Remembering the Beloved

“You just love until you and the beloved become one.” I recently read this quote on Facebook.

 

This got me thinking.

 

There is a Jewish mantra, Ani L’Dodi,v’Dodi Li —that translates to: “I am My Beloved’s, and My Beloved is Mine.”

 

This is romantic, yet at the same time demonstrates possession and attachment, more on the level of the ego/personality self.

 

With a simple shift in words, it has a whole new meaning: “I am the beloved and the beloved is me.”This allows for more expansion of the spirit into the omnipresent role of the Divine Beloved.

 

In order to attract the beloved, one must be a beloved first. However questions immediately arise: What does it mean to be a beloved and how does one do that?

 

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We have heard the different wisdoms of “like attracts like”, or Gandhi’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

 

We’re just human beings, hoping to be completed by another person, job, or gadget, right?  Or as author Henri Nouwen states, “Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.” (1)

 

Henri Nouwen book cover beloved

 

I did my own research on a popular online dating site. I wanted to see how many times the word beloved was used in the bios. Many— from “are you my beloved?”, to “searching for my beloved”, to the very simple, “be my beloved.” People are looking for the answer, for the beloved-ness, outside themselves when the true answer is to dive deeply with oneself.

 

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To fully embrace ourselves on all levels and dimensions is to love ourselves completely and unconditionally. How can we possibly expect that from another if we cannot give that to ourselves?  We teach others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves.

 

What I have come to believe is that the beloved is intrinsic, rather than extrinsic to self. That the beloved and self are one. And perhaps all we need to do on the spiritual path is to arrive at this moment of clarity, this epiphany, feel it and realize that there is no separation between self and the beloved. There is no separation, no duality, simply the process of becoming the beloved, or better yet, remembering that we are the beloved. The process of becoming is remembering.

 

Rumi has a poem about lovers:

 

When I heard my first love story,

I started looking for you

not knowing how blind I was.

Lovers don’t meet somewhere,

they’re in each other all along. (2)

 

He is clearly stating that the beloved is within, not without.

 

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Mr. Nouwen  substantiates Rumi’s view,“I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved”. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.” (3)

 

All sounds profoundly high and mighty spiritual, right? But how does this apply to the very human everyday life, and how does this perspective procure one a date on Saturday night?

 

Well, whereas I cannot guarantee a rendez-vous, it is my belief If one embraces the philosophy of I am the beloved and the beloved is me, then one will become the beloved, potentially shifting toward that which one chooses to be and to attract. It is this process of becoming and remembering that I feel is the spiritual journey.

 

Mr. Nouwen continues with this question,“If it is true that we not only are the Beloved, but also have to become the Beloved; if it is true that we not only are children of God, but also have to become children of God; if it is true that we not only are brothers and sisters, but also have to become brothers and sisters . . . if all that is true, how then can we get a grip on this process of becoming? If the spiritual life is not simply a way of being, but also a way of becoming, what then is the nature of this becoming?” (4)

 

How does one become the beloved? How does one remember that he/she is the Beloved and, as in Luke 3:15-22 clearly states, “on us favor rests.”

 

How does one remember who one truly is and sustain it?

 

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I believe that the practice of mindfulness is one choice. It is a constant awareness of one’s emotions, mind chatter, and body feelings, being totally in the present moment. It takes an ever vigilant mindfulness to be aware of one’s stressors and triggers (those experiences that cause emotional reactions), which if left unchecked, can pull us away from our divine nature and our beloved-ness. This being present without expectations and not judging is not an easy task to accomplish.

 

Spiritual teacher Jenna Ward in a recent interview views it like this:“…mindfulness is staying in the present moment. If you can’t, a samsara is arising, an old stressor. Mindfulness blows my mind. The more I do it, the more I talk about it, the more I teach about it.  With mindfulness, you are able to have action, not reaction.” (5)

 

If one is able to stay mindful, and commit an action rather than reaction, then one has been able to remain in one’s divine nature, thus maintaining connection to the inner beloved.

 

Simply stated, the mindfulness mental state is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Ah, there’s the difference, “calmly” acknowledging. How often when we are emotionally charged can we calmly acknowledge and accept our feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations? It takes a lot of practice to become mindful and aware more of the time. It’s a process to become the beloved.

 

Ms. Ward continues…“How to rest into the beloved and feel it as much as one can, even when one can’t feel it. There’s the challenge. Expect that though, let that lack of connection be here also. It’s conditioning the unconscious mind which will produce great maturation. How do we not become so attached to the temporal world. (Laughing) It’s a great cosmic game. It takes so much willingness and vigilance to really see the influences, and then allow the presence of God that rests in all things to come forth.”(6)

 

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Ms. Ward brings up an interesting point: “to allow the presence of God that rests in all things to come forth.” My question, then, is who ultimately is the beloved? If we are the beloved and the beloved is us, and it is not extrinsic to self, I would wager the beloved is God… our divine nature. Hence, being one’s beloved is actually opening up to allow our divine nature to expand and lead the way rather than our ego/personality.

 

The kicker is that we can only experience the beloved to the level that we are free from the restrictions of ego.

 

“The mystic is one who comes into this world with the prime purpose of rediscovering this state of union [with God] and then living it,” writes Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, author of many books on Sufism. “The bond that is established between us and the Beloved colors our days in a variety of ways. But first the ego must be pushed to the side. Or as Abu Yazid put it: “The way to God is but one step, taking one step out of oneself.” (7)

 

 

The answer I feel, is dive within, rest in the beloved, rest in all we find there, even if we don’t feel worthy, divine, beloved, rest there, breathe there, be in that inner space and soon, that connection to self with become divine, and we will become the beloved.

 

In remembering that I am the beloved and the beloved is me, part of that practice is us knowing ourselves, being aware of our wounds, and then being able to process a situation trigger while still being connected to the beloved divine state. Breathing helps as it escorts us back to our center of peace, even if just for a few moments.

 

As far as being the beloved in a couple, the responsibility of remembering our connection to the beloved is ours,not the other, thus there is no pressure on the other to complete the beloved-ness in the couple. The couple is completed within the respective selves. If we can allow for the other’s beloved-ness to interact on that divine level with our beloved-ness, ah, pure joy.

 

With a smile, Ms. Ward adds, “The more magic occurs when we can let go, let go, let go. Let go and let the universe play us.”

 

 

© Brooke Becker, 2016

 

Photographs by Jignesh Shah, Nilesh Chatterjee (New Mexico, Colorado and Kenya)

 

 

References

  1. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, Crossroad Publishing Co., NY, NY  1992
  2. Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi, Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.,NY, NY,  1995
  3. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, Crossroad Publishing Co., NY, NY  1992
  4. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, Crossroad Publishing Co., NY, NY       1992
  5. Jenna Ward, Spiritual Guru and Mindfulness Teacher, phone interview, November 2015,
  6. Jenna Ward, Spiritual Guru and Mindfulness Teacher, phone interview, November 2015
  7. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee,The Bond with the Beloved, Golden Sufi Center, CA., 1993

 


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