Something’s Missing

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 A pressure often felt, but perhaps not readily acknowledged, is the enormous pressure to act as if you have it all together, even though you don’t. 

 For instance, you had better say at this time of year (Xmas, 2013) that you had a great Christmas!, even if all hell broke loose when the relatives arrived. 

 The pressure is to practice the art of faking it, to pretend that all is well, though it isn’t. 

 It therefore seems to me some kind of breakthrough into humility and openess when finally someone can say to herself and perhaps confide in another: 'There’s something missing in my life, not just now at Christmas, and not just at midnight on New Year’s Eve where the fakery reaches its dismal heights, but the whole year round.'

 'There really is something missing,' the open, searching heart admits. Something vital, something essential, something at the core, is missing. 'I will not deny it anymore.'

 As someone told me: 'I wake up every morning saying to myself, 'Is this all there is?’ This is someone, by the way, whose public persona is an impressive show of ’togetherness.' 

 It was an honest statement, however, that drew only respect from me, for it’s the statement of a self-aware person, which could lead to a diligent search for the missing something more.

 This feeling that something’s missing, that something’s not quite right, is well expressed in a bhajan (an Indian devotional song) where the poet, Gujaret, sings: “I have spent my whole life like this.” 

 That is, the poet is disclosing that something’s been missing for all of his days. The yearning for something more is now calling to him more than it ever has. 

 Thus he continues in a state of great vulnerability: “I see that my life is ending soon; I am losing my life. I do not find light in my consciousness; I do not see light in my body. O Lord, give me one spark of your light!” (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Kindle my Heart, p. 133)  

 He asks for but "one spark” of the Divine Light. He does not want to die without having experienced the awakening of the inner fire, on some level! 

 He does not want to come to the end of his life still burdened and weighed down, discouraged, disappointed and disillusioned with it all.

 Perhaps the poet is someone who spent his life ‘getting and spending and laying waste my powers.’ (Wordsworth) If so, it's the old, old story of focusing everywhere but in the direction that really counts. 

 But, of course, as these things go, just as soon as one prays in an open and vulnerable way, the mind then swoops in, takes over and diverts one’s attention from any continuing inquiry.

 The restless mind typically puts on armor and goes into a protective mode to prevent self-awareness and growth, and it’s right back to playing the game that everything’s fine, when it isn’t. 

 As well, since the searching has not persisted, it is then replaced by the unending speculations that if only something external were to change that the emptiness would be filled up.

 Thus, the fidgety, squirming mind comes up with the idea that 'I need a new job, a new spouse, or a very long vacation!' Or it imagines that ‘if I lived there, not here, I’d be happy.'

 Or the nomadic mind imagines: ‘Maybe if I was with that big hunk of a man, Bob, not Fred, I’d be happy!’ Or, maybe my answer is to lose 50 pounds.’ Maybe? Well, there’s always something...

 I once heard someone say: ‘I didn’t want to come home after the cruise!' I wanted the boat to just keep on sailing the world!’ Surely, of course, she’d discovered the certain path to enlightenment. The answer - how could she have been so foolish as to not realize it? - the answer is to sail till I drop deadThe ill at ease mind reels off into endless fantasies about everything except the consideration that an inner solution is the answer. 

 It appears that almost everyone looks everywhere for the answer except inside his own heart! And yet it is there, say all the great sages and seers, in the experience of deep meditation, that we will find what we have longed for in our best moments.

 We may think that meditation couldn’t possibly be what our heart is yearning for. It is thought that that’s too simple a solution, along with being perhaps not quite one's style, because of its strangely foreign nature.

 One therefore brings up associations of ‘crazed nuts in loin cloths’ or ‘deranged new-age types.’ Or it is recalled that the church issued warnings about the dangers of ‘going inside’, where only demons will be found. 

 But the meditation focus is not foreign, dangerous, or heretical! Nothing could be more natural than meditation.

 The practice of meditation is the remedy, the one thing needful, for that restless condition of feeling that something’s missing.  

 For the fact is that the mind can become quiet. Indeed, it’s restless because it’s asking for attention. The restless mind would actually like to rest in the heart. It would like to become so aligned.

 And when it relaxes, one's entire outlook changes. It is possible to feel, as practitioners have testified, a sense of all of your dreams coming true in the meditative state.  

 If we do not meditate, if we do not go inside for the spark to be kindled, we will find ourselves continually restless and wondering what’s wrong. 

 Without this practice, we will always feel that something is missing, as Gurumayi says will be the case, “even in the midst of beauty, even if surrounded by beautiful mountains, beautiful lakes, beautiful land, beautiful paths, and beautiful people.”

 That is because “when the spark is not lit inside, we will always feel that we are lacking something, and often not know what is. We think we feel this lack because something external is missing, and we keep on trying to find out what it is. But what we are looking for, what we are longing for, is the kindling of the inner flame that will reveal God to us.” (G) 

 I love the story of the dialogue between a husband and his wife in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. 

 Yajnavalkya announces to his wife, Maitreyi, that the time has come for him to go forth from the worldly life. 

 His wish is to retire to the woods to fast, meditate and pray. He relishes the idea that, having raised the kids and sold the family business, that he can now, without distractions, engage in spiritual practices to prepare himself for the immensity of the life to come after death.

 I love his wife’s response: (in so many words) ‘Hold on, Yajnavalkya! Slow down, fellow - you’re moving way too fast! Don’t leave without me! Don’t leave me here! I want to go with you!' This wife is no shoe shopper, but an inquirer, a searcher.

 Yajnavalkya had offered to leave all of his property and worldly goods to Maitreyi, but she didn't care and stated: “My Lord, if I could get all the wealth in the world, would it help me to go beyond death? Of what use are money and material possessions to me?  Please, tell me, Lord, of the way that leads to immortality?” Well, Yajnavalkya was married to a live one, a woman with a pilgrim’s heart and understanding. 

 Thus he expresses delight at his wife’s interest. “You have always been dear to me and and I love you even more that you have asked me about immortality. Sit here by my side and reflect deeply on what I say.”

 As a couple, at this stage of their lives, they enter into a shared search for truth and understanding, forming now more than ever, a truly spiritual relationship.  

 We get a little taste of their dialogue in the text when Yajnavalkya starts to talk about what is most truly dear in any object of attention. 

 What is dear, he says, what really counts, is when you see that all things  radiate the wonder of God.   

 What makes anything dear is the shining Self manifesting through it.   When, he says, a husband loves his wife, what is loved is the Light that radiates through her being. Similarly, when a child is loved, you are seeing the radiance of God through the child.

 What is dear in anything is the perception of it as an expression and revelation of the Highest, of God. What makes everything dear is the sense of the transcendent dimension shining through.   

 Sometimes you meet someone and you see that she is not living for herself alone, for her worldly ambitions. You sense that something else is going on with her, something deeper. Something is different about her. She appears to be related to some great love that seems to flow through her. 

 We say: ‘She has something. She has something I don’t have.‘  

 That’s what I’m talking about in this article. Some folk have found a rich inner life through the practice of meditation. The Light within appears to shine out through their eyes. They’ve found what’s missing.

 My sense is that our greatest need is to allow the heart to open and to be bathed and saturated in the Divine light and love. 

 My conviction is that it’s worth all to drop everything with a thud in order to experience the kindling of the heart.

Om Namah Shivaya, Julia Elena