“the spiritual need is the source of human existence rather than the culmination”.
Shawn Nevins http://tatfoundation.org/forum2013-11.htm#1
The spiritual need, drive, longing, calling – whatever you name it or however you recognise it is part and parcel of the human package. But, not everyone is lucky enough to find a name for it, or I should say to have it labelled accurately and clearly articulated.
Shawn was much younger than I, in his twenties I think, when he recognised the true nature of his longing. I was in my fifties when for the first time, on my first visit to a TAT retreat I became able to accurately identify the source of my lifelong longing and unnameable discontent.
Someone at the reteat asked me what my problem was, what was I seeking in coming to the retreat. I started to ramble on about the vague sense of something not quite right that had haunted me for decades. I couldn’t name it and felt at a loss at not being able to answer the question simply and clearly. The person I was speaking to said “what you are descibing is spiritual longing” and he said to me that it was recognisable as much by the vagueness of the feeling or ability to articulate it as anything else.
This was a watershed for me. Like a patient with a plethora of symptoms finally getting a diagnosis, there was relief.
He went on to say that the nature of this “disease” was that I was misidentified with who I really am.
Despite decades of searching; reading, meditating, wondering, praying, good works, I hadn’t located the central purpose of what I was doing or why. I just couldn’t stop this kind of activity and I wasn’t making any progress, it seemed to me. TAT was another venture on this path, of course always hoping that the next retreat, book, talk would be the one that would finally give me what I wanted. As it happened, TAT was to become the final venture for me, but not immediately.
It’s one thing having your condition diagnosed, it’s another thing altogether to come to a healing of the condition.
But, having a clear understanding of the problem, along with guidance for how to heal it is a major milestone on the path. In recent years I have had several people tell me that finding the path is the greatest thing that has happened for them and each of them had thought they were already on the path and even thought of themselves as advanced seekers. Long-term is not the same as advanced.
You know it when you have finally found the road home- home to who you really are.
This is when the real work begins. This is when you accept responsibility for your own progress.
This is when the phrase “self-inquiry” takes on a new meaning.
I could make the analogy of the path home being like following a compass. True North is where home is located. The Southern hemisphere on the dial points to worldly affairs. Anywhere north of true East and West is moving in the direction of North. Anyone who sees themselves as a seeker, spiritual, religious, reflective, intuitive, philosphical, psychic, self-sacrificing, interested in the paranormal or occult, are stating their leaning towards North. They are longing to come home to themselves though they may not yet understand what is driving the search or where it is headed.
Getting a clear diagnosis (self-misidentification) and guidance for how to keep yourself pointed towards true North (finding/becoming who you really are) really is the last stretch the seeking journey.
Like Edmund Hilary who was accompanied on his great journey to the top of Mount Everest by the support of a whole expedition crew, we too have the support of the great wisdom teachings of the world. And, like Hilary we have to make the last part of the journey pretty much alone. I know he had Norgay Tenzing with him.
And, having reached the top of the mountain, he then turned around and came back down to rejoin the world. The world hadn’t changed but his life had been changed by having succeeded in his mission. I’m not saying that Hilary had seen into his true nature while on top of the mountain but making the analogy that for the seeker who achieves his/her goal of reaching true North or the top of the mountain or Home, life is experienced differently afterwards. One returns to the world with a different perspective on what life, consciousness, the world is.
It’s not a culmination of anything other than the search and having seen/ experienced our own source, the seeking ends. The spiritual need abates.