The desire for truth is in a way a most peculiar desire, for nothing can satisfy it. For those of us who have earnestly embarked on the contemplative path for some time, we begin to realize that whatever we have imagined we have attained isn’t really our deepest desire. We are always hungering for more, and we see again and again, that what we really want isn’t tied to what we think about it. We’ve spent countless hours committing to watching our thoughts arise and pass away, committing to not harboring our thoughts. Eventually we realize that more and more, the energy of our thinking is like typing on a piece of paper without an ink ribbon; there’s no actual substance there to leave any impressions. Our longings continue, but thought energy is simply part of the energy flow; it can’t define or confine our longing in any way.
An important insight that occurred for me is that desire is the memory of pleasure, and fear is the memory of pain. Feelings of desire and fear are also simply part of the energy flow; they can’t define or confine our longing in any way. Buddha poses a very important question for us to deeply penetrate when he stated: “Sensations by themselves don’t cause suffering no matter how intense they are, it’s our clinging to ideas about them that results in our suffering.” Deeper than feelings of pleasure or pain, is wanting to know what is true, wanting to know what actually is.
We simply don’t know what our deep longing for truth actually is, but we know that it is. This is a paradox for us because we have this deep conditioning inside us that makes us convinced that longing is longing for some thing. Nisargadatta says “The happiness you can think of or long for is not the true happiness.” True happiness as he means it doesn’t come and go, and isn’t moved, isn’t pushed around by whatever experiences are going on within or outside of us. It welcomes and absorbs the pure aliveness that is in every experience. It’s what is always here, and has always been here in every experience of our lives.
Because this true happiness is always here, we don’t need to try and grasp it. We actually can’t grasp it, it is always already totally saturating us. It isn’t going anywhere, it has never gone anywhere. The paradox of longing for that which we can’t grasp, that which is always here and now, is a double bind for our egos.
A double bind is a psychological predicament in which a person receives from a single source conflicting messages that allow no appropriate response to be made. In this context of spiritual longing and surrender, whatever we try to do, whatever we long for, or try to move away from, is an inappropriate response. Our egos simply don’t have an appropriate response. But if we’re open to our emotional life, we know we are deeply moved to act while being guided by our thoughts and feelings.
So our longing that includes the deep surrender of attachment to our desires and fears, is a participatory surrender. We become willing to surrender to the life force moving us, our ego by itself has no appropriate response. When we deeply realize this, we see there is no need for us to give expression to our longing. Consciously not doing anything, is also an expression of our longing, but we no longer need to know it is our longing. This pure longing, undiluted by conscious thought or action will speedily take us to our goal of self realization, as we learn to open to the love and compassion finding us from within. Then we are more and more free to join the spirit of our true self expressing itself in the world of our daily life.