Saturday, February 04, 2006

the divine kiss

Show your face; we long to paint your image.

If you won't come, then let us please come there.

Send a kiss, one by one, for every one.

If you won't, then just send one and we can share.

#1372: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

I've been looking into and discussing Hinduism lately and I've encountered the quite sharp contrast between the impersonal and personal envisionings of the ultimate Truth or God or Self (the word chosen depending very much on the image or concept that arises). At one extreme is the rather abstract idea of Brahman as "eternal, genderless, omnipotent, omniscient and yet indescribable" and at the other extreme is Krishna who is seen as "the Supreme Person" and who figures in a great many stories as a divine incarnation. To the Western eye, the most curious tale is the incident with the cowgirls or gopis, chief among them Radha, who dance the Rasa lila or cosmic dance with Krishna, each believing He is dancing with her alone.

Krishna Embracing the Gopis

Krishna Embracing the Gopis @ via

Today's quatrain is clearly referring to a similar concept of personal deity conceived as lover and sexual partner. Rumi is talking about divine revelation and he is wandering among all the possibilities, most of which are frowned on by orthodox Islam. The closest idea is that of the one kiss sent to be shared. Even here, however, Rumi avoids the idea that the kiss is delivered exclusively to just one person here on earth as the myth of Mohammad's unique prophethood asserts. Instead, the kiss is just vaguely delivered and shared much as Krishna danced with Radha alone but the other gopis shared in the experience. There is no subsequent Radha cult to match the Mohammadan cult.

I guess we all would love to be in Radha's or Mohammad's shoes and receive a personal divine revelation, an ecstatic mystic union with the godhead. If this is experienced outside of a safeguarding tradition or ritual of worship, however, it can lead to ego inflation, to the idea that one is special (which, of course, we all are) and somehow "above" all other human beings (which is the dangerous nonsense often compensating a sense of worthlessness). This is, of course, psychosis. It is psychosis because it is a wandering in the wilderness, outside of cultural norms. A devotee of Krishna would not be seen as psychotic but she would understand, from the story of the gopis, that her experience of being the only lover of Krishna's has a delusionary aspect to it. This knowledge would steady her and make her less inclined to go irremediably crazy from the encounter. To my mind, the saddest craziness is the one where anti-psychotic drugs ensure that psychiatric patients can no longer receive the divine kiss. It is, unfortunately, the inevitable outcome once the gods have been dismissed as modern secular science has done.

As the Hindus, I'm sure, have always known it's good for one's sex life to recognize the sacred element in all sexual encounters. Every kiss can be a divine kiss and every falling in love is a falling in love with Krishna. The divine seducer is behind it all, behind the whole calamity.


At Sunday, 05 February, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Yes to the sacredness in all sexual encounters (I'm with Blake on that one, if I understand him correctly.) What I like about Hindiusm is that it offers something for everyone, a multiplicity of gods and yogas. There may be only one true destination, but Hinduism allows for differing paths on how to get there.

At Sunday, 05 February, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

Hinduism does seem to have it all in the spiritual domain. Except perhaps - and inevitably - a lack of focus. Many young Hindus are turned off by that and are also drawn to secular materialism. Still, the rich traditions are there for all of us to call on and thereby find whatever good sense we might lack. It is such a cornucopia that nothing could be missing.

At Saturday, 17 October, 2020, Blogger BClub said...

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