Desmond Morris and most other anthropologists would feel uncomfortable doing.

Taken from the narrow perspective of physical reality, everything I have thus far described is all well and good. It is all quite logical. But there is one glaring problem, which most biologists and physicists and otherwise very intelligent people blatantly avoid. We’re all in agreement that evolution is a process to which we — as material, biological beings — are subject to. But what is the origin of this process? And where did the physical matter, of which we and our universe are built, come from?

The easy answer is that it came from the Big Bang, but this merely begets a second question: where did the Big Bang come from? Science does not know. Even more problematic is the fact that Science accepts that it does not know this and has simply moved on to everything that happened afterward. The field of physics thus describes the entirety of existence as a sequence of causality without knowing the initial cause.

It is a credit to the field of science — and to the brainpower of human beings — that we can trace the existence of our universe back to the precipice of its creation. But across that threshold we cannot cross. With all of our mathematical calculations and our big brains and our impressive gadgets we can ascertain the second link in the chain of causality, and the third and the fourth and fifth, on and on to the nth degree up through the present moment. But the initial cause is still utterly unknown to us. It is the elephant in the room of every single text book and article and scientific explanation that attempts to describe any and every aspect of physical reality as we know it.

Strangely, the untenable nature of this proposition is mostly overlooked. It’s like building a skyscraper in which the first floor has no walls, ceiling, or structural support whatsoever — an utterly empty space. And yet the rest of the building is believed to be standing on top of it. Standing on what? It’s standing on nothing, it’s a building floating on air, purportedly operating under the law of gravity by pressing downward onto empty space — which makes no sense. It openly contradicts the laws of physics as we know them.

But here’s the catch. If you can picture a 100-story building floating on air, one story above the ground, that is a tribute to your powers of imagination. In our physical reality, phenomena such as this cannot exist, but you have somehow created it inside your mind. This is what I’m getting at…but not yet.

We can talk about biology and the laws of physics all we want, and we can certainly make it fun and compelling. But any system that describes reality as a chain of causality in total ignorance of the inaugural cause is fundamentally flawed. This is the foundation on which all fields of science —including evolutionary biology, physics, and quantum mechanics — are built.

Before we go any further, let’s first tackle the subject of terminology. It doesn’t matter if people define the Big Bang differently. It can be understood in the way that Physicists or Australian Aborigines or Christians or Buddhists or anyone else understands it. By “Big Bang,” I mean the creation of the physical universe in which we find ourselves.

Beneath all of the superficial noise of religious differences, there are only two main cosmological perspectives. The first perspective is that the universe started from nothing and the second perspective is that the universe started from something. We can forget the distinction between Muslims and Jews, Methodists and Jesuits, shamans and quantum theorists. The real distinction — in terms of cosmological perspective — is between the from-nothing and from-something camps.

My intention is not to create divisions. On the contrary, the intention is to point out the fact that many of these divisions are imaginary. In a more profound sense, there is no division of anything. That’s the ultimate point, although there is much work that still needs to be done to move this line of reasoning in that direction. My point right here is to remind us that science has shockingly little insight into whatever caused the Big Bang — i.e., the origin of existence as we know it. Some scientists have at least ventured theories, which are welcome, but none of these theories can be verified by the scientific methods of this universe.

Even Stephen Hawking admits to this. “Events before the Big Bang are simply not defined, because there’s no way one could measure what happened,” he said. Along with Jesus Christ, Rumi, and Ramakrishna, Stephen Hawking belongs to the from-something camp. “There was never a Big Bang that produced something from nothing. It just seemed that way from mankind’s point of perspective,” he said.

To illustrate Hawking’s point, imagine a two-dimensional player inside a video game who is trying to discover the nature of his or her origins. For example, imagine yourself in the shoes of Super Mario after eating one of those mushrooms. His thoughts shift from the narrow focus of his day — finding the Princess — to the metaphysical questions of existence. He stops running for a moment and looks around at his universe, which is limited to the content of the video game itself.

He thoroughly explores every single physical law that governs all the processes that he observes inside the game itself. But he has no way of reading the computer code that has written him into existence. He has even less chance of observing the interior of the factory in which the physical video game was manufactured, or the truck on which the video game was delivered to the house in which the video game is being played. He has no idea who is playing him, let alone who created him in the first place. His universe is a sub-set of our universe. His verifiable knowledge is limited to his narrow frame of reality.

This is the same exact predicament that we — and everything else inside our universe — are in. Science quietly accepts this fact and then quickly moves on without properly recognizing the implications. Destined to ignorance about the root questions of existence, science can only answer the secondary questions contained within this limited frame of reality. And yet, science claims to be the authority on the subject of our existence. This is achieved by the practice of ignoring the biggest question and focusing instead on everything that came after it.

Religion, on the other hand, at least attempts to engage the elephant in the room. Religious ideas cannot be verified by science, and therefore they are often discredited, especially by those in the from-nothing camp. The great accomplishment of religion is to recognize that the elephant in the room cannot be measured by the limited tools that are readily available in the room. Religion effectively says, “I know there is an elephant in the room, because somebody told me there was and described it to me in a semi-credible way.” Science says, “If you can’t measure the elephant with the tools in this room, there is no proof that it exists. So can we please talk about something else?”

Then comes the mystic. The mystic knows the elephant will disappear the moment he opens his mouth. The mystic may not even see the elephant, and he certainly doesn’t bother trying to measure it with the silly tools in the room. So he doesn’t say anything. The mystic quietly sits in the room with a smile, knowing there is an elephant standing next to him.

By this point we’ve veered quite far afield from where we started. We’re in strange territory. But this is the only way we can get to where we’re going. All preconceived notions must be checked at the door, starting from the very beginning. The only way forward, along the line of comprehension that we are now traveling, is to acknowledge the possibility that the Big Bang started from something. The acknowledgement of this possibility opens the door to a much wider understanding of existence. It is therefore the first step toward understanding everything else — including love.

Our first assumption is that the Big Bang started from something. What, exactly, did it start from? We don’t know. Nobody does. Fortunately, we don’t need to know. It is enough to understand that the Big Bang started from something. From what science tells us today, the universe was initially a million billion billion times smaller than a single atom. Then, over the course of roughly 13.7 billion years, it expanded to the mind-bogglingly immense size it is now. This means that everything in our entire universe — distant galaxies and daffodils and jean shorts — all originated from the same microscopic thing. We’re now standing on the doorstep of non-dualism.

Visualize a big tree. It began its life as a seed. Then it grew roots downward into the ground, and grew a truck upwards into the sky, and sprouted branches with leaves. Now visualize one leaf at one end of the tree, and another leaf at another end of the tree. To what extent are these two leaves separate things, and to what extent are they the same thing?

It’s only a tricky question when looked at through the lens of the human mind. When the leaves are both on the tree, they are undeniably connected to each other. When an insect attacks one leaf, it is felt by the other leaf — a measurable fact which science now acknowledges. When it rains, both leaves are fed water. And if you were to cut all the roots of the tree, both leaves would die.

A more striking illustration is the Pando forest in Utah. To the human eye, it is a forest of over 47,000 aspen trees. In reality, all of these “trees” are one single individual organism. This one tree has a massive underground root system from which over 47,000 stems grow up to the size of full-grown trees, covering forty-three acres of land. Each stem resembles a full-grown tree, but they are all part of the same organism, which is believed to be at least 80,000 years old. In the same general way, everything that exists in the universe was born from the same seed and is thus connected to the same tree. There is no card-carrying physicist that would disagree with this analogy.

The Pando tree in Fishlake National Forest, Utah. Biologically, this is all one organism.

This concept applies to galaxies as well as people. On the surface, this is quite a different way of framing existence. But the way we’re used to framing existence — i.e., as a universe of separate things — is technically an illusion. Or, to phrase it differently, the perception of the separate-ness of things is a useful convention developed by the human mind to more easily process the complex goings-on of existence. The evolutionary purpose of the “thinking mind” is to measure, define, label, and therefore perceive things as separate.

There are plenty of ways to illustrate this point in the language of science. For example, much of the atoms that today comprise my body previously belonged to other plants and animals and rocks, even just a few years ago. This opens the door to the very complicated question of what is “I,” even in the context of physics.

At the Department of Motor Vehicles, when filling out the form to get a driver’s license, I am asked define myself as one of several broad ethnic categories (Asian, African American, White, etc.). But what do I put? A large percentage of my ancestors came to the American continent from the European country of Hungary, which is a race of people that initially came from the Ural mountains in Asia, and of course their ancestors all came from Africa. So what does that make me? A member of Homo sapiens, I would say, but even that’s not entirely accurate. In tracing my identity back to an origin, why stop at Homo sapiens? Why not go all the way back to the first single-cell life forms on earth?

Identifying myself as the microscopic origin of the universe would not be an acceptable answer at the DMV, which seeks to distinguish people according to general ethnic categories that are subjectively defined. This is the same way we humans perceive and define every other seemingly-separate element of the universe. We draw subjective lines between things and categorize them as separate.

Most of the time, this is a useful practice, which is why we do it. When I say “daffodil,” you know that I’m talking about a flower, and when I say “jean shorts,” you know that I’m talking about clothes. In the context of our daily lives, it is useful to distinguish between daffodils and jean shorts, England and Indonesia, you and I. But ultimately this distinction is a simplification of reality (i.e., an illusion), and this is the great lesson that love has the power to teach us. I am slowly getting to the point here.

Mystics speak of the one-ness of everything. To be more precise, the term “non-duality” is often used. The concept of non-duality is an attempt to communicate the meaning of oneness — an undertaking which is naturally wrought with many challenges. The first challenge is the impossibility of language to accurately describe something that is ineffable. In the realm of language, the best that can be done is to try to explain it, which in turn may trigger an understanding of that which underlies the language. In this case, the understanding cannot come from the thinking mind. It can only be understood experientially.

The other challenge is the inherent inability of the thinking mind to understand non-duality in a complete sense. In one of the great paradoxes of metaphysics, non-duality cannot be understood by the thinking mind because the thinking mind is the cause of duality. For example, when the thinking mind labels a place as “here,” it creates the condition of “there” (i.e., any place that is not “here”). Likewise, when the thinking mind labels a point in time as “now,” it creates “then.” That’s what duality is.

The moment we think “I”, this creates “you” and “them.” And when we try to think of “oneness,” we can’t help but to also think of that which is not oneness…which is a contradiction of terms. The thinking mind is akin to a 1980s computer that can perform several useful functions but is utterly incapable of performing a vast number of other functions. It simply lacks the necessary hardware and software.

What, then, is non-duality? The simplest way to put it is that non-duality is not duality, but that doesn’t help much. A somewhat better way to illustrate non-duality is through analogy, which has a better chance of being understood experientially. Consider waves of water as they move across the ocean. The thinking mind sees each wave as something separate from the ocean. It measures each wave according to its size and shape. It draws distinctions between one wave over here and then another wave over there. That’s the dualistic way of looking at the ocean.

The non-dualistic way of looking at the ocean is to recognize that every single wave is inextricably part of the ocean. Even in a strict oceanographic sense, each wave is a manifestation of the underlying ocean. In other words, the waves and the ocean are the same thing — there is no separation in any real sense. The thinking mind perceives the waves as separate things because that’s what the thinking mind is programmed to do. But this at odds with reality in the most fundamental sense.

Every tree and every person and every molecule within every neurochemical is a manifestation of the entire universe. The perceived separateness of trees and people and molecules is a gross simplification of the thinking mind. The underlying reality of existence is passed through a narrow filter, which creates the illusion of many separate things. In reality, it’s all one big ocean.

Non-duality is the basis of Hinduism and Buddhism as well as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, paganism, animism, shamanism, etc. In all of the above isms, everything in the universe (planets, trees, bugs, pizza, him, her) come from the same thing. “My Father and I am One,” said Christ. There is a long list of words used to describe this one thing: Father, Mother, God, Brahman, Source, consciousness, the ground of being, Big Bang. The actual words don’t really matter. Even the term “thing” is misleading. Buddhists prefer the term “no thing.”

The goal of all spiritual traditions is to bypass the filter of the thinking mind and gain access to the feeling/knowing of underlying reality in its unfiltered state. In other words, to recognize the illusion of the separate-ness of all things and to experientially feel the oneness of the entirety of the universe. Even for many of the greatest mystics, this feeling is accessed only part of the time. For many people on the spiritual path, it is a fleeting sensation that is difficult to sustain. The thinking mind is our default mode of awareness.

This is where Love comes in. Our most poignant and intractable dualistic illusion is our sense of self. We have this view of “I” as something separate from other people and also separate from other things like trees and bugs and air and planets. To borrow the colorful language of Alan Watts, we tend to define ourselves as an individuated consciousness encapsulated inside a bag of skin. We define “I” as everything that is inside of our skin, such as our bones and white blood cells and our thoughts, and everything outside of our skin is “other.”

When looked at more closely, even through the lens of an accredited scientist, the perceived verity of this illusion begins to unravel. For example, consider the relation between the air outside of my body and the thoughts inside of my head. When the air outside is cold, I think to myself that I need to put on a jacket. This thought did not originate inside my being. It was induced inside me by the air that is outside of me, which in turn originated from atmospheric conditions on the other side of the planet — storms in the Arctic Ocean and evapotranspiration from the trees in the Amazon forest, etc. The cold air produced by these planetary conditions interacted with the nerve endings on the surface of my skin, which sent signals to my brain that produced the mental thought about the need to put on a jacket. As a consequence, my body is called into action. My legs carry me to the other room, my arms take hold of the jacket, and I put it on. I am now an individuated consciousness encapsulated inside a bag of skin that is encapsulated inside of a jacket that is encapsulated inside the atmosphere of this planet that is encapsulated inside the solar system that is encapsulated inside the milky way of this universe.

The same applies to interaction between people. The words and actions of other people influence my own thoughts and actions, and vice versa. One way or another, there is a potentially measurable line of causality between the actions of a farmer in a distant continent with the physical composition of the atoms of my body, not to mention my thoughts and even my dreams. Sun and the soil of South Africa, in combination with the knowledge of a winemaker who I will never meet, have worked together to create a grape that is fermented into wine and put into a bottle and shipped halfway around the world. A few years later I drink this wine, and the alcohol within the wine contributes to my mental decision to go swimming naked in the pond under a full moon and maybe sing a little song while I’m doing it.

In this example, it’s not even accurate to say that “I” am the one doing the swimming. Technically speaking, what I call “I” is an agglomeration of molecules obtained from food grown by thousands of people in dozens of countries. Even the thoughts that this “I” entertains are a consequence of the interaction of those molecules. And where did those molecules originate? From the nebulae that created our planet, and so on. So who or what is it that is swimming naked in the pond? Technically speaking, it is the entire universe.

Okay, says the dualistic skeptic, but you have to draw the line somewhere, right? Yes, the thinking mind must draw the line somewhere. That is what the thinking mind does. The thinking mind draws thousands and thousands of lines, and the resulting picture is the dualistic way of perceiving the universe. A universe divided into separate things is a construct of the thinking mind.

Illusions are useful for our daily survival. In the metaphysical sense, “I” and a speeding train are not separate, but that doesn’t mean I should step in front of the train for the sake of a cosmic embrace. Prompted by the thinking mind, I will step back as the train passes. As I stand there and watch it pass, perhaps somewhere deep inside me there will be the brief flicker of awareness that the train and “I” are both waves of the same ocean. Then the train will pass, and the thinking mind will again regain control of my mode of perception. This is how life seems to work for us humans.

But the fleeting sense of non-dualist awareness is no small feat. Once it becomes an ingrained part of a person’s way of perceiving the universe — even if only fleetingly — everything changes. For example, outwardly terrible things can occasionally or at least briefly be perceived as not terrible. And that is a true miracle. Your way of thinking and feeling and understanding and living become altered. Certain fears and anxieties soften or even fall away. Trivial problems lose their power to annoy you. Mundane things can become beautiful, even magnificent.

The ability to access non-dual awareness is like walking through a door into a world where nothing is objectively wrong or out of place — where everything is exactly as it should be and cannot be any other way. The question is, how do you find this door? And how do you open it? This is where Love comes in. Finally we have arrived at the point of this very long string of words.

There are several ways to find this elusive door, and Love is one of them. But it only works if you truly love someone. There have to be moments of love that are so deep that ego is deprived of oxygen and briefly falls away. The love I’m referring to is a feeling, shared between two people, that reaches such a pitch of intensity that the sense of “I” and “you” dissolves and the illusion of separateness disappears. It is the feeling of being pressed so tightly into someone — emotionally, physically, spiritually — that it actually feels like you meld into one. That is what true love is. It is the most lovely of all introductions to non-dual awareness.

Therein lies the supreme of elegance of our universe. We have a situation in which a biological imperative — i.e., the pair bond strategy, developed by the evolution of a pack-hunting primate over the course of millions of years — triggers a metaphysical breakthrough of the highest order. This introduces yet another question. Is this expansion of consciousness merely a by-product of evolutionary biology? Or is evolutionary biology a vehicle for consciousness expansion?

Without the benefit of understanding the cause and nature of the origin of our universe, it is impossible to say. No scientist nor computer algorithm can provide a definitive answer to that question. We have no better chance at solving that conundrum than Super Mario does in understanding why he must save the Princess from the Dragon. All we can do is marvel at its beauty and wonder, and be thankful for it, and revel in it when we have the chance.

Here’s what I’m trying say. Big Bang and biological evolution paved the way for those feelings we felt together every night at bedtime when you rested your head on my chest and we wrapped our arms around each other and no words were necessary. Now that I don’t have you to hold anymore, I’ve found other ways to experience non-duality. But loving you was, and still is, my favorite of all doors to that place that does not have a name and is not even a place.

Jerry Toth

Written by

Cacao farmer, rainforest conservationist, obscure filmmaker, and metaphysical explorer based in Ecuador.

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