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May 26, 2017

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This is why some people spend a lifetime seeking God, and never succeed in their quest. They are pursuing an impossible dream: to quench a thirst for divinity when the object of their desire doesn't exist.

Some might argue that the "object of desire" does exist... just not as a material "other" in the realm of duality. And the quest isn't futile but we look in all the wrong places. They're an infinite number of dead ends. Religious rites, holy shrines, magic beads, psychedelic drugs, various charlatans, even our intellect.... all promise to slake your thirst. Some day... just keep on imbibing.

But I think the mystic would counter that the answers are embedded in consciousness itself. Inside, not outside. Here and now. "God" is nothing other than consciousness itself. The exploration of consciousness will dissolve the notion of a separate being who comes out of the clouds to punish, or reward, or "take you home". You are home already but keep looking out the window... hoping it'll materialize out "there".

"Not just in my own mind.......... But in really real reality."

Hey? There is a "really real reality" outside of your "own mind"? How do you know this?

Ah well, guess we all gotta have our beliefs......

Brian, you absolutely crack me up! Thanks for the provocative article. Hunger and thirst to the physical organism is "all-powerful". If allowed to intensify there is nothing which the organism will not do to assuage these urges...nothing. But these are natural sensations pertaining to the physical form and its survival for a few years. Is there such a thing as hunger and thirst for the emotions...for the mind...for the soul? We certainly can temporarily satisfy the hungry mind with an inexhaustible buffet of victuals such as books, movies, social interaction, reading Hines' articles, etc. We can satisfy the emotional pain of loneliness with friends, family, pets, Facebook, etc. But is there such a thing as the soul (surat) and does that entity "feel" hunger or thirst? I humbly submit that It does exist and It has needs that eventually emerge which cannot be satisfied by any sensory or intellectual "food". This hunger, known as spiritual homesickness and longing, has been acknowledged by thousands of revered poems, prose and spiritual discourses over the centuries. I humbly submit that soul's hunger is a "need", as valid and as poignant as any physical, emotional or mental desire. Experientialy, I can verify a deeper need and longing which only my spiritual practice can adequately satisfy. Of course, none of this woo woo can be proven empirically!

As an average human being I have during my life had a number of experiences that my western culture would describe as spiritual, but not being satisfied by such statements I looked elsewhere for explanations. My feeling was that it was somehow related to brain activity. I could see logically how my 'self', with its decades of conditioning my proclivity was very able to assign meaning and explanations that were more than likely untrue. I found the findings of the brain sciences to be more digestible - if not a little clinical and dismissive of my humanity.

One scientist though – K. Nelson, a professor of neurology at the university of Kentucky has made a lifelong study of what people describe as 'spiritual experiences' and for me, puts it in perspective. In his book 'The God Impulse' he describes in his prologue his research into “ . . . near death experiences, out of body experiences, feelings of rapture or nirvana, mystical oneness and visions of saints or the dead.”

And he shows how “ . . . activity in the primitive brainstem, working in tandem with the limbic system, the most ancient area of our recently evolved cerebral cortex, leads to a variety of spiritual experiences.”
He describes these experiences as not being real but, “On the other hand, my work also irks some die-hard atheists, because it inextricably links spirituality with what it means to be human and makes it an integral part of all of us, whether our reasoning brain likes it or not.”

He ends his prologue, “In the end, understanding the neurological foundation of spirituality is necessary for a contemporary understanding of what it means to be human.”

Perhaps such an understanding would help to take the conflict out of the various and separative 'spiritual' approaches.

Hi Brian!
You wrote:

"This is why some people spend a lifetime seeking God, and never succeed in their quest. They are pursuing an impossible dream: to quench a thirst for divinity when the object of their desire doesn't exist. "

The beauty of the vase is the empty space it surrounds. It is shaped by that very space. Just as the hub of a wheel, without any substance at all, is the center of all that action, which revolves with absolute respect, around it. You might say the wheel worships that empty hub.

But you could also say this is what makes the entire creation function.

Your point actually justifies the worship of something undefineable. Just like the pursuit of any ideal, any objective, any greater vision. At a distance, it's always out of focus. That doesn't make it purely imaginary. It makes imagination a very distorted lens, that is actually taking in real light.

If thirst were so natural, why invent so many drinks?
As you write, we are not connected in a healthy way with our own thirst.

One could argue that all these soft drinks are proof that water isn't really adequate, and doesn't really do anything....One could interview many people hooked on Cola, beer and wine, and use their tens of thousands of testimonies as proof that water is really nothing and has no utility at all for them. "Water might be fine for someone else, but it just doesn't do it for me....I find it empty and useless...so why drink it?"

It takes a real scientist to rise above that limited thinking, from limited experience, from addiction, from so much conditioning that has taken that person away from their own natural state.

But a few quiet moments can connect us with lots of things within us.
And the quieter we are, the more we witness.

That is very natural.

And what you witness is Divine, because it is part of You...not replaceable.

God is not some distant thing. As Sawan Singh wrote, that's a wrong concept.

"God" by any definition is an artificial concept. The definition itself is a label.

Our best attempt to mentally model and define.

The experience of something transcendent is something else. We didn't create it. It creates us.

If you cling to a concept of God, you can never own that, never reach that.
But if you understand what is inside you better, starting with your own subconscious mind, and then ..?

We'll that's very healthy. Doesn't require definitions.

Striving for "God" is very healthy if it leads one to sit still and consider who and what they really are. Then we do much less harm, and we might find peace, and even ecstatic joy.

Now water has a real taste to us. A taste that no laced and drugged drink, no market-driven addictions, and no human-constructed philosophy or religion, can compete with.

When you see the constellations, when you see the sky, all questions are erased in that moment.

And then you just want to keep sitting and to see it again, to see more, and to feel that joy.

I wouldn't call it anything but experience. But like water, it is the experience we were meant for.

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