This post and its predecessor started from a conversation I had with a friend where my friend told me something to the extent that the purpose of existence is to feel that one is loved. Although I appreciated the sentiment and the thought behind such a statement, I found myself unable to agree. I thought I would take this post, if you will indulge my efforts, to explain my reasoning.
A Mystical Love
I have come to see through being a dervish and through hours of therapy in the past that love to the mystic is totally different than a common understanding of love. When I look at the phrase to feel one is loved, the first thing that comes to mind are the experiences of Love in meditation or other spiritual practice whether it is yoga, or whatever other system where “you” do not exist. In these experiences the “I” goes and there is love. To feel that one is loved means that there is an “I” present that feels. Generally as I am aware the little ‘I’ must go in order that the goal of mysticism which is to return back to our origin, return back to the pre-eternal state. This is the reason why I feel at least that Abu Said, the great Sufi of antiquity has said that:
“There has to be blood, there has to be blood ………..if you are not bleeding you are not a Sufi, you are reading books on Sufism, listening to music on Sufism but being a Sufi isbleeding and loving and dying and coming alive….
“Only he knows the bitterness of love
Who has deeply felt its pangs.
When you are in trouble
No one comes near you:
When fortune smiles.
…All come to share the joy.
Love shows no external wound.
But the pain pervades every pore”
Mirabai is considered one of the most significant figures of the Sant tradition of the Vaishnava bhakti movement. I will quote from The great Christian St Catherine of Sienna:
Do you know, daughter, who you are, and
who I am? If you know these two things, you will
be blessed. You are she who is not; whereas I
am He who is.
Only when we renounce our own individual existence can we realize the truth of His existence. The “death” of the ego is central to the mystical path, as expressed in the saying of the Prophet, “to die before you die.” This “death” reveals the essential union of lover and Beloved:
If you lose yourself
on this path
you will know in certainty:
He is you, you are He.
- Araqi – Sufi Poet
Feeling One is Loved
Please do not get me wrong, Love is the greatest power in the universe. Love is the dynamic center of life, the energy that is at the very core of creation. On the mystical path, from the little of what I know and have seen for myself, feeling on is loved is a moment that comes and goes. I take the following excerpt from The Face Before I was Born by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee to show the beauty of a moment when one feels one is loved.
I had just slipped off in meditation when I felt for a moment within my heart a love so complete that nothing more could be desired.Like a butterfly’s wings touching the edge of my heart, love was present. Just an instant’s touch within the heart and I knew that I was loved with a completeness that cannot be found in the outer world. The totality of the love included everything within me. This moment of love changed my life, because it gave me the absolute security I had been seeking. I knew that total love exists, and so I could live without the insecurity that had haunted me. The outer world no longer carried the threat of incompleteness.
The first instance of His touch carries the beauty of a first love. Other experiences of His love have followed, deeper and more intoxicating. But in that first moment everything was present and the foundation of my life in the world was changed. We all long for this total love, and seek it in a parent or lover. All my life I had been haunted by this longing, the need to be loved. Now it had found me, arrived unexpectedly, wonderful in its completeness. I no longer needed to look for it in the outer world, seek it in a physical embrace. I had been given my first experience of love’s true wholeness, of a caress that carries the quality of union.
The 99 and 108 names
There is a beautiful passage in the Quran I have meditated on that i would like to refer to. This passage as well as a few others form the basis for the sufi practice of Zikr.
The Most Excellent Names belong to God, use them to call on Him, and keep away from those who abuse them- they will be requited for what they do. [The Heights 7:180]
In Sufism there are 99 beautiful names of God we meditate on these names and experience the essence of what they mean on an interior level and are asked to contemplate the nature of God, praise God, and become living examples of His 99 qualities and actions. According to the Sufi Bawa Muhaiyadden an awakened heart is one which has 99 windows that open to the grace of God – (excuse my horrible paraphrasing.)
The greatest name for God is Allah. According to an esoteric Sufi tradition, the word Allâh is composed of the article al, and lâh, one of the interpretations of which is “nothing.” Thus the actual word Allâh means “the Nothing.” For the Sufi the fact that His greatest name means “the Nothing” has great significance, because Truth, or God, is experienced as the Nothingness. To say for the greatest thing is to feel one is loved is quite one sided. To feel one is Protected, one is Guided, One is Forgiven, to feel one is nothing, one is sustained these are extremely important.
For so long did the Beloved
face my open heart
that except for His Attributes and Nature
Nothing remained of that heart
This is not limited to Sufism only. I remember in my studies reading about the 108 names of Shiva in Hinduism, some of which are the Kind hearted Lord, Redeemer from Afflictions, One Who Bestows Peace etc. I have seen this also in the many prayer books I remember going through in Church, asking for protection, Faith, Mercy, etc
Uniqueness of each Soul
Everyone is so unique, and a world unto themselves that it is amazing that we can actually talk sometimes. There are no panaceas in life, each person needs to experience God in special way. As Rumi says in th story of Moses and the Shepard: “I [God] have given each being a separate and unique way of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge…” It is easy to see that some people need to experience god through the deep listening of Sama with music, some in silence, some through contemplation.
At every moment of the day, with each breathe our needs are different. Sometimes we need to feel we are protected , sometimes that we are sustained. There are many types of nourishment the soul needs. I am not aware of what it is my soul needs.If I am am honest, i often times do know what I personally need let alone at a deeper level.
It is important as we are taught to not get attached to experiences, they come and go. Once we say this one thing is it, we close the door to deeper experience. That is where surrender comes in, that is where if we are able to hand ourselves over like a dead body in the hands of one’s teacher, sheikh, or God himself . If we knew what we needed at every moment the world would be a different place, but we do not. If we surrender to the moment we will be given all we need to go further.
Don’t for a moment think that you’ve found
the goal of your love! Don’t stand still
in the ranks.You have no place
with uniforms at rest
You might as well consent to be a corsage
or a rose in some beautiful woman’s hair