Relationship, Humility and interdependence: pp 49-50 .
“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 of the mind.
There is nothing more difficult than to make to two minds one; that is, to help them love each other. If two or more people are in love, there is harmony, unity of purpose without the loss of individuality. When we are thinking only of our own desires and needs, there is disharmony with others 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.
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. It is the nature of Love to create relationships. You might say it is Unity expressing itself. The lover, the beloved, and the love itself are all one in reality.
In order to really love, our ego structure has to dissolve and re–form on a new basis. Our hearts may have to be broken, our false pride humbled. Love then recreates the self.
Sometimes we feel that want to love others but we cannot; we just don’t have the capacity for 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. By practicing the fruits of love, by showing kindness, patience and generosity to others especially when it doesn’t come easily, we may summon the cause of these fruits, namely, real love. The tree bears fruit, and the fruit can also produce the tree.
Love is conscious relationship in presence. With presence we are in conscious relationship; our essences are present to each other. If we love without presence, we are merely projecting our neediness, lack of fulfillment, or desire onto another person. The higher Love is the welcoming of otherness into ourselves as ourselves, recognizing the stranger as a friend.
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. With presence we hold no image of ourselves that separates us from others. Love accepts imperfection; it loves the actuality and recognizes the potentiality.
Sometimes it is not until we know our helplessness and our failure at love that we can come under the grace of love. This is the great value of the humiliation of sin and failure, because our ego, the shell that 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, who have realized their own nothingness, those who have failed at love.”
A long excerpt I realize – but this Sunday as I sat in a classroom with one of my old students (I am also a teacher at a University in Karachi) putting a case in front of the student council why there was a need for a literary society I had this book in my hand. I had just read this chapter in my car ride to this meeting. And faced with questions about why we need to have a club that supports writing I kept on coming back to this simple realization – that where would my life be without books? From the start of my spiritual journey it has been books that have come to my rescue – books that articulated the internal state of mind of a broken spirit and then moved on to how to make it whole. And before that my whole life is scattered with milestones of the books that changed my life, moved me, helped me evolve.
For me each book that has come into my life has come with a message – each book I’m attracted to is for me a divine lesson. Why should we want people to write? Because as the above excerpt shows without those words I would not have known that my evolution from a broken heart to becoming a loving kind human being is not such a rare transformation – that many of us go through it and come out of it – failures are part of a larger purpose of breaking the illusion so that the rays of light can shine through.
We are in a universe of love – and I know that its hard to believe when we see all the madness, chaos, anger, destruction and pain around us. But all this madness is coming from inside of us – if we can just look at our hearts reflection – instead of asking why is this happening ask what is in your heart? Is there love, peace, patience, faith and kindness? If not how do you create it? How do you make it possible for you to be better so that the ripple effects can be felt in the universe…trust in the unseen world that your heart knows best. Listen to its peaceful message .
“The heart eats a particular food from every companion;
the heart receives a particular nourishment
from every single piece of knowledge.”