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The argument from human experience:
Heloise and Peter
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The love story of Heloise and Peter Abelard is considered by many to be among the most compelling, and most tragic, of history. Their romance of nearly 1000 years ago still fires hearts and imaginations today.
Below, you will find excerpts from the letters of Heloise and Peter; and several Editor's comments.
I have created a series of blue boxes, such as this one, featuring Heloise and Peter's words, as portrayed in their movie, Stealing Heaven.
Some historical/biographical information from the 'net:
Peter Abelard ... [is] widely known to modern readers [for] his autobiographical Historia Calamitatum ('History of My Misfortunes') and the exchange of letters which followed between him and the young Heloise, his pupil, lover, wife, and sister in religion. In these writings, philosophical queries and spiritual longings focus on the nature of human and divine love, in an attempt to resolve their shared personal tragedy.
The Historia calamitatum recounts Abelard's early philosophical career and his first encounter with Heloise. Born in 1079, the brilliant theologian ... had gone on to win a fearsome reputation as a debater. He had successfully challenged his masters, [the future "saint"] Anselm of Laon and William of Champeaux, eventually displacing the latter as head of the cathedral school at Notre Dame in Paris. But success, as he writes, "always puffs up fools with pride," and exposed him to a new danger.
Around the year 1118, nearing forty years of age, he took on as a student a girl of eighteen, Heloise, and they fell in love. "In looks she did not rank lowest while in the extent of her learning she stood supreme."
To facilitate their meetings, he arranged to take lodging in the house of her uncle, the Canon Fulbert, where she also resided.
"We were united, first under one roof, then in soul; and so, under the pretext of our lessons, we abandoned ourselves entirely to love. Her studies allowed us to withdraw in private, as love desired, and then with our books open before us, more words of love than of our reading passed between us, and more kissing than teaching. My hands strayed oftener to her bosom than to the pages; love drew our eyes to look on each other more than reading kept them on our texts."
Inevitably, Heloise's uncle discovered them, and soon afterwards she found herself pregnant. Abelard sent her to stay with his sister [in Le Pallet, Brittany, 240 miles southwest of Paris] until she was delivered. To make amends with her uncle, Fulbert, he agreed to marry her, but stipulated that the wedding be kept secret. She was opposed to this solution: such a marriage would not appease her uncle; it would jeopardize the continuation of his career, she argued, and ultimately betray her own freedom of spirit, the basis of her love for him. They were married, however, despite her objections.
Then, fearing public disclosure, Abelard had her placed in a convent in Argenteuil [northwestern Paris]. When Fulbert discovered this move, he concluded that Abelard was seeking simply to rid himself of Heloise, and proceeded to exact a gruesome vengeance: acting on his orders, his servants attacked Abelard one night as he slept, and castrated him.
Recovering from the pain and shame as best he might, Abelard entered the cloister at St. Denis [northern Paris] as a monk in 1119, while Heloise took the veil, at his bidding, in the convent at Argenteuil. His career continued to bring him into conflict with all around him, reaching a low point with the condemnation of his treatise, On the Unity and Trinity of God, at the council at Soissons in 1121. In flight from St. Denis, he took refuge in a remote spot near Troyes [90 miles southeast of Paris]; there, with the help of his students, he founded and built an oratory which he dedicated to the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. Shortly thereafter he became abbot at the abbey of St. Gildas in Brittany [northwest France, coastal region], where he found undisciplined monks hostile to his reforms, who plotted against his life.
Heloise during this time had struggled to reconcile herself to the religious vocation which she had accepted, not of her own volition, as she writes, but at her husband's command. Tormented by grief over their brutal separation, she had nevertheless earned a reputation for wise administration as prioress at Argenteuil.
In 1128, however, the convent was taken over as a property of St. Denis, and the nuns were expelled. Abelard then intervened to welcome them to his own oratory of the Paraclete, where Heloise assumed the office of abbess. They remained in contact thereafter, but apparently on a wholly impersonal level, until the moment around 1132 when a copy of his Historia calamitatum found its way into her hands. At this point their correspondence begins. Their Latin style is ornate and studied, set off by complex parallel constructions and elegant inversions of word order.
Abelard, especially, tends to buttress his exposition with accumulated Biblical citations. Heloise writes much more spontaneously of very intimate feelings - and, in her writings, we are treated to an element of high literariness, associated with the vernacular love poetry of the Troubadours. The letters constitute a philosophical dialogue on love, marriage, and spirituality and offer a searching analysis of a personal, universal experience which has challenged and moved readers in every age.
the letters of Heloise and Peter
Editor's note: You will notice that I refer to Heloise before Peter. I do so by design. Despite his age-seniority of 20 years, she, this delicate and tender creature, is the more mature, the wiser and more spiritually advanced. You will soon see this to be true. A small warning: The letters' discussion begins in a tame way - but do not be deceived. Heloise has things to say, is not afraid to be more than frank, and will be heard. Peter may have started whatever it is they have between them, but she will finish it. As you read Heloise's steamy love letters, keep in mind the historical setting - she finds herself now as an abbess of a convent! and Peter is a teaching monk.
Heloise to Peter Abelard:
Recently, my beloved, by chance someone brought me the letter of consolation you had sent to a friend. I saw at once from the heading that it was yours, and was all the more eager to read it since the writer [Peter] is so dear to my heart.
- Elvis, Tryin' To Get To You
When I read your lovin' letter
Then my heart began to sing
There were many miles between us,
But they didn't mean a thing...
When my way was dark as night...
When I was trying to get to you
Having lost him in reality I hoped at least to create an image of him from the words. But nearly every line of this letter was filled ... with gall and wormwood [a poisonous bitterness], as it told the pitiful story of our entry into religion and the crosses which you, my only love, continue to bear...
First you revealed the persecution you suffered from your teachers, then the supreme treachery of the injury to your body, and then you described the abominable jealousy and violent attacks of your fellow-students, Alberic of Rheims and Lotulf of Lombardy...
Then you related the plots against you by your abbot and false brethren, the foul slanders spread against you by those two pseudo-apostles, your rivals [such as the future "saint" and bitter enemy, Bernard of Clairvaux], and the scandal stirred up among many people because you had acted contrary to custom in naming your oratory after the Paraclete.
You [fought] the incessant, intolerable persecutions which you still endure at the hands of that cruel tyrant and the evil monks you call your sons, and so brought your sad story to an end.
No one, I think, could read or hear it dry-eyed; my own sorrows are renewed by the detail in which you have told it, and increased because you say your perils are still increasing. All of us here [at the convent] are driven to despair of your life, and every day we await in fear and trembling the latest rumors of your death...
Thank you for writing ... the one way in which you can show yourself to me; for I never have a letter from you without the immediate feeling that we are together. If pictures of absent friends give us pleasure, renewing our memories and relieving the pain of separation even if they cheat us with empty comfort, how much more welcome is a letter which comes to us in the very handwriting of an absent friend...
I was quite surprised and troubled by your forgetfulness, when neither reverence for God nor our mutual love ... made you think of trying to comfort me, wavering and exhausted as I was by prolonged grief, either by word when I was with you or by letter when I was apart from you...
You are closely bound to me by the marriage sacrament uniting us; and even more so by the love I have always borne you: it is, as everyone knows, a love which is beyond all bounds.
You're The One
"You're the one that I long to kiss, Baby, you're the one that I really miss, You're the one that I'm dreaming of, Baby, you're the one that I love...
as everyone knows... as the whole world knows
Walter Benton: "I have looked upon you, too long, and with so much love, that strangers can see you in my face."
You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how in one wretched stroke that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you...
and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you. Surely, the greater the cause for grief, the greater the need for consolation, and this, no one can bring but you; you are the sole cause of my sorrow, and you alone can grant me the grace of consolation.
You alone can make me sad, or bring me happiness or comfort...
Bonnie Raitt, You
Nobody else could make me happy,
No one could hurt me like you do,
You were the only one that mattered,
Then you were gone...
you alone have so great a debt to repay me, particularly now that I have carried out all your orders so implicitly that when I was powerless to oppose you in anything, I found strength at your command to destroy myself. I did more, strange to say - my love rose to such heights of madness that it robbed itself of what it most desired, beyond hope of recovery, when immediately at your bidding I changed my clothing, along with my mind, in order to prove you the possessor of my body and my will alike.
to prove you the possessor of my body and my will alike
Editor's note: Heloise is incredibly eloquent. What irony and what romantic madness! She proved her love for him by doing as he asked - entering the convent - yet, in so doing, she cut herself off from all hope of ever being with him! and yet, in this "destroying" of herself, she found strength as her action represented as proof of her love. I think all this is far more tragic than Romeo and Juliet.
Never, God knows, did I seek anything in you, except yourself; I wanted only you, nothing of yours.
I just want you, and nothing of yours
Editor’s note: In Heloise, we see the perfect lover, the great example of Enlightened Eros, the very antithesis of "John and Mary," the typical couple in the world; these carefully evaluate resumes, entertain quid pro quo negotiations, and tally the "debits and credits" of love - which is not love but mere domestic business transaction.
A flock of doves is startled. Fluttering white feathers from on high gently descend upon the lovers.
Peter: "You'll never catch one. It's far too difficult."
Heloise: [laughing and running] "I will catch one!"
We learn never to doubt Heloise, especially, when she uses that joyful erotic tone of hers. She does catch one. And now, with her delicate prize in hand, she exults:
"This dove's feather will be my own holy relic! And I proclaim this to be a holy day! For I can never be as happy as I am this moment!"
Editor's note: The forceful and jubilant spirit gushing from Heloise is the positive attitude the Spirit Guides attempt to cultivate in all of us. This joyous essence, a playful exuberance, an insisting upon herself and her own passion, is so far removed from the mental rigidity of dogmatic Orthodoxy.
I looked for no marriage bond, no marriage portion, and it was not my own pleasures and wishes I sought to gratify, as you well know, but yours. The name of wife may seem more sacred or more worthy [to some] - but sweeter to me will always be the word lover; or, if you will permit me, that of concubine or whore!
Editor's note: Heloise the abbess now takes flight with the outrageous! And yet, her words are reasonable, exactly appropriate, in terms of the total-surrender energies of love enjoyed by Twins! Loosen your collar now, the temperature in the room is starting to rise.
sweeter to me will always be the word lover
Editor’s note: What are we to make of this tender and intellectual girl, this part-time half-hearted abbess and full-time irrepressible lover of Abelard? She will not stand down nor give up. While she may have temporarily agreed to play the role of convent leader in order to please her husband and society, she is ever mindful of her secret identity; that of, if need be - no, by preference - his "concubine or whore." She no longer desires, or is willing, to play the straight-jacketed role of The Good Little Girl; no longer is concerned who will be offended by her truest feelings or what she does. This girl has glimpses Sacred Eros - love in its truest and deepest form; so much so that even the term "wife" will not satisfy her. There is something much too domesticated, far too sterile and institutionalized, in this word to suit her liking. Even "lover" does not really cover all that she feels within her tortured heart - that heart that seeks to shout and scream, in wild abandon, for her lost and absent Companion Of Her Soul... yes, she exclaims, "concubine and whore" begins to express the sharpness of her passion, and feels exactly right... but, Heloise is not done...
God is my witness... that if Augustus, Emperor of the whole world, thought fit to honour me with marriage and conferred all the Earth on me to possess for ever, it would be dearer and more honorable to me to be called not his Empress but your whore.
conferred all the earth on me
For a man's worth does not rest on his wealth or power; these depend on fortune, but his worth is measured by his merits. And a woman should realize that if she marries a rich man more readily than a poor one, and desires her husband more for his possessions than for himself, she is offering herself for sale.
she is offering herself for sale
Editor's note: Heloise is relentless. She insists upon speaking of love's pureness, allowing for no merchandizing - Gibran's "sinful marriage."
Certainly any woman who comes to marry through desires of this kind deserves wages, not love; for clearly her mind is on the man's property, not himself, and she would be ready to prostitute herself to a richer man, if she could ... Unless you come to believe that there is no better man nor worthier woman on earth you will always still be looking for what you judge the best thing of all - to be the husband of the best of wives and the wife of the best of husbands...
Editor's note: "The man's property" is not necessarily material in nature, but also refers to any psychological gain outside of purest love; that is, a wanting of that which is "his," but not "him." All such endeavor is "debits and credits" policy, the egoic searching for the "perfect resume." Most enter into marriage, Gibran's "sinful marriage," not realizing that they are guilty of this crime against true love.
she deserves wages not love
Editor's note: I would not want to face Heloise as prosecuting attorney. Why is she taunting us? Allow me to paraphrase her meaning: "I love a man purely and wholly. I want nothing from him but himself, alone. But society knows nothing of this kind of love. The world calls me a whore, a fallen woman. But I know in my heart that I have done nothing wrong, and heaven will yet vindicate me. And who are the real fallen women? In the world, marriage is just a domestic business transaction; a legal means by which so many women mute and satisfy mammalian cravings for offspring. This is what the Church calls 'holy matrimony.' If any woman, without confirmation of her deepest soul, without purest love for the one she's with, enters into such so-called marriage, she should not be surprised to receive not love but wages - and, in many cases, as we all know, she will not even receive the wages."
Kahlil Gibran, The Beloved:
"I was like an inviting table, and [my husband] Rasheed would come to me whenever he felt a need to taste of it; but our souls remained far apart... in this sinful marriage."
[In the eyes of the world I am] wholly guilty ... [but] I am also, as you know, wholly innocent. It is not the deed but the intention of the doer which makes the crime, and justice should weigh not what was done but the spirit in which it is done.
not the deed but the intention of the doer makes the crime
- Editor's note: Heloise is brilliantly insightful and has penetrated to the essence of the nature of good and evil.
Peter voices his deep fears of judgment and of a wrathful God.
But, with a simple question from Heloise, the "greatest theologian" of the 12th century is easily defeated: "How could a God of love not deal kindly with us?"
"Oh! Darling! please believe me..."
So much of Heloise's dialogue with Peter, like the mournful and visceral romantic dirge, Oh! Darling!, is a most passionate plea for her lover to open his eyes. She begs him to accept that she is correct:
"Why, why, must you continue in your distorted views of God and religion! Can you not see how these guilt-and-fear twistings of reality have separated you from your truest self? - to say nothing of me!"
Heloise spends years, much of her life, imploring her lover to abandon his self-imposed darkness, and to come to her.
"Oh! Darling! please believe me when I tell you..."
Editor's note: Paul wrote Oh! Darling! but John sang it as if it were his own; he said as much.
What my intention towards you has always been, you alone who have known it can judge. I submit all to your scrutiny, yield to your testimony in all things. Tell me one thing, if you can. Why, after our entry into religion, which was your decision alone, have I been so neglected and forgotten by you that you neither speak to me when you are here, nor write to me when you are absent?
Tell me, I say, if you can - or I will tell you what I think and indeed the world suspects. It was concupiscence, not friendship which bound you to me, the flame of lust rather than love. So when the end came to what you desired, any show of feeling you used to make vanished with it. This is not merely my own opinion, beloved, it is everyone's. There is nothing personal or private about it; it is the general view which is widely held.
I only wish that it were mine alone, and that the love you professed could find someone to defend it so my grief might subside for a while. I wish I could think of some explanation which would excuse you and somehow cover up the way you hold me cheap. I beg you then to listen to what I ask - you will see that is a small favor which you can easily grant. While I am denied your presence, give me at least through your words ... some sweet semblance of yourself...
I carried out everything for your sake and continue up to the present moment in complete obedience to you. It was not any sense of vocation which brought me as a young girl to accept the austerities of the cloister, but your bidding alone, and if I deserve no gratitude from you, you may judge for yourself how my labors are in vain. I can expect no reward for this from God, for it is certain that I have done nothing as yet for love of him.
"I can expect no reward from God, for I have done nothing for love of him"
Editor's note: Some will condemn Heloise for these remarks. Surely, they say, we all must love God more than even the dearest lover. But this sensitive girl is no blaspheming rebel. I will go so far as to say that, in the afterlife, far from suffering denigration, noble spirits such as she are considered to be royalty. This is so because of her pureness of intention, self-respect, courage, her individuation - which is her glory as "made in the image."
In defense of Heloise, allow me to say that those who recoil at her bold words do so based upon an errant view of God. God is not some vain and jealous bureaucrat who ever craves our flattery and constant adulation to mollify personal insecurity; which unseemly process of satisfaction the unenlightened call worship.
Vasily Polenov, Le droit du Seigneur ("right of the lord") (1874)
An old man bringing his young daughters to their feudal lord.
God is not a feudal chieftain exercising a right of primae noctis (a right to the "first night" with a young woman); he does not stand between erotic lovers, inserting himself with a demand that she love him more! Such base and corrupted view, and even lighter forms of it, entirely misconstrues the nature and purpose of authentic romantic love and our duties to Heaven. God wants nothing, needs nothing from us, and desires only our well-being and happiness - so says Father Benson. She, as Sacred Feminine, was designed by Heaven to offer the firstfruits of her passion to her destined mate alone; and, by this, fulfilling of her destiny, she honors God.
Why should we doubt that to see sparkling love for oneself in the dancing eyes of a Beloved -- one "created in the image" -- may be the most profound mystical experience, the closest we shall come to God, in this life, and, possibly, even beyond? Some condemn Heloise because she neither desires nor claims a "reward" from God. But the concept of external reward from God is crude and an utterly errant one. We were already given everything at the moment of our cosmic "birth."
As Father Benson informs us, Divinity is not in the business of bestowing rewards - there are no merit badges, trinket-trophies, or any externality; all a pagan concept. There is no reward but one's own unfoldment of soul made in the Parental image; no reward but that which we earn for ourselves, the manifestation of the hidden, but innate, Goodness; no reward but that of becoming Love itself.
The human heart was made to yearn for an absent "half," that Twin-Soul, with whom to travel through eternity. Why would God condemn one who follows a design crafted by Divinity Herself? If external reward exists, it is the reward of finding that other half of one's Being - she, who is no externality but a form of one's own Deepest Self! Having received this, we shall have received all, as these sacred Two will "travel on," helping each other, toward higher levels of existence.
only she can teach him that singular lesson of Life,
the meaning of Wholeness and Completeness,
of One Person ... which speaks to the meaning of God!
She leans forward to kiss him, but he stops her...
Unable to escape another reference to an "infallible book," he mutters an empty sophism, "Our Lord was betrayed by a kiss!" (as if this were relevant)
She is not impressed with this logic. Incisively, she counters with, "That was preordained."
"Since the beginning of time," as she now kisses him passionately...
following you into Hell itself
When you hurried towards God I followed you; indeed, I went first to take the veil - perhaps you were thinking how Lot's wife turned back when you made me put on the religious habit and take my vows before you gave yourself to God. Your lack of trust in me over this one thing, I confess, overwhelmed me with grief and shame. I would have had no hesitation, God knows, in following you, or going ahead, at your bidding, to Hell itself.
Editor's note: People wonder why they cannot find, or be with, their Twin Soul. We shall not enter that joy until, like obtaining the "pearl of great price," we are willing to give up all in order to receive it; until, like Heloise, one is prepared to march into Hell itself to have him; until one can speak whole-heartedly, without reservation, even with a note of abandon, as does Heloise, we shall never find that Cosmic Love. Intention must be pure, unalloyed, with no hidden agenda other than to give oneself to the Beloved. As Jesus said: "He that seeks to find his life shall lose it." Why have we become lost to a Destined One? It is because our own diminished consciousness causes us to be blinded to her, to treat her of little value, to esteem something or someone else more highly. He or she that fearfully seeks to preserve one's life, in terms of any material or psychological gain, at the expense of True Love, will neither find nor be worthy of it. What are we afraid of? whose opinions? what sense of shame or guilt? what external and doubtful moral standards of The Good Little Girl or Boy do we insist upon upholding?
Silver Birch: "In our world, in the fullness of time, each finds the half of its own being... Love from a world higher than yours guided your footsteps [and] brought you Two together." Editor's note: Why does Silver Birch speak of "in the fullness of time"? Why can they not be together immediately? Heaven does not stand in our way, but there are problems with the "delivery system," centering upon one's own immaturity and inability to receive.
my heart, if not with you, is nowhere... without you, it cannot exist
My heart was not in me, but with you, and now, even more, if it is not with you it is nowhere; truly, without you it cannot exist. See that it fares well with you, I beg, as it will if it finds you kind, if you give grace in return for grace, small for great, words for deeds. Would that your love were less sure of me, beloved, so that you would be more concerned on my behalf! But as it is, the more I have made you feel secure in me, the more I have to bear with your neglect.
Editor's note: Heloise cannot exclaim emphatically enough how her soul is bound to his! Are her words mere poetry? Is it true that she cannot exist without her lover? The answer borders upon yes. Once you catch a glimpse of that True One, any separation will seem as living death, itself; at best, a state of unlife.
the end is proof of the beginning
Remember, I implore you, what I have done, and think how much you owe me. While I enjoyed with you the pleasures of the flesh, many were uncertain whether I was prompted by love or lust; but now the end is proof of the beginning. I have finally denied myself every pleasure in obedience to your will, kept nothing for myself except to prove that now, even more, I am yours. Consider then your injustice, if, when I deserve more, you give me less, or rather, nothing at all, especially when it is a small thing I ask of you and one you could so easily grant.
Editor's note: Heloise is right, as she here offers a test, a proof, of her love. Many loves, for a brief moment, like the gossamer-life of a shooting star, begin well but cannot endure; sometimes, hardly a single night. But she has loved Peter for decades, many long years, through great grief and turmoil, giving up everything for him, even opportunity to see him... Who, she says, will dare question my love, and my early motives... truly, "the end is proof of the beginning." The question is asked, even of oneself, "Did I love her, even so long ago?" If you love her today, after so long a time, in the face of manifold deterrent, then, the answer is yes... "the end is proof of the beginning."
your Heloise... farewell, My Only Love
And so, in the name of God to whom you have dedicated yourself, I beg you to restore your presence to me in the way you can...
One More Day
"I simply wished for one more day with you, I'd hold you every second, say a million I love yous, one more day, one more time..."
by writing me some word of comfort, so that in this at least I may find increased strength and readiness to serve God. When in the past you sought me out for sinful pleasures your letters came to me often, and your many songs put your Heloise on everyone's lips, so that every street and house echoed with my name. Is it not far better now to summon me to God than it was then to satisfy our lust? I beg you, think what you owe me, give ear to my pleas, and I will finish a long letter with a brief ending: farewell, my Only Love.
Editor's note: The most erotic word, the most coveted gift, spoken to a lover - "your"! Can anything be sweeter than the modifying reference to her own name. The universe itself, he would agree, is not worth more than this particular and sanctified "your." We bring to mind the first words of a departed beloved regained: "I am your Betty!" This sacred "your" speaks of Twin lovers' perception that they belong to each other.
Editor's note: A reader offered to me the following story. She was picking up her 3 year-old grandson from preschool. The little boy bounded toward her, but then stopped, as if he'd suddenly remembered a duty. Turning about, he raced back to the frontsteps upon which a little girl had been watching, and waiting... for him. In a very natural way, with no thought of embarrassment, as if all the world easily lived within the boundaries of such affection, he kissed her, and then resumed course for his grandmother... Who will doubt that we are hard-wired for relationship-love? further, in some cases, early love is no mere instinctual response, but can be the first stirrings of an eternal pledge of the soul.
Editor's note: There will be those who will cynically ask, Is not all of this too much? Heloise's words are poetic, they will say, but the real world is colorless prose; do we not need to be practical and admit that no one will ever experience such heights of passion? Allow me to suggest, to inform you, that Heloise's words are not nearly passionate enough to convey the magnitude of the forces -- within --held at bay waiting to be unleashed. We are instructed by advanced afterlife entities that the exquisite feelings of Twin-Soul love tap into the architectonic structure, the primal power, of the very creative essence of the cosmos and of God herself.
Advised by a friend: "It would be best if you never saw him again."
Heloise: "Best?! What is best? My body and soul ache for him!"
Peter Abelard to Heloise
To Heloise, his dearly beloved sister in Christ, Abelard her brother in Christ.
If since our conversion from the world to God I have not yet written you any word of comfort or advice, it must not be attributed to indifference on my part but to your own good sense, in which I have always had the highest confidence. I did not think you would need these things, since God's grace has given you all that you might need to instruct the erring, comfort the weak and encourage the fainthearted, both by word and example, as, indeed, you have been doing since you first held the office of prioress under your abbess.
So if you still watch over your daughters as carefully as you did previously over your sisters, it is sufficient to make me believe that any teaching or exhortation from me would now be wholly superfluous. If, on the other hand, in your humility you think differently, and you feel that you have need of my instruction and writings in matters pertaining to God, write to me what you want, so that I may answer as God permits me.
Meanwhile, thanks be to God who has filled all your hearts with anxiety for my desperate, unceasing perils, and made you share in my affliction; may divine mercy protect me through the support of your prayers and quickly crush Satan beneath our feet. To this end in particular, I hasten to send the psalter you once earnestly begged from me, my sister, once dear in the world, and now dearest in Christ, so that you may offer a perpetual sacrifice of prayers to the Lord for our many great aberrations, and for the dangers which daily threaten me.
We have indeed many examples as evidence of the high position in the eyes of God and his saints which has been won by the prayers of the faithful, especially those of women on behalf of their dear ones and of wives for their husbands. The Apostle observes this when he bids us pray continually. We read that the Lord said to Moses Let me alone, to vent my anger upon them, and to Jeremiah Therefore offer no prayer for these people nor stand in my path. By these words the Lord himself makes it clear that the prayers of the devout set a kind of bridle on his wrath and check it from raging against sinners as fully as they deserve; just as a man who is willingly moved by his sense of justice to take vengeance can be turned aside by the entreaties of his friends and forcibly restrained, as it were, against his will. Thus when the Lord says to one who is praying or about to pray, Let me alone and do not stand in my path, he forbids prayers to be offered to him on behalf of the impious; yet the just man prays though the Lord forbids, obtains his requests and alters the sentence of the angry judge. And so the passage about Moses continues: And the Lord repented and spared his people the evil with which he had threatened them. Elsewhere it is written about the universal works of God, He spoke, and it was. But in this passage it is also recorded that he had said the people deserved affliction, but he had been prevented by the power of prayer from carrying out his words.
Consider then the great power of prayer if we pray as we are bidden, seeing that the prophet won by prayer what he was forbidden to pray for, and turned God aside from his declared intention. [Here Abelard cites passages from scripture concerning prayer and the special power of prayers by women. His letter then concludes]
But if the Lord delivers me into the hands of my enemies so that they overcome and kill me, or if by whatever chance I enter upon the way of all flesh while absent from you, wherever my body may lie, buried or unburied, I beg you to have it brought to your burial ground, where our daughters, or rather, our sisters in Christ may see my tomb more often and thereby be encouraged to pour out their prayers more fully to the Lord on my behalf. There is no place, I think, so safe and beneficial for a soul grieving for its sins and desolated by its transgressions than that which is specially consecrated to the true Paraclete, the Comforter, and which is particularly designated by his name. Nor do I believe that there is any place more fitting for Christian burial among the faithful than one located among women dedicated to Christ. Women were concerned for the tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, they came ahead and followed after, bringing precious ointments, keeping close watch around this tomb, weeping for the death of the Bridegroom, as it is written: The women sitting at the tomb wept and lamented for the Lord. And there they were first reassured about his resurrections by the appearance of an angel and the words he spoke to them; later on they were found worthy both to taste the joy of his resurrection when he twice appeared to them, and also to touch him with their hands.
Finally, I ask this of you above all else: at present you are over-anxious about the danger to my body, but then your chief concern must be for the salvation of my soul, and you must show the dead man how much you loved the living one by the special support of prayers chosen for him. Live, fare you well, yourself and your sisters with you, Live, but I pray, in Christ be mindful of me.
"I will love no other! no other!"
Peter, guilt-ridden, speaks: "It is the will of God that I leave."
"No! We are part of each other forever!"
"In time... you will find someone..."
"No! I will love no other! no other!"
Editor's note: When one becomes aware of that True One, it will no longer be possible to play a John-and-Mary role; the Beloved is not a fungible product. A time will come when one must say, with Heloise -- no matter how long the wait -- "I will love no other! no other!"
I will love no other! no other!
Kahlil Gibran, The Beloved :
"I tried, futilely I tried, to learn to [romantically] love him, but I could not, for [romantic] love is a power that creates our hearts. Our hearts cannot create [romantic] love. Then I prayed and bowed before heaven in the silence of the night. My supplications and prayers could not engender a spiritual affection [to be transformed into romance] in the depths of my heart to draw me near to [Rasheed]. [True Romantic] Love descends into our spirits by a decree of God, not by human intention."
Editor's note: When Heloise asserts that she will "love no other," she expresses no willfulness in the face of possible other romantic association. John and Mary believe that they might have married other partners; for them, suffering under the blindness of the Small Ego, it is true - but for Twins, as Heloise insists, there is no other.
Heloise to Peter Abelard
We were also very surprised when instead of bringing us the healing balm of comfort you increased our desolation and made the tears to flow which you should have dried. For which of us could remain dry-eyed on hearing the words you wrote toward the end of your letter: But if the Lord delivers me into the hands of my enemies so that they overcome and kill me...
My dearest, how could you think such a thought? How could you give voice to it? Never may God be so forgetful of his humble handmaids as to let them outlive you; never may he grant us a life which would be harder to bear than any form of death...
You ask us, my love, if you chance to die when absent from us, to have your body brought to our burial-ground so that you may reap a fuller harvest from the prayers we shall offer in constant memory of you. But how could you suppose that our memory of you could ever fade?
Besides, what time will we have then for prayer, when extreme distress will allow us no peace, when the soul will lose its power of reason and the tongue its use of speech? Or when the frantic mind, far from being resigned, may even (if I may say so) rage against God himself, and provoke him with complaints instead of placating him with prayers?
"Now, blue ain't the word for the way that I feel, And the storm brewing in this heart of mine. This is no pleasure dream, I know that it's real ... that's why I'm lonely all the time..."
In our misery then we shall have time only for tears and no power to pray; we shall be hurrying to follow, not to bury you, so that we may share your grave instead of laying you in it. If we lose our life in you, we shall not be able to go on living when you leave us. May we not even live to see that day. The mere mention of your death is death to us. What will the reality of that death be like if it finds us still alive?
God, grant we may never live on to perform this duty, to render you the service which we look for from you alone; in this may we go before, not after you! And so, I beg you, spare us - spare her at least, who is yours alone, by refraining from words like these. They pierce our hearts with swords of death, so that what comes before is more painful than death itself. A heart which is exhausted with grief cannot find peace, nor can a mind preoccupied with anxieties genuinely devote itself to God.
"... my troubled mind ... right now, I'm so lonesome I could die"
a mind preoccupied with anxieties cannot genuinely devote itself to God... no power to pray
Editor's note: Heloise well captures the sense of my words elsewhere regarding the need for emotional healing in Summerland before moving on to greater spirituality: "Certain kinds of loss are so compelling; so fraught with despair and disillusionment; so devastating to primal need and to what should have been; so commanding of one's attention and deepest affections; so insistent and bordering on the obsessive; that injured hearts will not allow any beguilement, cajoling, any artifice of mere words, empty platitudes, or pseudo-spiritual talk, to distract them from that most pressing cold reality..." One of the afterlife testimonies received by Randall and French speaks of an astral sub-world wherein, for a time, dwell once-bereft lovers. As part of their healing from the sufferings of our world, it is said that, as long as they need to, they do little but "cling to each other."
I beseech you not to hinder God's service to which you specially committed us. Whatever has to come to us bringing with it total grief we must hope will come suddenly, without torturing us far in advance with useless apprehension which no foresight can relieve...
if I lose you, what have I left to hope for?
But if I lose you, what have I left to hope for? Why continue on life's pilgrimage, for which I have no support but you, and none in you save the knowledge that you are alive...
the joy of your presence
now that I am forbidden all other pleasures in you and denied even the joy of your presence which from time to time could restore me to myself?
Editor's note: A lover provides many avenues to joy. But the most elemental may also be the most potent - simply, the joy of her presence.
the joy of your presence, which could restore me to myself!
O God, cruel to me in everything! O Fortune who is only ill fortune!
O God - if I dare say it - cruel to me in everything! O merciless mercy! O Fortune who is only ill fortune, who has already spent on me so many of the shafts she uses in her battle against mankind that she has none left with which to vent her anger on others.
Brutalized by enemies, mutilated in body, despondent, he averts his eyes, and cannot look at her.
Forcibly, commandingly, she speaks now, and will not let him go:
"Nothing has changed! You still make love to me in my heart!"
She [Fortune] has emptied a full quiver on me, so that henceforth no one else need fear her attacks, and if she still had a single arrow she could find no place for a wound. Her only dread is that through my many wounds death may end my sufferings; and though she does not cease to destroy me, she still fears the destruction which she brings on. Of all wretched women I am the most wretched, and amongst the unhappy I am unhappiest. The higher I was raised when you preferred me to all other women, the greater my suffering over my own fall and yours, when I was thrown down; for the higher the ascent, the heavier the fall. Among great and noble women, whom did fortune ever place higher or as high as she placed me? Whom did she then cast down and destroy with a similar grief? What glory she gave me in you, what ruin she brought upon me through you! Violent in either extreme, she showed no moderation in good or evil. To make me the saddest of all women she first made me blessed above all, so that when I thought how much I had lost, my consuming grief would match my crushing loss, and my sorrow for what was taken from me would be the greater for the fuller joy of possession which had gone before; and so that the happiness of supreme ecstasy would end in the supreme bitterness of sorrow.
Editor's note: How poetic is Heloise in her darkest hour of grief: Fortune, which, she muses, is only ill fortune, has spent all of its arrows on her, such that no one else need fear ill fortune - she has suffered all that can be suffered!
Moreover, to add to my indignation at the outrage you suffered, all the laws of equity in our case were reversed. For while we enjoyed the pleasures of an uneasy love and abandoned ourselves to fornication (if I may use an uglier but more expressive word) we were spared God's severity. But when we amended our unlawful conduct by what was lawful, and atoned for the shame of fornication by an honorable marriage, then the Lord in his anger laid his hand heavily upon us, and would not permit a chaste union though he had long tolerated one which was unchaste.
Editor's note: Heloise's grief, momentarily now, succumbs to sarcasm: When we lived in so-called fornication, our lives were happy and blessed. But when we decided to please society and become married by the Church, all hell broke loose. Who can understand this? Of course, God had no part in this reversal of situation. Their trouble was caused by narrow religious minds and the evil designs of enemies.
Peter Abelard to Heloise
And so I ask you, sister, to accept patiently what mercifully befell us. This is a father's rod, not a persecutor's sword. The father strikes to correct, lest the enemy strike to kill. By a wound he prevents death, he does not deal it; he thrusts in the steel to cut out disease. He wounds the body, and heals the soul; he gives life to what he should have destroyed, cuts out impurity to leave what is pure. He punishes once so that he need not punish forever. One suffers the wound so that two may be spared death; two were guilty, one pays the penalty...
I must tell you frankly, I find myself deeply moved by the passionate words of Heloise. Her insights into life and love are all the more remarkable as she is billed as the junior partner, while Peter, many have often said, is the "greatest philosopher and theologian" of the 12th century. This official assessment is so much nonsense and rubbish; unless, by this we are to know that his peers are even more neurotic.
As you might know, I have made it my business, for many years now, to seek out the best "word gems," the best thoughts and thinkers of history. I am hard pressed to come up with any female who might match the wisdom of Heloise. The closest might be the sage and eloquent Abigail Adams; but I must give the edge to Heloise.
Further, I am compelled to assert something more. In Heloise's letters we find expressed virtually all of the deep, primary truths of authentic romantic love conveyed to us by the afterlife testimonies and the best mystic teachers of our world. How astonishing. These truths are not easily garnered; cannot be derived from mere academic research - but, here they are, a formidable array, all laid out for the easy taking, in the passionate love letters of that little songbird, Heloise!
the greatest theologian
And what of her friend, Peter Abelard? If she does not choke him, we are tempted to finish him off very soon.
Has an intelligent and independently-minded girl ever given herself to another more fully, more sincerely, and without reservation, in the midst of greater grief, than did the perky Heloise? She is no coquette, never the guileful flirt. No, this girl is honest and forthcoming, always authentic; many would say, to a fault. Listen to her open heart and soul:
for Peter, she would spurn even Augustus and title-deed to the entire world, trade all this, to be called even his "whore or concubine";
Regarding Peter's reply, I submit to you, in all of history, we have never before witnessed such lopsided and antithetically opposed answer - from the heights of her spirit-led and angelic discourse of true romantic love, to the Dark-Realm depths of fear, guilt, and shame-based answer!
Notice the essence of Peter's philosophical position:
He serves a god who "punishes once so that he need not punish forever"; a god "with a father's rod" who "strikes to correct";
He is obsessed with scriptures featuring a furious chieftain-god who must continually be flattered lest he charge, "Let me alone, to vent my anger upon them";
His mind, overwrought, is consumed by guilt, fear, and shame, such that, continually, he pleads with her to spend time offering "a perpetual sacrifice of prayers to the Lord for our many great aberrations";
Living in constant terror of death and judgment, he seeks for consolation by a promise from her: "I beg you," to be "brought to your burial ground, where" she and the sisters "may see my tomb more often and, thereby, be encouraged to pour out their prayers more fully to the Lord on my behalf," all "beneficial for a soul grieving for its sins and desolated."
Editor's note: How great is Peter's self-loathing! - so pervasive, coloring his entire perception of God, life, and love. He lives in a nightmare-world of primitive-man conceptions of wrathful divinity. Compare all this with Father Benson's teaching from the afterlife.
As a former priest of the Church, I regret deeply that I ever gave tongue to such misguided teaching... humiliating... absolutely crushing... And there are hosts of others like me! Robert Hugh Benson
Monsignor Robert Benson (1871–1914)
An excerpt from his book, "Facts"
... there has been built up a vast theology, so abstruse, so complex, so incomprehensible that no man can explain it, and so controversial that scores of distinct and separate and opposed religious sects have arisen upon the earth-plane, each claiming to be more or less the only true means of the soul's salvation.
As a priest of one of the principal of these religious denominations, I upheld, when I was upon earth, all its doctrines and creeds. When I eventually came to live in the spirit world, I found that the whole of my theological knowledge was completely negative or stultified by my first sight of the truths of the spirit world, of its people, and of its laws. I found that as far as the people of earth were concerned, they had never lived for one single fraction of a moment under the wrath of God, for the all-sufficing reason that the Great Father of Heaven cannot entertain wrath against any person or persons whatsoever, for any reason or reasons whatsoever.
How do I know this, it may be asked? The answer is simple: it is common knowledge in the spirit world. We, in these realms, all know it. Therein lies the immeasurable beauty of it. It is apparent at every turn. The Wrath of God is a stupid and wicked fiction.
Numberless false theories have been propounded from it, and numberless false doctrines have been formulated. The most elementary acquaintance with the laws of the spirit world will at once show that the wrath of God is a contradiction of terms. The two words cannot exist together. That is also common knowledge in these realms, elementary knowledge. The wrath of God, indeed!
Editor's note : How funny: "The wrath of God, indeed!" Father Benson's British-humor antipathy is palpable.
Such beliefs as these are primitive and barbaric, and monstrous when viewed in the light of the great truths of the spirit world as we know and understand them here.
Heloise, the patron saint of Twin-Soul love
Heloise: "I spit on your 'holy' saints and your angry god!"
C'mon, Heloise, tell us what you really think.
CLICK HERE for a special supplemental page, a defense of Heloise - the patron saint of a new cosmic order of romantic love; coming soon, just one missed heartbeat away.
Are Heloise and Peter Twin-Souls?
We can't know for sure, but I will tell you what I think. I suspect that they might be - no thanks to Peter. Here's why.
Without access to libraries, the internet, a plethora of ready-wisdom sources from which to draw, Heloise, seemingly single-handedly, perceives many of the mysteries of true romantic love. How did she do that?
There is only one way. This spirited girl is approaching the status of enlightened person. She could not know what she knows without living on an elevated level of consciousness. Her own soul-energies have explained things to her; also, she could not know what she knows without contact with a Twin lover; albeit, a comatose one - but this will not delay her own instruction.
And what about Peter? Can one as spiritually-offline as he really be a Twin? Norma taught that Twins progress at different rates; that, one might need to help the other catch up. In any case, one thing is clear: these two have switched roles - she is now "the greatest theologian."
Editor's note: Newton's third law of motion is popularly expressed by the phrase "action and reaction" - which somewhat distorts reality. "Action and reaction" implies that Force A acts first, with Force B acting next, as a separate event. Newton said that this is an incorrect perception. Forces come in pairs. Force A and Force B occur as a single undivided event. There is no Force A and Force B, but only Force A-B. Stated poetically, "You cannot touch without being touched." How might this principle apply to Heloise and Peter? It is not possible to have a genuine Twin-Soul experience all by yourself! If she was experiencing the real thing, then Peter, of necessity, in spite of present dullness, will be her Missing Half. Yes, of course, mired in his fears, for a time, he will be oblivious; eventually, however, at a time of greater awareness, he will wake up and, with many regrets but thankful astonishment, receive his vivacious Better Half.
Editor's note: We might feel sorry for the disappointed little girl on the right. But, to extend our Twin-Soul analogy, let's allow her to represent the fact that True Romantic Affinity cannot be manufactured as a result of simple desire. Twin love is not a function of personal choice but of uniquely harmonizing soul energies. Wishing and hoping will not create true feelings nor make them go away. Like other energies in the universe, these simply exist or do not; they can neither be destroyed nor duplicated. This means that there is one person, just one, who was made only for you. Our part is not so much to choose but to spiritually prepare ourselves to recognize, to become aware of, the Destined One. Peter is a posterboy for one with closed eyes; but Heaven always gives us another chance, or a hundred, until we get it right.
Editor's note: I must say something more about this Newton's Third Law. The ancient rabbis instruct us that the forces resident in the material world speak of and reveal counterpartal forces in the spiritual realm. The entire idea of a "force" is a skewed one; as if a single force could be segregated as an isolated entity. Even the idea of "forces coming in pairs," acting concurrently, is not quite right. A force is not a thing in itself but represents a mutual interaction between objects. Applied to Twin lovers, we can say, there is no "force," or even "pair of forces," bringing them together, as if something external effected and produced their wondrous bond. What they have, that kabbalistic "gluing," is a result - better, a reflection - of an inner dynamic, not an external force - the product of their having been constituted, since the "soul nursery," in a particular way. What does all of this mean? It means that Twins come together, and remain together, because they represent a One-Person entity, that single Force A-B. The spiritual energy emanating from their union is as spontaneous and natural as oxidation producing fire; fire is the irrepressible result of oxidation, just as these Cosmic Two can do nothing but love each other; at least, once their eyes are opened to the process. Ultimately, no one can stop it, help it, hinder it, further it, or take credit for it; least of whom, the Nice Young Man at Church. All happens naturally, as their spirits open, as their private universe unfolds. No external authority can "marry them" or bring them together any more than one might presumptuously decree, like King Canute commanding the waves, that protons and neutrons will now be "married" and abide in decreed sweet unity within the atom's core. Their Twin love represents a singular Force A-B, a One-Person energy.
the nearest Betty Ford Clinic
There are hospitals and therapy centers in the Next World that offer healing for the abused and damaged religious. This is true. And, doubtless, his True Love, Heloise, unwilling ever to leave him, will have him checked into the nearest Betty Ford Clinic for Recovering Greatest Theologians.
- Editor's note: A small joke, but, in fact, there are therapy clinics for new arrivals in the afterlife; healing centers of varying sorts, each designed to address particular traumas sustained in this world. Father Benson is associated with a particular sort, what we would call "cult deprogramming." Peter could stand some.
"I'd be released in your tenderness"
"Oh! I wish you could wrap yourself around me, I am gripped by this loneliness, Oh! I wish you could wrap yourself around me, I'd be released in your tenderness..."
The uncontained love of Heloise teaches us many things; but also begs the question, What is behind this kind of undiluted passion? What is its origin and purpose?
We feel the white-hot intensity of her fervent spirit, even now, almost 1000 years after the fact. She represents a force of human will, desire, and fortitude which swallows up and defeats not only the apathy of her lover, but the evil of their enemies, even, that of behemoth collective-ego institutions which will yet lie prostrate and bend the neck before this goddess!
the greatest force and power in the universe
Silver Birch: "There is a great power in the universe ... so real that it transcends all other forces ... That love is deathless because it is part of the Great Spirit, the creative spirit of all life, part of the power which has fashioned life; it is indeed the very breath and the very essence of life. And wherever [this kind of] love exists, sooner or later, those who are united by its willing bonds will find one another again despite all the handicaps and obstacles and impediments that may be in the way."
If we are wise, we will study and consider the irrepressible and spitfire-love of Heloise and be instructed by the Power behind it; that loving nature, that unbowed energy and indomitable purpose, reflecting the One-Person Divinity, in whose image she was made.