Excerpted from The Knowing Heart, A Sufi Path of Transformation
The School of Love
We are all students in the school of love, although it may take us a long time and much suffering to admit this fact. Something obstinately refuses to see the obvious. Its amazing how stubborn and slow we are, and how often we still forget. We forget whenever we think ourselves more important than others, whenever we see our own desires and goals as more important than the feelings and well-being of those we love. We forget whenever we blame others for what we ourselves have been guilty of. We forget whenever we lose sight of the fact that in this school of love it is love that we all are trying to learn.
Yunus Emre, the first and greatest Turkish Sufi poet, says, “Let us master this science and read this book of love. God instructs; Love is His school.”
We have all been failures in love. This is our conscious starting point. Only a saint is an expert and complete lover, because only a saint has been freed by God of what stands in the way of love.
We can practice meditation and seek spiritual knowledge for years and still overlook the central importance of love. One of the subtlest forms of egoism is when we engage ourselves in a practice to be more spiritual than others, when we turn spirituality into an arena for our ambition. But love eventually forgives even that.
I do not really know if this modern world is further from the truth than many civilizations that have preceded it. Yet so much of what occupies our attention is a fiction, and through these fictions we live a life of delusion, of separation, of selfishness, of loneliness. Behind our sadness and anxiety is a simple lack of love, which translates into a lack of meaning and purpose.
Unless we look with the eyes of love we cannot see things as they are. We have searched for love in all the wrong places: in building ourselves up, in making ourselves more special, more perfect, more powerful. Love’s substitutes are driving the world. We strive after anything but love, because love is so close we overlook it.
One of the most painful experiences for any person is recognizing that most human beings take themselves as the exclusive goal and center of their thoughts, feelings, and activities. It can be utterly terrifying for a sensitive soul to live in a world where everyone is so busy achieving their own goals and interests that real human needs are pushed aside or trampled in the process.
For most people, even “love” is primarily a form of desire, preference, or obsession; love, in other words, has been confused with self-gratification. And for most people “spirituality” is reduced to a way of feeling good about themselves. The diseases of self, once at least partially mitigated by the vaccinations of faith, are becoming more rampant. This self-centered way of living and being is exactly the “sin” that all authentic traditions of spirituality would save us from. Even the notion of spiritual “health”– as a self-giving and an awareness of a suprapersonal Center beyond one’s ego–is becoming suspect.
It doesn’t matter what we have accomplished, what recognition we have received, what we own, there is nothing as sweet as loving–not necessarily being loved–but just loving. The more we love–the more people, the more manifestations of life we love–the richer we are. Nothing is more beautiful or more sacred than the impulse of love we feel for a friend, a child, a parent, a partner. Nothing would be sweeter than to be able to love everywhere and always.
Rumi has said, “Whatever I have said about love, when love comes, I am ashamed to speak.” At the same time, if Love is the essential power within and behind this universe and our inner life, no subject has greater precedence. C.G. Jung said as much in his last book:
I might, as many before me have attempted to do, venture an approach to this daemon, whose range of activity extends from the endless spaces of the heavens to the dark abysses of hell; but I falter before the task of finding language which might adequately express the incalculable paradoxes of love. Eros is a kosmogonos, a creator and father-mother of all higher consciousness. . . . Whatever the learned interpretation may be of the sentence “God is love,” the words affirm the complexio oppositorum of the Godhead. In my medical experience as well as in my own life I have again and again been faced with the mystery of love, and have never been able to explain what it is. . . . No language is adequate to this paradox. Whatever one can say, no words express the whole. To speak of partial aspects is always to say too much or too little, for only the whole is meaningful. Love “bears all things” and “endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). These words say all there is to be said; nothing can be added to them for we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic “love.” . . . Man can try to name love, showering upon it all the names at his command, and still he will involve himself in endless self-deceptions. If he possesses a grain of wisdom, he will lay down his arms and name the unknown by the more unknown. . . that is, by the name of God.
C.G.Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Although a mind as great as Jung’s can assert that love is a complete, unknowable mystery, I am convinced that there is a knowledge of love, that it desperately needs to be shared, and that in fact no knowledge is more valuable and essential.
It may be that failure in any field is essentially a failure of love. In the nineteenth century, for instance, when progressive psychiatry consisted of the surgical removal of sexual organs or lobes of the brain, organs that were believed to contribute to the moral illness of human beings–this was not only a failure of intelligence, but a failure of love. And in the twentieth century, when mental health was sought through shock therapy, behavior modification, or through the control of prescribed chemicals, it was once again a fixation on the outer, material being, and the overlooking of the requirements of the inner being–again a failure of love.
Likewise, economic systems based purely in outer values, including communism and capitalism, are destined to fail if they do not incorporate at their heart the values of love.
Art, too, must be inspired by love. It degenerates into technique and decoration when it comes into the service of ego or economics.
We are not merely Love’s passive instruments; we are its servants. In order to know how to serve, Love needs to be grounded in knowledge.
Love without knowledge is dangerous. With love alone we could burn ourselves and others. With love alone we could become lunatics. In ancient tradition they warn us of the person who is unconsciously “in love.” Such a person, it is said in Central Asia, should wear a bell on their ankle to warn others of their state.
Love is such an extraordinary and complex power, and the human being has such a great capacity for love that to dismiss it as an unknowable mystery is like standing in awe before a fire and saying we don’t know what this is, how it started. or what to do with it.
Love is both mystery and knowledge. Furthermore, it is a mystery that has spoken to us about Itself in the form of those revelations that have profoundly altered the course and quality of human history. The lives and teachings of Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad have influenced and transformed so many billions of people because they are essentially teachings of love.
The universe is an expression of love
Many believe this is an impersonal material universe, a universe which is more darkness than light, more cold than warmth, more vacuum than substance. Furthermore, many people feel that the random, isolated consciousness at the heart of each human life is endangered by vast forces that do not recognize its fragile existence.
For those with spiritual vision, however, we are living within an infinite heart. This whole universe is a manifestation of cosmic love. This whole universe was created from a spark of love. In the Sufi tradition these words are attributed to the Creator, the Source of our being:
I was a hidden treasure and I longed to be known,
so I created both worlds, the visible and the invisible,
in order that my hidden treasure of generosity and lovingkindness would be known.
This universe is an expression of love. We live in an ocean of Love, but because it is so near to us, we sometimes need to be shocked, hurt, or experience some loss in order to be aware of the nearness and importance of love. A little fish was told that without water it could not live and it became very afraid. It swam to its mother and, trembling, told her about the need for water. The mother said, “Water, my darling, is what we’re swimming in.”
I have known people to go through exactly this experience through their contact with the Way of Love. One person expressed it to me this way: “I used to believe that compassion was something within myself and other human beings, but I was not convinced that this compassion existed outside of ourselves. Our work together has made it clear that compassion is outside of ourselves and that is why we also find it within. We are living in it!”
Every being and thing in creation is set in motion by love
The planets revolve around the sun and the sun radiates its energy to the planets. Atoms are held in a delicate but immensely powerful balance by love. Every species has its own form of love or desire which motivates it. Every human being has its own unique form of love through which it approaches life. Everything is seeking union with the object of its desire. And all of these desires are the derivatives of one Love.
Perhaps this morning you wanted some Ceylon tea and fresh bread. Later you had a hunger for some soup and salad. In the evening you had stir-fried vegetables over rice and blueberries with cream for desert. The motivation behind all of these was the hunger of the body. In the same way, Love is the motivation behind every yearning.
We believe that we love this or that, but the fundamental Love is the pure experience Being. This Being, this isness, is the fundamental energy and substance of the universe. When we are in a state of presence, fully awake and alive, we are open to this isness, to Being, and since the essence of this Being is the Love that created existence, our experience of Being is Love.
Love is seeking to discover itself
This describes what is happening in all of life. We come into this world, and we experience a profound forgetfulness; we are asleep. Everything that happens from then on is the process of waking up to the fact that Love brought us here, that we are loved by a Beneficent Unseen Reality, and that the core of our being is Love. The whole purpose and meaning of creation is to discover the secret of Love.
The experience of love is the most fulfilling and important experience we can have, the highest of all values. We can’t compare love to anything. It is its own meaning and its own criteria. Since everything is explained by something subtler than what is being explained, nothing can explain love because love itself is the subtlest of all things we can experience.
Love is seeking us. Love brought us here, whether we know it or not. Love nudges us to make plans, to seek relationship, to create the possibility of a meeting of hearts. It puts the pen to paper; it puts a word on the tongue. Love is not the goal of anything; it is the cause of everything.
See how the hand is invisible while the pen is writing; the horse careening, yet the rider is unseen; the arrow flying, but the bow out of sight; individual souls existing, while the Soul of souls is hidden.
Rumi, Mathnawi II,1303-4
The Sufis know that Love is the most active, the most powerful force in the universe. Love is always acting on us. We think we are the creators and directors of our lives, but our actions may be just the slightest visible signs of a process that is vast and invisible. We know only a fragment of what can be seen; what is of the unseen we know very little. Like children we are unconscious of all the forces and factors that sustain us, care for us, that guide our life and our world.
The spiritual life requires a reversal of our usual egoistic thinking and wanting. We believe that we are seeking, but what if it is Love itself that is the seeker? Rumi says, “Abundance is seeking the beggars and the poor, just as beauty seeks a mirror. Beggars, then, are the mirrors of God’s abundance, and they who are with God are united with absolute abundance.”
The idea that we live in Love’s Universe may seem a sentimental and naive proposition to some people. Why then do we live in a world of such injustices and horrors?
Life brings us very real suffering, and this suffering can be the cause of some doubt about the Beneficence of life. Often when we are in the midst of our suffering we cannot see a purpose in it. We may lose our trust in the meaning of life. The soul faces a critical choice at this point: whether to be embittered by reality or to allow the pain of life to reorient us to a deeper truth, to help us form a connection to a reality beyond space, time, and even beyond our individual selves.
The idea that we live in a universe created by love is anything but sentimental and naive, because it does not deny the pain of life but embraces this complex reality with all its contradictions. We see that we are turned from one feeling to another and taught by means of opposites and contrasts.
He alone has the right to break,
for He alone has the power to mend.
He that knows how to sew together
knows how to tear apart:
whatever He sells,
He buys something better in exchange.
He lays the house in ruins;
then in a moment He makes it more liveable than before.
Rumi, Mathnawi I, 3882
Sometimes we need to be shocked out of our complacency and indifference to know the reality of love. We need to find a way to restore the proper perspective. We need to be reminded of the centrality of love.
Without becoming passive, we must stop resisting and submit to love. We begin to see the infinite power of Love as the greatest cause in the universe and little by little we begin to serve it. Eventually, we begin to see that even a bitter drink is sweet when it is from the Beloved.
Knowing that Love is the master of the universe helps us to accept and learn from every experience. Knowing that there is an eternal dimension residing here in intimate association with material existence will begin to free us from fears. When we are less governed by negative thoughts about God’s creation, we will be freed from many fears.
The human being is God’s beloved
The Human Being is the macrocosm, not just the microcosm of the universe. While in outward form a human being is the microcosm, a miniature universe, in truth, according to the masters and prophets, mankind is the macrocosm, the cause of the existing universe.
This subject is being debated today in cosmological physics. It appears to those who have done the necessary calculations on the formation of the universe, that if you were to change any one of the physical laws one iota, there would neither be a universe that could support the human being, nor would there be a universe at all. It appears to those who have looked carefully that the universe was virtually designed to create the human being.
Maybe this is what Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi means when he says that the fruit is the cause of the tree, not the other way around. In the simplest terms, the gardener planted the tree in order for it to bear fruit. How many fruit are on a tree? How many trees are within the fruit?
God says: “I created the whole universe for you and you for Myself.”
Every human being is the creation of love and a beloved child of the universe. And every human being is free to turn its back on love.
Water says to the dirty, “Come here.”
The dirty one says, “But I am so ashamed.”
Water says, “How will you be made clean without me.”
Rumi, Mathnawi II, 1366-7;
The more purely we experience it, the more we experience love. The more we live in our individual sense of isolation, loneliness, alienation, our envy, resentment, pride, and shame, the more we allow this love to be obscured.
If we attempt to go this way alone, we will only find our own ego. God loves us to be together. God is us-with-us and doesn’t like loneliness. Trying to attain truth through books alone is like trying to fall in love with a picture. A human being cannot at first fall in love with something he doesn’t see. But if one meets the Divine love in others who have melted in that love, if one stays close to those who have understood this love, then we begin to sense the Love behind all the forms of love. We enter spiritual work and spiritual community so that love might be more revealed and known, less obscure.
Something has brought us together, established the relationships of our lives, and there is a reason for this and a reason behind the reason. Among other things it is our purpose to discover the reason and to explore what connects us. An infinite intelligence has arranged our situation and that infinite intelligence is certainly not you or me, although it operates through you and me. We are here to be in communication with each other and to explore the mystery of love. It is love which is the arranger. It is love that brought us here. We are here to open a space that love can enter and be more known, more apparent, more understood. If we can keep this intention in mind–opening a space for love–it will help us to stay aligned with its power.
The Spectrum of Love: Eros, Philos, Agape
People mean so many different things when they refer to love. For some it means desire or lust, for others compassion, for some need, for others generosity, for some an impersonal ideal, for others devotion or yearning. Love is one power that is reflected on many levels of our being: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and cosmic.
Love is not primarily emotionality. Sometimes the greatest enemy of love is sentimentality, the cheapening or trivializing of the greatest power in the universe. Once a certain shaikh, someone who had given a lifetime to the path, was visiting us. He spoke about the efforts and sacrifices that are needed if we truly want to know the Truth. There was a guest in our circle that day, someone who was filled with a sentimental enthusiasm. “But what about Love,” she asked with her dreamy eyes.
“Love? I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about,” our foxy mentor replied.
“Well, love is wonderful, love is incredible, love is what spirituality is all about. You mean you don’t know about love?” An excruciatingly long pause followed.
“My dear,” he said to her, “Should one use such a word unless in the moment that one uses it, one is that love?”
There are dangers in talking about love without being love. The dangers of not talking about love are also great. Worst of all may be convincing ourselves that love is far removed from ourselves.
The most elementary and limited form of love is desire, or eros to use a more suggestive term. We all have desire, or passion. At the most basic level it is animal desire–desire of the desirable, love of the loveable. Eros is attracted to what it finds desirable, or beautiful. Its power is valuable as long as we are not enslaved by it, but often eros knows no limits in its desire.
The domain of eros is attraction and pleasure. Eros is the power of the universe as it is reflected at the level of our natural, animal self. From the spiritual point of view, eros is a derivative, metaphoric love. It searches without satisfaction through its many objects of desire, but it never reaches full satisfaction. Sufis sometimes refer to it as “donkey love,” because the donkey brays–not a very pleasant sound–when it is aroused.
Philos is a form of love characterized by sharing or participation. It is a more comprehensive form of love, wider, less self-centered than desire. It brings people into relationships. Philos engenders all forms of sharing: social clubs and political organizations, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, family life, cultural bonds.
The highest, most comprehensive level of love is agape–a spiritual, objective, unconditional love. Immature love needs to be loved; mature love simply loves. Agape, or unconditional love, can dissolve the false self. By removing the obstacles we put in the way of agape, by grounding ourselves in the principles and knowledge of love, and being with those who love Spirit, we may come to live within the reality of agape. Eventually agape will refine and expand our sense of who we are to infinite dimensions. It will dissolve our separate existence. Then, instead of seeking the security and consolation of the ego, instead of seeking to be loved, we will be love itself.
I once asked someone whose spiritual maturity I trusted, “Is there ever a time when you no longer need others’ love?”
“Yes, when you love.” When you are love. When there is no difference between you and what you love.
Once a certain man knocked at a friend’s door. His friend asked him, “Who are you?”
“It’s me,” he answered.
“Go away. This is not the time. There’s no room for the raw at this table.”
Only the fire of separation can cook the raw. Only loneliness can heal hypocrisy. The poor man went away and for a whole year burned with longing to be with his friend. Eventually his rawness was cooked, and he returned to the door of his friend, but no longer as he had been. He walked back and forth, in humility and respect, cautious lest the wrong word should fall from his mouth. Finally, he knocked.
“Who is here?” the friend called.
“It’s only you here at this door.”
“At last, since you are I, come right in, O myself, since there isn’t room for two I’s in this house. The double end of the thread is not for the needle. If you are single, come through the eye of the needle.”
Intimate conversation is one of the most important practices of the way of Love. Without a spiritual friend/teacher/guide our possibilities of advancement are very limited. The spiritual friend should be a humble human being who has melted in God. The implicit call of such a person is: “Fall in love with me, just as I fall in love with you, then in our mutual nonexistence we will be complete. A Sufi of the twentieth century, Ishmael Emre has said: “The compassionate and perfect human beings kill the seekers of Truth with humility and the sword of love.”
The failure of love
We have all failed in love. This is our starting point. We have all been broken and disappointed in love because our love has been identified with our egoism, when it was meant to dissolve it. We can love when we expect to get something. We can love when we have the perfect person to love. But there is no such perfect person, and even if there was we would not know it unless we too were perfect, because we would inevitable project our own imperfection on them, as the masses have always done to the great prophets. God’s messengers were not loved, they were more often hated.
Hatred is frustrated love; the shadow of love. It implies the presence of love corrupted by egoism. Egoism can turn beauty into ugliness, generosity into selfishness, love into hatred.
Relationship, humility and interdependence
We do not reach love completely on our own. If we are loveless in and of ourselves, it is because we are living with our center of gravity in the false self. The false self is created from the desires and compulsions of our own separateness. This false self believes strongly in its own existence as separate from the rest of life and it recruits the intellect to help defend this illusion at the expense of the whole mind, the essential Self.
There is nothing more difficult than to make two minds one, that is to help them to love each other. If two or more people are in love there is harmony, a unity of purpose without the loss of individuality. When we are only thinking of ourselves, our desires and needs, there is disharmony and we feel at cross-purposes. We live in a culture that emphasizes the individual at the expense of relationship. More and more people are alone and lonely.
It is the nature of Love to create relationships. You might say it is Unity expressing itself. The lover, the beloved, and love itself are all really a unity.
The fruits of Love
Can the ego overcome its own separation? Most probably not, because it will still be playing the ego’s games, trying to become better than others, or to attain its own desires and security at the expense of others. Only love can tame the ego and bring it into the service of love.
In order to really love, our ego structure has to dissolve and reform on a new basis. Our hearts may have to be broken; our false pride humbled. Love then recreates the self.
Sometimes we feel that we want to love others but we cannot; we just don’t have it.
Just as the cause can produce the effect, the effect can also produce the cause. The tree produces the fruit; and the fruit can produce the tree. Love has many fruits: kindness, patience, generosity, courage, self-sacrifice. Love will produce these fruits; and these fruits will engender love. This is a two way street. The effect can produce the cause. An apple contains the seed of a tree.
One of the greatest Sufis I have known, a man whose love was so tangible it was barely possible for us to be in his presence without tears, used to say: May my imitation become real.
Love is conscious relationship in presence. When we are in relationship with presence our essences are present to each other. If we love without presence we are merely projecting our neediness, lack of fulfillment, or desire on another person. The higher Love is the welcoming of otherness into ourselves as ourselves, recognizing the stranger as a friend.
With presence we hold no image of ourselves that separates us from others. Love is the absence of defenses; it is emotional nakedness. “Only one whose garment has been stripped by love is free of desire and defect.” In the presence of love we find acceptance. Our self-disclosure, our emotional nakedness, helps to open the space for love. Love accepts imperfection; it loves the actuality and recognizes the potentiality.
This is the great value of the humiliation of sin and failure. Sometimes, it is not until we know our helplessness and that we have failed at love, that we can come under the grace of love, because our ego, the shell which keeps love out, has broken open. Love is not the attribute of the self-righteous and the perfect. It is the attribute of the humble, those who have realized their own nothingness, those who have failed in love.
Relationship beyond time
Just as we recognize our interdependence with our fellow human beings with whom we are in relationship here on this earth, we can also recognize our interdependence with a source of help that is outside of time. We need to find some connection with a spiritual source or tradition that can wean us from this false self’s illusions and fears. If we search without true guidance we will only find this false self, we may lead ourselves in circles back again and again to our own ego.
We need to make a call to some source of love. The Sufi tradition not only has its living exemplars, it also has many great beings who live in the world of meaning: Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, Ali, Shamsi Tabriz, Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, Ibn Arabi, Yunus Emre, Abdul Qadir Gilani, Bahauddin Naqshband, may God be pleased with them.
It is these great beings who attained unity with the Source that we call upon in a spirit of humility. If we can open to the saints through our own love and humility something can flow to us, a protective grace that can protect us from our own egos. In the end, the only thing we need to be protected from is our own ego. The ego is the enemy of our true existence, but fortunately the ego can be tamed by love, not destroyed or squashed, but tamed and put into the service of our true self. At dawn the shadow is long; at noon it disappears.
The Ore: the inborn power of love and presence
We human beings have a potential inside of ourselves which is the source of all our motivations. When this potential is applied to the material world it can be productive. Without this power humankind could not have produced its greatest achievements. When this power turns toward that aspect of the material world known as sexuality it is procreative. So this inborn power serves to maintain our physical existence, bringing a relish for life and a kind of happiness; but if we restrict it to material existence alone we are caught in a vicious cycle of attempting to satisfy endless and often contradictory desires.
If we disperse our love in the things of this world, its power will be dissipated. If we choose to love a human being, at least we are choosing to love the most valuable thing in this world. A human being is a treasure of qualities and has the capacity to respond to our love more completely than anything else on this earth.
We also know that when we give our love to a human being it is possible that person will not be able to respond to this love. We may find our love ignored, rejected, or betrayed. This kind of love may result in unfulfilled desire, frustration, and if the frustration is great enough, it may even turn to hatred. Love of anything finite involves the risk of failure and loss.
In the Greek myth Eros is attracted to a beautiful young girl named Psyche. There is an alchemy in this attraction. Eros is of this world; Psyche is spiritual. Eros through loving (which is its own nature) will be transformed by the beauty of Psyche, who is Spirit in disguise. Love eventually carries everything back to its Source.
The potential we have stored within ourselves is like an ore that needs to be extracted and refined. In other words, it needs to be developed and lived. If we do not put this power to its highest and best use it will disturb us. Through our desperate turning away from it, through our misuse of it, through addictions, it may even destroy us. This is the aweful power of cosmic love frustrated and denied. We have a certain amount of love to invest. We can invest it in things, in people, or in God. Investing our love in God will make us the beloved of God.
Love of our Source
Any temporal love is based in attraction and can turn to its opposite. If the beloved is defective, the love returned will share its defects. If the beloved is perfect, the love returned will be perfect.
We have the possibility of loving Love itself, of loving the Source of all loves. We metaphorically call the Divine Being “Friend,” and “Beloved.” This love has the possibility of developing infinitely. The response of this Beloved has no limits. This love is never one-sided. It is seeking us even more than we are seeking it. Sometimes you are the lover and God is the beloved; sometimes God is the lover and you the beloved.
It could be said that the souls of the lovers of God came into earthly life to rediscover the love of their Source, to express that love, and to serve it with all their faculties. Everything that consciously responds to the love of the universe becomes a gift to the universe, a mercy to all of creation. To enter into the divine love is both to be drawn and to respond to that which is drawing us. We serve love when we feel and know that we are loved. It is natural to want to return this love.
Spiritual love, however, is not abstract love. We cannot love God and remain insensitive to all the manifestations of life around us. Love of God is also love of His creation. This is done with the wholeness of mind, including its conscious and subconscious faculties: presence, reason, heart, and will. The more we love, the more we are present. The more we are present, the more we love.
Presence is the state of transcendent awareness which embraces and comprehends all our other functions, including thought, feeling, action, intuition. Unless we develop in presence we are not wholly here. We exist in our thoughts, in our desires, but not in our beingness and therefore we cannot really love because we are not really here. Without presence we cannot develop in love.
Presence can offer us a continual relationship with Being. This continual presence merges into God’s presence; it is the same presence. Awareness of the presence of God inclines us to submission and love. We can begin to be in continual relationship with God. “Truly, it is only in the remembrance of God that hearts find their rest.”
For those who learn to be in continual remembrance, many gifts are bestowed. The loveliness of this world may increase. Taste, sight, fragrance, sound intensify and are experienced as gifts from infinite Being. Even the senses are brought to spiritual ecstasy. The simple pleasures become infinitely rewarding at the same time that the pleasures that most people wildly chase after begin to look foolish and insignificant.
Worries and fears diminish because we have turned all our cares over to the Beloved whom we know loves us and sustains us.
Someone who worries only about You
is saved from many fears.
The heart that falls into Your love, burns and burns.
The one who gives himself to You,
gives up everything else.
Worldliness looks like a poison.
Someone who lives with a vision of the End
passes up poisons.
Whatever we do for the love of God brings great benefits. Whatever we do for the love of God is done with sincerity because it is not motivated by self-interest. We leave our concern for gain and loss, success and failure in the hands of God. We stop considering ourselves the sole cause of our actions and their results.
The lover of God undergoes some of the same difficulties as those who are ignorant and unaware of God, but these difficulties do not disturb the heart in the same way, therefore he is protected from much pain. If you love God, creation will love you. Yunus Emre says: “A soul in love is free of worries. With love all problems left me. With love I became happy.”
The food of the heart is love. The heart needs continual nourishment if it is to be healthy. If we limit ourselves to worldly, materialistic satisfactions we will deprive ourselves of real nourishment, satisfaction, and peace. One only needs to spend some time with those whose yearning is limited to worldly success to know how unsatisfactory such success is. On the other hand to spend some time with the lovers of God is to find out what it means to be really happy and free.
Some people enter into the divine love so deeply that they become a source of love. They are like an abundant spring in a dry land. They become an oasis of gardens, fruit trees, and palms. They belong to all people and their love is not confined by religions or sects. Some people enter the fire of love and become one with the fire. Because they have entered into this love and been received by it, they also radiate it. They glow like the red hot iron that has become one with the fire. Like a fine Damascus sword they have acquired the qualities of the fire without loosing their iron-ness, their strength. Having been through this fire their substance has changed forever.
The death of the lover of God is a joyous event, because he returns pleased and well-pleasing to God. The soul is comforted and bathed in love.
The Religion of Love
Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi said, “The religion of love is like no other.” He did not wish to start a new religion–but to reveal the essence of all religion which is submission to God in love. All love leads toward God. All love is a metaphor, a symbol of real love. It is not necessary to replace one religion or no religion with another, but to purify our religion and ourselves with love.
The religion of love is not seeking love, because it knows that love is not the goal or end, but the origin and cause of everything. We are within this field of love. We only need to open up to it. Love created us. Love guides us. And we will all return to love, either willingly or unwillingly. Let us go willingly and consciously, by realizing that love brought us here in the first place. Let us trust this truth. Let us start at this point.
All religions exist because love is trying to establish itself in human life. Since the object of all religions is One, all religions are related to each other. Sometimes it looks as though the enterprise of religion has been an utter failure on this earth, but who really knows. Appearances can be deceptive. Sometime failure is the seed of greatest success.
They said: “You are crazy in love!”
I said: “May God increase my Love.”
They said: “But your being has vanished.”
I said: “It’s not in me, God knows.”
They said: “You are filled!”
I said: “I wish I were empty.”
They said: “You are burned out!”
I said: “I wish I were ash!”
They said: “You are fading.”
I said: “I wish I had died.”
They said: “But you are dead.”
I said: “Insh’allah.”
“The cup,” they said.
“Let me be quenched,” I said.
“Drink!” they said.
“Let me turn, ” I said.
“The moth,” they said.
“Let me burn,” I said.
“Fool!” they said.
“So be it! It comes from God,” I said.
They said, “O Zeynep, you will be heartbroken,
drunk on love for the rose, like the nightingale.
In the end you will go mad in the way of truth.”
I said, “What can I do? It’s up to God.”