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Marc Chagall, Les amoureux, 1916

I’ve become mesmerized by the quote below I found on The Beauty We Love. These first four lines, especially, move me.

A wife loves her husband not for his own sake, dear, but because the Self lives in him.

The husband loves his wife not for her own sake, dear, but because the Self lives in her.

Children are loved not for their own sake, but because the Self lives in them.

Everything is loved not for its own sake, but because the Self lives in it.

Reading these words, I feel the truth in them. When I look at and love my husband, my son, my daughter, what I’m seeing and loving is something, a Self, so much larger than what we each are alone. Something that resonates within me and within all the things I love. Something that is not an other, but what runs through and connects all others. It makes each loved one more dear to me, more rare, more real, than what mere personality or even individuality,  personal affection, or familial attachment alone would support.

The tenderness in the Chagall painting above captures that reflective love, that mirrored Self, so beautifully.

The rest of the quote lies before, which I also sense to be true, although more abstract.

This Self has to be realized.
Hear about this Self.

As a lump of salt thrown in water dissolves
and cannot be taken out again,
though wherever we taste, the water it is salty,
even so, beloved,
the separate self dissolves in the sea of pure consciousness,
infinite and immortal.

Separateness arises from identifying the Self with the body,
which is made up of the elements;
when this physical identification dissolves,
there can be no more separate self.

~ from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The self dissolved into “a sea of pure consciousness” is a lovely, restful image. But it’s missing the intimacy and immediacy of those first four lines where that sea washes through the faces I love. That image is far more meaningful to me, and truer, I believe, to the intent those verses imply. That Self is not abstract. I feel it in my bones.

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