“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi
If God is indeed love and man was created in the image and likeness of God (rather than the converse which seems to be how most people see God), then man is love. The core of man is love. It is his inner essence. Now not much of that essence might ever find expression over the course of his lifetime, but it is nevertheless, according to this formula, what sits in the center of his inner being.
That said, one of the more peculiar characteristics of human beings is that they often fear the spirit of love. They instinctively know that the spirit of love intensifies all things and they are happy to let it flow in relation to certain of their affairs, but they also dread its purifying influence. So rather than yield to it, to let love reign in their hearts and minds, they often end up struggling with it and spend most of their lives trying to control it so that it doesn’t control them.
This struggle manifests in many ways. One of the more popular tactics can be seen in the attempt to preempt love’s command by building internal barriers to both the giving and receiving of love, in attempt to stay clear of its powerful influence. These barriers are designed to stop love from getting in as well as love from flowing out, the idea being that avoiding the love of God or one’s fellows and refusing to let love radiate outward insulates one from love’s transformative effects.
The problem with these barriers is that they virtually ensure mediocrity. They unplug man’s outer capacities – body, mind and heart – from his inner reality. They seal the truth of the individual – a radiant core of God or love or whatever you want to call it – in a living, breathing tomb. To my mind, this is not living, but existing.
What’s worse is that this unnecessary and sorrowful experience is rationalized as being the norm. “It’s just how things are”, we’re told, and from a very young age we are encouraged to accept it as being cast in stone. Some even go so far as to actually convince themselves that this state of affairs is actually desirable. They claim, as Milton put it in Paradise Lost, that it is: “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven”. Really? That just does not make sense! Is love really that harsh of a taskmaster?
Having been raised in the Judeo-Christian pattern I was taught that God is a God of love, but that He also gets angry, exacts revenge on His enemies and He can be moody and volatile. I was also told that sacrificing His son was the greatest act of love in relation to mankind. I’m probably not the first to admit that this bill of goods, which is riddled with internal contradictions, may cost more faith than I possess, and I doubt I will be the last. Is love really wonderful and violent at the same time? Hollywood and the priesthoods of the many religious sects might paint it that way, hundreds of millions of faithful people might believe it to be so, but I cannot help but think that painting God in this light is just another example of man thinking that God was created in his image and likeness, rather than the converse.
To know love is to be vulnerable to love. To know love is to radiate love from within outward. Love is not man-made. It is neither contrived nor mechanistic, neither is it subject to human control. It is beyond us in one sense, but it is us in another. We cannot study it like scientists, pick it apart and hope to understand it in its wholeness in the end.
To know love we must let ourselves be vulnerable to love. We must let the barriers come down and let love flow in and out more freely. We mustn’t fear love. Love has our interests at heart because our hearts and minds and bodies are animated by love. Love does not seek to destroy itself just as truth is never in conflict with itself. Love is “union with” and we can – in fact, we were designed to experience this union, this oneness, which comes only as we become acquainted with love.
So let them crumble! Let them fall! Let the persistent state of mediocrity which has governed men’s affairs give way to the excellency of a world ruled by love. What really do we have to lose? A half-baked world stuffed with uncooked ideas? It’s time to turn the heat up!