Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The School of Love
We are all students in the school of love, although it may take us a long time and much suffering to admit this fact. Something obstinately refuses to see the obvious. It is amazing how stubborn and slow we are, and how often we still forget. We forget whenever we think ourselves more important than others, whenever we see our own desires and goals as more important than the feelings and well-being of those we love. We forget whenever we blame others for what we ourselves have been guilty of. We forget whenever we lose sight of the fact that in this school of love it is love that we all are trying to learn.
Yunus Emre, the first and greatest Turkish Sufi poet, says, “Let us master this science and read this book of love. God instructs, Love is His school.”
We have all been failures in love. This is our conscious starting point. Only a saint is an expert and complete lover, because only a saint has been freed by God from what stands in the way of love.
We can practice medication and seek spiritual knowledge for years and still overlook the central importance of love. One of the subtlest forms of egoism is when we engage ourselves in a practice to be more spiritual than others, when we turn spiritually into an arena for our ambition. But Love eventually forgives even that.
We are not merely Love’s passive instruments; we are its servants. In order to know how to serve, our love needs to be grounded in knowledge.
Love without knowledge is dangerous. With love alone we could burn ourselves and others. With love alone we could become lunatics. In ancient tradition they warn us of the person who is unconsciously “in love”. Such people, it is said in Central Asia, should wear bells on their ankles to warn others of their state.
Love is such an extraordinary and complex power, and the human being has such a great capacity for love, that to dismiss it as an unknowable mystery is like standing in awe before a fire and saying we don’t know what this is, how it started, or what to do with it.
Love is both mystery and knowledge. Furthermore, it is a mystery that has spoken to us about itself in the form of those revelations that have profoundly altered the course and quality of human history. The lives and teachings of Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad have influenced and transformed so many billions of people because they are essentially teachings of love.
(Kabir Helminski. The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path to Transformation. Shambala Publications, Inc. Boston, 1999. P.39-40)