Sacred Desire: My Brush With Transcendence And Jon Bon Jovi.
Religious scholar Huston Smith said that his friend once accused him of whoring after the infinite. To which he replied, “Is there any better whoring?”
We are all searching for transcendence. We all long to fall in love, or be swept away by a moving creative performance. Some of us exercise vigorously to stimulate our endorphins, and some of us seek a buzz from a bottle of wine or a bar of chocolate, maybe both. We do the best we can to meet this longing with what we know.
Sometimes our longing for transcendence gets us into trouble. Maybe in our efforts to always be in love, we short-change ourselves of meaningful relationships built on more sustainable qualities. Sometimes that bar of chocolate leaves us feeling comatose on the couch. Long after finishing that bottle of wine, we find we are still quite thirsty.
For me, as my husband will attest, I have spent much time and money securing concert tickets and attending fan club trips in an effort to get Jon Bon Jovi to know I’m alive.
I’ve been fortunate to get three photos taken with him now, and some of my friends and family would say they are pretty sure his security detail has me on their stalker list. But, I assure them I am tame in comparison to many of the other female fans I have encountered.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote in a 1961 letter to Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, that the craving for alcohol is the low level equivalent of the spiritual thirst for wholeness, or union with God. I believe that this spiritual thirst is something that is stirring in all of us, except that we don’t tend to recognize it for what it is.
So, it becomes substance abuse, addiction, materialism;
“If only I had that new pair of boots, I would be happy. Or, maybe that new purse. Surely a new haircut will make me feel better. Maybe just one more front row Bon Jovi concert, and I will be the girl he picks to dance with during Bed of Roses.”
I know its not really Jon Bon Jovi’s attention I am after, not that I would mind, but it’s the experience of transcendence I desire.
It is really a relationship with the Divine I am craving.
Unbeknownst to me, I have found a way to make this desire into a career path. Working as a therapist, I’ve gotten really good at helping other people recognize their own transcendent desires. Yet, it is only very recently that it hit me…
… everything I am passionate about, artwork, travel, Broadway shows, concerts, even my academic interest in Transpersonal Psychology, is really about cultivating an experience with the transcendent. It is really about me getting close to God. And I now understand that my passions, my callings, are evidence of God’s desire for me, too.
According to philosopher Aldous Huxley, we are not inventing, but discovering the one truth that lies inherent in the foundations of all major spiritual traditions.
Huxley says that there is a transcendent aspect of reality. We are not separate from it. And, not only are we capable of knowing it, it is our human job to wake up and intimately come to know it.
In my early twenties, on a typical day, I emerged from the subway onto Lexington Avenue, when I had a spontaneous experience of being suddenly merged into consciousness with everyone around me on the busy city street. It was an expansive feeling of union with the living world around me, in which I felt a deep empathy and connection.
In that instant, I felt a true unconditional love for all of these strangers around me, but even more than that, I felt with distinct certainty that I was a part of them, and they of me, and it was all love.
This experience goes far beyond any words I could use to describe it, but it leads me to fervently agree with Huxley that transcendence is not just possible, but that it is our human job to seek it out. To do this, though, we have to get uncomfortable.
We have to shift our focus away from the material realm into the realm where we transcend the boundaries of our personalities and egos, so that we can connect to something larger than ourselves.
When we step away from sacralizing our fancy boots and handbags, and even our handsome rockstars, to acknowledge that it is not the objects themselves that will satisfy our sacred desires, we make a space for the transcendent to enter.
As I deepen my commitment to my spiritual development and progress in my own personal growth, creatively, academically, in relationships, in my career, I know that no matter what form it takes, in truth, what I am really doing, is whoring after the infinite.
Maybe you are, too?
Katrina Burgos is a seeker who earns her keep as a therapist in New York City. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on the topic of spiritual resistance at Sofia University (formerly The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) in Palo Alto, California. Katrina’s passions lie at the intersection of Psychology and Spirituality, where she seeks to help others get out of their own way when it comes to personal growth and transcendence. A recovering Catholic, Katrina is striving to contribute to the transformative mission of love at Original Blessing in Brooklyn, NY, for whom she dedicates this piece.