The soul harbors a fierce passion for the Divine. When we mistake the mundane for the spiritual, we court addiction to love. To whomever or whatever we believe can satisfy this longing of the soul. The deepest desires of the heart then get attached to that person, project, experience or thing.
Since transcendent experiences of love, communion, peace and freedom come to us through the world of form, it is natural to confuse the source of the spiritual nourishment we crave with the medium through which it comes.
Whenever we attach our yearning for the Holy to anything, however, we make it into a false god or an “idol.” Unknowingly, we bind ourselves with chains of steel to whatever we have idolized.
In our romance obsessed culture, many of us misinterpret our yearning for union with the Divine as the futile search for “the one.” We spend our lives addicted to love searching outside ourselves for the idealized partner who will complete us and take away the hollowness inside.
Or we lament the relationship we have, disappointed that the other person hasn’t quite given us the love and security we hoped they would. In this mistaken longing for an idealized partnership, we hardly realize we have been forsaking our own souls.
Withdrawal of love: a neurophysiological storm
This is one reason when we lose love, we may crave the other person like an addict craves a drug. The more experiences of bliss, connection and intimacy we have had with our partner, the more likely we are to have confused them with our Source. We have mixed them up with the divine love that entered us through heightened moments in the relationship.
The betrayal of intimate trust reveals how much we have misplaced the treasure of our own heart. It is no fun, but we have been thrown into a serious detox with a chance to recover big pieces of our soul that have been wrapped up in the things of this world.
When the idolized dream of love is shattered by abandonment or betrayal, many factors contribute to the terrible feelings of withdrawal. Physically, our bodily rhythms have been in sync with our mate, and go into disarray. Rejection also stimulates both the pain receptors and the drive-oriented addiction centers in the brain. We find ourselves living in a neurophysiological storm.
We are like orphans left alone in a strange city and naturally seek out our former source of support to calm and soothe us in such a crisis. And we suffer their indifference and unavailability. Few things are as painful as the unfulfilled desire to be near to another you love.
Only a greater love can satisfy the heart
Yet, ultimately, beyond a quick fix, it is time now to learn only a greater love can satisfy the deepest yearning of the heart. We have a chance to know in our bones that the “other” (the person, the drugs, the ideology, the money, the power, the sex) cannot satisfy the heart’s deepest longing. Until this truth sinks deeply in, we will keep looking in all the wrong places to quench this misplaced thirst for the Divine.
In the throes of betrayed love, we have all the ingredients to embody this difficult lesson. Our relation with another person may point the way to our spiritual home. But no matter how compatible they are, or how ethereal and profound the connection, they can never fulfill the existential emptiness at the core of our being.
Betrayal causes so much suffering. To endure it, we discover our deep need to focus on the mystery at work in us, the invisible reality moving through us as our life, beyond our lost love. Mindfully enduring the cravings, the grief, the emptiness, the rage and the hurt, we learn how pain itself becomes a prayer.
For me, it became a imperative for my well-being to listen daily for the prayer in my hurting heart. Who knew?! Glimpses of what I wanted most began to dawn through the murkiness. That gentle attention brought on miracles. The hurt itself unexpectedly lead me back to a ocean of tenderness all around me, my true love and home,
Sandy, I was blown away by reading your post right after I put away my book-of-the-moment, which is “In the realm of Hungry Ghosts: close encounters with addiction.” The author is Gabor Mate’ M.D., a brilliant writer (that alone is fresh and powerful) who is not afraid to disclose his own addiction while exploring all the latest science in this field. The work being done by neuropsychobiologists show us exactly how powerful addiction is, no matter the “drug.” (or person, or thing.) When we are prevented–no matter why–from saying No to any addiction, the body says it for us apparently. (Why is some of this best work being done in Canada and Australia?) A rant for another time….
Thanks, Suzie, for the recommend on this book. I don’t know if you are aware of Mark Epstein’s classic, “Thoughts Without a Thinker”; but he explores ‘The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts” as the most prevalent state of mind in our culture (aka “narcissism”). The descriptions from Buddhist philosophy are so helpful in recognizing the signs of emptiness, craving and dissatisfaction for what they are. Of course, recognizing is one thing, then befriending or gentling these old, deep patterns that lodge in body and soul quite another.
Sandy…..this post is much appreciated as I enter into a new relationship and a tendency toward this confusion. The flip side of projecting “divine bliss” onto my sweetheart is thinking there is something wrong with the relationship when I find myself again in the throes of existential emptiness. He is only another human having his own spiritual experience. Last night, before falling asleep, I practiced ho’oponopono (I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thankyou) for both him and myself.
This is a beautiful, strangely powerful practice, Fran, thank you for sharing it. I don’t know if it is possible not to mix up the two levels of human and divine in a romantic relationship, and I salute your courage in diving into the alchemical brew!