THE THERMODYNAMICS OF LOVE

Several years ago as I as preparing a church service about love, a couple of nights before the service I dreamt that I was standing before the congregation, delivering my message. But the fascinating thing was that what I was sharing was not all what I had planned to present. In fact, the words that were coming out of my mouth were ideas that I had never put together before. When I woke up, I thought, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.”

In the dream, what I found myself discussing within the context of love, was, of course, the laws of thermodynamics.

But before I get into that discussion, I need to briefly preface it by relating that several years before that service I had done a previous one in which I had mused about applying to the phrase “God is Love” the algebraic axiom of: if a = b then b = a. Such that, if “God is Love”, then “Love is God”. If this is so, then each time we experience love, each of those moments is an encounter with the nature of the divine. And in those moments we can say, “Oh, this is who God is. It is so good to know you.”

This notion is reinforced by what is called the “Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics, (evidently an upstart late-comer to this small collection of laws) it states that, “If two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a third system, they must be in thermal equilibrium with each other.

So, our postulate continues to work. Where two or more are gathered in the name of love, they are in equilibrium with God, who is love, and God is present. Anyone experiencing the love of the God is in equilibrium with others who are also experiencing his love – a true communion.

Let’s put a finer point on this. If God is love, then the ontological status of God, its essence, its being, is that of love. In a monistic view of the universe, there is no duality between the energy of the creator and the energy of the creation. They are both part of the same continuum. So we might also consider that, according to our axiom, not only are God and Love both energy, they are the same energy.

This allows us to consider the First Law of Thermodynamics; it states that energy is conserved, meaning that energy in a system can be neither created nor destroyed. But it can change form – for instance chemical energy can be converted to kinetic energy in the explosion of a stick of dynamite.

If God is energy, then you can’t destroy God. And if God is Love and love is God, then the sacred mysteries of algebra and the first law of thermodynamics teach us this: you cannot destroy divine love. Love IS. It is unconditional.

So, what does it mean then, when we feel like our personal love has been destroyed? We’ve all experienced in our lives those situations in which we have felt that our love was betrayed, and those feeling of betrayal and hurt seem not to just displace, but to destroy our feelings love.

The love seems to be gone. But what has happened? The first law of thermodynamics teaches that even though energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can change form. The love you felt for other person has changed to something else.

Now enters the dreaded second law of thermodynamics, and that means ENTROPY. This law holds that when energy changes form everything tends to move to lower energy states; “in all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.”

When it comes to soiled love, that lower state of energy is at very least disheartening, and at worst its devasting. Our once beautiful, precious, sublime love that was as sweet and flowing and refreshing as mountain stream, which we would joyfully drink of, has now been transformed by cold, hard emotions and become as impenetrable as an ice covered pool that feels as hollow as a drum.

If everything tends towards entropy, does that mean then that, just as our bodies will age, will everything we build within our lives also fall apart? If entropy rules, then, through the challenging circumstances of life, the love of every relationship is doomed to dissipate; either rapidly or slowly, but dissipate it will. Divine love persists, but personal love inevitably fades?

While the second law raises the ugly specter of entropy, it also contains the seed of hope. For while it only holds that all things tend to move to lower energy states, this is true unless additional energy is brought introduced into the system.

When our love is tested by a situation, we have a choice. We can choose to move into separation, and allow our love to degenerate into some lower energy state, or we can infuse our limited personal system with additional energy from the infinite supply of the divine. We can revivify our love by choosing to connect with God’s love, to become one with that love, and to envelope the other person in the light of that love.

And here we re-invoke the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics, which again states that “If two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a third system, they must be in thermal equilibrium with each other.” If both parties come into equilibrium with God’s love, they can re-establish the equilibrium between each other.

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