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Excerpted from Embracing the Beloved by Stephen and Ondrea Levine. Copyright 1995 by Stephen and Ondrea Levine. Excerpted by permission of Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"As healing progresses deeper, a more tangible sense of being ensues. From that sense of being there constellates the quality of 'being present.'"

Stephen and Ondrea Levine, Embracing the Beloved,
Part 3

These open faces, and the exceptional, nearly initiatory, day we had just had, overwhelmed us with waves of loving kindness.

And we thought what a perfect day to speak about human kindness and maybe even share that term we love so in private but rarely used in groups: the Beloved. A word that incorporates the heart of the sacred into a profound appreciation of our deepest nature. A word that is a "bonding responder" for the way our relationship has become our spiritual practice. And how our practice, our work on ourselves, has become the central core in our connectedness.

And we asked ourselves whether we needed to talk about healing or could just effuse about the Beloved a few times before we realized there was no question. There was no difference. As healing progresses deeper, a more tangible sense of being ensues. From that sense of being there constellates the quality of "being present." Being present we come into "the presence": the space in which the process floats: the Moved.

We find the term "the Beloved" quite functional for many reasons including the obvious parallel between the hearts affinity for such an idea and the draw of the personal toward the universal. And, of course, because it is our practice to meet our beloved as the Beloved.

It is a term used in many spiritual traditions and is particularly well served in the Sufi tradition, whose mystical, devotional aspect seeks the "hidden mysteries," yearning for the direct experience of the one they call "the Beloved." In perhaps the greatest of all devotional poetry, in the spectacular longings of Rumi, Kabir, Miribai, and Rabia, the Beloved is all that is sought. The Beloved is the context into which the wounded and dismayed may enter, as the ever-injured and uninjurable vastness embraces. their pain and transmutes it to mercy. But to all who seek their own true self, whether Sufi or Buddhist, Christian or Jew, Jain, Native American, or agnostic, the Beloved is the ever-experienceable vastness of our true heart, our original nature. And for all, it is the possibility of freedom, the divine capacity to transform our pool of tears into the Ocean of Compassion.

The Beloved is neither a person nor a place. It is an experience of deeper and deeper levels of being, and eventually of beingness itself--the boundarylessness of your own great nature expressed in its rapture and absolute vastness by the word "love." It is not for the concept, but for the experience, that we use the term "the Beloved." The experience of this enormity we falteringly label "divine" is unconditioned love. Absolute openness, unbounded mercy and com-passion. We use this concept, not to name the unnameable vastness of being--our greatest joy--but to acknowledge and claim as our birthright the wonders and healings within.

As we began to speak on that Valentine's evening, the words "the Beloved" exited our lips with a sigh--a gentle bow to those gathered in the room and to that within each of us, which is only love and boundless being.

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