by Rachel Perry
In doing some research into the topic of veils that come between us and God, I found the following quote:
“Love is a veil betwixt the lover and the beloved.” (Baha’u’llah, The Four Valleys, p. 60)
Since I’d been thinking about love between men and women lately, this struck me as an odd statement, and I sent it to my wise friend, Rachel Perry, to see what her take on it was. What follows is her email to me. I thought it was too good to let go, so I wanted to share it with you too.
To best understand the meanings in The Fourth Valley it is best to have read through all 7 of the Seven Valleys. To understand this phrase we have to do 3 things:
- Consider this phrase in the context of the paragraph: At the beginning of the paragraph it says “This is the realm of full awareness, of utter self-effacement.” And “…longing hath no dwelling here.” So it is possible that one part of “love” that veils us is the feeling of longing. Let’s consider this idea of love and longing in more detail. To do that, we look back at The Valley of Love and Knowledge.
2. Consider this reference to “Love” in light of what we know about Love from the study of The Valley of Love and the Valley of Knowledge. In the first paragraph of the Valley of Love we find that “In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised and the world-illuming sun of yearning shineth”….you see the reference here to “yearning” and that is a synonym for “longing” which was mentioned in the paragraph in the Fourth Valley. So one part of “love” that is a veil is the “longing”….when the lover longs for his beloved this in fact becomes a veil.
Interestingly enough, in The Valley of Knowledge it refers to this “Love is a veil” idea again where is says “Love is a veil betwixt the lover and the loved one; More than this I am not permitted to tell.”
God knows that we are filled with longing, love, and desire – God knows we want to know more and that to tell us that Baha’u’llah is not permitted to tell us more would make our hearts cry out in frustration…so what does the next paragraph tell us that eases our sorrow? It tells us that “If thou be a man of communion and prayer, soar up on the wings of assistance from Holy Souls, that thou may best behold the mysteries of the Friend and attain to the lights of the Beloved.”
3. So that brings us to the third thing we must do – commune/meditate and pray but before we do that we are going to consider “what shall we pray and meditate about?” and the answer to that is in the next sentence which reads…”After passing through the Valley of Knowledge, which is the last plane of limitation, the wayfarer cometh to The Valley of Unity and drinketh from the cup of the Absolute, and gazeth on the Manifestations of Oneness.”
The reason this statement is important is because if we consider back in The 4th Valley the paragraph we are exploring said “This is the realm of full awareness” and here again now we learn that when one passes through the Valley of Love, and then the Valley of Knowledge, then the wayfarer comes to the Valley of Unity where there is UNION with the beloved. I can’t write all the wonderful, wonderful things that are written about in the Valley of Union but you can read it and see it there and let the divine words fill your heart with pleasure and joy because of the possibilities that God guides our souls to consider.
When I consider how is love/longing a veil between me and my beloved in light of these valleys what I conclude is that when as there is longing there is a feeling of separation. And this becomes the very limitation which we seek to remove. In prayer and meditation we can feel ourselves become One with God and we can “gaze on the Manifestations of Oneness” that are all around us and in us. (Once we find it in meditation which is where God tells us we will find it…then we can enjoy it in the rest of our active lives as well.)
To reflect in our own hearts to what the meaning of longing/yearning has for us and how removing this veil can bring us into full awareness of the Unity of God.
On a separate but related note – something so funny happened while I was writing this! I had been in my room typing with the light on but it woke my 5 year old daughter Grace up and she asked me to turn it off. So I say “sure” and go out to the hall and there is one of my house-mates on her hands and knees looking at the floor. I ask her if everything is okay (it’s 1am in the morning!) and she tells me she has lost a part of her tongue ring. I hear the word “RING” and immediately think of that story in the Valley of Search when the woman is found on the other side of the wall just looking for a ring. I smiled at her and joined right in on the search for that ring. All the while smiling at the coincidence of the scenerio. (By the way – I did find it for her 🙂 and could tell by the look on her face she was astonished as I think she was just about to give up when I had come out)
So I wanted to mention that scenario because maybe it happened for a reason and there is something in that story that I am supposed to share with you that may be a further light along the path.
Lastly, something that Abdu’l-Bahá has said has come to mind while I was writing this. He once said that at any given time God gives Him all the knowledge He needs for what is required at that moment. That statement has been something I consider often. I’m sorry I can’t even remember if it was something I read or someone told me. It’s been a part of me for so long I forget its origin. Are you familiar with it? Anyway, to me, in the light of what we are talking about here it seems relevant in that Abdu’l-Bahá was in the condition of not “searching” for answers or searching for anything. It seems He was at One with God…and this appears to be the condition that we are aiming for here. The statements in The Valley of Unity say more about this way of “seeing through the eyes of God, hearing through the ears of God, etc” and I believe this is the goal we are seeking.
I encourage you to reflect on these ideas during your meditation and not in journaling so that you can use your heart as your guide and not your head. This is a Valley to be felt and experienced and not written about…as it says “The tongue faileth in describing these three Valleys and speech falleth short.” (From the Valley of Contentment)
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to return to one of my favourite books, Susan.