Love as a Spiritual Practice

Love as a Spiritual Practice

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Explore how both Buddhism and Sufism offer wisdom for utilizing love as the basis of spirituality and contemplation.

"There comes a time when one thinks that one has reached sobriety. For example, one had been intoxicated by some fancy or other. You know, the Buddhists speak about intoxication as Asavar, which means something that is alluring and takes you away from your realization. It is strange how these two, we have already seen how Sufism and Buddhism complete one another, and, of course, contrast with one another. We have shown how exaltation is a case where the emotions are extremely intensified, but in a very special direction which is neither joy nor peace. Whereas Buddhism tends towards Nirvana, which is a kind of sobriety, which is often thought of as sobriety; but one must understand that it is just like introducing indifference into action. Introducing sobriety into ecstasy. It cures you from one wine and makes you appreciate a more subtle wine." —Pir Vilayat Khan

In the above quote, Sufi Master Pir Vilayat discusses different goals within spiritual traditions. He speaks about how intense emotion, and the near absence of it, are in fact intertwined experiences. Intense emotion can bring us a deeper appreciation of regular emotion, and adding a sobriety to our ecstasy, rather than the common intoxication, can help us to understand the nature of our own happiness on a deeper level.

Both Sufism and Buddhism have spiritual practices that help the practitioner calm one's body, thoughts, and emotions. The Buddhist practice is observation of the body, mind, and heart, by which the Buddhist can detach from what is meaningless in life, and drop away from what is "Asavar." This observation is a tool for soothing over-excited thoughts, calming the nerves, and understanding negative impulses. In contrast, Sufi practices do these things by engaging with a greater power and energy that supersedes one's own.

Sufi practices are spiritual practices, where "faith" to the Sufi means "Self-confidence," since the divine is found within, and “spirit” means “energy.” Energy practices are approachable from any spiritual or scientific background. To begin, they require an understanding of energy principles, but to become real they require breath, attention, and practice. As we practice we discover our heart, which is the source of attachment and the most powerful energy center in the body. Attachment is as important a spiritual practice as detachment. Actually, we cannot be detached from each another energetically or from our energetic source. It is through love we experience the ideal of that attachment.

Love as a spiritual practice is the basis of Sufi meditation. Through breath, movement, and chants, we can inhabit within ourselves a love for All, the totality of the universe. In a state of ecstasy, we hold an ideal of perfect Love, Harmony, and Beauty and take it as our own identity, uplifted by unconditional joy. Feeling joy arise without any external object or stimulus, through only our voice or phrase, we “introduce sobriety into ecstasy,” which “cures you from one wine and makes you appreciate a more subtle wine.”

Attachment is a product of love. Our objective is more joy, ecstasy, and love. We want to find a partner to whom to attach the love we have within, and allow it to grow. The Sufis practice connecting with that which performs attachment, the heart, and then molding it toward both our finest and most admirable qualities, toward understanding how love can help and change us and the world.

You may consider your own relationship to attachment and detachment, and what is calling you at this moment, in your own journey.

In order to arrive at spiritual attainment two gulfs must be crossed: the sea of attachment and the ocean of detachment. —Hazrat Inayat Khan

Puran and Susanna are Sufi Masters who were trained in both Buddhist and Sufi practice by Pir Vilayat. They will be offering a retreat on Spiritual Ecstasy this September. Information is here. Heart Rhythm Meditation is a Sufi meditation practice that complements the Buddhist method. Ours is the practice of understanding and observing the heart on all levels, physical, emotional, and spiritual. You may be interested in learning this method through our app, our Online Courses, or our certification program “Connecting with Heart."

Love as a Spiritual Practice

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