Longing for Fulfillment

Ajahn Sumedho

Longing for Fulfillment

The Buddhist teaching asks us to reflect on the human experience, starting with the feeling of separation and alienation that is common to all of us. If we don’t contemplate our own existence or try to understand it, then our life seems to be filled with meaningless activity and our sense of that tends to increase the feeling of separation and alienation.

We want to find someone who will fulfill us, someone on whom we can depend, someone who will never fail us. There used to be a romantic image of the person who was made for us; when we met them, we would live happily ever after in a state of bliss. But even though we might find the ‘right’ person, it is always a disappointment if we are expecting them to fulfill us. Ultimately, they can’t fulfill us because they are separate from ourselves.

For example, if we attach to them and they die, we feel bereft because we are left without that on which we’ve depended. Anything separate from us, any other being that comes to us, will inevitably go away from us. So making a demand for fulfillment on another creature will increase our sense of alienation, disappointment, sorrow, grief, and despair.

The spiritual life, then, is one in which we no longer seek union on this sensory plane. We’re no longer making demands on other beings; we’re no longer expecting anything from anyone else. We’re no longer even seeking God as a separate being who will come and help us, saving the day when we’re in trouble. We relinquish any kind of interference or intercession from above, and we don’t expect or demand that.

Instead, we begin to examine the very center of being, in a way that lets us realize it within the apparent separateness of our existence.

This reflection by Luang Por Sumedho is from the book, Ajahn Sumedho Anthology, Volume 2—Seeds of Understanding, (pdf) p. 236.