Spreading Love with Mick Jenkins

Question: The video opens with an important question: What is Love? Mick Jenkins answers, “I don’t know.” How would you answer this same question?

Michael Richardson-Borne: Let’s take a quick look at Jenkins’ answer where, generally, there are two categories of meaning.

First, from separation, “I don’t know” means that the separate self does not have an intellectual understanding of what love, as a concept, is. To think this way, there must be a psychological mechanism in place where there is a belief in the existence of a concrete “I” who can know facts. So “I don’t know” is a claim that love as a fact is not understood at this time by the mind– but that it’s possible for the separate “I” to know at a future date. Love is imagined as something that can be known as an object with a sense of completion and finality. This is the dominant belief system around love in our world today– love is a concept and, for a small circle of people that we privilege, we attempt to match our behaviors to our ever-evolving version of this concept.

Second, from non-separation, there is nothing to know. There is only what is. So not knowing what love is is a truthful answer because it has nothing to do with the mind. That said, non-separation is love– so it’s completely possible for the mind to give a straight forward answer that points to the truth of love in a direct way. When the mind gets it’s not separate, a shift occurs where it’s not connected to a specific individual but is a movement of a process that is living you in the biggest sense of the word.

From separation, it is impossible to know love. Being under the spell of the separate self is an unintentional commitment to a violent worldview. From non-separation, love is the impersonal experience of being that includes the personal aspects of this being.

So how would I answer the question, “What is love?” I’d say, “Love is non-separation.”

Q: The chorus of the song asks “what love has to do with the point.” If love is impersonal, then what is the point of life?

MR-B: Notice how you are under the illusion that life needs a point to be worth living. This is the separate self’s game, not the true self’s realization. The separate self is teleological– it keeps you uncomfortable, it keeps you grinding and needing things (like a point of life) in order to believe that you are happy or satisfied. But this is an endless game. When one finally notices the pointlessness of needing a point, then a true seeker comes to life.

Rather than always searching for a point, center in the now of what is happening. There is no goal per se, one simply follows the movement moment to moment and shows up exactly how the script is written, letting life be lived without attachment. Generally, there is curiosity coupled with the range of human emotions present– but even this is just part of the script.

The comeback to this sort of answer is usually something like this: “What if I don’t have a plan and just throw caution to the wind? What if I behave like my life is pointless and just sit on the couch all day and smoke weed and eat junk food?”

But this is not your doing either. Thinking and holding to a point or letting things go as pointless is just two sides of the same coin. Neither arrives at the root of non-separation, which is neither pointed nor pointless.

Q: I have another question about Jenkins’ lyrics. He claims that some people have a literal fence around their heart, but his is on his sleeve. Can you unpack this for us from the perspective of non-separation?

MR-B: The fence around the heart is the separate self hiding another layer of the separate self. It’s just a way of keeping guard around the unreal.

Having your heart on your sleeve means there’s a willingness to expose the inner workings of the separate self to a greater degree. But both of these actions are still under the illusion of a separate self and offer no greater or lesser level of authenticity or self-expression despite what the mainstream interpretation is.

Non-separation has a deeper understanding of the heart. It’s not just personal thoughts and emotions. It’s not something worn on one’s sleeve for so-called others to see. It’s the realization that the heart and the sleeve (and the fence) are one.

Q: What does it mean to spread love?

MR-B: Love cannot be spread. It’s not a transfer that happens between separate people or objects– there is nowhere and no other to spread it to.

Spreading love coheres with the separative idea of unity as a goal. One of the most powerful collective illusions on our planet is a belief that a unitive transformation can happen like dominoes, from one person to another. Few have realized that all of the dominos have already fallen, the game of unification is already at its terminus. It’s final. Fully present here and now. Non-separation is here and now.

Q: Why is it sometimes harder to give love than hate?

MR-B: Again, love isn’t something to be given. Only objects of separation can be given or exchanged which includes linguistic and emotional objects, what we generally think of as love.

The separate self believes it has a choice between the two, love and hate. But if one can get “under” a layer of the separate self and see the purity of undifferentiated consciousness, then a step has been taken towards becoming love.

A big part of this transformation is seeing clearly that there is an “I am” underlying all of the descriptors of who you think you are and what you think you are doing. And that under this “I am” is who you really are where our notions of love and hate are forever suspended.

Real love exists in a different context, in a different kind of realization. What we call love nowadays is only mental projection from separated entities.

Q: Where do love and consciousness meet?

MR-B: They don’t meet anywhere because they’re not separate.

It’s not an intersection of two planes as your question suggests. If love is the impersonal experience of being, this experience includes consciousness. And, in fact, is consciousness.