Our Search for Meaning
Pull on a sweatshirt before you step outside; it’s chilly this late at night. Ease the door shut; everyone else went to sleep hours ago.
But you’re restless. You feel like something is missing. You don’t know where to find it because you don’t know what it is.
Perhaps you’re searching for meaning. Perhaps you’re searching for your real home, for the power that created that home. You sense that “there is a Secret One inside us; the planets and all the galaxies pass through His hands like beads” – as Robert Bly writes in his rendition of Kabir’s poetry in The Kabir Book. Perhaps you want a glimpse of those hands.
If the night is dark enough and the sky clear enough, you can scan the bowl of the heavens above you. Surely what you see intensifies your search, inflames the embers of your longing. Because, if your sight isn’t blinded by electric lights, the night sky is astonishing. For a moment, you might even believe that a magnificent Creator made it all on purpose just so humans throughout time, in every place, could see something beautiful and be filled with awe.
The number of stars in the universe is unfathomably vast; we have countless points of light to astonish us. Why we’re astonished, why we’re so drawn to beauty is inexplicable. Could we be drawn to those lights because we are stardust ourselves? Scientists tell us that every atom in our bodies was forged from a fiery star.
We have ancient and powerful roots. We emerged as souls from beginnings we can’t imagine, from the region called Sach Khand, our original home. And here we are now, bound by gravity, time, matter and mind to a seemingly infinite physical creation. Yet vast as our cosmos appears, Maharaj Sawan Singh has told us that “from Sach Khand, the whole creation looks like bubbles forming and disappearing in the spiritual ocean” (Spiritual Gems).
All the millions upon millions of galaxies, our solar system, our planet, ourselves – we are so small. Bubbles forming and disappearing. Yet we are divine. As the Masters tell us, the Lord is within the soul, and the soul is within the Lord. The very purpose of spirituality is to strive to realize this truth. We can’t figure out what it means, but we can realize it, through our meditation.
Baba Ji has told us that if we want to feel closer to God, we should get closer to nature. In the natural world, we sense a yearning, a wonder that speaks to the deepest part of us. We often end up asking ourselves: How did all of this come to be? Why? What’s my place in this creation?
This is the search for meaning and for home. Millions of people believe these questions can’t be answered or aren’t satisfied with the answers religion or science give. Yet the stories we’ve told one another throughout history reflect this search, this longing to return to our source. From characters in the ancient Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh to Homer’s Odyssey to the modern Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and Lord of the Rings, we have created heroes who leave home, then yearn to return. These tales of physical return, on a deeper level, reflect our desire to return to our spiritual home.
When we are really ready for answers, we turn inward; we lean inside. Studying religion, psychology, philosophy, astrology, metaphysics; reading sacred texts; spinning through the online web – all of these activities are like reading recipes. They don’t satisfy our hunger. They may whet our appetite, but they don’t end our craving. The understanding we want is more than written knowledge. It is an experience within us, found in either the darkness or the light, the silence or the sound of our meditation.
We are told that we are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience. We are divine by nature. Though our divinity sometimes seems overpowered by anger, greed, and selfishness, our core is love.
Every culture has tried to use words to explain the inexplicable. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that the Divine wanted a physical creation and souls to occupy it in order to express love. We could say that the cosmos came into being through breath or sound or divine will. Spiritual Masters who have experienced what no one can describe tell us that love is the reason for existence. This love cannot be grasped by our intellect but rather experienced through our meditation. “Instead of getting confused in trying to understand metaphysical problems through human reasoning, try to seek Reality and to ‘know thyself’ in the spiritual way,” Maharaj Charan Singh told us in Divine Light.
This is knowledge that we can use to see beyond the here and now, to learn how life works, to make sense of who we are, to free ourselves from limitations, and to live in harmony with nature. When we remember we are spiritual beings temporarily having a human experience, new possibilities open up.
Understanding, even just a bit, that we are all divine shifts the axis of our world. Political, social, and personal events swirl around us. Nations make and break treaties, economies boom and crash, rain nourishes crops and overflows rivers. We get hired or fired, watch children being born and sometimes weep as they die, live with good health, or suffer during a pandemic.
Yet as we grasp our spiritual nature, we develop a different way of responding to the events that fill our years. Old patterns of reacting negatively begin to drop away. In fact, we may not react at all. Fear, insecurity, anger and other negative emotions gradually recede. Our hearts grow lighter. We respond more often with kindness and acceptance, with less judgment and more understanding.
Our quest might begin with wonder at a night sky ablaze with stars, but it leads to a path inside each of us. Eventually, our search for meaning takes us home.