The way to love… The way back to love…

The world was not made for sadness. We are not the original sinners our religions would like us to be, and we are not being punished by God. In fact, just the opposite. We are God; part of the same original energy that burst into being at the moment of creation and now suffuses everything. We – all of us, and not just the privileged or ‘elite’ – are entitled to and can have anything we want, it is within our power… and yet there are plenty of stories of people who have woken up to this, taken back their power and gone on to achieve their personal dreams by overcoming their self-limitations and their skewed belief in the superior rights of others. As Henry Ford once put it “if you believe you can or can’t, you’re right”.

So what makes you sad? Most likely your sadness will be for something or someone you do not have, or once had and have now lost. This separation from love is illusion. Our lives are touched by others in many ways, each of them perfect in itself, bringing what we need at that time… sadness is a “bad habit” we fall into and the way to cure it, like the “bad water” Rumi writes about, is to send it back to the river: to reconnect with the source and embrace the unity that underlies all the things we will touch and be touched by in life. One visualization practice (wazifa) to achieve this is to make a mental list of the things that saddens you and wrap it in healing light, then let it go to the universe… Once we have let go in our minds of the things that make us sad, therefore, we need to go in the world with a commitment to change. It is easy to lose ourselves in descriptions – that we are ‘lonely’, ‘unworthy’, ‘bad’, or ‘unloved’- and these ideas become ingrained habits in the way we see the world and the way we behave within in. Our descriptions become self-fulfilling.

…To awaken from the ‘illusion of being alive’ is to experience life itself. The past is a dream. Human beings simply do not have the mental capacity to recall every event that has ever happened to them and which has combined with others to create the story of who they are… Since we can’t recall everything from our lives, our life stories are dreams as well. If you try you can select from your life events which tell your story as a hero, victim, abuser or abused. Even the same event, looked at from a different perspective, can make you a saint instead of a sinner… The real question, then is: “what have I invested in perpetuating this particular story and carrying this myth with me?” Given that you can be anyone you choose, why do you choose this person?

When you think about the worst thing that has ever happened to you from this perspective you can, in a sense, see the contract that was in operation at the time, between you and the event itself. There are few genuine accidents or coincidences; instead, the roles we play and the stories we live lead us to the people and events that reinforce these stories themselves. The worse thing that happened will be something which caused your power to be lost, and given that this circumstance was not entirely accidental, what was your part in it? What patterns in your life does it represent? What does it tell you about yourself, your story, and the circumstances in which you give up love and power? Most importantly, how could things have been different and, knowing that they can be, what will you learn from this event so things will be different in future and you can retain your connection to love?

…In shamanic terms, we give power away because of our ‘self-importance’, which is the opposite of selflessness. When we are self-important our egos place us at the centre of every drama, whether it is positive or negative, good or bad. It doesn’t matter, in other words, what role we take – heroes or villains, victims or rescuers – as long as we have a role to play. It is this role playing that keeps us attached to the people and circumstances that bring us pleasure and pain, distanced from the Beloved and the pure energy flow of the universe… sometimes, so we can escape our dramatic distractions from the truth, the universe sends us a gift in the form of a tyrant who shakes us up until we finally get the message about what is really important… In this way our tyrants become our allies not our enemies because they give us mirrors in which we can see ourselves. Through their efforts they show us our real enemies – those within us.

Shamans say, that is, that the tyrants we attract into our lives are there for a reason. We feel an affinity with them in some way and they stand as reflections for ourselves. So whoever it is that is upsetting you, and in whatever way, it is worth asking yourself what buttons they are pushing and whether you recognise their behaviour in yourself. The answer is probably yes. This is the tyrant’s gift: he or she allows us to discover new things about ourselves and the circumstances, situations or people we most often give our power away to. Learning to love the ‘enemy’ then becomes a quest to rediscover and embrace those parts of ourselves which we have suppressed or ignored. By so doing we move closer to spiritual balance so that our capacity for tolerance, compassion and true love grows, and our progress becomes deeper and more rapid as we move towards greater emotional maturity.

While our wounds remain unconscious, however, we will always be in a place of hidden sorrow and carry our hurts into every relationship where they will leak out in our actions, our words and our games, and so cause damage to others. In turns this damages us more. Or we will enter relationships looking for salvation not authentic love, and so manipulate others, taking their affection under false pretences and knowing in our souls that we are not truly loved for who we are but only as the thieves of love. The Sufi philosopher El-Ghazali wrote of this, that “If one loves someone because it gives [us] pleasure [or comfort from pain] one should not be regarded as loving that person at all.” Instead we are using them. The aim of true love is to enter a state of union with our lovers because “Love becomes perfect only when it transcends itself – becoming One with its object, producing unity of being” … This is pure love which is not predicated on pain or on our attempts to escape it…

Wisdom is not to wallow in pain or avoid it but to flow with it, to explore its depths and richness and to accept it as ours, because then we take responsibility for our lives and live them fully instead of putting our energies into illusions: the embrace of pain or avoidance of the life that we have. Looked at from still another perspective, actually there is no pain; not even at a physical level… It is our attachments to things, people and expectations that create the pains we feel, not the painful thing in itself. If we can only let go and find that place where expectations and the labels of ‘pain’ and ‘joy’ do not exist, so that things just are, we will still be one with the natural flow of the universe, which is one of movement, evolution and non-attachment… we do not know the big picture, the cosmic overplay of our lives, and if we have to trust in something, it is better to trust in love than in labels…

In these ways we heal and in these ways we can love. Holding onto our expectations and trying to control our lives in a rigid and inflexible way, meanwhile, will inevitably lead to fatigue because we are putting our energies into an ultimately futile pursuit. The universe is bigger than us and steeped in mystery; asking it to revolve around us and our individual needs is absurd. This relaxation – this letting go – is also a form of remembering what is important : who we are, how the world works and our true purpose in life, instead of battling to maintain who we think we are and how our lives should be.

Excerpts from: The Way of the Lover: Rumi and the Spiritual Art of Love by Ross Heaven (what a dreamy name).
Photos: out and about in Melbourne…

Update: having some technical difficulties recently so have been a bit quiet, but wanted to share this and hope parts of it resonate. Thank you for the lovely readership, it is appreciated. 🙂

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