Jan 21 2009

Lover & Beloved – 1. Introduction

Published by at 8:29 am under Lover & Beloved

/ Photo by jurvetson /

It’s a new year. The winter weather has already turned surprisingly warm and sunny, hinting at spring. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. It’s natural for thoughts to turn to love.

That flush of first infatuation. A glance, a smile, a turn of the head. Yearning, hope. Preparing yourself to attract the notice of that special someone. A shy invitation. Perhaps a secret tryst. Surrender. Sometimes sacrifice. Maybe the heartbreak of separation. Or maybe marriage.

These images have been the foundation of sacred writings long before they filled romance novels and pop songs.

It’s surprising when you first notice just how passionate sacred poetry is. At times it verges on the erotic. All this talk of lovers and longing…

Love: The Universal Religion

We find this language of lover and beloved throughout the world, in the holy writings and sacred songs of widely diverse peoples, cultures, and spiritual traditions. When that happens on such a universal level, you know something deeper is being expressed.

/ Photo by lepiaf.geo /


My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
And a temple for idols, and the pilgrim’s Ka’ba, and the tables of the Tora and the book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love, whichever way his camels take. My religion and my faith is the true religion.

Ibn Arabi ( 1165 – 1240, Spain )
English version by Reynold A. Nicholson

The Mystics of Islam
by Reynold A. Nicholson


Although we tend to think of romantic love as a modern and decidedly secular pursuit, the surprising truth is that we find these themes in the sacred writings of all the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. The Sufis endlessly sing of love. Christian saints, too. The great bhakti poets of India. Jewish psalms. Open any sacred book, and love is in the air.

But why? At its most basic level, the fundamental human instinct for connection and relationship gives us a shared language all the world can comprehend. You don’t have to be one of the religious or educated elite to immediately understand words of love, passion, and marriage.

But there is something much deeper being expressed by all of this sacred love imagery.


And from this mystic marriage are born
the poets’ songs, inner knowledge,
the language of the heart, virtuous living,
and the fair child Beauty.

And the Great Soul gives to man as dowry
the hidden glory of the world.

Mahmud Shabistari ( 1250? – 1340, Iran/Persia )
English version by Florence Lederer

The Secret Rose Garden: Mahmud Shabistari
Translated by Florence Lederer / Edited by David Fideler


Let’s explore. Let’s dare to fall in love.

Romance: Modern, Secular Mysticism

/ Photo by nattu /

Listen to any song on the radio. Watch a movie. Pick up a popular novel. They are all about love.


Yet the minds of old and young
Are enlightened by a song of Love…

Hadewijch ( 1210? – 1297, Belgium )
English version by Mother Columba Hart

Hadewijch: The Complete Works (Classics of Western Spirituality)
by Mother Columba Hart


We have an obsession with love, romance and, of course, sex in modern culture. Why? Romance and eroticism, even in their most superficial forms, induce trance. It gives us a taste of pleasure and freedom from the burden of self, even though it is often brief. It brings us a momentary awareness of connectedness and sometimes self-transcendence. At its best, it drops us into the thrilling current of life and purpose.

Although it is not often understood this way, the modern culture of love is a form of mysticism. It is a cult of eros. Romance is a sort of secular mysticism. I would assert that it is the dominant mysticism in our world today.

Love songs and stories are a watered down expression of the same sacred impulse that has motivated saints and sages throughout history. The surface instincts of love and desire are simply a blunted form of the deep impulse for divine union that permeates the universe. Erotic language is, therefore, the natural language for the soul seeking to merge with the Eternal Beloved.


Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Omar Khayyam ( 1048 – 1131, Iran/Persia )
English version by Edward FitzGerald

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
by Omar Khayyam / Translated by Edward FitzGerald


So, in the coming weeks let’s explore this more deeply – the poetry of lover and Beloved, how it fits within the world of sacred poetry. We’ll look a little at its history in various traditions and begin to decipher the esoteric double-meanings used by mystics throughout the world.

Curl up on the couch, let your eyes stare longingly out the window, and let’s see if we can draw the attention of our Beloved…

20 responses so far

20 Responses to “Lover & Beloved – 1. Introduction”

  1. Flavia Cosmaon 21 Jan 2009 at 9:23 am

    Finding You Again
    by Flavia Cosma

    As much unknown to me,
    As falling raindrops on blue flowers,
    As necessary to me,
    As the pure air, seeping into my lungs,
    As much precious to me,
    As golden light gliding through stained glass panes
    Over hands clasped together in prayer,
    Invoking peace, forgiveness,
    And above all

    One day you will cross the sea and all the forests,
    Weary, you’ll stop in front of my gates,
    And I’ll welcome you, seized by a holy shiver,
    My eyes filled with tears, and my soul a nest
    To belated, mellow loves.
    Oh, beggar…

  2. Sam /Zahidon 21 Jan 2009 at 9:31 am

    In the yearning for love, we rise to the sacred.
    Sometimes the sacred is manifested in what we know as Reality.
    The marriage takes place within before the ceremony for the community.
    In Spring; the seeds bloom in full color.

  3. Mauraon 21 Jan 2009 at 9:36 am

    This is a departure from your usual format, Ivan, and I’ll bet that you are wondering what the response will be. My first thought is that I like what you usually give us: the poem, entire, and the options to follow, if we want, into the life, your usually very insightful and thought-provoking interpretation, images, music, and so on. Sometimes all I want is to be alone with the poem.

    It’s very cold here in the southeast today; the new year of this country began, for us, with snow, and sunlight.

  4. Judith Shineron 21 Jan 2009 at 10:40 am

    Touched beyond measure. Images and words enter the heart. Soft gratitude floats to the surface. Yes – to this beautiful exploration of what is essentially beyond words.

  5. Elizabeth Kimmelon 21 Jan 2009 at 11:41 am

    Jeeper, Ivan. You. Are. Good. Keep channelling that divine wisdom – I am tuned in.

  6. Ivan M. Grangeron 21 Jan 2009 at 11:55 am



  7. Albert Schulteon 21 Jan 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Ishq Allah Mabud Allah. God is love, God is the beloved.

  8. roseon 21 Jan 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks, Ivan. I needed that! It was much needed bread for the journey today, and although I do appreciate being able to simply sit alone with a single poem…I appreciate the time you took to weave your thoughts with the poetry today, and wouldn’t mind that from time to time. Blessings, Rose

  9. mazHuron 21 Jan 2009 at 6:02 pm

    beautiful synopsis on love and beloved! Congrats!

    Love is the Conqueror of the Universe
    Let’s love,,,dare to love and be loved!

  10. jacquoline williamson 21 Jan 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks for the LOVEly invitation to the upcoming season of LOVE. LOVE will be the fuel that binds all the vision and action our new president called on us to provide with Work and Responsibility, adding Tolerance and Cooperation…..it will be what moves us out of the quagmire and into PEACE. Thanks for putting this together and giving us focus. LOVE, Jacquoline Wms.

  11. narinderon 22 Jan 2009 at 12:53 am

    In The Embrace of Silence

    Come into my Embrace,
    Softly, silently, lovingly,
    naked totally naked, and feel the joy
    of myNothingness Enveloping You.

    Sigh to me in silence,
    In silence, whisper of love,
    In silence, let your hands caress,
    And, revelling in the deep Silence that I am
    Become One with me.


    The Lord of my life beckons

    In seven coloured Light, do His handmaidens bedeck me,
    His musicians envelope me in seven notes.
    Bathed in the purity of the Light of lights,
    Merged in the seven notes of Silence,

    I am drawn to His celestial Couch_ _ _ _

    Seven are His expressions of caressing Fire,
    Seven His words of Love,
    Seven the Yugas of our Union,
    Seven the Heavens in His arms.

    In one- ness entwined,
    Duality no more,
    I rejoice in my Beloved,
    —–The Lord of my Life.

    ah , ivan…………….

    what to say, and how ……………………..????

  12. jmon 22 Jan 2009 at 1:07 am

    Lover & Beloved,
    a paper-white narcissus
    blooming in winter.



  13. Jimon 23 Jan 2009 at 10:30 am

    The unfolding of these thoughts indeed begins in the Beyond. Thanks for sharing the insight.

  14. Ray Ruzan Cicettion 24 Jan 2009 at 8:05 am

    I read someone’s definition of love as the ability to stand at the intersection of truth and discomfort.

  15. Ivan M. Grangeron 24 Jan 2009 at 11:10 am

    I really like that definition of love, Ray. It makes you itch just as it lets you melt…


  16. Nickyon 26 Jan 2009 at 8:47 am

    Thanks Ivan – your words help me with my continuing quest to define what the word “God” means.

  17. Teresaon 26 Jan 2009 at 4:17 pm

    An attempt to define the word “God” – the word used by an individual in order to put a name to the un-nameable…

  18. Ivan M. Grangeron 26 Jan 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I really like that definition, Teresa.

  19. Veenaon 10 Feb 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Oh, what simplicity
    and surrender of facade-
    to let God be Love
    and Love be God.

  20. Gemma Wilsonon 05 May 2012 at 2:24 pm

    He is HERE when I let go of all: thoughts, plans, control,time… and fall into the NOW. Then I am carried on a wave of Tremedous Tenderness, a Tsunami of passionate Love enfolding, absorbing, One with me. Jesus said: “Remain in my Love..” I think this is what he meant!

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