This is a reflection on my recent workshop in Seattle. I had wondered if we may spend the whole workshop creating ecstatic states through chanting, dancing, and Zikrs however my apprehension was allayed almost immediately when Atum began what I found to be a brilliant teaching around the nature and meaning of the Beloved.
We began Saturday morning with our last drawing practice of the series. We were directed to write the word Love in the centre then as Atum intoned the word love over and over again, we captured what our unconscious brought forward. Ironically, during the previous week I had been reflecting on, “What do I actually know about Love?” and concluded that I knew very little so it seemed a positive omen that we began with this practice. My drawing was comprised mostly of words and poetry that I recalled. One of my favourites surrounded the word Love, “what is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts? It is the glorious sound of a Soul waking up.” Then we were asked to look at the images and allow them to elicit answers to the question Love is?…..
I was amazed at what presented itself to me: love is – compassion, non- judgment, consideration, a mystery, romance, a question, the answer, human and divine, forgiveness, tears, laughter and joy, the soul waking up, passion, patience, friendship, caring, at the centre of our being. It just poured forth. Then we engaged in exploring what we had learned by loving and by being loved. The flow continued and perhaps gained depth: love exists at many levels of our being – soul, physical, spiritual, emotional. The romance of love is transient. Love can be a hook that opens one to the opportunity of learning. A true heart connection is much deeper than an emotional connection. Love can open the heart. A heart connection is very precious, priceless. Love needs practice and consciousness. Love is both predictable and unpredictable. Love can be a state of mind. I don’t think of love as just one thing.
I found myself recalling specific relationships. My first wife, my second wife, my psychic love affair (http://wp.me/phAyS-bO) and M who I met at a Unity retreat in 1996, a complicated affair that began with mutual romance then a deep friendship that for her became platonic while I fell back in love with her every time we met. I realized that there is guilt from my first marriage but perhaps what James Hollis refers to as healthy guilt that helps one take responsibility for our actions. There is pain when love is not reciprocated. My psychic connection created a greater sense of a blissful connection with the Beloved than any other experience. (A further synchronicity was that I had been in contact with her the week before). There is a mystery and confusion that has often accompanied having been loved. The languages of love: service, gifts, words and touch. I realized that I knew far more about love than I had realized the previous week. I shared my experience with a partner and it came to me so clearly there was something I had missed. Love is transformational.
Atum then shared a book titled Loves Exquisite Freedom then asked us to choose a phrase and an image that we resonated with. I did not relate much to the images; I could not see them too clearly but there were three phrases that resonated for me. The book’s title “love’s exquisite freedom” then “in the flush of love’s light we dare be brave” and “yet it is only love that sets us free.”
After lunch Atum introduced us to the quaternity that made up the archetype: Love, Lover, Longing and Beloved. It appears to me that longing is the active force that propels the Lover. The Lover is the active principle that engages Love; Love is the object while the Beloved is the Cosmic, Universal principle of Love that is overriding in its breadth.
We did an exercise unconsciously placing each of the words in a cross. Each position was significant: the left position was the receptive, the right the active, the bottom to be healed and top represented the way ahead. I had Love in the left position – to be open, receptive, to respond and to create space for. In the right I had the Beloved: to live, embody, and actively engage. At the bottom in the healing position was Longing. At the top in the position of the guiding star was the Lover. This represents the way forward. Atum suggested, “Approach your journey as the lover, woo and see the Beloved, be engaged and active.”
We then did a remarkable sculpting exercise. This involved positioning four partners as the four aspects – Love, Lover, Beloved and Longing. This is done in silence, they do not know what they represent but are asked how they feel in the posture. The wisdom of the body is remarkable. Almost everyone knew which part of the archetype they represented without being told. In each case the practice revealed some aspect of the psychology relating to Love that the sculptor was not consciously aware. It is an amazing way to access the underlying psychology of the issue. In my case it demonstrated that although the Lover is strongly connected to the Beloved, there is a weak connection between Longing and Love. Of course when I relate this to the previous exercise it explains the position of Longing and Love. (Receptive and Healing).
The following morning we did our one and only zikr. It was a beautiful composition of three lines:Lovers keep circling the heart Their sweetest memories of the Beloved. Hoping to kiss the Beloved again.
The final exercise was a teaching about eleven ways to enhance the Lover archetype.
1) Everyday do one thing you completely enjoy, something you don’t have to do. The Lover is open to pleasure.
2) Appreciate the sights, tastes, sounds, and sensuality around you.
3) Listen to music of different kinds and move to different melodies.
4) Rather than resisting intrusions into your world, welcome them to as an opportunity to feel the richness and diversity of life, approaching and opening to little things will prevent us from being bored and self-absorbed.
5) Experience the sensuality of art. – The paint’s texture, colour, lines, brush stroke etc.
6) Engage in creative play, a process without a goal.
7) Dance on your own, discover the lover in your body.
8) Do not be afraid to let the lover and the lover’s energy fill up the space.
9) Do not be scared to bring the sensuality of the lover into your clothing.
10) Seek to develop your appetite for mystical experience – nature, imagination, and ritual. Let the ego relax so the Spirit can soar.
11) Engage with human nature. Find some work that connects you to the world. Life itself becomes the Beloved. The journey becomes the Beloved.
This is the final workshop in the series of eight Archetypes of Spiritual Guidance. Atum saved the best for last. I found this a remarkable weekend and feel such gratitude for being part of it.