Happy St. Valentine's Day?

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St. Valentine's Day, in the Christian calendar, commemorates the martyrdom of various folks named Valentine:

Here is an image of (one of the) St. Valentine's skull in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome covered with flowers. Dead sexy that one. 

    How did we get from this to candies and cupids? This wiki on the history of Valentine's Day is helpful. The romantic element comes from the poetry of Chaucer and the late medieval/Renaissance tradition of courtly love poetry. 

    I'm not really a big fan of Valentine's Day. [Though I don't hate it like I do Christmas.]

    The only connection I can make in my heart and mind between the two is that true love is a form of martyrdom. It costs blood. It brings us out of our skulls. The reason St. Valentine's skull is wreathed with flowers is as a symbol of victory. Lovers who remain to the end are paradoxically victorious. The wreathed skull of the great saint of the day of Lovers is a stark (and I think brilliant) reminder that everything and everyone we love will die. And (some of) those who love us will watch us die. 

    Love is the great act in the face of death. Not so much chocolates. 

    The word matryr means witness. A martyr gives the ultimate witness of his/her life. Marriage or any kind of committed love relationship is a form of martyrdom. It is a witness to a life of responsibility and other-centered care in a rather selfish world. 

    And love is death. 

    Tom Cruise's character stupidly said to Rene Zwelleger that "you complete me." This is the ignorance of our age. Another person's exists to make us feel good about ourselves. He would have been better to say: "You slay me." 

    When two beings come together like that, for real, then they have to die. Marriage, the Yoga of Committed Relationship, whatever you want to call it, is the sacrifice of the self from the heart. Sacrificial, bloody, victorious, tragically beautiful death. 

    In a word martyrdom. 

    So Happy St. Valentine's Day everyone. 

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    • Comment Link Sarah Olson Wednesday, 15 February 2012 20:21 posted by Sarah Olson

      Awesome. My deepest gratitude for bringing some depth to this most inane of holidays.

      I hadn't given valentine's day a second thought yesterday until I took a tour of Facebook late at night and saw a list of the 'romantic' dates, gifts, activities etc that my Facebook friends had engaged in. I was very interested to feel a pang, a lack, a sense that because my partner and I hadn't done any of that, because he hadn't bought me flowers or a giftt, he loved me less, or even worse, I am not worthy of such expressively loving or romantic gestures. How curious! It is amazing to me that I could be so easily affected by a cultural tradition that I have made a conscious choice not to participate in. Goes to show how clever the marketing around this is - it really does manipulate the deep sense of longing for love, acceptance, validation that we all (especially women in our culture, I would think) deeply desire.

      And in stark contrast to that, your piece calls us to the highest potential of love and relationship, that of living with and for another, of letting ourselves die to the greater whole that is the 'we' we have committed to. Now that is something worth celebrating. Thank you!

    • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Friday, 17 February 2012 22:26 posted by Chris Dierkes

      thanks Sarah, I'm glad you found it helpful.

      I'm wondering though about my tendency to always go for the deep. In the Big Mind work, you take a voice--say desire--and you speak to the immature (and possibly also immature and unhealthy) version of the voice. Then the disowned version of that voice. Then the owned/mature version of the voice. Then you might speak to the opposite of it (the no voice). As in no desire--i.e. the voice of nirvana or emptiness.

      Then you can speak to the Apex which transcends and includes all of them. Transcending and including I realize there is a place for the immature version of a voice. In immature desire, it's constant craving and so on--in the unhealthy sense. But from the Apex, the immature voice does the "dirty work" in a way. It does the small ball stuff.

      The Apex is the one that understands that each voice is a form and therefore in its own way liberated: Emptiness is Form, Form is Emptiness.

      I've been thinking about all that in relation to V Day. Not to discount more the voice of the owned, mature, healthy version (I think this post spoke more to that), but to give some space for the immature (if included from the Apex point).

      How that actually looks in practice I'm not entirely sure. :)

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