Kul Bhushan comments on our Valentine Day Declaration and offers a new word: ishq!
The Valentine’s Day declaration ‘I love you’ can possibly become ‘I hate you’ in future. Why? Because ‘love’ has a direct opposite ‘hate’ and so, in some cases, it transforms into just that. The word ‘love’ implies that you like or adore a person for a beautiful mind or body. It is of this world.
Since a person has a body, mind and soul, an all-encompassing word is needed to cover these three dimensions. This is the Persian word ‘ishq’. This is love divine without any conditions. This word used by the Sufis, ‘ishq’ means love with total intensity. One is lost in it, one is possessed by it. One goes mad in it. It also includes man’s love for God. So it is pure love with no lust.
Yet it has a passion and an obsession because it is so intense. The word is derived from the root ‘a-sha-qa’ an ivy plant. This climber winds itself around other plants. Thus, the lover or ‘the Ashiq’ feels an overpowering intensity of his passion to entwine with the beloved or Mashouka, blinded by her shortcomings.
This is immortalised by the romantic fable of Laila-Majnu. The lover, Majnu, was oblivious to the fact that his beloved Laila was dark skinned. He continued to yearn for her – even putting her higher than God. Majnu faced many hardships but never wavered in his ‘ishq’ for Laila. This classical story has many versions. A popular version in India goes like this:
A beautiful girl of a rich family, Laila fell in love with a poor poet, Majnu. He composed many poems dedicated to her. His friends made fun of him and called him mad to love such an unattainable lady. One day, he went to her father seeking her hand in marriage. He was promptly turned down and the two lovers were forbidden to see each other.
A devastated Majnu wandered away in the desert pining for his Laila. Meanwhile, Laila was married off to a rich groom and moved away. But she continued to yearn for her true love and died after an illness. When Majnu’s friends came to know about her death, they searched for him far and wide in the desert. They found him dead near a rock, and saw that he had carved three versus of his eternal love for Laila as his last tribute. Did Majnu search for divine love in Laila? Did ishq create such passion in Majnu that he sailed on its wave to reach to the ultimate? The Sufi poetry hints as much.
Mention the word ‘ishq’ and you open the magic door to the Sufi mystics, their poetry, their music and their dance. Some of the most evocative poems that touch the hidden depths of the heart (indeed, the soul) have been composed for ‘ishq’.
Perhaps the word ‘love’ does not express the full emotions on Valentine’s Day. How about trying ‘ishq’?
Osho on Unconditional Love
When you love, when you really love, there are no conditions. It is unconditional. You love for the sheer joy of it. And love is absolute – it knows no wavering, it knows no hesitation.
Sufism is a great experiment in human consciousness: how to transform human consciousness into ishq. It is alchemy.
And this is what I am doing here with you. You may be aware, you may not be aware of it, but this whole experiment is to create in you as much love energy as possible. Man can be transformed into pure love energy. Just as there is atomic energy discovered by physics, and a small atom can explode into tremendous power, each cell of your heart can explode into tremendous love. That love is called ishq. Sufism is the path of love.
Osho, The Secret, Ch 1