What does this even mean?
I remembered the expression “your heart’s desire” from my childhood reading, a book from C.S. Lewis’s beloved Narnia series. In the fifth book of the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the valiant talking mouse Reepicheep is on a sailing journey with his human friends Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace to the eastern edge of the Narnian world. Reepicheep learns from a wise Old Man that he will find his heart’s desire when he leaves his friends and goes to the “utter east,” never to return. Reepicheep is certain he will find “Aslan’s country” there. In Lewis’s Christian allegory “Aslan’s country” is Heaven.
But one does not need to be a Christian or believe in any kind of heaven to have a concept of “heart’s desire.” Some might say that Heaven and Hell are right here on Earth, and even within individuals.
To me, the meaning of “heart’s desire” is close to the meaning evoked by the words “happiness” and “inner peace.”
People may reach their heart’s desire in different ways.
For some, their heart’s desire is to be found in unison and intimacy with another person. Committed love is a crucial pathway for some; others may be content with solitude, or choose closeness with more than one friend or lover. Or, like Reepicheep, their heart’s desire is to be found in union with their God, whatever name that notion of “god” takes.
I know I have not yet achieved my heart’s desire. For me, the expression connotates many parts. Above all, it requires self-knowledge; knowing my deepest desires and then striving to fulfill them. Intimacy with at least one other person is only a part of what I need. For me, achieving my heart’s desire would mean achieving harmony and integrity between all parts of my body, mind, and spiritual being. It would mean knowing my own ethical system and always acting according to its principles. It would mean knowing that I have discovered the reason why God or even random chance gave me the gift of my fleeting spark of life. What is my purpose here? How can I share the best parts of myself to contribute to humanity and the Earth that is our home?
Perhaps what Buddhists call reaching Nirvana or becoming “enlightened” is the same as what I call “finding your heart’s desire.”
Sometimes I reach this state transitorily. It’s like drawing a curtain; you thought the curtain was an impassable barrier, but when you pull it aside you see that it was, in fact, insubstantial and filmy, and beyond it you catch a glimpse of another world, another reality.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing a few people (not yogis!) who seemed to possess a tranquility that isn’t just ephemeral. Being around such a person is comforting and inspiring. They are givers. They see the humanity in all others and accept differences and flaws. They share and help not only in practical ways, but through the radiance of the inner peace that they carry always with them.
Some of them would say it is God and their faith in Him that gives them this peace; Buddhists might say peace comes from detachment from all desires; I believe there are many paths to finding our heart’s desire. We recognize when we are on the right path, even if it has no name or can’t be found on any map.
I wrote another post a few months ago with similar ideas to this one: “Bodily integrity, spiritual integrity.”