our heart's desire
What are you longing for the most right now? The pursuit of freedom, happiness, love, health, security, peace, and abundance all share a common factor. At their core, they are a search for:
In 2020, wholeness is what most of us are craving—and lacking. Something is missing from our lives, which is why we don’t feel complete. This void manifests within each of us in different ways. You may be longing for human touch, whereas I yearn for a more sustainable way of life.
We may think that the fulfillment of our desires will make us whole, bringing a sense of fulfillment into our hearts and our lives. In actuality, satisfying a perceived need or desire rarely brings total fulfillment. That is because the deficiency we feel is not the same as the one we have been seeking to remedy. If we feel a lack of wholeness, it is because we lack the ability to perceive wholeness in ourselves or our surroundings.
The wholeness we are seeking has always been present within us. That is why Blaise Pascal wrote:
I call this wholeness Nature. You are welcome to choose your own language, keeping in mind that what we are naming is always the same. There is only one wholeness, and in all cases, our names and concepts fail to capture it.
Nature abides in all of us equally, while also surrounding and engulfing us. Experiencing the wholeness of nature is like being immersed in water. There is no way to tell where the water ends and your body begins because you are made up of water. All of the membranes in your body, including your skin, are permeable to water, which means that water moves in and out of your body fairly easily. So, a water molecule that is outside of your body one moment can be inside of you the next—and vice versa.
Early in my career as an environmental chemist, I discovered a simple idea: Whatever we know or think we know about Nature, there is always more. Science and philosophy may give us a glimpse into Nature, but never the entire picture. That is why we have trouble resolving basic questions about the relationship of mind and matter, or deciding if matter is comprised of particles or waves, or reconciling the differences between one theory and another.
Later in my career, after I switched from chemistry to psychology, I discovered another important idea: Human nature is simply Nature. When we focus on our individual and group differences, we may fail to notice the underlying commonalities. All of us have the same basic needs, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, political party, or any other division. We are made of the same stuff, breathe the same air, and share the same Earth.
What I am seeing right now is that most of us are stuck: our minds are trapped in a viewpoint or ideology that is incomplete at best. Our attitudes, opinions, arguments and theories all fall apart when pushed to the extremes. So much of Nature lives beyond the fringes of what we can conceptualize or understand. There is always a higher-order reality that we have yet to grasp, which means that questions requiring an either-or answer often make no sense.
Progressives and conservatives may argue about whose approach is more effective, when in fact Nature displays elements of both. In Nature, masculine and feminine are equally important. Competition and cooperation both have their place. There are times of balance and imbalance, stasis and change, growth and decline. There can be no beauty without ugly, no truth without falsehood, no peace without violence. Although Nature may tend towards one end of the continuum, it allows room for both. The higher-order reality is always more inclusive—not less. Beyond all differences is wholeness.
If you value truth, embrace wholeness. When asked to check off the box that pertains to you, choose: ALL OF THE ABOVE. Our true nature—who we really are at the very core of our being—is masculine and feminine, gay and straight, Black and White, Christian and Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish, Democrat and Republican, human and non-human.
The wholeness of Nature is both immanent and transcendent. It abides in all of us—and then some. Search for Nature anywhere in the universe and you will find it. Search for Nature beyond anything in the universe, and you will also find it. At every moment Nature is engaged in a dynamic, never-ending spiral dance that we perceive as life and death; as creation and destruction; as unfolding and enfolding. And yet at every moment, Nature is also perfectly still, indivisible and whole.
How can it be all of these at once? Perhaps time and space are not what we think they are. The line between real and imagined gets blurry around the edges. And when we examine them closely, waking and dreaming are not so different. Albert Einstein noted that “reality is an illusion, albeit a compelling one.” That is why my strongest recommendation, at this point, is to stay flexible. Don’t adhere too strongly to any belief, attitude, or idea of reality because now more than ever, our reality is being questioned, challenged, and disconfirmed.
This leads me to one last idea, and it’s a big one: Reality is the dream from which we have yet to awaken. When you are dreaming during sleep, you have no idea that you are living in a dream world of your own making. Once you become lucid or are awakened, that changes. You see clear evidence that it was all a dream. What if the same is true for what you call reality? That just means you are on the brink of a great awakening that will open your eyes to a higher-order reality, wholeness beyond all divisions and distinctions, and your true essential nature. What seems like unendurable chaos might just be the start of this great awakening.
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