Chapter 7: The Nature of Longing
The first question:
What is the difference between longing for the divine and loving another?
There is no difference at all - all desires are the same. You can desire money, you can desire meditation, you can long for power, you can long for godliness, but you remain the same. What you long for cannot change you, the object of longing has no effect on your inner being; it is the same game played again with new words, with new objects of desire.
You long for a person, you desire a person. Why? Because you are feeling lonely. In yourself you don’t feel sufficient. There is a kind of emptiness in you which you would like to be filled by the presence of the other. You feel meaningless and you want the other to impart meaning to your life. It never happens; it is only a longing and a hope. It is never fulfilled - it cannot be fulfilled in the very nature of things. It is impossible because the other is desiring you for the same reason; he is also feeling empty. Now two empty persons are hoping to be fulfilled through each other: two meaningless lives are hoping from each other to become meaningful and significant.
This is the utmost absurdity. Sooner or later one becomes aware of the phenomenon because again and again there is frustration, again and again there is failure, again and again the hope evaporates and you are left in a far deeper mess than you were ever in before. Again and again you are disillusioned.
It is because of this that Jean-Paul Sartre used to say: “The other is hell.” He is unconsciously groping in the dark and has unknowingly stumbled upon a fact, although the way he expresses it is not exactly what it should be. The other is not hell, your desire for the other is hell - that’s what all the buddhas have said down the ages - not the other, because when Sartre says, “The other is hell,” it seems as if the other is responsible for your misery, disappointment, disillusionment. The other is not responsible, it is your own expectation that has been shattered. The greater the expectation, the more will be the frustration.