As a facilitator of programs which help to support self-actualization in individuals, I teach a wide variety of practices and techniques for transcending fear, managing anxiety, discerning, cultivating and embracing truth. Soul is what I hope to help people birth – the uniquely creative way in which they have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in their lives and through which they are called to serve the betterment of the world. With all of these programs, practices and techniques, however, I am unable to respond to one of the deepest longings of the human heart- the longing for loving, intimate, partnership. When challenged with the question, “What good is it doing all this work if I cannot satisfy the deepest longing of my heart, which is for partnership?” I find I have no response. When I look into the faces of the amazing women and men I know who are healthy, whole, magnificent and complete within themselves, intimately connected with the God (of their understanding), experiencing meaning, purpose and fulfillment through their unique giftedness: and see that behind that fulfillment remains the unfulfilled longing for love, I have no answer. These programs should help us be content no matter what our relationship status – right? Apparently NOT! Why is it that healthy, inwardly fulfilled, amazingly gifted men and women still find themselves alone and wanting because of it?
Millions of books have been written that promise the perfect formula for finding your one true love, your soulmate, your twinflame….” Professional matchmakers hang their shingle to the tune of $5000.00 with the promise of finding your true love. Are these amazing men and women alone because they haven’t perfected the magic formula or paid someone enough money to find love for them? I have a hard time believing any of this to be the cause. I cannot believe that these men and women are alone because they haven’t taken action by following the guidelines of all the world’s “dating experts.” Neither is it because they have been thinking the wrong thoughts or because they have failed to “call in the one.” I don’t believe there is some magical formula for finding love, neither do I believe there is some dark magic that holds love at bay. It just makes no sense to me – amazingly beautiful (inside and out), eligible men and women who have been unable to find an equally amazing partner to share their life with, but even more troubling is the longing that remains, in spite of the person’s contentment and wholeness within themselves. What is the cause and purpose of this longing?
Is it simply the biological drive for partnership that causes this longing? Is it really about our longing for God? Is the journey to self-actualization not yet complete because this longing remains? Are these people alone because of their decision to embrace their inner growth? Have they simply outgrown the potential field of prospects? Abraham Maslow suggested that only 1% of the population is self-actualized. Is it then a simple matter of statistics? (for the record, I believe that more than 1% of the population is self-actualized and that this figure is growing as we continue to evolve). Or is it something else? Again, the most difficult aspect to this quandary is the longing that remains. Even in the healthiest, most self-actualized people, the longing for love remains. And those who are alone can protest all they want, “I’m fine living alone. I’m content being single. Apparently God wants me to be celibate for now,” the truth is that we protesteth too much and the higher self knows otherwise. I think I’ve come to understand that the human longing for love is part of who we are and a force that cannot be contained. And until that longing is fulfilled, the longing remains.
As I further ponder this question about love and longing, two distinctly different spiritual voices emerge:
1) The Voice from the Zen Den: This voice says something like, “Longing is about wishing for something other than what one has right now. Longing leads to suffering, therefore, one must detach from one’s longing by returning to one’s mindfulness practice, bringing one’s self back to the present moment, the only place where we find peace.”
2) The Voice of the Artist: “Longing is my muse. It is in longing that I find my inspiration. Longing compels me to create and through my creativity to inspire others.”
As I sit with these voices, I realize that both of them speak truth. Longing can certainly distract us from our peace and plunge us headfirst down the road of anticipatory thoughts. As such, at times, we may find the remedy to our longing by returning to our mindfulness practice. At the same time, I have also come to recognize longing as the creative voice of the Divine trying to find its expression through us. Longing causes us to seek, to explore, to discover and to grow. Longing provides fuel for our creative endeavors. The Vikings would never have discovered America if they hadn’t had a longing to know more of the world. Alexander Graham Bell would not have invented the telephone without longing for the sound of a human voice. And with respect to love, how would God’s love ever be known in the world if it were not for the longing that compels us to seek this love? So perhaps the answer to this quandary resides within the tension of these seemingly opposite poles. Perhaps there are times when we might retreat to our inner room in search of the quiet that will still our longing, and perhaps there are times when we need to be with our longing and let it speak to us, telling us where we need to look and how we are called to give it expression in our lives.
Ultimately, I believe that this insatiable longing that we feel (even after we’ve found our “happily ever after lover”) is God trying to find expression in our world – through our own uniquely creative giftedness and in the many ways we are called to be love for one another.