During a recent visit to Alaska, I had the privilege of witnessing the incredible spectacle of the salmon run. Every year, millions of salmon make their ways to local rivers and then head upstream to spawn. The sheer determination with which they overcome every imaginable obstacle is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Those that make it have to get past eagles, grizzlies, humans, and other predators. They push through relentlessly, even though their journey ends in their demise. Once the salmon have spawned, they die. This time of year, Alaska’s river beds become a mass graveyard where staggering numbers of salmon corpses are strewn.
Salmon make the ultimate sacrifice to the creation cycle—the circle of life and death. They give themselves completely so that future generations may live. This is an act of love. What is love, after all, but the melting away of all boundaries and any sense of separateness, until all that remains is unity with the pure, formless essence of all things? In the creation cycle, form emerges from formlessness and then merges into it again. This eternal dance of creation is unfolding at every moment, in and around us. No matter what, we are destined to take part in the dance. The question is: How will we do it?
Creation requires destruction, and life requires death. That is part of the dance—part of the fun, if you will. In Deep Creativity, I describe love as one of two powerful forces driving the creation cycle, the other being joy. Through the power of love, form merges into formlessness, thought into pure awareness, the creation into the creator. Love and death are intimate partners. Both draw the entity into a condition of unity. The difference is that death is unintentional, whereas love happens wholeheartedly.
Spawning salmon are a poignant reminder that the creation cycle demands total sacrifice from us. In the end, we will give our lives to it. But if we do so with complete, unconditional love, we will never die. The reason is simple: Giving ourselves entirely to love, we leave no part of us behind. There is nothing left to die! The kind of love that Jesus and the other great spiritual masters have espoused makes us immortal, in a very real sense, because love never dies.
And so, I end with the words of Rumi: “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”