“All the noise, all the dysfunction, all the ill health, all the broken relationships, all the broken politics, even all the wars and true horrors of the world, are in fact, never separate from true home. In this home, there is room for everything.”
The Call Home
Decades ago, when I was studying Chinese Medicine, I heard this quote: “All sickness is in fact homesickness.” I think there is great truth to that. Until we recognize where true home is, we always feel some sense of homelessness.
When we are sick in our bodies, we long to be healthy. We long for our bodies to be whole again. With emotional sickness, we long for peace and stability, for the sense of being at home within ourselves, and the freedom to be ourselves without pretense. In circumstances such as war, imprisonment, or feuding within our families we long for equilibrium, for a righting of the imbalance that these circumstances bring, so that we can once more live our lives in peace and harmony.
There is a longing, however, that is deeper than physical, mental, or emotional longing. I call this “spiritual longing,” because even if your health is good, your emotions are stable, and your circumstances are that of physical freedom and privilege, there is very often something deeper that continues to call from within. No amount of good health can satisfy this call. No amount of emotional stability, relationship stability, or the world functioning as you think it should function can fulfill this type of longing.
I am speaking of the longing for true Home. It is an ache, a loneliness, a call from within for something more, something of true and enduring peace and meaning.
When I first met my teacher, Papaji (Sri HWL Poonja), I was thrilled to meet someone who would directly address this longing within me. Not by giving me another spiritual practice, another mantra, or any conceptual teaching. He simply invited me to stop and be still—to open, in fact, to the longing that had been with me since I was a child. I had considered myself an inward, contemplative person. I had worked on myself, I had been aware of my patterns, my emotions, and my habits. But I had never considered simply being still and opening to what is already effortlessly here within me as my own core nature.
I had practiced different meditations, primarily Tibetan Buddhist visualization, Zen Buddhist meditation, Vipassana meditation, and mindfulness or awareness meditation. But I had never considered the possibility, deeper and simpler and closer than all of that, of simply stopping to see what is always still and always here, before any meditation, during any meditation, and after any meditation.
I finally recognized that my search for more satisfaction, more love, more peace, or more of whatever I was aiming for at any particular time, really had nothing to do with the actual truth of who I am. I was habitually searching to fix something—to fix my emotions, fix my world—rather than looking deeper than “my.”
I don’t assume that everyone has this longing for true home, but I know that you do or you wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t be reading this if home were not already calling you.
Most often we respond to our yearning by trying to get rid of it, because it can be uncomfortable or painful. We might dramatize the yearning, get busy as a way of avoiding the yearning, or look for desired objects to throw at the yearning to try to satisfy it. We can even learn skills to dissociate from the yearning.
If you recognize that there is a yearning inside you for “home,” know that it is beckoning you to the discovery of a great secret, the secret of where true home can finally be found.
Right now, as you read this, can you feel any sense of yearning from within? Usually we take this yearning as proof of our homelessness. Instead, in this moment, think of it as “the call home.” Rather than trying to make the yearning go away, I invite you now to turn your attention directly into the yearning itself and actually follow the call. Not the yearning “for” something, but the actual experience of the yearning itself. Where does that call lead you within yourself?
Yes, you might feel other emotions alongside the yearning. Along the way home you may encounter fear or sadness, anger or despair. These emotions are not a problem. These also are calling you home. You can open to any of these emotions just as you opened to the longing itself. Directly meeting any emotion also leads you home. This is the secret of direct self-inquiry.
Silence Is the Essence of Home
It is always my heartfelt honor to extend to you what my teacher extended to me, and that is the invitation to truly “stop.” To turn your attention, for just a moment, away from getting home or staying home, and just allow yourself to, in fact, in reality, be Home, which is to be who you are. Recognize yourself as the stillness, the silence, that both transcends and is present in everything. This silence is the truth of yourself. Here, at home, is the totality of the universe, which is your own self.
All the noise, all the dysfunction, all the ill health, all the broken relationships, all the broken politics, even all the wars and true horrors of the world, are in fact, never separate from true home. In this home, there is room for everything. You are Home. You are the true silence that has room for everything.
Silence is the essence of this invitation from Papaji and from Ramana. Different words may be used to point to this silence. Here I am using the word “home.” Silence is the essence of home, and home is the essence of silence. Here we are not making a distinction between silence as relative to noise, or in opposition to noise, but the silence that is deeper than anything— deeper and closer than any thought, closer than any emotion, beyond and regardless of any circumstance. Silence is the reconciliation of closer and beyond.
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Gangaji is the author of The Diamond in Your Pocket, Freedom & Resolve: Finding Your True Home in the Universe, You Are That, and Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story.