Longing for God
This may well be the deepest intrinsic desire in man: a longing for God. We long for him because we were once one with him and our souls experienced his love. And then he separated us from himself.
In a mysterious way we remember, and for the rest of our lives we seek to re-experience, relive and return to that love that we once felt. In fact, if we let ourselves feel this separation fully, we suffer. This sense of emptiness never goes away – and it shouldn’t, since it is the driving force of our existence. But all too often we suffer so much that we try to ignore the emptiness we feel, or fill it with something else, or someone else.
What love can we feel here on earth that will make us forget the love of the Creator? How many times do we rush to obtain a temporary satisfaction in order to quell the dissatisfaction? Yet this suffering is our greatest good. What would happen to us if we stopped feeling this emptiness and restlessness? We would, without question, stop seeking God. If we were satisfied, why seek for more?
Maharaj Charan Singh told us that this longing or loneliness is the Lord’s way of pulling us to him:
If we didn’t feel that feeling of loneliness within ourselves, then perhaps nobody would think about the Father. If these outside faces and objects could hold our attention and make us happy permanently, forever, nobody would think about the Father. We react back, we rebound back from all this, and then we turn to the Father to seek that bliss and peace and happiness within.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
The insatiable longing in our heart is the prayer that never ceases. And it is the prayer that God answers by drawing us closer to him. This restlessness makes us remember our Creator and seek him whether consciously or unconsciously. Often it develops into a sense of deep loneliness.
The Masters tells us that loneliness is natural because it is a subtle expression of our soul’s longing to meet the Lord. Often, we may feel a deep void as the world may lose its charm. This feeling of emptiness and disenchantment has great value if properly understood and acted upon.
Loneliness drives some people to destructive behaviour, and so it can seem like a curse. But it can be a blessing if we allow it to drive us within and bring us to the Master. We must choose how to handle it. The Masters advise us to turn to the Lord to ease our loneliness. From meditation we get peace and comfort, therefore meditation is the only option.
Let’s think of the moment we last experienced a closeness to our Master. Although these moments are rare, this experience of closeness allows us a taste of his love for us. But we get distracted by life. Instead of craving a deeply satisfying love for the Lord, we settle for a house, a family, a few friends, a job, a TV, and a yearly vacation. Our souls are starving!
Even if we have possessions or even success, we will never find real or lasting satisfaction. This hunger is not a mere physical or emotional hunger. It is a hunger – a hunger from God and for God. Some may not know they long for him because they don’t know him. And yet, the core battle in everyone’s life is to know God, to worship him, to experience his presence, hear his voice, trust him in everything – even when he seems to disappear.
The paradox of our time is that we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences but less time; more medicine but less wellness. We read too little, watch too much TV, and meditate too seldom. While we are gaining understanding about our world, have we grown in our knowledge of the Creator of the world? Despite everything that is available to fill our hunger, it’s obvious that something is still missing. Evidence of that is seen in all the emptiness, broken relationships, shattered dreams, substance abuse, and acts of violence that surround us.
Yet in a deeper sense, these aren’t so much the problems as they are symptoms of a larger problem. The deeper issue is that we try to fill up that ghastly hole in the pit of our stomachs that is really in our souls. We try to fill it with food, with power, with relationships. But this is a hunger for God, and the only possible food is meditation. The only place to invest our heart, soul, mind, and strength is with our Master, and him alone, because he too longs for his disciples. His heart rejoices when we draw near to him through meditation.
We are drawn to the path because we are hungry for love. However, the big question is: What is our capacity for love? How much hunger do we have? In Die to Live Maharaj Charan Singh says this about longing :
It is a gift from the Lord. You can’t create it. He creates his own longing, the longing for himself. I don’t think there is any way to create that longing at all. He is the One who created that yearning and longing within the Saints. Meditation strengthens that longing and helps us to rise to the level where we can experience that longing, and ultimately merge into that Being.
God is self-sufficient and needs nothing to be complete. Yet he loves us so much, so overwhelmingly, that he wants us to benefit from his abundant blessings. We may not always feel that he longs for us, but he plays a game of hide and seek with us – to make us long for him.
In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, the Great Master tells us that longing is created in the disciple when he is unable to get what he yearns for. When the mind finds little apparent progress despite its labour, he says, it grows restless and begins to feel a sense of separation from the Master. And it’s this longing that burns up worldly attachments and desires and eventually makes us fit to travel inwards to where the soul wants to go.
By separation from the physical form of the Master, a deep longing is produced to meet him inside. And when a devotee does not see the form inside, the absence of the form produces restlessness and anguish in the mind. This is when we are given the great gift of yearning. But in order to nurture that deep spiritual longing, which will take us to the Master within, we have to do our part. The journey of Sant Mat can take the disciple to the innermost level of Truth, but it is up to the disciple to travel there. The Master can tell us about the Truth and point us to it, but he cannot experience the Truth for us.
A mature level of devotion is one where the disciple realizes that the true Master is always close, even when he feels so very far away. Meditation is the way we have to keep calling him. Meditation is the means by which we keep trying to direct our attention inwards and upwards to bring us to that state where we will finally become intimate with the real Master, the Shabd Master – the Radiant Form which we long to see. It’s then that we’ll come to experience real love for the one for whom we’re yearning.
In Light on Sant Mat, Maharaj Charan Singh says:
Love for the Master comes by having darshan inside, that is, by seeing him inside. It is only then that the feeling of real love springs up. In the beginning we have to practise it more or less. If we carry out his wishes and commands and follow his instructions faithfully, a feeling of confidence and love springs up; and it also leads to darshan inside, which further promotes and strengthens his love.
Our Master is more eager for us to be successful in our journey than we ourselves are. His sole purpose for coming into this world is to bring us into the presence of his Radiant Being, which will take us up to become one with the Creator again.
Still, the path we walk to meet his Radiant Form is long and slow, and it may sometimes feel as if we’re travelling this road alone. And it will remain so until we become conscious of him within. And then, at last, we will realize that we were never alone.
One day your heart
will take you to your lover.
One day your soul
will carry you to your Beloved.
Don’t get lost in your pain,
know that one day
your pain will become your cure.
Azima Melita Kolin & Maryam Mafi, Rumi – Hidden Music