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Longing and Desire:
Meditation and the Truth of the Heart

by Ma Anand Mayuri feat. Jeevan Ullas

heart rock
Look deep into your heart. Listen to the still small voice within. And remember one thing: life is fulfilled only through longings, never through ambitions. Life becomes blissful only through the heart, never through the mind. Mind creates science, the heart creates religion. Mind can give you better technology, better gadgets. The heart gives you the real, ultimate values: love, bliss, truth, freedom, awareness, God. And a life without these values is valueless. ~ Osho

But how do we know? How can we tell whether that still, small voice is coming from the mind or the heart? If our search is for a life like this, filled with love and bliss and freedom, we must learn to judge our own desires and determine their origin—the heart or the mind—and our own motivation. When we want something, is it because it will satisfy our ego, or because it will satisfy our soul?

rock in the path of meditation

There is no place outside of ourselves to find this answer. Even the desire for meditation, wisdom or peace may be in fact an ambition. The mind is very cunning, and “spirituality” is very popular. The subtlest ambition of the ego is spiritual superiority—to “win” the race to inner peace, or be more spiritually “advanced” than someone else. This is probably the hardest rock on the path of meditation, because it is the most difficult one to see. Even if we don’t desire to be more spiritual than thou, if the motivation for meditating is to impress someone or so they will approve of us, the desire for meditation is an ambition, a desire of the mind. In this case, when meditation or other spiritual methods or practices are not a heartfelt longing, a thirst arising from the innermost core, they may produce misery rather than bliss. That glimpse of the inner space will come with practice, or rather at the moment you go beyond the practice, regardless of the reason for practicing meditation. If true longing is not there, the vision of that empty room inside can make you recoil, and run to turn on the TV, go gossip at the bar, or find some other way to try to forget what you saw.

plant growing in crack in the road

That being said, I still think it is possible for someone to begin meditating, whirling, tiger-walking or doing some other spiritual practice for all the wrong reasons and still end up being transformed by it. Meditation is an ancient science, and it works scientifically on human beings. It must have happened that someone began doing yoga because of some really cute yoga pants she saw in a shop window, or some really cute girl he saw going into a yoga studio, but something real happened by accident in the falsehood-- some taste of the beyond, some light seeping in through the cracks by mistake-- and with the taste of the water came the realization of the thirst that had been there all along, the thirst written into our DNA, just as the thirst for flowering is written inside a seed.

Longing to me feels like a desire that was written on me before I had a body, a desire that is not easily explained or even put into words. If we are seeds, and each individual’s ultimate destiny is transformation, blossoming into enlightenment, perhaps it is the intelligence of the heart that gives us a particular longing as the best and fastest means to that destiny.

As far back as I can remember, even in my earliest memories of childhood, I have always wanted to be a mother. I felt it then as a wordless desire, almost an instinct. When I looked more deeply into it as an adult, I could see that having a child was not something I wanted to do for anyone else—not as a gift of life to that unknown soul, not as some kind of gift to the world. I didn’t want motherhood in order to take my place in any social or cultural structure. When I looked inside, my motivation was clear: I wanted to have a child because I felt it would change me. I saw some different quality in mothers, perhaps in my own mother and grandmother—some patience, some wisdom. I thought it would burn out the childish selfishness I saw in myself somehow, my ego’s craving for attention. Maybe I had simply been imprinted as a small child mother swanwith a beautiful image of my mother caring for my baby sister, and been given dolls to play with; I feel it was more than that. I feel that my heart knew that this was my way, something that would bring me closer to my flowering, and so it gave me this longing. And now, since my longing has been fulfilled and I am a mother, the bliss of it has not dissipated, but rather deepened with time; my heart was right.

Buddhists will tell you that desire is never satisfied. They are talking about the desires of the ego: ambition, greed, social acceptance, recognition. It brings a kind of joy to buy an ice cream, a new game, a new car, a new house; then, we eat it, we get used to it, the joy is gone, and we want something else, maybe a bigger house or a better game. The job that we take to fulfil the expectations of others feels good at first, but becomes eventually hollow, creating disillusionment. Longing is something else.

We can’t determine whether any desire originates in the heart or the mind simply by its category: we cannot say that doing meditation or writing poetry is a longing for everyone; the motivation depends on the individual, and it is up to the individual to see it for him or herself. Beyond the desire to create a human being, an artist’s desire to write, paint or sing may be longing, ambition, or a combination of the two.


Similarly, we can’t determine what is or is not creation or meditation by the category or outward appearance of an activity. The singer of the most inspired, heart-wrenching harmonies, draped in laurels, may be moving us to tears precisely in order to win those laurels; and the gardener, the cook, or the mechanic may be in perfectly blissful meditation as she pulls weeds, cuts onions or listens intently to the purr of an engine. All she had to do, and all we have to do, is take a deep breath, take a good, hard look inside, lace up our shoes and start dancing down the path whispered to us by our hearts.

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