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This is how love becomes slavery
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
14 min
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Acharya Prashant (AP): Questioner is asking — “Acharya Ji, 'love that does not renew itself every day becomes a habit and in turn, a slavery. How shall my heart be unsealed unless it be broken?'

~Khalil Gibran.

Kindly elaborate on the above two lines. What do renewal of love, unsealing of heart, and broken heart imply here? How could there be slavery in love?”

The truth is neither new nor old. It is beyond time. So, what is this newness, Gibran is talking of? All that is new and all that would be old is within the stream of time. So obviously, when something new is being referred to, something of the world is being referred to. The lover of Truth is on a continuous journey. The journey is through herself. The destination is not changing, but the traveler is constantly changing as she is moving towards the Truth. As one journeys towards the Truth, one changes with every step. This journey is the journey of Love.

In essential terms, Love is nothing but the love of this traveler towards the Truth. That is the only right Love. To be helplessly attracted towards something unknowable. Now, the journey is in the world, because the traveler is worldly. The traveler is worldly, so the journey is in the world. Because the journey is in the world, the traveler seeks and gets support for her journey from the world itself. The worldly traveler cannot approach the Truth directly, because the Truth is beyond the world. So, how is the journey made possible, then? The journey is made possible with the help of someone within the world.

The worldly traveler needs the help of someone within the world in order to move towards the One beyond the world. The traveler is in the world. Therefore, if the traveler needs guidance, she will have to go to someone in the world. But this person or force that the traveler goes to must be someone who can guide her to her point beyond the world. But he began by saying that the traveler keeps changing with every step in her journey. If the traveler keeps changing, then the one she keeps getting attracted to for the sake of help must also keep changing.

Today, you are one person, and this person needs the help of someone who will help her go beyond, who will help her progress in her journey. And, if this person is rightly on her journey, then tomorrow she would be a different person. And, if tomorrow she would be a different person, obviously she needs to go to someone else to get help.

We said that the lover of Truth is on a continuous journey of self-change. As one changes, that which one prefers even in the world, cannot remain the same. The one you preferred yesterday, the one you chose to be with yesterday, obviously cannot remain attractive anymore to you today. Why? Because being on the journey, you have changed. Yesterday’s choices would remain today’s choices only if you haven’t proceeded at all on your journey, only if you have been stagnating.

And, ‘stagnation’ is a word you cannot at all associate with the lover of the Truth. Therefore, Gibran says that “Truth that love has to renew itself continuously.” As you keep changing, that which is likable to you in the world too continuously keeps changing. It must change. If it doesn’t change, then Gibran says that “Love is just habit and slavery.”

When you are associated with the Truth, then you are continuously changing, and it is a change towards freedom. When you are associated with someone in the world, then you are not allowed to change — and that is total slavery. In fact, in the relationships of the world, ‘change’ is a dirty word. Your worldly lover would accuse you and allege that you have changed. Is that not an allegation in worldly terms? You have changed.

He would not want you to change, because he is incapable of changing. He is incapable of changing because he has a stubborn resistance to Truth. Only Truth can give you real change. Otherwise, all change is cosmetic. And, when you are resistant to the Truth, then obviously no real change is possible. And, the funny thing is, neither do you change nor you allow the ones associated with you to change. And, as we said, if they change, then you charge them, rebuke them, try to humiliate them.

Get this very clear — the one who is worthy of being loved, would enable your freedom and catalyze your change. And, the one who is unworthy of being loved, would want you to forever be frozen in time. He will say, “kindly remain forever the way you are at age eighteen.” He’s interested in keeping you a dwarf. It is a compulsion with him to keep you a dwarf because he himself is not growing up. Truth is immense, and therefore, wants you to be immense. The worldly lover is a dwarf, and therefore, wants to keep you little. Pigmy size.

Love must constantly renew itself. As you change, your choices in the world must also continuously change. You must be able to outgrow your old choices. And, if by grace, you are with someone who is able to constantly outgrow himself, someone who not only matches your pace but actually sets the pace for you, then, by all means, stay put with him. Stay put with someone who is himself on the divine journey. If he is on the journey, he will hold your hand and pull you along.

But, keep going beyond people, going past people who are sticking to their own outdated, stale, ugly versions. Love must constantly renew itself. What? Not the love towards the Ultimate, but the love towards the medium. The destination, obviously, as we said in the beginning, is neither new nor old. You must renew yourself. If you really are on the path, then you would be renewed. And, if you are renewed, how can your choices remain the old ones?

Also, though the destination does not change, but your eyes that look at the destination do change. So, your version of the destination, your concept of the destination changes. And, that is important, because till the time you actually reach the destination, you do continue to live in concepts. The concepts keep on getting purified, sublimated, but still, they remain. And, all said and done — concepts are just concepts.

So, when you get initially attracted towards the Truth, you have one story about the Truth. And, as you progress in your journey, your story too changes. Your very self-image changes. Initially, you might say, “I am working for self-improvement.” That’s your initial story. “I am working for self-improvement.” Somebody asks you, “What is this journey you are on? What are you working for?” And, you will say, “I’m working for self-improvement.” And, later on, you might find that you are saying, “I’m working for self-dissolution.” See how the story has changed?

The Truth has remained the same, the destination has remained the same, but because you have changed, so your way of looking at the Truth has changed. Your way of looking at the journey has changed. You were saying you are developing yourself, now you’re saying you’re dissolving yourself. Look at the … twist in the tail.

At one point in the journey, if asked, “Where are you going?” You might say, “I am going to my beloved.” And, another point in the journey, you might say, “I am going for pilgrimage.” And, a third point in the journey, you might say, “I do not know where I am going. I’m just being helplessly pulled away from myself.” See how your perception of what is happening is changing?

Love must constantly renew itself. Your stories are renewing. That great beloved, you at first, just thought of somebody wonderful to be with, and as you gain proximity to him, he reveals more of himself to you. And then, you say, “I have been moving for so long towards him, but how little do I know of him? Every day, something more is revealed. And yet, nothing has been known so far. All that I know about him is not even a tiny fraction of what yet remains to be known. I keep running towards him, but he is like the horizon that keeps receding away from me.”

And, that is why the spiritual seeker never gets bored. Neither does the true lover. Do you now see why? Because, in true love, both the lover and the beloved are constantly changing. Where is the question of boredom then? It’s a new love story every day. Wow! Serious variety. It’s not merely that you are getting a new beloved every day. You are also getting a new lover every day. Both the lover and the beloved are changing.

Don’t get confused. The real Beloved, the destination, cannot change. We said — the worldly lover, the worldly lover as well as your perception of the final destination, they constantly keep changing.

People recite Holy Scriptures every day. And, onlookers ask, “You are repeating the same verse every day. How do you manage to do it? Don’t you get bored?” And, they answer, “It’s not the same verse every day. Every day, the verse reveals something more about itself. There is such immense depth here that even if I read it for two-thousand years, I would never reach the end. So, in fact, I read a new verse every day.”

Not only is the verse new every day, but the reader of the verse is also new every day. Why? Because he is determined and committed to the verse. His devotion to the verse renews him, changes him for the better, dissolves him a little more. So, there is a new text every day, and there is a new reader every day. Now, who can get bored? And, the text today is deeper than the text yesterday. And, the reader today is deeper than the reader yesterday. Every new day is a new depth. Now, who can get bored?

Everything that is related to you must change. Only That which is beyond all relationships will not change. And, mind you, only That which is beyond all relationships is worth having a relationship with. All other relationships are just instruments to help your work. As you proceed in your work, your instruments must change. I know, it sounds a bit insensitive. But, that’s how it must be.

True love towards the One would necessarily mean disloyalty towards the many.

Jesus said, “Man cannot follow two at the same time.” He was referring to God and gold. But the matter is the same. Where there is God, there is no question of allegiance to a second one as well. God cannot have a competitor. You cannot offer divided love to God.

Even when you offer ritualistic homage to a deity in a temple, you ensure that the rice or the coconut, or any other material that you are offering is whole and intact. That’s why the rice that you offer at the temple is called Akṣata . What does Akṣata mean? Undivided. Unbroken. Even a rice grain that you offered to Him has to be undivided. How can you offer divided love to Him? Therefore, my apologies world, the seeker of Truth will never be loyal to you. His undivided love will be for the One. All else is mere chance. All else is just accidental.

Trees and bush along the highway cannot be the destination. Not even co-passengers can be the destinations. Even the driver cannot be the destination, though he is going to remain with you for a very long time.

“How shall my heart be unsealed unless it is broken?”

This just refers to the giving up of slavery. The heart that Khalil Gibran here is talking of is just the mind. In his poetic exuberance, he keeps talking of the heart, the heart. This is nothing but the usual old mind. Unsealing of the mind just means opening of the mind. Breaking of the heart here refers to the dissolution of the mind. On the way to the Truth, giving up of old patterns is necessary and dissolution of the mind happens. That's all Gibran is referring to.

Yesterday, we talked of the seeker staying awake through the night. We said the lustful man cannot sleep, nor can the seeker. Now, do you see why spiritual practice often happens at nights? And, now do you see why spiritual practice often takes place away from human civilization? Because the way of the world is a disturbance. Disturbance is the very engine of the world.

As you sit with me here in silence, these sounds appear very loud, but these sounds would have appeared very usual to you had you not been in meditation. The world is noise. Even these little sounds — somebody opening the door, somebody doing something, somebody chatting with someone somewhere, the click of the camera — they become noticeable when you are meditative. Otherwise, they are just run-of-the-mill stuff. That’s what civilized life is all about. And right now, you can hear these noises and they are so loud and so disturbing. Are they not?

That tells you something about the spiritual processes. Your sensitivity increases. And, therefore, your suffering also increases. Stuff that didn’t use to mean much to you now becomes unacceptable. Events that you used to just gloss over, now appear unpardonable. The events are the same, you have changed.

Have you ever heard a vehicle horn so loudly? It is just a faint sound. But, do you see how the ripples are discernible now? Usually, you just ignore these things, don’t you? Now you can’t, and it’s a bit of a helplessness. You cannot un-hear what you are hearing. It is as if your senses and your mind have become unnecessarily sensitive, unnecessarily aroused, unnecessarily alert.

And therefore, you have to change. And therefore, your ways change. Your surroundings change. Your associations change. It’s not really a decision, it is a compulsion. Change becomes unavoidable. No vehicle ever honked louder than this. And, it’s just a usual honk. That is why I have been pushing the session timings continuously to late hours. When the online courses began, we used to start at 7 PM. Now sometimes, we start at 10 PM. It is needed.

The sleeping ones must be allowed to fall asleep so that the ones who love wakefulness can be allowed to stay awake. Rather, can be helped to stay awake.

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