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Seeing yourself as a thing, as a separate, fixed entity, as "I", is the source of our sense of loss and loneliness. We seem to have lost ourselves as the living stream of the universe. As I mentioned earlier, this sense of homelessness spurs us on a quest. In fact, this search is our loneliness, our feeling lost. We feel inadequate, something is missing, the "outside world" is strange, sometimes even hostile. The feeling of not belonging, alienation or existential "emptiness" is the price we pay for the separation between personality, body and surrounding reality, as deployed during the formation from child to adult in a culture that promises fulfillment in an imaginary future.
The void feels like an uneasy longing, a lack, a black hole. It sucks and searches. Most people have little or no awareness of this. Only highly sensitive people are aware of seeking and the void itself, but almost everyone is completely unconsciously directed and controlled by seeking. Seeking itself serves an evolutionary process responsible for the creation of our culture.
And culture in turn dictates the cultivation of alienation, the separation from body and environment, for only a separated personality lacks and longs for reunion, for reward. A reward that can only be achieved after hard work and purification or by divine intervention.
The emptiness triggers the search through the attempt to fill and disguise the void with finding an "Answer", achieving a goal, winning the prize, while at the same time building an identity that seems to replace the void. The emptiness and the quest are one and the same, both cause each other, are two sides of the same coin.
"Answers" may include pursuing ever-new experiences, or to continue searching for the perfect partner, following an "enlightenment doctrine", or joining a cult or utopian ideology. Ecstasy or, on the contrary, numbness is sought in drugs, alcohol, sex or gambling. And otherwise, the void can seemingly be filled with the pursuit of fame, prestige or wealth, and so on.
However, most people follow paths to "happiness" that are considered more "normal": a nice job, a career, a family. It is only those individuals who are most sensitive, and therefore most affected by the void, who are in danger of becoming trapped in a more excessive lifestyle. There may also be experiences of a different or "deeper" or "higher" state of consciousness. The desire may then arise to repeat or make such a state permanent, which only reinforces the seeking.
The search is the belief in ultimate fulfillment, ultimate happiness, finally being at home, being accepted. And thus arises the spiritual seeker, the religious fanatic, the drug addict, the workaholic, the therapy junkie, and so on, and all try to escape the emptiness by obtaining fulfillment in the future and in this way, ironically, perpetuate the emptiness and lack.
The goal is never achieved (permanently) or if it does for a while, people fall into a "void", resulting in depression, or worse, they have blown themselves up or have died of an overdose.
Many people have absorbed Answers since birth and may never question them. Answers can be deep and penetrating, like strong religious beliefs, or they can be superficial and casual. They may look like a show; they may even look "normal". But whether they are deep or superficial, normal or strange, they all act as a cover for life as it is.
I have dreamt endlessly about looking for my home, my house and not being able to find it. There were always obstacles in the way or I couldn't remember anymore where my home was. This kind of dreams stopped when I had understood that home is where I am, here and now, where life is taking place.
"In my experience, free falling into answerlessness, surrendering all the authorities and their doctrines to the vastness of not-knowing, feels like a delightful vulnerability, an exquisitely unknown openness, with no promises and no guarantees.
Nothing broken, nothing fixed. Just the fall.
This fall into nowhere, this fall into here, is at once a tumble into now, a stumbling into life that shakes the dust of ideologies, both spiritual and political, from the rawness of our eyes.
To my astonishment, in this vista of unknowing, I find everything wide open again, so open that not even the Gurus can close it up, for here, even they, are totally at a loss."
And this is from the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz:
"Home is not where you were born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease."