What Do You REALLY Want?

By Swami Khecaranatha

There’s one single purpose in our sādhana—and that’s to know God. My experience is that although it’s also the very purpose of life, it requires tremendous inner clarity to be certain that knowing God is what we really want. As students, we must be honest and ask ourselves: do I really want to know the highest in me?

khecara right The real challenge for all of us in our spiritual life is to come to true insight about that, because it requires an unwavering focus and decisive fierceness to hold on to what we say we want. There are millions of reasons to lose sight of our purpose—both within ourselves and while living in the world. The essential problem is that the ego doesn’t want to surrender itself; we as individuals don’t want to surrender our identity. We therefore have to find the part of us that does want to know God, and then make everything else in our life be in support of our wish.

The Power of Our Longing

I’ll never forget being in a room with Rudi when he said, “Nobody wants.” This was shortly after I began my spiritual practice and it pierced me like a dagger. His words reinforced what an extraordinary opportunity was being made available to me, but also how much work is required to create and to one-pointedly hold on to that wanting throughout the course of our lives.

Rudi’s own life was one of profound spiritual longing. He sat eight hours a night for eight years, asking one thing: “I wish to grow.” Rudi also lived under extraordinary suffering, which led him to recognize that without his unwavering, decisive fierceness about what he really wanted, he could not be certain which aspect of his life was going to win. This is what brought him his freedom. That absolute clarity attracted to him everything he needed, including the energy that was required to hold on to and feed his wish, to guard against anything that tried to steal it from him. The same principal applies to each of us.

If we know what we want, and if we’re willing everyday to sit down and cultivate that longing, we come to realize that the longing is a beacon from God, calling us home. Then, all of our decisions, all the use of our life force, become centered around that. Nothing becomes more important than our spiritual growth, and, in light of that, we perceive that everything is sacred because it’s part of the dynamic that God has offered to us.

When is the moment that we lose track of our longing? To be perfectly clear, it happens to almost everyone. The question you must ask yourself is this: Will I be one of them? If we want to know God, then what is it we’re unprepared to surrender to find that knowing? Our ego is usually the first thing we’re unwilling to surrender and that ripples out into the ego’s effect on our life. Are we prepared to surrender what we perceive to be our life, our career, our relationships? We must be prepared to surrender ourselves to that longing, because it’s only the highest place in us that can live in that longing, no matter what.

Engagement With A Teacher

When the wish to know God begins to emerge in us, it leads us to a teacher. The single purpose of having a relationship with a teacher is to provide the energy, nourishment, and support to enable us to establish ourselves in a permanent connection to God.

It’s not really about how often we come to class. What’s critical is how clear we are about what we want and how honest we are with ourselves about whether we are achieving that single thing we say we want. The ego has the same power to obscure our longing as grace has to reveal it, so a major aspect of our sadhana is to be free from ego. It’s important to understand that being free from ego is twofold: our wish for it to happen, and somebody to help us make it happen. This primarily means being in contact with an energy field that moves us through our uncertainty and limited egoic perspective.

Never let go of that connection to your teacher and the teacher’s lineage. Imagine that you fell into a turbulent river and are heading toward Victoria Falls. Somebody throws you a lifeline. At what point do you let go? If you really don’t want to go over the falls you never let go. You hold on until that lifeline frees you from the possibility of something else.

The essential question is whether or not we have the capacity to stay connected to the teacher’s energy on our own. I see people who show up once a month and they’re absolute wrecks. A little work in class, and the light is shining. A month later they appear. . . and they’re wrecks again. The energetic support from our relationship to a teacher in a lineage is available to us at all times, but for most people, maintaining that connection requires the contact we receive in person, in class.

I’ve made myself available in support of what people sitting in front of me seem to be saying: “I want to know God.” I’d teach five nights a week if necessary, because I understand what an extraordinary challenge it is to truly achieve spiritual freedom. I understand the amount of energy it takes for the rocket to get off the planet.

The bottom line is that you have to be really clear in yourself: do you have the capacity to close your eyes and connect to God? If you do, you don’t need me or anybody else. If you don’t, perhaps you need me or somebody else. It’s never about the teacher; it’s about us—about the clarity and the strength of our longing and what we’re prepared to do to hold on to it. I want each of you to know that I’m here to serve you. Decide if you want to be served. But ask yourself what part of you is making that decision. Teaching and serving is my duty and my honor, and I will be in your heart as long as you want me to be there.