Transforming the World from the Inside Out

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

tide-of-change

As another Valentines Day passes, I’ve found myself thinking about how  we can transform a Hallmark occasion into an opportunity to celebrate True Love. The kind of love that Gandhi, The Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King Jr. talked about. They knew a thing or two about what true love really is.

For starters, it ain’t easy. It’s not about just loving the people in your immediate circle – the ones that agree with you, the ones that look like you, the ones that turn you on. That’s a good thing, and hard enough in itself. But the kind of love these peaceful warriors understood, in the depths of their hearts, comes from recognizing that we are all truly, utterly and completely, interconnected. This is the kind of love that enables us to actually love our enemies.

Have you ever really tried it? Not just tolerate our enemies, but actually love them. How about even someone who just irritates you a little; or a lot. Phew – it’s tough! That’s fierce love. That’s industrial strength love. That’s the love that’s going to change the planet. Martin Luther King Jr. used to joke sometimes, “we’ve just got to love the hell out them. You just love them…”

This isn’t a simple, sanctimonious holier than thou love – no, this is the kind of love that loves right through the ego, the hatred, the misunderstanding, right through to the divine spark that flames inside each and every being on this planet. This love does not excuse them for their actions, does not excuse them for the pain they cause, but recognizes that they are inflicting pain, because they are in pain.

A strange thing happens when violence is met with love. It doesn’t know what to do. It knows how to respond to violence – now you’re talking, now you’re speaking it’s language. It’s a common practice for police to infiltrate peaceful activists to start them on a violent course of action – inside agitators. Because this allows the forces that be to be justified in an even more violent response. But if we are committed, deeply committed, to non-violence, to love in action, the perpetrators of violence will one day run out of anger.

Yes, it seems impossible in some of these large, seemingly endless conflicts – like the one in the middle east – to hold true to the path of non-violence. But I believe there is no other way. There will be huge costs to be paid, in the standing up for peace, in the standing up for love, as there has been throughout history. In the civil rights movement, many people died, but still, they refused to respond with anything other than love. And eventually, that love, and action – direct action – triumphed.

Ah love. If only we could truly learn to love. If only every breath, every gesture could resonate with love. For some people it’s just natural. For others, especially us men, we need to learn. Society in the west has ingrained in us the ethos of “every man for himself.” But when you learn, from the inside out, that everyone is yourself, you will discover a huge shift takes place. When we learn the truth of inter-being, when we learn True Love, look out world! Cause here we come – the compassionate warriors of a new millenium.

We can do it – we’re here to do it. Nothing could be more rewarding. When we move through the world with our love light shining, the world beams it right back up. And heart by heart, we can illuminate this world of violence and inhumanity. We can transform it into one of life and possibility, from the inside out.

Happy Valentines! May we find peace in our hearts, and everywhere we go on this planet.

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Happy Annihilation Day

“Heart, you are lost.
But there’s a path
From lover to love.
Worlds blaze round.
Don’t shrink!
The path is hidden
But yours.”
-Rumi

fire

Well here it comes – Valentines day. A celebration of love! And a great opportunity to market flowers, chocolates and Hallmark cards. For those not in a relationship, it can be a bit of a downer – like christmas when you’re far from family. A new friend just commented that she calls it “singles awareness day.” Ha.

Ah love, that beat up misused misunderstood word. We just finished interviewing Coleman Barks, the great Rumi Translator, for Redvolution: Dare to Disturb the Universe. Rumi is well renouned for his tremendous love poems, but the love he talks about might be a little different than the kind of love those red hearts in the store windows are selling. Coleman told us that he once got a phone call from Hallmark, asking if he might consider doing a line of cards with some of his Rumi translations on them. He said, “well you realize that the kind of Love that Rumi writes about involves complete and utter obliteration.” There was a long pause, and then the Hallmark rep asked, “is there a holiday for that?”

Say what? Love = annihilation? WTF? Isn’t love warm and fuzzy and nurturing and sticky sweet? Not the kind of divine love that Rumi talks of. He wasn’t referring to romantic love, between humans. No, he was talking about the human daring to truly love G~d. Daring to truly be loved by G~d. This can certainly, and most beautifully, happen between humans – in fact, one of the highest forms of human love is when souls meet through the human form. Which can involve down and dirty sex. Spirituality and sexuality are ecstatically happy bedfellows. But it is not the kind of romance and intrigue, the ‘will you be mine’, the clinging, grasping romantic love that we’re taught is love, the kind that is really about the quest for ownership over another. No, the kind of love Rumi talks about involves complete freedom, non-attachment, and trust.

To be consumed, destroyed, burnt in the flames of divine love, to the place where your ego dissolves, and there is nothing left of you but G~d stuff, that’s Love. The search for this union with the divine is the path of the mystic. Every tradition has a mystic path, the path that involves daring to stare into the sun with your eyes wide open. It’s not for everyone, and there are many dangers on the way. But once one has had a taste of the possibility of the the mystic path, it’s hard to turn back. One is consumed by what the Sufi’s call a sense of divine longing, which calls you, and refuses to let you sleep – refuses to let you fall back into unconsciousness, lose touch with your divine heritage.

There are as many paths as there are humans on this planet, and we each need to find the one that is ours, and ours alone. As Rumi says, “the chefs of God are cooking up a special stew, just for you.” For me, that stew is ever changing, though at one time I used to call myself, in an attempt at simplicity, a “sufi buddhist baha’i punk rocker.” There is still a lot of truth to this description – the Sufi in me is the passionate, fiery side, the Buddhist is the patient, peaceful, centered part of me, the Baha’i offers me a global perspective and a sense of law, and the punk rocker is the rebel, always seeking the fresh truth, the present truth, the truth beyond all limitations and dogma. I am all of those, and none of those.

Here is a mystic poem I have written, in honour of the search for annihilation in the fire of God, here spoken of as the divine feminine, the great Goddess, so needed as a counter balance to the worship of God as a patriarch. It is about the search for true divine Love.

~ ~ ~

 

All my life
I searched for the diamond heart
Ruby Red
Emerald Green
Alchemy’s leaden Gold

The hidden truth
At the center of lifes labryinth

At each turn of the bend
A fire awoke
Ablaze
Alive

Yet around the bend
Always
A sudden downpour would appear

To douse my desire
Until there was nothing left
But smouldering coals
Blackened
Charred
Back in the cave

Yesterday
Or was it tommorrow?
In this dark dark cave
I found that spark
A single flash
A glint
A twinkle
A droplet of light
And fanned the flames
With my dogged Love
My unextinguishable love

I let the wind of my desire
For Her
That Red and gold divinity
That perfection
Completion
I can taste
On the tip of my tongue
On the very tip of my tongue
Just there
Always there
The aftertaste of truth
Still there

Love!
I shout
I cry
I weep
I pound the pavement

Love!
I kneel before you
Ripped open
Broken wide and bloodied
Dripping red
And roaring loud
Then soft
Softer
Just so….

And you who witnesses
My agony
My ecstasy
You know
You truly know
That this is no charade

That Love is here
Not gone
Truly here
Not gone

And I
Am one
Not two
Not two
Just One

And all I ask for
Is nothing
Just everything
Inside that nothing
Always
And not now
Now
And not then

All ways
From inside
To out

I shriek like the wind in february trees
And loom like the moon
On a hot august night
With persistence
Dogged presistence
My stalwart friend

Waiting for the day
Not wanting
Not wanting anything more than this
Even if this
Is the waiting

Waiting

Waiting

Waiting for God’s deepest embrace
Consuming embrace
To rip my illusions to shreds
Until all that’s left of me is Love

Waiting

To be destroyed by Her raging love
Her flaming benediction
Annihilated by Her grace

I kneel before You
I stand before You
I cartwheel before you
Laughing
Wailing
Beseeching You
To bless me with a deadly kiss

I ignore you
Turn from You
Walk away
The haggler in the market
Suddenly tired of trying
Suddenly finished
Done.
Enough.

Ha!
I’ll never be finished
I’m still baking
I am half baked

I will not be finished
With this Love
With this life
Until my very last breath

And even then….
Well I just may be back
To continue the Work

But let me tell you this one thing, this one thing:
If you want to talk numbers
Percentages
I am 100 percent divine
Not one iota less
I cannot be otherwise
Even at my most imperfect
Try as I might
I am Him
Even when I’m too foolish to know it

He is me.
And He is here
Kneeling
In front of this perfection of wisdom
This Goddess
Of Fire

Burn me to the ground
Destroy me
Consume me
Devour me
Until there is nothing left of me
But You
Until there is nothing left of me
But Me

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