Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Transformational Power of Love

“Even As Love Crowns You So Shall He Crucify You”

One of the most beautiful books of poetry ever written is ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran. Gibran is perhaps the greatest Sufi poet along with Rumi. Sufi’s are the mystical branch of the Muslim religion as the Kabala is the mystical branch of Judaism. In this wonderful expression of wisdom in poetry, the Prophet who lives on top of the mountain sees his ship coming from afar, signifying that he is ready to die, and complete this life’s journey.

Before the prophet leaves this home by ship into death, he moves down from the top of the mountain, where he is asked a series of questions by the people of the village of Orphalese who have gathered to say goodbye. The questions they ask him are the fundamentals questions we all ask about life. The questions include what is love, marriage, children, work, giving, pleasure, death, and many other fascinating topics. The first question that he is asked is “what is love”. The Prophet proclaims his vision of love, which along with the Apostle Paul’s description in Corinthians 13, is perhaps the most beautiful description on the topic of love.

Inherent within the discourse is the point that love is our teacher, and that love gives us the opportunity to refine our human soul. The prophet says, “Love is for your growth and for your pruning.” Love will teach you many joyful, and difficult lessons. The centerpiece of the prophet’s teaching is that love shall both crown you and crucify you. Love shall instruct you and perfect you. Love shall prepare you for the next stage of the journey into eternity.

“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you…He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; and then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.”

The Prophet goes on to say, “But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”

Love is according to all ancient wisdoms, the paramount teacher. Love is both wonderful and extremely difficult. The lessons of love are priceless. Yet most of us think of love as an emotion that is sweet, easy, happy and joyous. We think of love as an emotion only, rather than a spiritual force that changes us and perfects our spirit. The Prophet teaches that this is not so. Love can and will crucify you, but in so doing the character and personal growth is well worth all the pain. Those who have chosen the spiritual path know this well. To love is to open yourself up, to become vulnerable. To love is to be open to pain, hurt, depression and sadness. But it is also to be open to joy, delight, excitement and happiness. It is far better to love and suffer from that love, than to never have loved at all. There are risks in loving, but the rewards are much greater than the suffering in the view of the Prophet.

As a Therapist I can tell you much of the work of therapy is hard and rigorous, but the rewards are beyond verbal description. To end the pain of the ego, to find the peace in solitude, to come to acceptance and to give up control, these are the priceless qualities produced within us when we enter love’s threshing floor. As a Therapist who acts as a guide for people upon their personal spiritual path, I am privileged to watch in awe as human’s wrestle with their inner demons, do battle with their ego self, resist the dark side, and reach for the impossible dream. And with love as the master, the rewards of such work are magnificent to observe. I am continually humbled as I observe the work people do in therapy to resolve their inner conflicts, to come to peace with their dark side, and to find all that love has to offer.

Love truly is the ultimate teacher.