The love of God, unutterable and perfect

by Dante Alighieri

English version by Stephen Mitchell
Original Language Italian

The love of God, unutterable and perfect,
     flows into a pure soul the way that light
     rushes into a transparent object.
The more love that it finds, the more it gives
     itself; so that, as we grow clear and open,
     the more complete the joy of heaven is.
And the more souls who resonate together,
     the greater the intensity of their love,
     and, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.

-- from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

The love of God, unutterable and perfect,
     flows into a pure soul the way that light
     rushes into a transparent object.


The idea of being "colorless" can imply purity, clarity, being beyond definition, or it can suggest a sort of blandness and lack of life.

This dual connotation reminds me of my earliest impressions of Zen Buddhism. I loved the absolute simplicity, essentialism, integrity, and lack projection. But, frankly, it also seemed rather cold and flat. No elevating imagery. No devotionalism. You sit until you learn to sit. The goal, if you try for a goal, is Nirvana - Nothingness. That sounded rather colorless to me!

The more love that it finds, the more it gives
     itself; so that, as we grow clear and open,
     the more complete the joy of heaven is.


It wasn't until I began to encounter my own experiences of opening through other practices that I finally came to recognize the immense life and delight that is found in that Emptiness sought so assiduously by Zen practitioners. (It was also then that many of the spiritual definitions and imagery I had clung to so tightly fell away, leaving me in a very simple space and practice that some might describe as Zen-like.)

About that fundamental emptiness, the "colorless"-- Colorless glass is not colorless; it contains all colors. Colorless glass does not halt the play of light; it is filled with light, and it lets each color remain entirely itself as it shines through...

And the more souls who resonate together,
     the greater the intensity of their love,
     and, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.


Have a beautiful day!



Recommended Books: Dante Alighieri

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Divine Comedy: The Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso Dark Way to Paradise: Dante's Inferno in Light of the Spiritual Path





The love of God