The Quintessence of The Spiritual Quest
Sri Swami Chidananda
This article is a chapter from the book Awake! Realise Your Divinity!.
Today is the sixth day of the annual nine-day worship of the Divine Mother. This morning we will mention the actual inner nature of a common universal factor that constitutes the very quintessence of the quest, which if present, the quest becomes powerful and successful, which if absent, no matter how much you struggle and seek and pursue the quest, you seem to be getting nowhere, it seems to be unproductive.
And that inner factor can be explained in terms of a physiological activity that is absolutely indispensable for sustaining life and thus is an apt analogy. Life is sustained by food. But a desire for food only arises if there is keen hunger. If there is no hunger, no appetite, a person turns away from food.
Therefore, the quintessential inner factor is that there should be a great hunger in the soul for the attainment, just as when physiologically a person feels great hunger for food and will not rest until their hunger is appeased. Scientific researchers are driven by such a hunger. Day and night they can be in their laboratories trying to somehow or other attain a breakthrough. They have this powerful inner hunger for new knowledge, for discovery.
In the same way, in the spiritual world it is this great inner longing, this great hunger, that is the one quintessential factor. If it is there, all other things are somehow or other managed; they are dealt with and you go on proceeding further and further upward. If it is not there, if it is lacking or if it is not of the highest quality and measure, then no matter how much yoga and pranayama, how much japa and study of scriptures or any other spiritual practice you may do, all that is seen is a snail’s pace progress. It is not without reason that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Mark! These are key words–hunger and thirst–a great longing.
The guru of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna, used to go and stand before the shrine of the Divine Mother and say: “Mother, here is knowledge, here is ignorance. I offer both at Your feet; I do not want either. Give me only unalloyed devotion to Thy lotus feet.” He would offer Her everything–discrimination and non-discrimination, meditation and dissipation, this and that, everything–saying that he wanted nothing; he just asked for unalloyed devotion to Her lotus feet.
This leads us into a great truth in spiritual life. That which pleases the Supreme Being the most, that which unfailingly draws down the grace of the Divine, is this hunger and thirst in the human heart, a great longing in the human heart for God and God alone to the exclusion of all other things: “Take away everything. I only want unalloyed devotion that longs for You and You alone.”
This is the quintessential factor in the spiritual path and the spiritual life. May you hunger and thirst after righteousness. May the grace of the Divine Mother and the benedictions of Holy Master grant you all that is essential to make your life a glorious success!”