We so often think love is soft and warm, but it takes time and maturity to learn that love has a hard, cold edge too that is ruthless about Truth or Reality and exists only in Freedom.
Love is a laser beam that cuts through to the heart of things, discarding all that fails to serve its interests. The Sufis say that love’s apparent absence experienced as emptiness and longing is just as important as the heat of its sun.
If we really love another, it seems we have to be prepared to let them go if being with us is not in their own best interests. As I have grown, I have felt the joy of that and finally know at the core of me that Love and Reality (only that which is permanent) are the same thing.
Love’s agenda is different to the self-serving needs we impose upon it and sloughs us off when we try to bend it to our will. The conditioning of our co-dependent culture can make it hard to be clear in the mind yet that is what we owe one another.
We must never compromise our complexity for a false peace.
I came into this world with a knowing deep in my soul that love is the only game in town, the only thing worth living for and was outraged this world was running a different game. In my utter outrage, I would learn about hate, as my soul once more became entangled in this illusion.
By two, I had lost my father to divorce and after seven would never see him again. By ten, I was drawn into my mother’s affair, not long after her second marriage, and discovered with a seismic shock what seemed like the ultimate betrayal: that parents did not love in the same unconditional way in which their children loved them.
In short, I was thrown under the bus.
At 12, I was effectively alone, and discovered the panacea that would remain my best friend for 14 years, the antidote to the emotional abyss in which I found myself: alcohol.
And so, I began my descent, much deeper into the world, until at 26 I had to make a choice: to live or to die. I chose life — not always fully — and I would continue to look for escapes, although perhaps less harmfully.
I have been journeying back up the mountain for the past 31 years. It has been quite something, not the usual life, which I many times craved. But really, I didn’t want that and was looking for something else altogether: the soul food I needed.
In looking back, I can see my journey would give me a depth of understanding and an awareness borne of deep pain — the pain of separation — so I could later help those who had similarly suffered.
Our early separations and tragedies mirror the real separation, that from our true being, essence or soul, and all of my suffering was simply a spur to wake me up so I could begin the real journey.
This turning of the soul from its down and out view into the world to an inwards and upward focus toward God is called tauba in the Sufi tradition.
Although essentially a soft person (my grandfather used to say I had my skin on the inside out) I had to learn the wisdom of love’s hard edge, what in my rehab days — as both client and therapist — we called tough love.
Tough love recognizes the need for boundaries, of the separation which pained me, of learning to say no, of going against both my family and the culture into which I was born if necessary. It’s the road less travelled, of listening and obeying that still small voice within not those of external forces which often have their own agenda for your life.
In his marvelous book, Love Is A Fire, the Welsh mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee writes:
‘The moment you step away from the collective, not as a rebel who is in fact just acting out the shadow of the collective, but as a seeker of individuation, you challenge its power.’
In attempting to discover my real nature, I found the forces marshalled against me were vast and our culture’s fear of the unknown threatened it in a way that could put the ardent seeker of Truth in peril.
Working with a client yesterday, a woman flooded with self doubts and the voices of those who wished to keep her small, I was able to explain to her the soul’s longing and the concomitant reaction by the establishment. Our fear of backlash is not without cause.
We only have to look at the ‘witch’ burnings of yesteryear, The Inquisition, The Arab Spring, to understand that ‘so-called’ heretics, really the pioneers beckoning a new dawn, pay a price for both insight and action.
How many of us wish to think about Julian Assange, languishing in perpetuity in an English prison until he is deported to an America currently steeped in barbarism? Such whistleblowers run a huge personal risk.
And yet like the Galileos of the past, we need them and in our own small way, by choosing the inner journey, can support the change needed in the world.
In working with psychotherapy and Evolutionary Astrology, which describes the soul’s journey and a route to awakening, it is clearly indicated that moving away from the old paradigm (Saturn) into the new (Uranus/Aquarius) we have to steel ourselves.
My experience is the best thing we can do, our most important work, is to put our own soul first, heal ourselves and notice how the outside world forms around our being.
I started practicing as a therapist in 1996 and have seen the sort of clients I attract change the more I have returned to my own essence.
As Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist said, the most important factor in any healing relationship is the shared karma between the client and therapist.
My experience bears that out. I now seem only to attract those who are sick and tired of the world and looking for something different but who have no clue where to begin, instead spinning their wheels. The danger is of becoming increasingly hollow.
There is an old story — I forget from which tradition — which tells us the gods hid the secret of life in the one place they knew human beings would never look: within their own heart.
But that is where ultimately, we will all find our answers, when the world loses its dazzle, fails to enthrall. Then, we are not far from home, and when the pupil’s ready, the master will appear. If we are serious about our seeking, we will find, just as promised.
The readiness is all.
‘Those who belong to the Beloved carry His curse which is the memory of His embrace.’ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
We cannot be where we are not and we cannot be ready for a deep inner journey until we understand we are living in an illusion that can never satisfy our deepest longing.
In choosing myself — my real self — above the demands of others and the world, I have noticed I am not always popular!
As many of my old rehab clients found out, people don’t like it when you choose yourself; it is way too threatening and shakes up the old system, which is often too comfortable for our growth.
I have also had to battle that part of me that at times can also be on the side of ‘the man’ when my own conditioning takes me over.
But when we experience that kiss on the inside of the heart that only the divine can give, we know we have gone beyond the game of the world, tasting a wine so sweet, we will never go back.
© Simon Heathcote