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Longing

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Longing

Conceptualizing Various Objects as the Beloved of the Heart

Ultimately, the heart cannot be deceived. As long as the Guest is not in its natural chamber, the heart is empty at its depth. That total inner poverty is not only the deepest emptiness of the heart but becomes the central void around which the ego personality forms, around which the most primitive structures of ego form. Ego activity is, in large part, an attempt to fill this emptiness, to cover up this complete poverty with all kinds of things we love and long for and want. Our ordinary thinking mind knows only what it has heard from others, or what it has learned in the process of its own evolution and development. We conceptualize various objects as the Beloved of the heart, as what will bring true fulfillment and contentment. Throughout our attempts to fulfill the longing of the heart, the search for the Beloved is veiled by the concepts of the mind. Although the heart believes it is pursuing the true Beloved that will grant final peace and fulfillment, in reality it is chasing after impostors. The heart, as a result, finds many lovers, one after the other. The heart falls in love from time to time and is happy when it finds a new love because maybe the Guest has finally arrived. Maybe this is the one. The heart conducts its love affairs one after another. The love object changes in form, depending on the stage of development, on the background of the particular individual, on the present circumstances and possibilities and so on. The love object can be another person, another toy, another activity, another job, another home, another car, another dress, really just about any manifestation in our life. The love object might be an inner state of one form or another, an idea of enlightenment, a concept of God, or a notion of the perfect relationship. We can pursue simply pleasure or love, even compassion. We accrue many lovers as we try to fill the gnawing emptiness at the depth of our hearts.

Limitation of Psychotherapy in Fulfilling Man’s Deepest Longing

Thus, we see that psychotherapy, from the perspective of the Work, stops short of essential realization. In a very fundamental way, it is unable to fulfill man's deepest longing. It can, when successful, help the personality to function more efficiently and more harmoniously. But from the perspective of the Work, we ask: To what end? The most worthy undertaking is still not attempted. The human essence still remains a potential, unactualized. As Idries Shah puts it, “It is impossible, from this point of view, to attempt to restore a mere equilibrium without a dynamic forward movement. The psychologist tries to make a warped wheel turn smoothly. The dervish is trying to make the wheel turn in order that it may propel a carriage.” It is not only that psychotherapeutic endeavors don't lead to essence; they are, contrary to all assertions, rarely ever effective in completely resolving any of the deep conflicts of the patient. The deepest and most fundamental human conflicts can be resolved completely only when the corresponding essential aspects are regained and established.

Longing for the Absolute

As I contemplate this conditioned state of the soul, I notice that I slowly become it. I finally feel myself as a person, an ego person with feelings. This clarifies my confusion of the crystal heart with the absence of heart. This person of ego recognizes only familiar emotions and feelings as the presence of heart. I experience myself now as a person who is not trying to defend or protect himself. The inner condition is naked, exposed. No more defenses, no more pretenses. There are vulnerability, helplessness, weakness, not knowing, some innocence, and a very deep sadness. The person feels all these emotions. The sense of self, with its accompanying emotional state, appears simultaneously with the ego-line, indistinguishable from it. The contraction at the ego line feels harsh and prickly; there is a feeling of deep anguish. I feel curious about this person whom I have known for most of my life, the person I have taken myself to be for many years. I wonder whether this person wants something. To my surprise, a longing arises, a longing for the absolute. I see the mysterious blackness of the absolute, and as the empty and helpless person, I feel a definite longing to annihilate into it. The longing arises first as a sad and gentle yearning. Then it gradually transforms into a deep and intense love for the absolute. The love appears after the longing, as if the longing has been hiding it. The love first manifests as an exquisitely faceted form of presence, a form that combines all aspects of essence in one manifestation. I feel it as intense, pure and selfless love, of various flavors and colors. The sweetness is heavenly, and the appreciation feels so pure it has a sense of divinity.

The Deepest Longing in Us is to Be Oneself and to Be Free at the Same Time

Some teachings about being free from ego might lead you to think that you should get rid of being a person, you should be universal and objective. But, at the deepest level, you want to be a person and be free. Where did you get that idea, that it is possible to be a person and be free at the same time? That longing must originate from somewhere. We know from our method of investigation that if there is a longing then something has been lost. If we have a deep longing, it must be for something real. We might approach the problem wrongly, we might not be clear about what is missing, but the aspiration toward it is real. How can you be a free person, be yourself, and not be controlled by ego and personality? Is it possible to be oneself without being one’s personality? That is the question: if this question is answered then our mystery is solved. Our work here is to learn how to be free from one’s personality by being oneself. The personality as a whole exists because it is taking the place of something real which has been lost. We can feel the potential for this reality in the fact of the existence of its imitator, personality. The deepest longing in us is to be oneself and to be free at the same time—not to lose oneself completely to be free. We would experience that as a loss. In fact it is not that difficult to lose ourselves, but it is not the most complete fulfillment of human experience.

The Person Longing for the Absolute Seen as a Shell Over the Mystery

The absolute is majesty; when it manifests its crystal brilliancy it also has beauty. The beauty evokes passionate love; the crystal form of love attains a deep pomegranate color. The feeling is more than love; it is more like bedazzlement. The beauty bedazzles and enchants. I feel a deep devotional and passionate love, and desire for it to take me and completely annihilate me. That is what I have always wanted. A subtle understanding further illuminates my situation. I see that when I feel increasing longing, devotion and love I become more identified as the person, the one who longs. As the longing person I am only a shell over the mystery, veiling it even while longing for it. In other words, even by loving the absolute I assert myself, as the individual, and thus become a veil over what I love. To completely have the beloved, my love must annihilate me totally. I can have the beloved when only the beloved is. This understanding reveals the loving person as a film over the heart. It is the personality showing its bare condition as a somewhat opaque, somewhat soft, layer of soul substance covering the area of the heart. Through the transparency of this personality trace I see a dark emptiness in the heart area, which I recognize as the feeling of absence of heart, or more exactly, of an empty heart. Understanding of this situation of the soul as lover affects this structure by beginning to dissolve it.

The Soul’s Fulfilment of her Deepest Longings Depend on the Realization of Her Essential Potential

The soul can develop before enlightenment, by actualizing many of her potentials, as we see in the actualization of creative and intellectual potentials. Spiritual realization is not the only development, and does not imply or guarantee other kinds of development. Realized individuals, as a result, can be developed in various ways and on many levels in relation to the various human potentials. However, the soul’s freedom and the fulfillment of her deepest longings depend on the realization of her essential potential. Only with the actualization of essence can the soul be free, completely authentic and totally serene. Essence is her true nature, without which she is estranged, lost, inauthentic, empty, and twisted. Regardless how much of her potential she actualizes, regardless how much a genius she becomes, artistically or scientifically, if she does not realize her essential nature her experience continues to be characterized by emptiness and strife, on the same level as most human beings. This is why the wisdom traditions think of their work as the most significant for humanity, as transcending any artistic, scientific, cultural, or intellectual kind of education and development. The essence of the soul stands apart from the rest of all of her potential, for it is the only possibility she has for finding true liberation and fulfillment. This is independent of history, culture, civilization, progress, and so on. Humanity can advance technologically, intellectually, artistically, and in many other ways. Such advancement can contribute a great deal to improve the lot of humanity in general, but the need for and value of the spiritual journey will perennially remain.

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