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Synopsis

"Longing is the core of mystery. Longing itself brings the cure."-Rumi

In every tradition, saints and poets speak of the soul's search for the beloved, the seeker's yearning for the divine. This holy longing, a secret feeling with many disguises, leads us to pursue religious discipleship, spiritual practice, romantic union, or an ideal community. It guides us to timeless wisdom and transcendent experience.

But it also can go awry, when we misplace it onto objects, such as food, alcohol, drugs, or sex, believing that they will satisfy our craving. Or when we misplace it onto an authoritarian personality, believing that he or she will meet our unmet needs. If this teacher or priest abuses power, we encounter the shadow side of spiritual life. Whether the abuse is sexual, financial, or emotional coercion, we may feel forsaken and lose faith, even in God.

The Holy Longing tells the stories of teachers in many traditions-Sufi poet Rumi, Hindu master Ramakrishna, Christian saint Catherine of Siena-whose lives unfolded as they followed their longing. And it tells the tales of many ordinary people-Catholic believers, students of Zen and TM, followers of Trungpa Rinpoche and Rajneesh-and their encounters with spiritual shadow. Finally, it offers wise counsel for rekindling the flame of faith-moving through the shadow to the light-by reclaiming sacred parts of the self that were lost along the way.

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