THE WAY OF THE LOVER: The Awakening & Embodiment of the Full Human

THE WAY OF THE LOVER: The Awakening & Embodiment of the Full Human

Robert Augustus Masters
Xanthyros Foundation, West Vancouver, British Columbia, 1988: paperback.

J. Krishnamurti, in his talks and writings, always spoke against spiritual ambition and striving. “The search for result, for success,” he says in Commentaries on Living, 1st Series“is blinding, limiting; it is ever coming to an end.” To set for ourselves a goal that is elsewhere is to avoid true awakening here and now.

Similarly, Robert Augustus Masters, in his book The Way of the Loverspeaks of moving “not from -here to there, but from here to a deeper here.” This is not the United States' Robert Masters, but a Canadian teacher who guides a spiritual community in British Columbia, and who has published several books and audiocassettes through his sponsoring organization, the Xanthyros Foundation. His main theme in this book is that of the “lover,” his term for an awakened and awakening human being, paradoxical, ecstatic, living without fear, hope, or nostalgia, always in the here-and- now. “The lover is not within, nor without, but simply here, living as the very core of each moment…”

 Unlike Krishnamurti, who took an uncompromising view against methods such as rituals, Masters is not against using methods when it suits the teacher's purposes; “[the lover] uses rituals when necessary, but does not depend upon them.” The lover is no mere peddler of truth but one who constantly embodies and experiences truth. The lover is aware without being detached, in tune with all his or her emotions, whether good or bad, always going through them instead of avoiding or “rising above” them. The lover uses spiritual teachers to their full advantage without becoming a devotee, and knows the difference between vulnerability and helplessness-to “stand strong without being rigid.”

The Way of the Lover is a difficult book to read. Masters is ruthless in his assessment of the various habits to which many of us cling in this transitional period on Earth. He attacks the false optimism of many “New Age” teachers, the brainwashing used by spiritual gurus and cults, guilt mechanisms, pornography, sex, romance, and masturbation. He speaks with an authoritative voice, a voice attributed not to any disembodied being, but simply to a man who has attained some self-mastery through consciously experiencing all parts of himself. Just about everyone's illusions come under fire in this book; whether we are romantics, cynics, extroverts, introverts, or guru-worshippers, Masters rubs our noses in our addictions, telling us to expand our boundaries rather than collapse them.

By going through our more painful or anti-social emotions we may, Masters seems to suggest, tread the ladder of evolution without leaving any parts of ourselves behind. With such an approach, even jealousy becomes useful, grief and pain become “but available light-energy.” Perhaps this is because the energy that was once used in avoiding our feelings is used to experience all feelings, “good” and “bad.” Therapists tell us that it is through looking closely at our feelings, rather than indulging or inhibiting them, that we begin to get better in touch with them. But Masters tells us to go further, to “look inside our looking,” to examine our motivations for looking. If we are detached observers, perhaps we are inventing a new way of avoiding our feelings; but if we participate in them and own them-if we are, as he says, “juicy”-perhaps this energy will be freed for our enrichment and empowerment.

Like Krishnamurti, Masters seems to distrust language as a way of expressing the enlightened experience. But, rather than be cautious about his use of it, he instead appears in his enthusiasm to celebrate this distrust, dancing on the slippery rail of discourse, using run-on sentences, ending many chapters with ellipses ( . . . ), and even occasionally lapsing into rhyme. The anger at wasted human potential, the repeated invitations to “be here now,” combined with his frequent use of strong language and the sixteen poems that make Part 111, all hint at a curious combination of Baba Ram Dass and Allen Ginsberg. We get the impression of a man firing scattershot at the heart of truth, enlightened but irritable, drunk with his own insights.

The Way of the Lover will make you question old ideas about love, sex, self-knowledge, and even morality. Its ideas are meant to be lived, not discussed or abstracted. It may anger, sadden, or outrage you, but its allowance for all responses in the face of blunt truth make it a rare, genuine expression of the ageless wisdom.


Autumn 1990