Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Message of Longing

It is not difficult to realise that we live as insatiable beings, always wanting this and that, constantly looking for fulfilment: “if I could have that car and that house, I would be happy; if I could be with that person, all my dreams would become true...” And after trying different things to achieve some goals, we see that what comes is not happiness, but the pressure of a mortgage and other preoccupations. And behind that, the longing of ever. This sense of "something missing" is always present and we never know how to deal with it. And when we don’t get what we want, we live days of disappointment, unease and fear. Even when we get what we want we still suffer because we can't hold it forever. No matter what we obtain, we always manage to exist in roller coasters that leave us unsatisfied.

Wisdom tells that trying to scape from distress and emptiness is not the solution, for this only makes the problem bigger. What we resist, persists (C.G.Jung). As the Taoists teach, we should be more like water, flowing through the points of lesser resistance.

Ancient poems referred to this condition of distress and restlessness we live, and they also showed the way of facing it wisely. Now, humans have been forgetful for thousands of years and live cultivating heedlessness. We have forgotten not only the knowledge about our role in the Cosmos, but also our spiritual and cultural roots. The longing we feel is telling us to establish a conscious connection with our roots and look inside. 

However, since decades ago there has been a tendency to look for answers in Oriental doctrines, forgetting that Occident was a harvest place of Wisdom and has its source in the same fountain: our true nature.

The seeds of the Western civilization were spread by mystics and wise men like Parmenides, Pitágoras and Empedocles [1], preparing the soil for Christianity, which thrived in the Gentile world by means of Helenistic inheritance, until it all went through the sewage of confusion, dogmatism and blood.

Paradoxically, the Western culture, now decadent, is a perfect image of restlessness and the uncontrolled desire, specially in the so called American way of life, so popular all over the world. The West lost its connection with Reality, since its inception, because nobody listened to the guides and the Master Logos, owing to the dark age in which our culture was born.

Fortunately, we still can learn from the teachings of Parmenides, Empedocles, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Socrates and the Gospels. And this tell us it is time  to stop and listen to what the present moment has to say. 

As Empedocles says to a pupil in a poem, first of all we need to listen with all our being, use all our senses to receive divine impressions. Everything is a gift from the Divine [1]

Be watchful, for you don´t know the time and the hour in which the Son of Man will come, reminded Jesus.

Our problem is that we never embrace what happens here and now, within and outside ourselves, and thus we can´t learn from is.

As soon as we feel our body and psychological state, we notice perhaps tensions and the wish to reach some relief. Longing is an intrinsic quality of life and it communicates something important that we don´t pay attention to owing to our tendency to be in a rush. 

Longing is present in the way plants grow towards the light, in the songs of birds, in the love of a man for his beloved lady, in the excitement of a child during the Christmas night, in the passion of a flutist. All vibrates and longs for returning to the source of existence.

This is why the first most important commandment given to Moses and stressed by Jesus was: You shall love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.

There is an enigmatic poem which became a stepping stone of our Western civilization. It was written by Parmenides of Elea (born in 515 B.C) and describes his journey into the Mansions of the Night, where all opposites –light and darkness, life and death, masculine and feminine– are reconciled. The poem starts as follows:

The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary road of the divinity that carries the man who knows through the vast and dark unknown.

Parmenides, far from putting his longing aside, he follows it as a thread guide. The attention to our longing may not be what we are used to, but there is no other way to real freedom. So long as we live we will feel the need for going back to the Source, not in the future, but right now.

In the Mansions of the Night Parmenides listened to the gentle words of a goddess, a revelation that mirrors our unconscious life, the nature of Reality and the way of living in tune with it. Her divine message is simple and says there is only one Way to the Truth: Being is [all] and non-being is not, namely, beyond clumsy interpretations: everything is part of the fullness of Being and it is not possible to think or feel anything outside of it. 

A truth that was later stressed by Christians like Paul, who spoke of the Pleroma or Fullness Mind of the Father

Curiously, Christians equated the numeric value of Iesous Christos with that of Being (Einai), using the system of Greek gematria, known as isopsephy. 

In all these traditions, the divine intelligence invites us to feel the loving oneness behind the chaotic world of the senses, just with one realization  described in Parmenides poem: conscious awareness (noêin) and being (einai) are one and the same. 

Far from being “thinking”, as many intellectuals believe, this means to embrace at once everything perceptible here and now, both what emerges and vanishes (including thoughts) and what never changes, the two faces of Truth-Oneness. There is nothing outside. 

Even the world of division and confusion belongs to Love-Oneness, because forgetfulness belongs to the flow of Being and Self-Remembering. 

We all have a universal mission, which is realizing this oneness, and an indivudual life mission related to our vocations. Each one of us is born with an essence that longs to be unfolded by following what shamanic and mystical traditions call the "personal song". Follow your bliss and doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else –Joseph Campbell–.

This doesn't mean that our mission is easy. Life is a great challenge, and bliss contains as much sweetness as bitterness, by embracing and transcending both, we move beyond, into what has no time nor words.
1.Recommended reading on the subject: Reality and In The Dark Places of Wisdom, by Peter Kingsley.

Note: for a nice essay on longing by Peter and Maria Kingsley:

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