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Excerpted from The Soul in Love by Deepak Chopra. Copyright © 2001 by Deepak Chopra. Excerpted by permission 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.

"Rumi was dancing the dance of life."

  Deepak Chopra, The Soul in Love, Part 2

Rumi was dancing the dance of life. He knew it, and so did his listeners, which is why the line between poet, saint, and lover became quite blurry in his case. No poet is more intimate than Rumi, no lover more crazed, no saint more innocent. An air of the supernatural gathered around him because he never lost this wild, extreme state of ecstasy. Somehow the deepest lovers don't have to fear time. Their intoxication is permanent, even though the divine beloved is invisible, remote, and never touched physically.

Centuries ago an Indian princess named Mirabai walked away from wealth and privilege to live among the poor just so she could remain intoxicated. Like Rumi, Mirabai expresses amazement that the rest of us don't follow her lead. But to do that requires great strength, for the life of God-intoxication leaves no room for compromise, as Mira points out time and again:

I am going mad with pain--but no one gets it. 
Only the wounded feel their wounds, 
embracing the fire in their hearts. 
Only the jeweler knows the worth of the jewel, 
not the one who tosses it aside. 
Mira wanders the forest, sick with love. 
Her pain will only cease when the Dark One comes to heal it.

These lines are as intimidating as they are alluring. What is such a love, and why do certain people fall so deeply under its spell?

I have been fascinated by such questions for a long time, and I found answers only by going into the soul-places where mortal love and immortal love meet. Romeo and Juliet were mortal and even died for love, yet they attained a kind of immortality by being allowed to live on in verse. Immortal love doesn't need poetry. However, it is our good fortune that some of the God-intoxicated have written words that permit access into their ecstatic world. Particularly in the East, in that exotically woven belt of lands that stretches from Arabia to the Indian subcontinent, poets and saints are never far apart. Mirabai and Rumi are only two such figures; there are many, many more. In this collection I have gathered a few of the most revered, beginning in the medieval period and extending to this century. The name of Rumi has gathered much luster recently, but the others -- Kabir, Hafiz, Tagore, and Mirabai -- deserve just as much recognition. In their own cultures they stand as beacons of inspiration, largely because the common people have taken them into their hearts and continue to sing their words every day.

From my childhood I remember women gathering in my grandmother's house in Delhi, often accompanied by a wheezing little harmonium, and the voices of family and friends raised to praise God in the words of Kabir or Mirabai. In that setting there was no question about whether this was "great" poetry; it was great in its heartfelt yearning, for much of this writing is the purest yearning imaginable:

Take me to that place where no one can go 
Where death is afraid 
And swans alight to play 
On the overflowing lake of love. 
There the faithful gather 
Ever true to their Lord.

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