A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western…. divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire. The universe turns differently when fire loves water.
A life without love means to take living beings just as things, as object without self value for unrestricted use – plants, animals, humans. They all have one task, to serve my purposes and to be consumed for that. Even more, all the other existent things, namely lifeless nature get deprived of any self-worth.
Materialistic consciousness has brought this view to perfection and created the maximum alienation possible to mankind. Whatever we encounter as a thing is alien to us, because it has been ripped off its aliveness. We only can develop an inner trust to living beings. It is clear that we create a split in ourselves by turning ourselves to an object without noticing. And this object has to function perfectly. The animate sphere becomes an opposite which we meet with aggression in case it does not fit our purposes. Eventually, we ally ourselves with death by declaring life as an enemy. (Death, by the way, does not accept this offer, as it cannot be treated as an instrument of human will – every materialist will be addressed by death with great reliability in the given time.)
In contrast, love is tuning in to the flow of life. Love is what allows and furthers growth. Love dwells where fear has been confined. Love has so many faces as there are moments for loving. We are in love, when we are connected, with people, with nature, with what is happening right now, inside and outside of us.
The fire of love is the passion for life and its growth. When it is burning inside of us, we can say: Yes, we can and we want to make a difference in this world, as we can open up more for the power of life and foster and support it consciously. The work to which the fire of love calls us is mainly resolving our fears and thus free us from our confinements.
This should become our passion: Removing everything which is in the way of awareness, of being in the moment, of swinging with love. When we feel we have resolved an inner block and regain our connection to life, we have used the power of the fire. It is burning down what is no longer needed and is in the way. It symbolizes the radicalness of seeking (it is not more and not less about the further existence of life and humanity) and the radicalness to discriminate: commitment for life or against it.
Love is a child of freedom, as a French proverb says. Love cannot be jailed by the jealous guardians of “true love”, it cannot be owned by definers and small minds. Love blasts all limitations and subdues its wardens in a surprise attack. Love changes its face and shows new sides in every moment. It surprises the seeker when she finds it in a flower by the road or in an unimpressive person in the subway.
When we believe we should have to find divine love as incorporated by Jesus Christ or others, we can make the mistake to try to imitate an unreachable idol and by this overlook or disregard mundane love – love is in all places where people support and serve other people. Even in economical connections in which every service is defined in terms of payment, love can work when the action is connected with respect to the bigger whole which encompasses everything.
So I do not need to give off my love when leaving my home, but can take it with me and feel it when I meet unknown people on the street, when I am thankful to the bus driver or feel compassion for the mother taking her three kids to kindergarten or for the old man with tired legs or the business woman full of stress etc.
This can also work for our professions we do for earning our living. Wherever and whatever we work, we can do it with carelessness or aversion or rather with awareness and openness for the service we give to other people and to the whole. Then the power of love flows into all those actions we often see in the perspective of duty and compulsion. By this, we transform a must into a wanting and connect to the flow of life instead of blocking by inner resistance that which we give the most energy and endeavor.
Jesus has shown in many examples who deserve our love the most: the sinners and the excluded and not just those we like anyway; the enemies we condemn and not just the friends. There will always be people in our lives with whom we have problems – as colleagues or bosses, neighbors or contemporaries from the media world. Instead of judging these people according to our immediate reaction which comes from some superficial impression of them, we can try to see their deeper core – a core which makes them precious and unique beings, equal to us in value and uniqueness. We just need to connect to this core and all we judge or dislike about them will become negligible and unimportant.
We ought to expand our compassion beyond the limitations of our habits and comfort, this is the message of Jesus. In every act of compassion which transcends our interior area we enlarge and enrich the world as a whole. Then it will become a place in which we can live in an essential way and grow in peace. By engaging in compassion and empathy, we will notice that it wants to grow by itself. There is no border to stop this expansion. It strives towards the whole and is only content when it can encompass everything. As single persons, we will not succeed in one life with this task, yet in connection with all we will create a net of love around the world. It is up to us to deliver the best possible contribution.
In these forms and exercises of expansion which are the essence of love, we link the mundane with the divine, or in other words, we realize its inner entanglement: The divine being nothing else as the mundane and vice versa. (We do not perceive the divine anywhere else than in this world; even if God would appear to us, He would do so in the world of visible things. And in any other form in which we get into contact with God or He with us, divine and mundane meet.)
The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination. www.elifshafak.com