Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Emptiness And Longing

Many of us are not physically alone most of the time. We are surrounded throughout our day by many other people. Yet, many of us feel some gnawing at our soul. Something seems to be missing. We feel a void we can't explain and seldom can fill. Much of our lives are spent trying to fill this emptiness using a variety of means. What is this feeling? Although it sometimes feels like loneliness, I am not sure that's it. I bet there are some people who don't feel lonely at all but still sometimes feel an emptiness, a void, or a sense of longing for something they can't quite put their finger on. These feelings are sometimes perceived as boredom. What do we do when we are bored? Sometimes we eat or go shopping. Other times we may allow ourselves to get lost in some trivial and mind numbing television. I often sit in my chair, play some music, and stare out my window in a daze. Other times I take a nap. Whatever we do, one thing is without a doubt. Most of us do whatever we can to avoid these feelings. We seldom want to face the loneliness, the emptiness, or the boredom. Whatever our life's circumstances I believe we all have these feelings sometimes. Some have them more than others and a few find them debilitating. I believe they are all symptoms of a spiritual longing. I think this is true even if you are a person who never thinks about spiritual things. There's no perfect lifestyle, no perfect relationships, no perfect job, and no perfect activity that will totally fill all the spaces in our lives and allow us only pleasant feelings. No matter how perfect our lives may seem there will be these occasional feelings that something is missing. OK, I accept that and I believe it. Acceptance is still not the same as understanding. What is this emptiness? Am I lonely? Why do I have these feelings and what are they saying? I don't really know. Are they the result of some deep psychological need that I do not yet understand or an even deeper spiritual need that can only be filled by God through a transformation of my own heart? Can the loneliness and the emptiness and the void only be filled by a complete surrender to a power that I don't really understand and cannot see? Is this need for something I don't understand what drives me to act in ways I don't understand to achieve an end I don't understand either? Is my whole life to be filled with this restlessness? If so, then I am extremely grateful for the moments of calm that enter my life unexpectedly and give me rest.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You may like to read the Eckhart Tolle books, The Power of Now, and the New Earth. Both describe the feelings you refer to, and are interesting to read. Like so many books tho, the advice is too simplistic or difficult to actually employ on a regular basis.

bob said...

The buddha described it well, that feeling of emptiness,described as Dukkha or unsatisfactorness, the longing and craving to occupy our minds with happiness and pleasure. Seeking to find something that is external to fill the void, this while the happiness we seek is within, in the stillness of our minds.

Anonymous said...

Great observations. I am sharing your feelings right now as I write this. The Tolle books are good. The reality is that our awareness is always bound to conext and society while in the body, and a society that is often superficial and cruel. What is awareness? I think, though extremely painful, following those feelings might lead to some profound places, but to do so requires courage, and staying with the waves in a context that pretends the waves aren`t there....