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Longing- From Relationship to Religion…and Beyond

Longing- From Relationship to Religion…and Beyond

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Published by bde_gnas

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: bde_gnas on Jun 22, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Longing: From Relationship to Religion…andBeyond
By William Elliott
Judean Desert, June 2002 
“There’s blood on my hand.”I touched my fingers to my forehead and looked at them again—more blood.“Oh my God—I’m bleeding.”
I had walking near my tent on the third day of my forty days and nights in theJudean desert when I felt a sharp pain in my stomach and then dizziness andthen . . .The next thing I knew I was picking myself up off the ground. I had passed outand my face was lying in a pile of irregularly shaped and pointed rocks. I pressedagainst the ground with my hands and slowly raised myself up while spitting outpieces of stone and wiping away the last bits that still clung to my face.Then I saw the blood.“This is when the journey really starts,” I whispered to myself.I was bleeding—and it suddenly had all become so real and different. And yet theharassment by the flies and mosquitoes was nothing new. The intense heat atseven in the morning was expected. Even the deep need that I felt for someoneto save me, to take care of me, wasn’t a surprise. But still, it was all different—Iwas different.Three days earlier, a small red car had dropped me off in the desert and Iwatched as it drove off into the distance and disappeared over a hill. Thedoorway through which I had entered the Judean desert had closed that day.Actually, it was more than closed—it was gone.I’m really here, I told myself. I’m in the middle of the Judean desert where Jesuswas tempted by the devil—and I’m alone for forty days, just as he was.
And it was on this third day in the Judean desert that I first began to bleed—andthen die, over and over again.In early June 2002, I left the United States and went to Israel to spend forty daysalone in the Judean desert. I almost died in the desert.
Why would a human being do that? 
In 1985, I began writing
Tying Rocks to Clouds 
, and in 1996 I began writing
APlace at the Table 
. While writing those books, I spent every penny I had travelingthe world seeking out the people who are thought to have clues to a deeperrelationship with the divine, people like Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, DeepakChopra, Ram Dass, Marianne Williamson, and Billy Graham.
Why would a human being do that? 
A one-word answer would be longing.Religion was created in order to answer the question of longing. Religion wasmeant to foster the ultimate relationship, which is the relationship with God.Today, millions of people read relationship books in order to have a betterrelationship with their mate. But in order to have a real relationship with yourmate, at some point you have to put the book down and be with your mate. Thesame holds true with religion: at some point you must put down the book—whether it’s the Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, or the Talmud—and be with yourbeloved.Marriage is in some ways a religion. It is meant to keep one connected to one’sbeloved by a belief or law. But the point of being married is not the marriage, andthe point of being religious is not the religion. Both religion and marriage werecreated (spiritually speaking) so that eventually they could be left behind, so thata human being could experience union and unite with the object of his or herlonging.As far as I can tell, longing lies at the bottom of every human heart and it drivesus to do what we do. Whether we long for money, power, sex, or love—it isultimately the longing that drives us and not the object of the longing. Men andwomen may lead amazing or crazy or destructive or productive lives, and each ofthese lives may appear different, but actually they are very much alike becausethey are all driven by the same thing: longing. This empty feeling is experiencedat the base of the human soul. I believe each human being develops this longingsoon after birth. Longing is created because we have forgotten our Being, and
thus we long for what we believe is lost. This longing will do one of two things:will either turn toward God or turn into the desire for the things of this world. Thequestion then is, why do we have this longing? Where does it come from? Andhow do we deal with it?As Joseph Campbell pointed out in his meetings with Bill Moyers, the wordreligion derives from the Latin
, which means “linking back.” This impliesthat there is something in the past to link back to, something that we’ve leftbehind, from which we have become disconnected. For the human who hasawakened to the spiritual life, this “forgotten thing” is the most important thingthere is—because it is what we are seeking to link to, and it is Being itself.From my travels around the world I have found that the main problem of thehuman life is this: hardly anyone knows anything about the experience of Being.It is inherent in our name, “human being,” and yet hardly anyone has theconscious experience of being. Being is our true nature, it is the spirit of God, it isand always has been a part of us—and it is the largest part of us. In TibetanBuddhism, it is said that “being” is our vast nature and it is most like space.I realize now that my book
Tying Rocks to Clouds 
was an attempt atunderstanding, finding, and linking back to being. Somehow I had the sense thatI was missing something, and yet I didn’t know what it was. Like a detective whoinvestigates a murder after finding a body, I too was investigating a crime—but Idid not know what the crime was, nor was there any obvious evidence of a crime.All I had was the not-so-vague sense that something was wrong and thatsomething was being kept hidden from me.In Buddhist teachings it is said, “Nirvana is the goal and yet no one enters.”Being itself is nirvana, and only being can experience itself. The ego or sense of“I” does not enter being; instead ego is surrendered, revealing the link to beingthat has always been. Saint Paul described it beautifully when he said thisexperience of being was “secret and hidden” and that it was given to us “for ourbenefit before the world began.” Paul quoted Isaiah by saying,
No eye has seen,no ear has heard,no mind has conceivedwhat God has prepared for those who love him

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