What if you discovered something life-changing — something that could improve life for everyone — but nobody wanted to hear about it?
About 12 years ago, I discovered the germ of an idea that was astounding to me. It hit me out of the blue. It was an epiphany that I didn’t ask for and which I didn’t control. I immediately knew it was true and I knew it was important, but I couldn’t put it into words simple enough to explain it to others.
The idea was so abstract that my heart felt it more than my brain reasoned it. I knew it would change everything — for me and for others — if I could ever fully work it out. But it remains so abstract and so instinctive for me that others look at me blankly when I try to explain.
Ready? Here it is.
You do not want the real-world things you think you want.
And I don’t want the things I think I want, either. Instead, we all want — and need, require, crave, thirst for — an inner state of being which we can’t consciously understand. Our hearts know this instinctively and abstractly, but our brains completely misunderstand — and our conscious reasoning leads us astray.
Please don’t tune out. Not yet.
I don’t know much about Eastern philosophy, but I have a feeling that their state of nirvana is at least somewhat similar to what I have in mind. I’m not saying that my idea is Buddhist or Hindu in nature. Not in the least. I’m just saying that the idea of “nirvana” is as close as I’ve been able to come to explaining this inner state that we crave.
Here’s one definition of nirvana in the philosophical sense: “A state in which the mind, enlightened as to the illusory nature of the self, transcends all suffering and attains peace.”
That’s not exactly what I have in mind — and I have a feeling that Buddhists and Hindus would have deeper ways of explaining their ideas of nirvana, too — but this word is a decent placeholder for something that’s so abstract I can’t explain it.
Imagine a state in which you experience oneness with God, with nature, with everyone and everything all around you — and you feel perfectly loved, perfectly accepted, perfectly “good enough.” Imagine the feeling of exhilaration and perfection you feel from your ultimate experience of beauty or music — or whatever gives you a feeling of transcendent oneness between your spirit and God.
You say you haven’t experienced that lately? Or maybe you’ve never experienced it? Maybe that’s because we spend our time and effort trying to experience what the conscious brain tells us to pursue instead — and the things which we pursue are a direct reflection of our unconscious fears of not finding that state of oneness with God.
I struggle to put this process into words, because so much of it is still abstract to my conscious mind. But I’ve seen it play itself out in my own life.
The human life that we live in this fallen world leaves all of us full of fears, even though most of those fears remain invisible to us. I’ve encountered people who don’t believe this is true of them, but I’ve never yet found a single person who didn’t have such fears if I could dig deeply enough. I’m confident that we all have them — and my suspicion is that those who are least aware of their fears are those with the most hidden terror inside.
The things we consciously pursue in life are caused by our unconscious reaction to those hidden fears.
Someone who fears he’s not good enough — that he’s somehow corrupted and irretrievably broken inside, for instance — works hard to be good, to be loved, to be accepted. He unconsciously wants that state of oneness with God, but since he doesn’t feel “good enough,” he spends his life trying to perfect himself and everything around him — in a completely unconscious drive to make himself good enough for something which he can’t even consciously visualize.
Another person works for success and public approval from others, because this person fears he’s nothing unless others admire him, praise him and see him as worthy of being lifted up. He unconsciously believes that other people’s approval will make him good enough to be worthy of this spiritual oneness he craves — even though he has no idea this is what he’s doing.
Other people have different desires, but whatever those conscious desires are, they are things which their conscious brains have told them will get them closer to this instinctive state which they can’t even understand.
Some people seek pleasure, thinking that will pull them closer to something important. For others, it’s material things or fame or power or a thousand different lusts.
But all of these things we consciously pursue are simply a negative reflection of the positive state which we ultimately need — and which mostly remains hidden from us. In other words, the things you pursue most are the things which you have concluded — instinctively, most likely — will take you past the things you fear the most.
And the things you fear the most are the things you unconsciously fear will keep you from the state of oneness with God which you unconsciously crave.
The closer you come to understanding your real fears — and the closer you come to understanding the state which your heart actually desires — the more readily you can throw off the negative pursuits which keep you chasing after things which will never give you what you need.
For me, this spiritual evolution — which is also emotional and psychological — led me to shed many of the desires which were once so important to me. The closer I come to understanding this abstract spiritual state which I need, the more I can drop the pursuit of worldly things which can never get me what I need.
When I was younger, I chased success, money and power. I lusted for great success and ego satisfaction. I was certain those things would make me happy. In truth, I was simply afraid that I was not good enough — and I thought that having other people praise me and admire me would make me worthy of something which I couldn’t quite understand.
At the time, I thought I wanted those things all for themselves, but when I finally understood what they stood for, they became almost meaningless. And once they became meaningless to me, they seemed completely pointless to pursue.
Today, I crave love and understanding and intimacy most of all. I do want those things — as every human does — but I suspect that I could find those without a partner to love me and without a family around me, if I could get past my fears and achieve this spiritual state alone.
The deeper I get in trying to explain this abstract idea to others, the more my coherent reason and explanation break down, but I’ve been trying for years. And I keep trying.
When I experience certain things in this life — such as through music or feeling the beauty of nature — I can feel something that’s deep and profound, something that goes beyond what is consciously rational.
When I experience some form of delicate beauty that seems perfect — such as the sunset above which I watched Wednesday night — I feel a state of oneness with God and with everything. It’s only for a moment. It’s not a rational and conscious thing I can explain. It’s just a momentary feeling of touching God and having an epiphany of his actual presence.
When I feel such a thing, that is a brief glimpse of what I know my soul is seeking. When I feel loved by another person — and when I am fortunate enough to be allowed to express deep love — I feel overwhelmed by this glimpse of something transcendent as well.
In these glimpses, I find echoes of what my soul really seeks. In the worldly pursuits which my rational mind wants to chase after — which are based on my fears of not being good enough — I see reflections of what I’m afraid of.
If I think about this another decade or so, maybe I’ll understand it deeply enough to share it more coherently. Maybe I’ll be able to work out a rational conscious philosophy that encapsulates this deeply abstract and divine idea. I really don’t know.
For now, it’s a vague and abstract work in progress. It’s something which I know is life-changing for anyone who can fully find its implications and live its reality.
In the meantime, I realize most people’s eyes will glaze over when I explain it so poorly. Those who listen will mostly shrug their shoulders. I get that.
But I hope a few — or at least one — will somehow see the germ of an idea which can eventually change everything. Because I need to finally find someone who’s eagerly seeking the same thing I am, even if I keep stumbling blindly along the way to finding it.