LOVE: A question, an idea, a goal, one of those elusive things that has pre-occupied humanity constantly. Therefore my first thought on love is that it is a “Constant”. Never failing and all Embracing. Crossing all categories of identification and limit. Running through them as like wind rushing through the trees and the leaves flutter all of a sudden coming to life. At times the wind rushes with such speed it overpowers, at others a gentle breeze of embrace and we rest in its arms. It is One & Many and yet no thing in one place or locality. Therefore my second thought is that it is “non-material, not physical” and thus available to all at one and the same time despite the differences in expression it may take in our lives – One Love. Leading by consequence to my third thought, one cannot speak of Love without speaking, or better still, “Remembering” one’s Being as non-material also, namely Soul. For me Love’s origin, in our lives, springs from the depth and breadth of Soul. The individual Soul and above it the Universal Soul. Love is that insignia, that spark within the Soul, that seed, which is pure “Longing”. Yearning to be whole, to be complete, to come to a rest after much wandering. It is love within the Soul that drives it, nay, compels it to yearn and long for its Source, once it realizes it has a Source, if it realizes it has a Source. Therefore, my fourth thought love is also a “returning home”. A fullness of Being.
If I had a choice of either constantly feeling Love’s embrace through Soul or choosing that from which the Loving Embrace originates, its Source, I would give up love and choose the Home of Love instead. For what could be more “Loving” than that which inspires the Love I feel and seek, which my Soul feels and seeks? Therefore, my fifth thought, love is also to perhaps “forsake love”, to give it up at the final stage of Soul’s journey. After much wandering and longing, love has brought my Soul from shore to shore, over still and raging oceans only to realise to cross that last threshold there can be no duality. “Do not say two. Say One!” (Hasan Askari). I must give up even the feeling of love and be within, as they say “In-Love”. The ship of the seas is no use now. The journey is of another kind. There in that Realm Soul purified of all its ills and hypnosis, filled with the Vision of Visions, there nothing what I think of love or feel is of any use. What gift can I bring to the Giver of all gifts? No gift will suffice except my very Being, my Soul. I bring it back as it was given, “empty” of all projections. Empty with only that remaining which was given in fullness. “Wheresoever one looks, one sees the Face of one’s Glorious and Majestic Lord” (Quran). It is forgotten that this ayat (verse) is more about the Soul than anything else.
What more drop of love can I add to the Source of Love itself? Then I, as Soul, realise with tears of joy and thankfulness, the Love within my Soul which drew me near to the Source, powerful and wondrous as it was, the wind in my sails, is nothing but an image of the Reality of Love. I give up the image and turn to the Original. Where Love is complete, simple, a Unity of all unities. Therefore my sixth thought, love is “pure”. And after such purification there is perhaps only one thing to do. Be humble with bowed head, to wait in patience for the “Beloved” to arrive. At that threshold one does not enter by one’s will for personal will was left far behind in the earlier stages of the journey. One is invited to enter at the behest of the Beloved – to be “in” Love. As the bride waits for the arrival of the bridegroom, an image well illustrated within the Indian custom as among others. And for that invitation, for that recognition, one would wait an eternity if one had to. This is “loyalty” at its peak. For there is no other to turn to. That is why perhaps we now can have a clue in the beautiful adage, “Home is where the Heart Is”.
One may be wondering why I have not referred to Beauty. Ah, but what to speak of Beauty at this stage, All is Beautiful. Love & Beauty are in Union now. And that is my seventh thought; “Beauty” itself. It drew me from the First and draws me to the Last. Should one be invited to enter in to that “Presence”, the journey continues and I cannot speak on that at present for that is Mystery, Beyond Being.
There is knowledge of Unity-Oneness (Tawhid) and then there is Unity-Oneness it-Self. The two are not the same. Words are of no use at that highest stage.
With such a vision, with love considered, in my view considered properly with Soul, one can then engage with the world, with family, relationships, friends, neighbours, “strangers” (in truth there are no strangers to the Soul), seeing that behind all such relationships is the same Love, one-many. “In Love” there is no such thing as the “other”. All are One. Then one may say with utmost sincerity, “Your soul and my soul are one Soul. Your God and my God is One God.” (Hasan Askari).
Of particular interest, spiritually, across diverse traditions, has been and remains the relationship between Master-Disciple, Guide-Guided and Teacher-Pupil. That relationship sits within my heart and Soul all the days of my Life. Beyond grateful to have known it and know it still.
The pendulum swing of Life. Life as a Soul, un-embodied, embodied and un-embodied once more. On the upward swing “we are of God and unto God we return”. On the downward swing, “we are of God and unto God we return”. Only as Souls can one recite this.
From Love, With Love and In Love now and forever. Amen!
*(photograph, January 1995, Hasan Askari & Musa Askari)
*(Thank you to Rahul Singh for asking me about “Love”)
By Hasan Askari from his book “Alone to Alone”
The notice at the entrance of the park reads: Roxborough* is made up of many inter-related elements, some are living and some are not. The plants found here are dependent upon the soil and the moisture which are determined by rock and climate. The rock formations direct the flow of air current and water, creating small pockets of different climates, micro-climates, responsible for the great variety of plant life growing here.
Roxborough is a place of meetings: where the great plains and the Rockies meet. Here the rolling prairie ends and the Front Range abruptly rises. The grasses of the high plains mingle with the oak of the foothills, with the pine and the aspen. A meeting place of wind and weather, of warm and cool air, a coming together of many natural forces. In one word, the mystery of man.
The rock layers were deposited two hundred and seventy million years ago. A tremendous upheaval some seventy million years ago lifted them, and so they stand in steep profiles, their present shapes sculptured by weather, water and wind over a vast period of time. Amidst those rocks I saw a humming bird, and I bowed to its sight as a sign of my Lord.
*Roxborough is located a few miles outside of Denver, Colorado.
*Photos by Mia Caruso
“I hear the Pima song, and my heart cries out for the nameless ones, and I repeat the words:
This is the Whiteland, we arrive singing: Head-dresses waving in the breeze. We have come. We have come. The land trembles with our dancing and singing.
They come, turn, and leave. That is the glory of the primitives’ entry into the world and their exit. We, the developed ones, the mighty ones, the proud builders of cities and starships, come to stay, stay forever. We do not understand the ecstasy of an Aztec or of a Wintu.
Ah Flowers that we wear. Ah songs that we raise. We are on our way to the Realm of Mystery.
It is above that you and I shall go. Along the Milky Way you and I shall go. Along the flower trail you and I shall go: Picking flowers on our way you and I shall go.
It was Denver that I first watched the Pow Wow, the great assembly of the Native American dancers drawn from various tribes and regions. As I waited for the Grand Entry into the hall, I first heard the starting of the drums, and as I closed my eyes and gave myself up to the beat and the rhythm of those drums I saw myself moving across an unfamiliar valley flanked by a mighty range of mountains, and I saw an eagle descending from great heights. As I opened my eyes, facing was a sight I have never seen before. The sheer variety of colour was so dazzling that it took sometime for me to conceive a meaningful picture of what I was seeing. Each dancer dressed in flowing and yet ingathered garments of such bright colours, their combinations crowned by eagle feathered head-dresses – the entire assembly appeared as a congregation of celestial birds on “their way to the realm of mystery”. Each one an individual and yet an integral part of the marching rows of dancers were now forming a vast circle with their bodies swinging and their head-dresses waving in the breeze of the drum as though saying:
We have come. We have come. The land trembles with our dancing and singing.
I knew then that “the land” was within me, that inner ground which throbbed at the touch of their dancing and singing. And I sat that afternoon watching this bewildering and enigmatic sight unlike anything I had met before. I imagined how all this wonder could be rejected by some as something pagan or explained away in terms of one or another school of cultural anthropology. I decided just to watch and to listen, and to be there co-present to what I was watching and listening. I had to admit to myself that nothing from my conceptual equipment could help me understand what I was then experiencing. I had reached the limit.
I wondered how many among those who went out to study other cultures and religions, their rites and rituals would confess to themselves that in such encounters that had reached the limit, the unsurpassable limit to their own mode of understanding. I am not in any way referring to limit as one difficulty or another in our academic study of alien cultures. Not at all. I am referring to limit as an integral and intense aspect of our experience – the point of the greatest contact with the other! It is the experience of the tangibility of the other, the feeling of having laid one’s hands, as it were, on a closed door, face to face, with its unmistakable presence, its reality. It is then that the limit becomes a threshold, a horizon upon which appears the vision, the vision of the ineffable beauty connecting the other with our own innermost mystery.
When I looked again at the colour and the dance, I knew that it was all within me. The event, though visible from outside, was taking place right within my soul. I was their vehicle as they were my vehicle. The vision had replaced the struggle to comprehend. The seer and the seen were on the way to forming a unity, the source of our presence before each other. Now my hearing and seeing and what I heard and saw all were one act: Ah Flowers that we wear! Ah! Songs that we raise!”
By Hasan Askari from his book “Alone to Alone – From Awareness to Vision” (page 19)