header pic header text

Volume XI - Philosophy, Psychology and Mysticism

Part III: Mysticism

Chapter XI

Mystics of all ages have not been known for their miraculous powers or for the doctrines they have taught, but for the devotion they have shown throughout their lives. The Sufi in the East says to himself Ishq Allah Mabud Allah which means 'God is Love, God is the Beloved'; in other words it is God who is Love, Lover, and Beloved. When we hear the stories of the miraculous powers of mystics, of their great insight into the hidden laws of nature, of the qualities which they manifested through their beautiful personalities, we realize that these have all come from one and the same source, whether one calls it devotion or whether one calls it love.

When we look at this subject from a mystic's point of view, we see that love has two aspects. Love in itself, and the shadow of love fallen on the earth. The former is heavenly the latter is earthly. The former develops self-abnegation in a person; the latter makes him more selfish than he was before. Virtues such as tolerance, mercy, forgiveness and compassion rise of themselves in the heart which is awakened to love.

The infirmities such as jealousy, hatred and all manner of prejudice begin to spring up when the shadow of love has fallen on the heart of the mortal. The former love raises man to immortality, the latter turns the immortal soul into a mortal being. A poet has said that the first step in love teaches selflessness, if it is not experienced then one has taken a step in the wrong direction, although one calls it love. For man has learned from the moment he was born on earth the words 'I am'. It is love alone that teaches him to say, 'Thou art, not I'. For no soul can love and yet affirm its own existence.

Love in its first stage may be called affection, a tender feeling towards someone, be it mother or father or child or brother or sister, be it friend or mate. It is in affection that love begins to show itself, and even in that first awakening one will see the phenomenon of selflessness. When an innocent child comes with a sweet to its mother and offers it to her, its delight is to see its mother take it instead of itself. There we begin to see love in its incipient stage, and also selflessness, taking its first step on the path of self-abnegation. One sees it in the form of the mother's compassion for her child; the self-sacrifice she shows staying up all night, sharing the pain of her child, being anxious every moment when the child is away, rejoicing in its pleasures and sorrows over its troubles. In this love which is without passion, a love which only desires the child to grow and flourish and prosper while the mother's self is merged in seeing this happen, in this love there is self-abnegation.

There is the love of a friend for his friend, the only reason for which is the admiration that one has for the other. But when there is real friendship between two people it gives them the experience of divine perfection, as in the Persian saying, 'When two hearts become one they can remove mountains.' To feel that there is someone to whom we can place our confidence, that there is someone who understands us, whom we can trust, upon whom we can lean and rely, to whom we can open our heart, to know that someone will sorrow in our pain more than he will sorrow in his own troubles, to know that there is someone in the world who shares all that is good and beautiful with us, imagine what a feeling it is! If we put this friend on one side of the scale and the other side the whole world, the side where the friend is will weigh more than the other.

Then there is the love of one's beloved mate, a beloved in whom one can see the beauty of God and hear the voice of God. One can long for that beloved, one can yearn all the time to attain to the presence of that beloved. When there is someone to long for, to think about, then one begins to realize the truth in the saying that pain is preferable to pleasure. When one begins to feel the thought of one's beloved, to feel the feelings of one's beloved, to overlook all wrong that the beloved may have done, when one begins to see that all is right and beautiful and good in one's beloved, then one is raised to experience the paradise of which the legends speak.

Rumi says, 'Whether you have loved man or whether you have loved God, if you have really loved you are brought in the end before the throne of love.' All the different aspects of love and devotion in their beginning may appear wrong or right, but if there is real love and devotion one arrives in the end at the stage which sages and masters have experienced. Love is purifying, love is strengthening, love is uplifting, and love gives life.

The one who says, 'I love someone, but I hate someone else', does not know what love means. How can one who loves, hate? It is impossible. The heart that is tuned to love is incapable of hate, it cannot hate. If it is capable of hate it cannot love, it has never loved. The person who says that he did love his friend once but no longer loves him, has never known the light of love, real love. Love is living and therefore growing, love is growing and therefore expanding, there is no limit to the expansion of love, for its source is divine and thus its expansion is perfect.

Passions that arise in their various aspects are like smoke, it is affection, it is emotion which is the glow of love, and devotion is the flame that rises out of love that lights the path of the seeker. As God is eternal, so love is eternal. If there is truth in anything it is in love. If there is no truth in love there is no truth in anything. If there are any morals or principles they all arise from love for that is the only principal and moral that is real. There are many doctrines and principles made by man, but these are simple laws. Love has its own law and it adheres to the law of no one.

Can a person reach perfection by love alone, without meditation? Man meditates because he cannot really love. The word love is misinterpreted, misunderstood. We use it in everyday life without knowing what it means. When once a soul begins to understand what it means, it is a word too sacred to utter. No one can profess to love, for love should make us just and able to see our shortcomings and infirmities. Once the flame of love is kindled in the heart one feels so ashamed of oneself that one can no more say,' I love.'

People mostly fall in love, as one says in English, but they never rise; though what is intended is to rise through love, not fall. All inspirations are revealed and the mysteries and secrets of life manifest to the view of the one whose heart is prepared by love, all kinds of virtue spring from it. People talk of ecstasy. Some say that visionary people or those that see spirits and ghosts have ecstasies, but they do not know what ecstasy means. Ecstasy is a feeling that comes only when the heart is tuned to that pitch of love which melts it, which makes it tender, which gives it gentleness, which makes it humble.

When some one says, 'I love the formless', he professes something which is inaccurate. He cannot love the formless without first giving his love a form. If he has not recognized the formless in form he has not arrived at the love of the formless. When the beginning is not right the end will not be right. When one has recognized the formless in form and has loved the formless in a form so that one has experienced what self-abnegation means, when one has lost oneself, then the next step is the love of the formless. And what is this love? How does it manifest? It manifests in the love of all, making man a fountain of love, pouring out over humanity the love that gushes from the heart, and not only to mankind, it may even reach all living beings.

checked 26-Nov-2005