In order to have the courage to shine light into our darkness we must extend our exploration further still into the forest of our psyche. There was, at the Great Gathering, a second path that the mystics paced. This was the path of love. B’Chavivuta Talya Milta. “It all depends on love,” said Shimon Bar Yochai to the small group of friends who had gathered with him in the field. Love is to perceive the unique self, the soul print in the footsteps of the dragon. Self love – in the nomenclature of this mystical text – is the ability to embrace and ultimately transform, my shadow. Love as understood by the Alter Rebbe, which I have explained in greater depth in my book Soul Prints, is not an emotion. It is rather a perception-identification* complex which gives birth to an emotion. Love is to perceive the infinite and unique specialness in other or self and to identify them or myself with that specialness. Love is a perceptive art. It is only from the security of this self-perception that one is able to acknowledge shadow.
Abraham Kuk, writing in Jerusalem between the world wars, taught that the purpose of living is to learn what he calls “the great art of loving.”
Ultimately what the mystics are teaching is that the path of the dragon can only be walked in love. Indeed the two paths that of embracing Tzel, the path of the dragon and the path of love are really one path.
There is a wonderful Bhuddist story about a man with a Garden overrun with Dandelions. At his wits end he goes to consult the elderly gardener who lives down the street. A wise old woman with a rose garden you wouldn’t believe. She slowly walks with him to see his garden, listening to his lament over the dandelions along the way. By the time they arrive at his gate, she has one look at the yard and says decisively, “I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do…” Sasha nods eagerly, poising his pen on pad to capture the precious advice. The old woman puts her hand over the notepad, looks straight into Sasha’s eyes and says, “You need to learn to love dandelions.”
In Kabbalistic sources the Gardner is often a symbol for the Shechina the divine feminine incarnate in the human psyche. It is through the nurturing advice of the Gardner that we human beings can tend our garden. Suggests the wisdom tale: We all have Dandelions. If we but love them they may well become roses before our very eyes. The way of the darkness must be tread with love.