Give me that longing!

Hangover Remorse, by Jelaluddin Rumi

Muhammad said, “three kinds of people are particularly pathetic. The powerful man out of power, the rich man with no money, and the learned man laughed at.”
Yet these are those who badly want change!
Some dogs sit satisfied in their kennels.
But one who last year drank ecstatic union,
the preeternity agreement, who this year
has a hangover from bad-desire wine,
the way he cries out for the majesty
he’s lost,
give me that longing!


To Rumi the longing of the dispossessed is a site and expression of god. From the highs of being in love with life and soaring effortlessly through good and bad alike, recently I have felt lost and dispossessed of my beloved. I am longing to find my way back to myself, back to that sense of connection with creation. The good thing is that as Rumi points out, the finding is in the seeking, there is majesty and god in the longing itself. And it’s right here within us all the time. All the keys to the kingdom are nearer to me than my name, they are a part of my heartbeat.

For me part of the process of living this and not simply recognizing it as a beautiful conceit is to practice actively differentiating between longing and desire and then actively interrupting and letting go of desire. Desire wants this man right here in front of me, wants to grasp and hold; desire is a emotional manifestation of a belief in the idea of separateness and permanence. Desire can be a kind of emotional poison as it actively seeks what cannot ever be and thus leads to dissatisfaction in the face of resplendence. Longing in the context of Rumi is more like an exaltation of the essence of what we seek, a love for whatever is before us with a primary interest in the highest good for everyone and all involved. The difference is subtle, but what a difference it makes in the energy I bring to my life.

When I am longing for love, for connection, for beauty I see them everywhere flowing abundantly like water. In this space I appreciate people, flow like water myself, and hold what I do and encounter with a lightness that expects it all to flow away in its own time. When I desire love and connection I have a hard time saying good bye, I worry about loss while I am still with a person or at an event, my energy seems focused on needing to possess this particular manifestation, rather than appreciating it presently for what it is and then honoring its path as it passes away.

All of this is one thing to say and another to live, particularly when we really do love someone. Or perhaps it is even one thing to say and live and another to feel. I for one want the highest good for everyone and encourage lovers to do what they need to do, unconditionally, but still find myself desiring them, desiring their presence. Perhaps this is always the paradox of being human; even when we believe in freedom and want others to follow their hearts it is difficult to cease desiring their presence. I don’t know. Perhaps this fades with practice? I believe that they lead to each other, the speaking to the acting to the feeling.

Simultaneously, even with this paradox, for me the joy is so much more pure when I am practicing this way of experiencing. Indeed the practice grows easily when my intention is such and eventually I even find a pleasure in noticing the paradox; how beautifully human that I should care so much and desire the company of this person while also undoubtedly wanting them to go their way.

People feel this energetic shift, consciously or subconsciously, and appreciate it as well. It frees them to move on completely.

It is perhaps in the depths of longing for what we do not “have” that we are most inclined to seek it everywhere, and perhaps in doing so, find it everywhere. Rumi is the king of finding god in the absence as much as the presence, in the despair as much as the ecstasy, and that is the liberating nature of his conception of life; it doesn’t depend on what we have or where we are. Wherever you are, start there. God is in all that you do, do you see?


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