Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Don’t Surrender Your Longing
When we sit and listen to stories about psychedelic experiences for a while, we start to notice some patterns. Our experiences are so poignant and personal, and yet so human. The things that make us the same really start to come front and center. Our longing and heartache are among the most obvious.
Watching all that beauty and splendor fade away at the end of a trip can really do a number on us. What a great sadness when we’re right in the presence of the Goddess, only to be pulled from her arms and placed squarely back where we started from. Having a unified experience where everything makes so much sense sense is so overwhelmingly pleasurable can create an amazing amount of dissatisfaction after the sense of separateness creeps back in.
The Sacredness of Longing and The Bhakti Yoga Tradition
Bhakti Yoga is an expression of the Hindu Religion. Bhakti translates to mean ‘Devotion to God’, and is a spiritual practice that centers around the use of emotion (mostly love!) to purify, grow spiritually, and develop a relationship with God. Bhaktis are ecstatic lovers of God, and sometimes become so immersed in their fervor that they seem mad to ordinary people. Sound familiar?
The difference is that many modern psychedelic spiritual seekers have been practicing for a short period of time and are disconnected from any sort of lineage or tradition. Bhaktas have been at it for hundreds of years. They’ve had time to develop tight-knit communities, build supportive models. They’ve written literature that details the terrain and the practices that guide the soul’s evolution.
They have stories of Krishna appearing to delight his devotees one moment, only to disappear the next. Just when they finally dry their eyes and come to terms with never seeing him again, he pops back up. He’s obviously toying with them, the ultimate Cosmic Joker, but he’s irresistible. Somehow, this divine play (Lila) is exactly what they want and need, and they are all the better for it.
Every part of the dance is sacred. The union is sacred, obviously, but so is the separation. The longing is recognized as so sweet, so poignant. It creates a softness and a tenderness in the heart. And honestly, our hearts need to be tenderized. Who among us is kinder, more understanding, more compassionate than someone who has just experienced a loss, and allows themselves to feel it fully?
If you take this medicine you can visit Christ, but you can only stay for two hours. It’s better to become Christ than to visit him.
Neem Karoli Baba (via Ram Dass)
Longing as a portal to compassion.
Neem Karoli Baba would talk to the westerners about Christ a lot. With great reverence and respect. The Americans would come to India, searching for meaning, disenchanted by the spiritual void they felt. Baba seemed to love to point them right back in the direction they came from, using Christ as the example of the highest yogi, the supremely compassionate one. He once suggested that Christ’s meditation practice was to simply, ‘lose himself in love’.
There’s something to be said remaining kind and compassionate in unpleasant situations. It’s easy to lose ourselves in love when we’re under the influence, but what about the rest of the time? Why do we let ourselves off the hook when the weather is bad, when work is hard, or when our family is fussy?
Longing is a doorway to compassion. Longing can show us how to be still and sweet in the face of loss, in instances of us not getting what we want all the time. Longing helps us to realize that other people are longing too. We’re not the only one who wants a deeper connection with something special. It’s not just us that wants to reconnect with the source. We all want to go home. We’re all on the journey together. And just as the journey is the destination, perhaps the longing is the connection.
Meditate with Longing
Meditate with Longing. Actually sit and feel it. Feel it instead of rushing back into ceremony, or distracting yourself with something else. Let it burn through your body. Weep if you must. Grieve your separation. There is a message here. There are secrets. Secrets that will make you kind and wise.