THE COLUMN

Issue No. 61/March 30, 1996


ONE WISH

IVAN HOFFMAN

Imagine a world of scarcity in which you had to choose only one wish that could be fulfilled. I realize this confronts the whole cliché about three wishes from the genie in the bottle and all but go along here for a moment. This is not a world in which I believe but we are often given these hypothetical questions on first dates, cocktail parties or in other similarly uncomfortable situations and so it's good practice. What, under those circumstances, would be your wish?

Would you wish for gold? This is a common wish and not an unreasonable one. We all need gold of some sort. I have wished for gold and in the past I have had my wish granted. Having gold is a good thing but, as I found out, not the only thing. Indeed, for me the gold tarnished.

Would you wish for love? Ah! Yes, love would be near the top of everyone's list I assume. Is for me. I have wished for love and I have been given love of many sorts in my life. But what kind of love would you wish for? Passionate, romantic, sexual love? Certainly. Love from family and friends? Certainly. Love from those who respect who you are? Certainly. Love of the self? Most certainly. I have had my wish granted in all of these areas and yet there have been times when it did not seem enough. There were times when love alone wasn't enough to sustain me. Not even when love was combined with gold. I found that I needed more than even that boffo combination.

But consider perhaps that among the wishes that ought be taken seriously is the wish to be understood.

I have apparently been wishing to be understood all my life, even before I knew that I had been wishing for it. It appears to be one of the other biggies in my life that I be known, at a deep level.

This may not be everyone's cup of tea, to be known intimately. It scares many people to have another know who they are in their hearts. But I have apparently come into this life for a number of reasons and one appears to be to understand what it means to be understood. Or not understood.

Indeed, it may very well be that the reason I feel I have to be understood is so that I can remove from my wish list the need to be understood. A seeming paradox no doubt but when looked at from the point of view of the end goal of our lives-to reach spiritual intimacy-the paradox resolves.

In other words, for me the only purpose in life is to reach enlightenment, spiritual intimacy. In order that we accomplish this, we must become free of all attachments to the ego and exist only at the level of the heart. It is through the heart, I believe, that we are connected to God. The need to be understood seems to be a need that reposes in the ego and not in the heart. If it is important that we be understood, or loved, or have gold, then we are living in some respects in our ego and outside our hearts. All that we need is to be intimate with ourselves, with our destiny, with God and for that we do not need to be understood by anyone except ourselves.

I have been given many experiences in which I have not been understood. These experiences have been painful. Having gold and finding it not to be enough was because I did not understand myself. I attracted gold for the very reason that I could see that it was not enough. I believe I understand this about me now. Having love and losing love was because I did not understand myself. Not a lesson I have fully taken to heart quite yet.

No matter how loudly I cry that I am not understood, I am still not understood. No matter how much I wish to be known, I am still not known.

It appears that I am blessed by being not understood, painful though that is. If I am to be able to shed the need to be understood, I must have the experience of not being understood so that I can understand that all I need is inside me, my heart. Being understood by me is the same as being understood by God.

And that is all that matters.

Understand?


© 1996 Ivan Hoffman

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