Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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 of the mind.

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 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 and 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 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 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 re-creates the self.

Sometimes we feel that we 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 Sufi 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 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, those who have realized their own nothingness, those who have failed in love.

(Kabir Helminski. The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path to Transformation. Shambala Publications, Inc. Boston, 1999. P.49-50)

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