Friday, November 04, 2005

pain's harvest

The harvest of my pain was its own peace and remedy.

As low as I had sunk, I rose, faith restored from blasphemy.

Body, heart, and soul obscured the path, until

Body melted into heart, heart in soul, and soul in love itself.

#262: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: pain

A pain in my lower back has intruded on my peace of mind but I'm keeping it wrapped in warmth and hoping for the best. Each cycle of pain and recovery can bring new consciousness if one approaches it with the right mind. A bodily ailment can represent a frustrated desire and even the most trivial desire can be just one more need of the soul to express itself, ultimately to love itself and its companion manifestations in body, heart and mind.

The best exploration of this theme of uniting the elements split by intellectual discrimination - body, soul, spirit (as Christian alchemists have expressed it) or body, heart, soul (as Rumi puts it) - is in a book by Jung's colleague, Marie-Louise von Franz, Alchemical Active Imagination. In it, she discusses the work of a 16th century alchemist, Gerhard Dorn, in which he conducts dialogues (active imagination) between these apparently disparate parts of the self. "The body" is, after all, just one way that we see ourselves, "the soul" another, and so also "the mind", "the spirit", "the heart". We become One when we can see how each relates to every other.

The fact that Rumi binds it all inside love is what gives his views such direct humanity and earthiness. The aim of unification is not so much to reach some high platform of spiritual enlightenment, it is to see the inter-connectedness of all things and to understand that it is love that draws us to that insight. It seems like something we can achieve in our daily lives, not something that necessitates a withdrawal from the world or access to good libraries. The ordinary pain of living is enough. It brings its own harvest to the one on the lookout for it.


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