the transforming and perfecting feature of love

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The Persian poets called love the "~elixir~" (iksir). The alchemists believed that there existed a material in the world which they called the "elixir" [In the Persian-Language dictionary "~Burhan-a qati~"' the following is written about "elixir" (iksir): "It is a substance which melts down, combines and perfects; that is to say it makes ~gold~ from ~copper~ and useful drugs beneficial. It seems that "perfection" is also called "the elixir" metaphorically." It so happens that in love the same three properties are present - it "melts down", it "combines" and it "perfects" - but the well-known and famous metaphorical aspect of it is third one, its perfecting transformative power. Thus poets have sometimes called love by the name of "the doctor", "the drug (dawa')", "Plato" or "~Galen~". In the ~prologue~ to the ~Mathnavi Rumi~ writes: (transl. Nicholson, bk.1, 1.23)

Hail, O Love that bringest us good again -
Thou that art the physician of all our ills,
The remedy of our pride and vainglory,
Our ~Plato~ and our Galen! ] or "~the philosopher's stone~" (kimiya) which could change one matter into another matter, and they searched after this for centuries. ~The poets~ took over the use of this terminology and said that the real "elixir" which has the power of transformation is love, because it is love which can transmute a substance. Love, absolutely, is the "elixir" and has the properties of the philosopher's stone, which changes one nature into another, and people also are different natures.

"People are mines, like gold-mines and silver-mines".

It is love which makes the heart a heart, and if there is no love, there is no heart, just clay and water.

Every heart that is not aflame is no heart;
A frozen heart is nothing but a handful of clay. O God! Give me a breast that sets ablaze,
And in that breast a heart, and that heart consumed with fire. [From Vahshi Kirmani, Iranian poet ].

Bring inspiration, and its prodigality are the other features of love.

"The nightingale learnt its song by the favour of the rose,
otherwise there would not have been Any of this song and music fashioned from its beak" [Hafiz].

Although the favour of the rose is, if we attend only to the words, a matter outside the existence of the nightingale, it is in fact nothing but the force of love itself.

Do you imagine that Majnun became deranged (majnun)
by himself? It was the glance of Layla that transported him among the stars. [Al'amah Taba'taba'i]

Love awakens sleeping powers, and frees chained and fettered forces, just like the splitting of the atom and the freeing of atomic power. It fires with inspiration and builds heroes - how many poets, philosophers and artists there have been who were created by a strong and powerful love.

Love perfects the soul and brings out astounding latent abilities. From the point of view of the powers of perception, it inspires, and from the point of view of the emotions, it strengthens the will and determination, and when it rises to its highest aspect it brings miracles and supernatural events into existence.

The purified and developed effect of love on the spirit
Love purifies the spirit from the tempers and humours of the body; or, in other words, love is a cathartic, it purges the base qualities arising from egotism, or from coldness and lack of warmth, such as envy, avarice, cowardice, laziness, conceitedness and self-admiration. It removes grudges and malevolence, although it is possible that deprivation of, and frustration in, love may produce, in their own turn, complexes and aversions.

By love, bitternesses became sweet,
By love, pieces of copper became gold. [Rumi, Mathnavi]

In the spirit, the effect of love is in terms of its development and thriving; in the body, in terms of melting and decomposition. The effect of love in the body is the complete opposite of what it is in the spirit. In the body love is the cause of ruination, and the reason for pallor and emaciation in the body, for indisposition and disorder in the digestive and the nervous systems. Perhaps all the effects which it has in the body are destructive; but in connection with the spirit it is not so - it depends on the object of love and how the person responds to that object. Leaving aside its social effects, it is predominantly perfecting in the spirit and the individual, because it produces strength, compassion, serenity, singleness of purpose, and determination; it abolishes weakness, meanness, annoyance, uncollectedness and dullness. It removes the confusions which are called ~dassa~ in the ~Qur'an~ (91:10), meaning adulterations of purity with impurity, destroys deceit and purifies the cheat.

The spiritual way ruins the body,
And, after having ruined it, restores it to prosperity:
O happy the soul who, for love and ecstasy,
Gave up hearth and home, wealth and riches,
Ruined the house for the sake of the golden treasure,
And with that same treasure rebuilt it better;
Cut off the water and cleansed the river-bed,
Then caused drinking-water to flow in the river-bed;
Cleft the skin and drew out the iron point -
Then fresh skin grew over it.
The perfect ones who are aware of the secret of reality
Are in ecstasy, bewildered, intoxicated and deranged with love.
Not bewildered in such wise that his back is towards Him,
But so bewildered that (they are) drowned and intoxicated with the Beloved.

Sources

attraction and repulsion of Imam Ali (p.b.u.h)- pages: 43to44

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