We have an aching longing for many things in life – we pine for a deceased loved one, hanker after a position that brings us fame and prestige, long for a bigger house, fatter salary, power and pelf. The reality is that all these create a desire for things and people, which diminish us. We are meant to have an aching longing only for God because He is the only one who can lift us to the state of the divine.
Kabir Das called God the breath of all breath. Rabindranath Tagore described this longing for God: “I am restless, I am athirst for far away things. My soul goes out in a longing to touch the skirt of the dim distance. O Great Beyond, O the keen call of thy flute. I forget, ever forget, that I have no wings to fly, that I am bound to this spot ever more.”
Longing is something we have by nature. Positively, we long for the truth, eternity, peace, love and appreciation, for support. Ne gatively, we long for many unhealthy things, like more wealth, out of sheer greed; we have selfish desires, sometimes develop a craving for toxic things like cigarettes and alcohol; we long for a higher position to put others down and to prove ourselves superior.
When we long for impermanent things, they can never satisfy us. They leave us with a deep inner loneliness and sense of despair.
Teresa of Avila, the Christian mystic, said: “Let nothing disturb thee … All things pass, God never changes … He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” St John of the Cross says that the soul is wearied and fatigued by its desires. Desires disturb it, allowing it not to rest in any place or in anything whatsoever. Desires cause greater emptiness and hunger. He says that darkness and coarseness will always be with a soul until its appetites are extinguished. He compares the appetites to a cataract on the eye or specks of dust in it; which until removed obstruct vision.
A pure vision is one that allows us to see reality as it is. It brings us a sense of completion when every other thing has failed. It gives us a sense of being united to God and therefore to all of his creation.
Despite all the falsities we are or may be caught up with, there is implanted in our very nature a longing for the truth. If we seek God, we will seek the truth. We will experience his benevolence in our lives. A beautiful hymn captures this longing: “Like the deer that pants for running waters, so my soul longs after you. You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship you.”
The desire to see God face to face is the deepest longing in every human being. But, we are sometimes not aware of our deepest longings. In our day-to-day transactions we either neglect to love and relate to others meaningfully, or seek pleasure in devious things. Some of us are unaware of the daily presence of God in our midst. But once we become true seekers, we shall at once be able to sense His presence and see Him. We have to first purify ourselves of every other heart’s desire and long for Him alone.