A Relentless Urge to Quench a Deep Longing

A Relentless Urge to Quench a Deep Longing

We are born into a mystery. For some, the journey of life seems to provide a fairly steady comfort level, whatever may come. For others, there may be a subtle anxiety about life or death, or both, which may or may not change things. For yet others, there may be an unconscious quest moving toward deeper understanding. And for still others, there may be an all-out, conscious quest, or search for truth, directing every aspect of life.

Perhaps hidden somewhere within us all is what Elizabeth Gilbert, in the popular Eat, Pray, Love, calls “the itch, the mad and relentless urge to want to understand the workings of existence.”

She tells the story of the youth she met in India who had this “urge,” having left his family farm in Ireland to find inner peace through yoga in India. After he had returned home, he sat with his father, the lifelong farmer and man of few words, telling him about his spiritual discoveries. The father listened with mild interest, watching the hearth and the fire, smoking his pipe, as the son said excitedly, “Dad, this meditation stuff, it’s crucial for peace and serenity. It can really save your life. It teaches you how to quiet your mind.”

His father turned to him and said kindly, “I have a quiet mind already, son,” and then returned his gaze to the fire.

Who’s to know, really, whether the farmer—or anyone else—has somehow gotten to a “quiet mind”? This may be a universal goal, but its opposite—the Buddhist teaching that most of humanity has their eyes so caked shut with the dust of deception that they will never see truth no matter who tries to show it to them—seems to loom fairly large, as well. Perhaps the only thing we can know for sure is whether or not we ourselves have gotten to that cherished goal.

That’s why to truly understand this relentless urge, Gilbert says we have to “look for God, like a man with his head on fire looks for water.” In this light, the urge is a single-minded quest that nothing could deter us from.


  1. Lora Moore August 20, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Wanting to connect, to thank you for your work..the photography is very, very pleasing to me and then there is your writing…I am reading The Story of Our Time and within your words and thoughts has created in me an opening of understanding not yet felt by me, yet that longing to Know to Feel truth is becoming alive in me and basically it is all I think about now…
    My challenge is to just allow this new understanding to live in me and to be a better human woman, without needing to change anyone….not an easy task “Grasshopper ” as I am feeling an impatience with all that is going on in our world and in my beloved country…
    I live in Penobscot Maine and heard you on WERU Sunday program of New Dinmenions….I ordered your book from Blue Hill Books and have now ordered Mystic Journey…
    Again many thanks for this amazing connection and road to Oneness….
    Always Lora

    • robertatkinson August 21, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

      Hi Lora, Great to hear from you, and thanks so much for your kind words. Your ‘opening’ sounds wonderful, and I’m sure as you allow your new understanding to live in you it will continue to grow and your journey to Oneness will bear unforeseen fruits for you and others. Your expression of your experience with this is such a beautiful illustration of that ‘urge’ that is in all of us. Warmest wishes to you, Bob

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