I’ve discussed on other occasions a built-in design feature of life which Shankara called “the longing for liberation.” He said of it:
“[The] longing for liberation is the will to be free from the fetters forged by ignorance — beginning with the ego-sense and so on, down to the physical body itself — through the realization of one’s true nature.” (1)
I consider the longing to be a subtidal thirst placed within us by God which only the total dispelling of illusion through ultimate Self-Realization can relieve. The itch we can never scratch. The yearning that objects cannot fill. The desire that persists no matter how our fortunes change. That which is always experienced as being left undone.
The reason I mention it is because I’m beginning to feel it in a purer form than ordinarily. Ordinarily it’s just a low-level feeling of lack, depression, ennui. Something is missing. Something undefinable.
But the way I’m experiencing it now is more of a pure yearning for God. Of course God the Mother. The literature tells me that she will pass me on to the Father.
I notice as well that my discrimination has sharpened in the sense that when the longing appears, in one of its many forms, I no longer respond to the specificity of the form, but recognize all now as the longing. (2)
I might interpret one form as a desire for food and another as a desire for company. But I now recognize each of them, early in the process, as simply a desire for God.
I see a shell of mine that needs breaking. I resist what I see as the truth of the matter. The truth of the matter is that this process seems to reduce itself to the lover and the Beloved. I long for the Beloved.
And yet as a hard-boiled male, I resist acknowledging that that may be true. Real men don’t talk that way. Suck it up.
But my experience demonstrates to me that the longing I feel is the longing felt for the Beloved. It all seems to boil down to this.
Releasing the fetters of my beliefs, I feel the love now build. The Beloved calls.
If I forget everything else, which happens a lot these days, remind me: Steve, everything is OK. Real men do love.
(1) Shankara in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher lsherwood, Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1975; c1947, 36.
(2) Sri Ramakrishna would say that the showing up of single-minded longing for God is a good thing.
“One must be restless for God. If a son clamours persistently for his share of the property, his parents consult with each other and give it to him even though he is a minor. God will certainly listen to your prayers if you feel restless for Him. Since He has begotten us, surely we can claim our inheritance from Him. He is our own Father, our own Mother.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Nikhilananda, Swami, trans. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 384.)
“Nothing whatever is achieved in spiritual life without yearning.” (Ibid., 96.)
“Longing is like the rosy dawn. After the dawn out comes the sun. Longing is followed by the vision of God.” (Ibid., 83.)