Is our need for love driven by an unconscious recognition that we are not separate?

A student writes:

Would it be true to say that our need to give and receive love is driven by an unconscious recognition that we are not separate from other beings in the way that we think we are? Is that related to what you means when you say that we all ‘meet in the heart’?

Lama Shenpen replies:

It is an interesting question isn’t it?  What do any of us mean by ‘we all meet in the heart’?  It is a very deep intuition isn’t it?  It expresses something we intuitive know means something more important than anything else in life.  I say that quite boldly and invite anyone to challenge me on it.  Can you honestly say that talking like this means nothing to you?

And yes I would say that we know this because it is true – we do meet each other in our hearts and it is what gives our life meaning – so that we are only truly happy when we are giving and receiving love.  Even if it is just practising Formless Meditation in solitude with the intention of awakening our hearts in order to follow the path to Awakening – what gives that meaning is that it helps others as well as ourselves.  What motivates us is that this is going to enable us to help ourselves and others in the most profound and far reaching way.

And it is the same when NHS workers and others risk their lives on a daily basis in order to help others – somehow this gives their life meaning – working alongside others doing the same thing gives their life even more meaning – life is about the joy at the interface between ourselves and others; distinct yet not separate.


Lama Shenpen’s students are participating in the Living the Awakened Heart Training – a structured, comprehensive, supported, distance learning programme. The training, which is open to all, brings the profound Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings to a western audience in an experiential, accessible way, through spiral learning. Find out more and how to join at