Divine Madness: Chapter 1: Romantic Love and the Love of God
This is an essay on romantic love and its twofold origins in the Cathar philosophy of the duality of matter and spirit, and the other in Islamic mysticism. The Cathars belief that matter was created by an evil demiurge required them to shun the body and spiritualize love in an act of courtly yearning. Sufism, the spiritual heart of Islam, provides the other current that contributed to the ideal of romantic love. It is the striving of the Sufi to reach union with the Divine and this was often expressed in the language of love and yearning. The love between a man and a woman is a reflection of Divine Love.
Taking Jalaluddin Rumi as the example of the mad lover who wrote:
When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.
and the famous mad lover, Majnun, in the stories of Layla and Majnun:
Love was glowing in Majnun. When it burst into flames it also took hold of his tongue, the words streaming unbidden from his lips, verses strung together like pearls in a necklace. Carelessly, he cast them away … Was he not rich? Was he not free? Had he not severed the rope which keeps men tied together? (Nizami, 1966:126),
the Jungian therapist, John Ryan Haule, speaks of the parallels between romantic love and “God intoxication” and how the love of God lies at the root of human love. This is the first essay in a series of “psychological meditations on the nature of love and human relationship …” in the book “Divine Madness: Archetypes of Romantic Love” which is available to read free online.