When we feel all alone, whether we’re actually alone or in the midst of a crowd (and sometimes we can feel intensely alone while surrounded by people!), we can be forgiven for feeling that we are lost in an endless desert, a wasteland bereft of any emotional fulfilment. We feel that nobody is our true friend – no one will understand or care for us.
We may be forgiven for imagining that the resolution to this feeling may be found in relationships with others in this material creation. We may seek the fulfilment of our unrequited desires in sensory indulgence of all kinds. But this does not give us lasting fulfilment. At best we may feel a brief sense of pleasure, only to be plunged once more into an abyss of loneliness and depression. Once more we are faced with the dark demons of our deep unspoken need.
Could it be that we ourselves do not even really understand what this need might be and what it would take to satisfy it? Because no matter how hard we try, we seem to come no closer to the solution. The worst of it is that every time our efforts fail and we find ourselves once more having to confront our deep sense of loneliness, it seems to be worse than before; we feel more desperate, and our options seem to have decreased somehow. We feel diminished.
Why is it that we seem to fail continuously, and our inner need just seems to get more and more intense? What is this nameless craving that simply will not go away? The fact that we seem to get no satisfaction from even the best that the world has to offer gives us cause to wonder… When this has gone on long enough, we start to doubt ourselves and we start to think that in fact the fault must lie with us. After all, everyone else seems to be happy and contented. Only we seem to be the one who is sitting alone in the dark, feeling out of place in this material world.
What is it that separates us from the rest of humanity? In most things we are no different from everyone else, but in one important respect we seem to deviate from the common fold. We have ceased to believe that there really is anything out there for us. We have stopped believing that we will ever find happiness in this world.
And so now, exhausted after so long a journey, we have arrived at the station where we have lost faith in the pursuit of happiness in this material world, but we have still not managed to assuage the profound need within us. In fact, it could be said that only now are we actually acknowledging this need and are trying to come to terms with it. What is it this need actually? Where does it come from? Perhaps this defines what we mean by a seeker: one who has arrived at this state and now seeks to discover what his need is, where it comes from and where it is leading him.
So we search high and low. We read piles of books, we investigate religion and philosophy. We research arcane and obscure sects and beliefs in the hope that they will provide answers. But no: in each case, after we find something interesting, something that has potential – after the brief initial excitement that here is something that might be the answer – we lapse into the old familiar depression when we realize that this too is just another empty vessel, devoid of any substance or value in our quest. Eventually we get to the point where our shoulders sag and we finally reach the stage where we say, “I give up!” It seems that once again we are mistaken; perhaps this existence really is all there is. Perhaps ours was just a vain hope, a fool’s hope …
But the truth is that there is an answer. We merely needed someone to point out that truth to us, to show us the reality of our situation. In fact, there is an ancient tradition which teaches us that our ancestry is not of this world.
We do not actually belong here. We are descended from the very Creator of the universe. We are the sons and daughters of the divine One. Our personal truth is not this body, not this mind. The true essence of our being is an immortal entity that is soul or spirit.
Way back in the beginning, we were with the Father and in a state of bliss. For reasons that we cannot now remember, we went out from our Father’s house and entered the realm of his creation. We went happily, exploring all the wonders that the Creator had put there for us to discover. It was all according to his plan for our further spiritual development. So on we went, experiencing the various regions, until we entered the realm of mind. Here we started taking on coverings in order to function in these dense and dark places. As we penetrated further into this environment, our connection to the Father became weaker and weaker as our attention was absorbed in all the phenomena that we encountered and which so entranced us. At last we entered the physical domain, and the assault of the senses on our soul and mind so overwhelmed us that we totally lost any conscious connection with the Divine. We felt utterly alone.
Now the souls, covered by various layers of mind and matter, became responsible for the consequences of their actions, and so began the long cycle of birth and death, of reincarnation through all the various types of bodies into which the soul may come in this world. In the context of exploring all the possibilities for pleasure and satisfaction, the soul has pretty much gone through every different kind of experience that is possible in the creation. And although we do not, for the most part, carry any memories of our past lives, we suspect that there is nothing out there that we have not at some time been or done before.
So it is that we come to the point where we feel as though we have run into a metaphysical brick wall. We have exhausted our resources. Our intellect has finally admitted defeat. It is very much akin to the story of the prodigal son in the Bible, where he finds himself at last exhausted, bankrupt (both physically and morally) and literally face-down in the pig swill, and wonders to himself: “How has it come to this?”
And just as in the biblical story, we now start to search for greater meaning, knowing at last that the world’s offerings are extremely limited and do not meet our soul’s requirements. We have consciously entered the state of longing. Initially we do not understand this feeling: it is the soul longing to return to the Father.
While we turned our backs on the Father and forgot about him, he never forgot us. All these long ages he has been keeping his eye on us, guiding us through the pathways of the creation, so that we could learn that there is nothing here to substitute for him. Even with the whole universe at our feet, our soul’s longing did not decrease one iota. The lesson has been learned. The wandering soul has turned around after eons of journeying through time and space, and is now homeward bound.
One could say that the moment we started seeking, we were destined to be found. And so it came to pass that we found ourselves finally on the road leading to our true home. In the final analysis we are not really alone. It seems that we never were. The Lord in his wisdom has always been keeping a keen eye on our development and progress.
And yes, there has been progress, and that progress continues, even though we sometimes feel we have cause for doubt. But now, by the fact of our initiation into the path by our Master, we are consciously engaged in travelling home. One day, we are assured, we shall enter the great hall of the divine One himself – there to experi-ence the final reunion of the wayward soul with its Creator, there to dwell forever in the consummate bliss of union with the Beloved.