Self-love can lead to mystical opening
Across religious traditions, the metaphor of music is used to describe the mystical encounter. The most noted among Christian mystics is John of the Cross, a 16th century Spaniard. In his poem, “The Spiritual Canticle,” he writes, “My Beloved is the mountains, and lonely wooded valleys/ Strange islands, /And resounding rivers/The whistling of love-stirring breezes, /The tranquil night /At the time of the rising dawn/Silent music/Sounding solitude/The supper that refreshes and deepens love.”
Meanwhile, from 13th century Persia, modern day Turkey, comes the voice of the Sufi mystic, Rumi. “Do not worry if our harp breaks/thousands more will appear/We have fallen in the arms of love where all is music. /If all the harps in the world were burned down, /still inside the heart/there will be music playing.”
And elsewhere he writes, “Come out of hiding/Open the door and let me in/ I am at your mercy/the slave of your smile. / I put on airs to impress you/ even your scolding inflames my passion. / You are the music within music that stole my heart.”
To appreciate these poetic sentiments, it is necessary to place less value on the left brain. This is the analytic side of our brains, the side that gets so overly used in our culture that we become spiritually lopsided. We become tone deaf to our inner depths and strangers to the spiritual road map within us. We lose our ability to be enchanted by the draw of Spirit; indeed, we lose all interest in such matters.
Mystical poetry, great works of art, musical concertos, the deep silence of a forest, all open our right brains where we find that creativity and inspiration bloom. Meditation too opens the right brain to the throb of Divine Love.
For all of this to transform us, we need the spark of a well-ordered love of ourselves. Christians find it difficult to think of themselves as anything else but sinners. Even when accompanied by the knowledge that they are beloved sinners, this can hold back a true love of oneself. Hindu sages will say you should not think of yourself as a sinner but as a Child of Light. This can sound like heresy to a cradle Christian, but if one can suspend the inherited paradigm long enough to explore other paths on their own merits, mystical awareness can be found. Can we be open to our actual experience, or does it first have to pass muster with our cultural conditioning? Can we be truly open to the music of our own souls?
Another Sufi poet, Hafiz of 14th century Persia, puts it this way, “Build a house, for men and birds. / Sit with them-play music. /Why play notes from your small mouth flute that hurts the Blue Sky’s ears? / The Friend has such exquisite taste/ That every time you bow to Him/ Your mind will become lighter and more refined; / Your spirit will prepare its voice to laugh/ In an outrageous freedom.” And elsewhere he writes, “I long for You so much / I have even begun to travel /Where I have never been before.”
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at email@example.com.