Longing and Seeking

photo by Ray Collins

When we experience a longing for something, the mind immediately interprets longing as lack and begins seeking for the object of its desire.  The object of desire  might be water for a desert wanderer, food for a starving belly, money for an underpaid worker, a war for a warrior, a child for one who desperately wants children.  But longing does not always mean lack.  And most of our desires (those that are not linked to actual survival) come from a longing for happiness.  We want fame, fortune, a new house, car, job or partner because we believe it will bring us happiness.  The mind is always seeking for the next thing that will bring a better moment than now.  But even when the seeking stops for a moment because we have “found” our desired object, it won’t be long before our relaxation ends and the mind is after the next thing.  “Getting” something did not actually cause the momentary “happiness,” but rather the fact the mind stopped its incessant search to be somewhere else!  That is what brought the momentary peace.

But do we ever really LONG for something we haven’t known?  We might be curious about the taste of a new food, but we only long for something we have already tasted, already known.  We would not long for chocolate if we had never tasted it.  We would not long for Spring in the midst of winter if we had never known Spring. So it is with our longing for happiness, for love, for truth, for the Divine.

Our longing for God, Self, truth, love or awakening is our longing for what is already here, already awake, already whole, already free. The deepest longing of our heart can direct us Home when we follow longing to its source.  Yet, it is the mind’s act of seeking that seems to move us away from what is awake this very moment.  We long for what we do not believe we already are; yet when Truth reveals itself in its own experience, we realize the timeless Mystery has never been absent from a single moment or experience.  It moves life—including the movements we imagine are our “own.”

The mind has many ideas about what it does not know.  Yet any mental conclusion can become an obstacle to being open and present here and now.  Can we stop comparing, stop judging, stop seeking, stop moving away from what we do not know?  Can we face into the Mystery that is calling to us in our longing?  Longing is not the same as searching.  Longing is felt in the heart; seeking is an activity of mind.  Longing can break us open; seeking simply exhausts us—which, of course, may be the point!

A time may come when our longing ceases—not because we have found an object of our desire or because the mind finally “got it,” but because our longing eventually returns us Home—home to what we’ve always been.

a series excerpted from The Altar of This Moment
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