I got to see one of my favorite people this week – a friend who is more like a big brother or super-cool uncle than a friend. One of my favorite things about this dude is the sort of wild and creative deeply mystical conversations we can get into — it’s just all kinds of fun.
This time, we didn’t have spades of time to dive deeply into the conversation, so we did a condensed, preview version instead, of a conversation we’ll have sometime in the next few weeks. It went something like this:
Me: “So, the big idea I’ve been grooving on lately is that everything is already perfect.”
Him: “Wow. I’ve been on the opposite side – looking at the universe as inherently failure.”
Me: “I think it’s the same thing.”
Needless to say, I’m greatly looking forward to having the time and the space to really explore this notion. Here’s what I’ve got so far…
I’ve been writing, for the past few weeks, among other things, about how desire drives creativity; how longing drives creation/evolution. And here’s the thing: if the longing stops, I believe that the creation stops. Which means that the longing can never, ever be satisfied…because that would be the end; because there wouldn’t be any more-ness after that, and that would be tragic.
Which leaves us with a universe in which we continually strive, we continually reach, we continually desire, we continually long…and we always fail to satisfy that longing. In that way, I agree with my friend, that everything in the universe is inherently failure. I also think that it is our very longing and failing to satisfy the longing that spurs us onward, and in that way I hold that it is all perfect. There’s a certain symmetry to this paradox that I like; it’s a way of perceiving the Universe that is working for me: everything is failure/everything is perfect. Yes.
It feels in line with my own experience. Because I know a thing or two about unsatiated desire. And don’t we all? I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t live with longing. And I think that’s the point – not to satisfy our longings, but to live with them. To dance with them. To feel the awe at what is created by dancing with desire…and to feel the ache of how the creation falls short of the original longing.
I think there’s a Holy Joy that comes from living creatively. And I think there’s a Holy Grief that goes hand in hand with it. And I think there’s something exquisite about being able to feel the joy and the grief at once, not as two opposing forces but as one full experience of Ultimate Reality.
We long for something. We surrender to that longing. We work to bring it into being, and let go of any ideas we might have about how it needs to manifest, or what the manifestation needs to look like. And then something emerges. And we celebrate it, fully, because it is an emergence that grew in answer to our longing. And we mourn it, fully, because it cannot fully satisfy the longing. And then we do it all again: a perfection of inherent failure.
Over time, in this dance of joy and grief, there is a sense of contentment-in-yearning that emerges. A Divine Dissatisfaction that keeps us just uncomfortable enough to keep evolving; just connected enough to keep grieving the insatiability of total connection; just satisfied enough to keep delighting in the longing for total satisfaction.
It’s the ache in our hearts when a lover kisses us like the moment will never end, because eventually the moment will end. It’s the twinge in the pit of our stomachs when we see a gorgeous sunrise, that says “nothing will ever match this beauty.” It’s grief with joy and joy with grief. It’s desire with satisfaction, where the desire is total and the satisfaction partial.
One of my favorite Tantric texts, Dasa Mahavidya by Shankaranarayanan, says it like this: “Desire is the secret of creation. Desire is the root of manifestation. Desire is the mainstay of existence.”
The Divine Dissatisfaction, bringing with it endless joy and endless grief; endless pain and endless pleasure. Endless expression and endless frustration in the inability to fully express. Infinite experience of Ultimate Reality, spurred ever-onward in its evolution by this one constant: Insatiable Longing.