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Introduction To the Living Love Methods

Abandon what is unskillful. One can abandon the unskilfulll. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If this abandoning of the unskillful would bring harm and suffering, I would not ask you to abandon it. but as is brings benefit and happiness, therefore I say, abandon what is unskillful.
~ Gautama Buddha (563 BC 483 BC age:80)

The Skinny

  1. for: analytical, science-loving people, primarily.
  2. Love is the top priority. Love is more important than a n y t h i n g else.
  3. Love e v e r y  o n e. Everyone includes, surprise, yourself.
  4. I’m the one who has been creating all this pain all along. Why was I so mean to myself? Why was I so daft? How do I stop?
  5. Not to worry, there’s a way out.


Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is written in your religious books.
Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
~ Gautama Buddha (563 BC 483 BC age:80)

In living love, there is nothing to believe. Instead there are experiments or techniques called methods, you can try to reduce your suffering.

Suffering is created in your mind when your brain interprets and analyses the patterns in the billions of nerve impulses coming into your brain. Outside events do not directly cause suffering. Your mind is programmed to create pain when it sees certain patterns in the neuron firings. You need two things to create suffering:

  1. A stimulus or thought.
  2. mental programming that interprets that stimulus as painful.
If either is missing, you won’t suffer. If you can change your programming, you can stop the suffering even if the outside world does not change. Living Love is a system for changing your mental programming. You might call it Buddhism in western dress or how to reprogram the human biocomputer . You train your mind to reinterpret formerly painful stimuli in a pleasant or neutral way.

You are already skilled in trying to line the world up the way you want, thus avoiding painful stimuli. Go right on doing that. However, in addition, you want to get rid of your painful addictive programming that creates pain whenever the universe does not conform to your liking. That programming is 100% under your control; the outside world is not.

Living Love uses the term addiction in a broader sense than being addicted to a drug. You can be addicted to a person. You can even be addicted to having your eggs cooked in a certain way. Anything you tell yourself you must (or must not) have before you can be happy, is an addiction. Whenever an addiction is not satisfied, the brain punishes itself by creating pain, physical or emotional. "addictions are the only cause of suffering" because you can’t suffer without an addictive demand that the world be other than it is.

In contrast, when a preference is unsatisfied, you don’t make yourself unhappy. For example, you might happily eat chocolate ice cream when the restaurant runs out of your preferred favourite, strawberry.

With preferences we continue to try to get the world of people and events to conform to our desires, but we don’t upset ourselves when it does not. Ironically, we are more effective at making changes when we operate from preferences than from addictions.

Don’t confuse addiction with attraction.

Craving, in the sense of attraction, is thus not the problem. The addiction, (punishing yourself when the situation does not meet your models), pure and simple is the problem. Consider the situation when you want to do something taboo, such as run naked at the beach. It is almost pointless trying to convince yourself that doing so would not be fun. You are wishing you lived in a society without such a taboo and are punishing yourself because you don’t currently live in such a society.

You have some options:

  1. Try to change the society to relax the taboo.
  2. Move to another society without the taboo.
  3. Violate the taboo.
  4. Patiently wait for the situation to change by itself.
  5. See if you can find something else to do instead that is just as fun.
If the taboo is actually harmful, then (5) is pretty well your only option. The same reasoning applies, even for much stricter taboos.

Your ego will try to confuse you about the definitions of addiction and preference. An addiction is not just wanting something you want very much. It is something you punish yourself with negative emotions when you don’t get it. You might not even like it, e.g. cigarettes.

Having a preference does not mean you don’t care, that you have given up trying to get what you want. With a preference, you can still put 100% effort into getting what you want. You just don’t beat yourself with negative emotions while to you are waiting to succeed.

Scientists have found that stress is the #1 cause of aging. Most techniques to deal with stress help you to temporarily distract yourself from thinking about the stressful situation. Living Love teaches you to think about stressful situation in ways that no longer trigger stress.

Dealing With An Addiction

Here are five things you can do with an addiction:
  1. Continue to suffer every time the addiction is not satisfied. If you suffer long enough, it will gradually wear away at the addiction.
  2. Feed the addiction. Work hard to satisfy it frequently. The problem with this approach is the addiction will often escalate, just the way drug addictions escalate requiring ever higher doses to get the same pleasure.
  3. Change the addiction. Go for something similar, easier to get or that has fewer negative consequence, the analog of using methodone in preference to heroin.
  4. Uplevel the addiction to a preference so you no longer suffer when it is not satisfied, but you still actively seek to satisfy your addiction.
  5. Get rid of the addiction entirely.
Holding onto an addiction is not necessarily good or bad, just painful.

With a preference:

  1. You can still want what you want.
  2. You can still try to make changes.
  3. You can still think that you are right.
  4. You can more skillfully achieve your positive intention.
  5. You just don’t have to be upset or unhappy.

Your mind will try to trick you into thinking you have to give up what you want, rather than giving up making yourself upset when you don’t get what you want.

People unfamiliar with Living Love might imagine using it would turn you into a doormat. The world would walk all over you if you gave up your addictions. Strange as it sounds, the reverse is true. You become more powerful and effective as you shed your addictions. Your power is based on love not bullying. People naturally oppose bullies; people naturally go along with those who love them. With Living Love, your behaviour does not have to change at all, though you might choose to behave in a mellower way. All that has to change is your internal emotional experience.

The classic five Living Love methods for upleveling addictions to preferences or getting rid of them are described in the late Ken Keyes’ book

book cover recommend book⇒Handbook to Higher Consciousnessto book home
by Ken Keyes Jr. 978-0-9600688-8-3 paperback
birth 1921-01-19 1995-12-20 age:74 978-0-9600688-9-0 hardcover
publisher Love Line 978-0-940687-13-4 audio
published 1984-08-01
Ken’s classic. This is by far his best selling book. You can read part of it online.
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Handbook to Higher Consciousness. Ken wrote about a dozen books on these methods.

Which is Better Addiction or Preference?

There is no moral stigma in holding onto an addiction. You are just making yourself suffer. However, life is much more enjoyable when you upgrade your addictions to preferences.

You are better off with preferences than addictions. Consider the following scenarios:

Dealing with something you don’t want
Someone is criticising you Someone is not criticising you
with an addiction You feel angry, hurt, resentful etc. You may not suffer, but then again you may worry that someone soon will criticise you.
with a preference You feel neutral You feel neutral
Dealing with not getting what you want
X says yes when you ask for sex. X says no when you ask for sex.
with an addiction You may feel great, but then again you may worry that X did not really mean it, or that X will say no next time. You feel disappointed, frustrated, angry, hurt ashamed etc.
with a preference You feel elated. You feel neutral
It can sometimes be hard to imagine what it would be like to experience the world through preferential eyes. How could you accept criticism preferentially? Imagine if you had been selected to take acting lessons from some famous actor and they were telling you how to improve your performance, letting you in on their acting secrets.


I did not get very far working on my own until I attended my first workshop in Berkeley in 1977-06. The workshops may emphasise important points you overlooked in reading. You can ask questions, bring up your objections and reservations, argue and keep asking questions, demanding different explanations, demanding more specific examples, until finally, it all begins to make sense. More important, you learn subconsciously by being around more experienced students and emulating their preferential programming.

To the novice Living Lover, it is debatable whether it would be a Good Thing™ to get rid of most of one’s addictions. Until you decide firmly that it is, you are not going to use the methods with much enthusiasm. The best place to hash out these reservations is at a workshop.

Perhaps you would like to join us for the 2002-09 Mendip Hills Workshop in England.

Why Use the Living Love Methods?

You use these methods not to become virtuous and spiritual, but simply to reduce the amount of emotional pain in your life. The methods work, but only if you do.

Living Love has nothing to say about ethics, what is right and wrong. You must get that from some other source. Love everyone unconditionally, including yourself is a little vague when it comes time to make sound ethical choices.

As far as I know, the Living Love Methods are compatible with most other techniques/spiritual paths/religions. You don’t have to give up your current practices.

This is not pie in the sky. If you are diligent, you should see results within the first week of using the methods. If you don’t, try some other path more suited to you. Living Love is primarily for analytical, science-loving people, often atheist or agnostic.

Every addiction you reprogram instantly and permanently lifts a burden of suffering. You will almost certainly keep some addictions right to your grave, but the fewer you carry, the less you will suffer. When you use the methods reasonably consistently, life just gradually gets better and better as you get older. I tell you this, not only from theory, but also from my own personal experience and the experiences of hundreds of other people.

Big addictions take years of patient grinding away. However, the results are well worth the effort. You might say to yourself, but it may take 20 years to grind off this monster addiction. But then, where would you be in 20 years if you don’t use the methods (or some other techniques with the same aim)? — stuck suffering the same as you are now!

Living Love in the abstract tends to make perfect sense. When it comes time to apply it to a particular troublesome life situation, then it sometimes seems problematic, because your addictions blind you. You can’t absorb it all in one reading. You have to read it again and again in the contexts of different life problems you are working on.


If you are clinically depressed, your brain chemistry is out of whack. The Living Love methods will help, but they likely won’t be sufficient. You may need drugs to balance your neurochemistry, or professional help dispelling the nutty notions you use to keep yourself depressed.


The basic idea of living love is primarily to accept whatever is before you here and now. Whether it is painful or pleasant, embrace the experience. Don’t push it away.
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter —
If your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
~ Wu-Men (862 AD 949 AD age:87), circa 1180-1230

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