Intimate relationship is a dynamic, often dizzying dance of contradictions that is sometimes delightful and seductive, sometimes fierce and combative, sometimes energizing, sometimes exhausting. This dance requires being able to flow continuously back and forth between opal opposites — between coming together and moving apart, taking hold and letting go, engaging and allowing space, yielding and taking the lead, surrendering and standing firm, being soft and being strong. This is not an easy dance to learn. Many couples quickly lose the flow, fall out of step, and wind up deadlocked in antagonistic positions, struggling for supremacy, pushing and pulling, attacking or withdrawing. Teachers of the dance are few, and as the years go by the conventional dance steps we learned from the culture seem increasingly stiff and outmoded. How, we may wonder, can we learn to dance with grace and power?
When we let our heart break open, a sweetness starts to flow from us like nectar. As the Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan put it, “The warmth of the lover’s atmosphere, the piercing effect of his voice, the appeal of his words, all come from the pain of his heart.” This is one of the great secrets of love. Instead of trying to ward off this pain, which is futile anyway, the lover can use it to transform himself, to develop invincible tenderness and compassion, and as the troubadours discovered, to become a heroic warrior in the service of love.
The temple of love is not love itself;
True love is the treasure,
Not the walls about it.
Do not admire the decoration,
But involve yourself in the essence,
The perfume that invades and touches you-
The beginning and the end.
Discovered, this replace all else,
The apparent and the unknowable.
Time and space are slaves to this presence.