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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

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Thursday, January 28, 2016
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM EDITING MALA OF LOVE: 108 LUMINOUS POEMS by guest blogger Kate Vogt
 
In movies and on television, in greeting cards and advertisements, we are regaled with depictions of a love that thrives on attachment, longing, sentiment, and romanticism. Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems is a collection of sacred poetry that allows readers to reach beyond this more commercial understanding of love and guides them toward realization of a more mystical love that is grounded in acceptance, joy, patience, compassion, and gratitude. We hope you’ll enjoy this article in which Mala of Love coeditor Kate Vogt shares lessons she learned while working on the book.

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Give: It is often said that we always get back when we give. I certainly feel that this has been true for me in editing Mala of Love. While I likely come nowhere near the understanding of giving that St. Francis of Assisi expressed when he said, “For it is in giving, we receive,” I now have a better sense of the profound level of detachment and letting go that comes with true giving. It is a state where there is no longer any attachment to the outcomes of giving or even the process of giving itself. As with the breath, a natural outward flow is met by a quiet pause and then a gentle return flow. Pure giving is freed of the need to identify with being the giver or even with the act of giving. It just happens. Mala of Love and its companion collection, Mala of the Heart, are grounded in that spirit of giving. My coeditor, Ravi Nathwani, and I had an intentional understanding that these books are not about our careers or personal gain but are sincere efforts to help make universal wisdom more accessible to others. In spite of this intention, I feel as though these collections keep giving me more than I can give back. I have a sense of being lovingly and gently held from the inside.

Slow Down: Editing Mala of Love reminded me of my roots of growing up on a wheat farm in remote western Kansas. I loved the vast expanse of the land and sky with a nearly uninterrupted horizon. To the casual traveler the landscape appears barren and empty; to me, it teems with life, especially on a micro level. The soil is alive, emitting rich smells and textures while yielding livelihoods to the local people and food for those near and far. Caterpillars and grasshoppers show up. In the right season, a mockingbird appears to sing a repertoire of songs collected from its travels. Clouds drift across the sky, forming endless shapes. Nighttime constellations shift. As with the rural landscape, on the surface love appears so common that it is easy to dismiss or speed through it, thinking we will find love further down the road. Love is nuanced like the landscape and fully alive. With over six thousand spoken languages, we have many ways to express love. It is celebrated in famous operas, poems, plays, and music and lauded in religions around the world. Every person has his or her own experience and understanding of love. I am grateful that Mala of Love gave me a chance to slow down and explore the landscape of love reflected in the words and lives of its poets. 

Love: Editing Mala of Love has enhanced my awareness that my entire life has been made of love. Parents, grandparents, teachers, husbands, siblings, family, friends, colleagues, pets, and many more have showered me with various dimensions of love. Food, water, trees, and sunshine that have nourished me have not asked for anything back. With a clearer awareness of a life made of love, I had a similar lens for the unfolding of Mala of Love. It felt important in the poets’ biographies to acknowledge not just their awards and recognitions but also the life experiences that fueled their works about love. Their lives are as much a part of the overall story of love as the poems themselves. Behind the scenes, Ravi and I felt an abundance of goodwill and generosity toward the large team of people involved in the production of the book. As one friend commented, “What’s not to love? It’s all love.” 

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Based on the book Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems. Copyright © 2016 by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt.

Kate Vogt writes and lectures on topics that engage others in the timeless wisdom of the Yoga Sutras and other texts. Her articles, courses, and presentations include “There Is No Place Like Om,” “Seeing Beneath the Surface,” “Yoga to Calm the Mind,” and “Knowing Nature.”

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