In a recent teaching, Panache Desai talked about how so many of us have unconsciously yearned to know God or the truth of existence all our lives. We didn’t always have words for it, but at our core was a deep-seated longing to understand the universe, to feel a connection to something beyond our own separate selves. In our individual aloneness, we reach out for contact, for meaning, even in our early years. I certainly did, although I did not recognize it as a desire to know God. My reaching or yearning took the form of fear. Fear of eternity, of an infinite universe. It scared me so much that I was unable to sleep at night, and my mother would sit at my bedside to comfort me.
I was not raised within any particular religion, so God was just an idea to me. A possibility, my parents said, a question that each person must answer for themselves. I suppose, in their own way, they were referring to what Native Americans have called the “Great Mystery.” Nothing I could relate to at 6 years old. What I was seeking was relief from the terror I felt whenever I thought about the universe going on and on forever. God’s existence had no relevance to that, at least in my own mind at the time. As I saw it, eternal life (heaven) and eternal death (the void) were both eternity and thus equally frightening. I lived for years and years with that fear embedded in my consciousness. Many times, I thought it would drive me crazy.
It wasn’t until I met Panache and began to work with him that the fears I had carried all my life began to gradually transform. Through him, and later on my own, I experienced infinity as divine presence, or God. It filled me with the most profound peace imaginable—absolutely no fear. I felt at one with everything everywhere, beyond time and space, and my consciousness shifted completely. It was then that I began to realize that this was what I had yearned for my entire life, this immersion in oneness and unconditional love that is God. I had always longed, as William Blake wrote, to “hold Infinity in the palm of [my] hand” and know it as pure love, not fear at all. And here it was at last—God’s loving gift of presence within my own heart and soul. In truth, that sacred connection had always been there. It is who I am, who we all are.
Sometimes you wait your whole life for a key experience that changes everything in all directions—past, present, future. Often you can only reach that experience after having lived your way to it. Ultimately, that is why we came to this Earth: to experience our separateness and find our way home again; to recognize that separation is only an illusion within that greater oneness which encompasses all of existence. That is the human journey, during which we can feel so lost and alone at times, but looking back, we see nothing but grace and love. In that moment of realization, of conscious awareness of our oneness with everything, we step into ananda, or bliss. We know in our deepest heart that all of life is a blessing and that we ourselves are a part of that blessing because we are part of the infinite presence of God.