Reading through the writings of the various Christian mystics I noticed a repeating theme of love or passion for God. This love is often accompanied by urgency and eagerness to experience the fullness of the union with Him. This brings me to wonder about the place of love and passion in my own practice.

There was a time that my practice was characterized by urgency and eagerness. This urgency, however, was focused on the need to attain and the need to become; this was a form of spiritual materialism and very different from the love described by the mystics. I’ve looked at this desire for attainment before and often with a critical eye. However, I think there was an aspect of this urgent desire to wake up that was motivated by an honest passion for truth and freedom. I’ve often ignored this aspect of myself, perhaps because I find it easier to focus on the negative; I think it is time to look at it more deeply.

I’ve always enjoyed it when things came together and made sense. I find an aesthetic pleasure in clear understanding and in elegant solutions. I enjoy seeing the system through learning how the parts fit together. To a large degree my spiritual search is driven by the desire to bring this same kind of understanding to my own self as a thinking, feeling, living being and then to the world at large and my place in it. I can only have myself when I understand myself and I can only be a part of the world when I see how I fit-in with the complex systems around me. What I yearn for is the knowledge that I am OK and the felt sense of belonging

For a while, this was largely a cognitive exercise but it became something much larger as I’ve grown to include other ways of knowing. The recognition of wholeness cannot be reduced to an intellectual understanding; it must permeate through all levels of being including the somatic, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. In fact, these way of knowing have always been a part of me but I’ve always allowed the intellect to claim ownership of their insights. In my spiritual search I’ve had to consciously widen the net to include all of those ways of knowing but I’ve not always found the right balance to strike.

Lacking a cultural framework to contain this search left me at times feeling lost. In fact, the search for such a framework has been part of my quest as well. I’ve found that the different systems I’ve encountered along the way have all been helpful in some way, however, they’ve also been frustrating. I often found myself struggling with some aspect or another of a spiritual system and again disappointed that I could not find the whole answer in Buddhism or Advaita, etc. What I was missing is a clearer understanding of what I’ve described here and permission to truly find my own way.

Often I’ve found that the biggest block for me in accepting a certain religion or practice was the image of God as something separate of myself. Even though many mystics describe what appears to be a non-dual understanding of God, I see wholeness as completely internal. Wholeness is a property of me, it is not a thing that I am, rather whole is the way that I am. Making this change has been difficult, I’m uncertain as I appear to be following an uncharted path that I have not yet explored fully and I have yet to give myself permission to do so.