Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Heart's Awakening
The spiritual path begins when the heart is awakened to His eternal presence. The Beloved looks into the heart of His lover and in that instant the lover knows the secret of divine union, that the lover and Beloved are one. The glance of the Beloved carries the consciousness of His eternal presence.
The Sufis call this glance the moment of tawba, the turning of the heart. The inner awareness of His presence turns the heart away from the world and back to God. He calls us back to Him with a momentary glimpse of His face. This glimpse is love's most potent poison that begins our dying to the world, our journey back to God, for "How can I look at the world around me, how can I see it, if it hides the face of my Lover?" (Tweedie 1987, p. 87)
The inner awareness of union awakens us to the pain of separation. When the heart knows that in its innermost essence it is united with God, we arc confronted with our own isolation, with the knowledge that we are separate from God. It is only because we have been given a glimpse of union, had a sip of this divine wine, that we are made conscious of separation. Without the knowledge of union, how could we know that we are separate? Without having experienced the bliss of His presence, how could we know the agony of our own isolation? The pain of longing is born from the glance of God.
From the beginning of the path, the opposing states of separation and union are engraved into the heart and psyche of the spiritual wayfarer. The consciousness of union becomes the pain of separation that reminds us of our real Home. The heart's remembrance of its Beloved is kept awake by the fire of longing. We long for Him whom we love, and the greater the love, the greater the pain of longing. Love and sadness become the substance of our inner existence. In the words of 'Attar,
The pain of love became the
medicine for every heart,
The difficulty could never be solved
(Schimmel 1975, p. 305)
By Llewellyn Vaughan Lee