Soul & Sea
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Soul & Sea

The Worship Of Words Of Love

Finding that great quotation is almost as good as sharing it

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

There is little better than imparting a good ‘love’ quote. It’s the wordsmith’s equivalent of trading new music with friends on YouTube and watching them hum with surprised delight.

It ranks high on my list of personal pleasures: finding a new one a holy moment akin to stumbling across consecrated ground while out walking, or finding an ancient artefact among the washing up.

Occasionally, an inner miser appears who suggests hunkering down and hoarding what you’ve found.

‘Screw the rabble,’ he says, ‘they are not going to appreciate it anyhow. Don’t cast your pearls…..’

But he only makes a brief appearance, spreading the love far more rewarding in the long run. After all, isn’t love meant to be shared? Isn’t it in fact who and what we are?

The ascending enjoyment of discovering new phrases down the years correlates, I find, with how closely they correspond to my inner image of love, my anima.

In the early days, my quotes were probably not very sophisticated, their provenance lacking a certain je ne sais quois.

Love is never having to say you are sorry doesn’t quite cut it for me in the way it used to as a younger man. Nor, I am sad to say, does Charlie Brown or any of the other more saccharine gardens blooming pithy sayings.

Winnie The Pooh, on the other hand, does often seem to cut to the marrow at times. Just read The Tao of Pooh.

It seems when it comes to love, even those who spend their whole lives uttering not a single syllable of wisdom whip out an inner sage when you mention the ‘L’ word.

But, if we are love, that’s completely fair and sometimes it’s the fool who knows more about loving than the rest of us, just like Forrest Gump.

Perhaps love is like a box of chocolates, but if we want certainty, we need look no further than the granddaddy of them all from Corinthians:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

I had no idea as a young man what an anima was or that the soul is feminine, and I didn’t understand my recurring dream about losing the woman I loved in a crowd.

I would grow ever more desperate in my bid to find her, often waking with a start or in a sweat.

It was only in latter years, as I became more conscious, did I realise that I was looking for my own soul and that things had become urgent.

I was looking for union, but didn’t realise that first I would have to find it on inner planes before it would appear in the outer world.

This blurring of the imagery and language of romantic and spiritual love, of Venus and her higher octave Neptune, is at the very heart of our confusion around romance and love.

As Robert A Johnson, one of the best Jungian writers on love says, we seem to use the phrase ‘romantic love’ indiscriminately to refer to almost any attraction between a man and a woman.

Yet the Spanish have more than 30 words for love and the Greeks, clever as always, distinguished between philia, agape, eros and so on.

Listen to the oft-feted Chilean poet Pablo Neruda for a little wow factor: ‘I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry trees.’

We say people are in a romance if they plan to marry, says Johnson, yet the basis of their relationship may not be romance at all.

In equating love with romance and romance with love we are revealing the psychological muddle at the heart of western culture.

As he goes on to say, we have lost the consciousness of what love is, romance is, and the differences between them, confusing two great psychological forces with often devastating results.

Marriage cannot sustain being a continual and intense adventure of derring-do on high and turbulent emotional seas.

How many of us after such an other-worldly encounter find that when the love high fades we don’t like the person we had ‘loved’ and never bothered getting to know them to see if they are indeed the friend for life we need?

Romantic love is often in fact the enemy of friendship.

Being a veteran romantic, I have sadly, to hold my hand up to finding out that one the hard way.

But despite that I still have to say my favourite love quotes are those that lift me off the ground. Here is my current favourite from Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet:

‘It is wrong to think that love comes from companionship or persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and if it is not created in a moment, will not be found in a lifetime or even generations.’

There is something about that lightning strike isn’t there, but when I posted this I was rightly taken to task by a friend, a fellow therapist, who reminded me love could be found in both persevering companionship and sudden recognition.

We owe the exaltation of romantic language in recent years in large part to the Sufi mystics who attempt to explain spiritual love in a language that we humans can understand, that of romance.

My second favourite quotation comes from Jalaluddin Rumi, often polled as the world’s most popular poet:

‘Subtle degrees of servitude and domination are what you know as love, but love arrives here complete, like the moon in the window.’

Like Gibran, he is telling us plainly that love is its own force and far greater than anything we mortals can comprehend.

Both Aphrodite and her son Eros are gods: love itself, a god that works within the human psyche, is bestowed upon us if we are lucky by an act of grace, but is utterly beyond our fragile egos attempts to control and corral.

Rumi points up that all our fumbling attempts to control the ineffable are wasteful and pathetic.

If we are lucky enough to be blessed by the goddess, our job is to open and receive and, as he said, remove the obstacles that stand in love’s way.

Whatever our inner image of love, that is likely what we will seek. Not all of us want the giddy devastation wrought by a goddess who cares little for our trifling human travails.

But the challenge of how two become one while retaining individuality is one the mind wasn’t built for but which concerns us all. That belongs to the heart’s domain.

The longest journey, it is said, is from the head to the heart.

Perhaps a good love quote can help us get there or at least offer some much-needed inspiration.

Final words to the late Indian sage Aurobindo who enjoyed a deep union with his beloved:

‘The supreme state of human love is the unity of one soul in two bodies.’

Amen to that.

© simon heathcote

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