Desire for Love and Consciousness

Hi Gary,
There is one issue that I have been pondering about, and wonder if you can help me with the benefit of your experience?

The one common thread in all experiences of realization, or awareness or awakening seems to be that the person has to be in a state of intense pain or suffering prior to that moment of awakening. Whether it is someone famous like Eckhart Tolle, Katie Byron or someone less known like the lady you interviewed on one of your podcasts, they all have lived through some form of deep pain. So, I wonder, is that almost a requirement to attain the state of freedom?What about others like me, for whom it is more a feeling in the background of missing something, a feeling of being unfulfilled? Not that I consider myself a self-aware or conscious person, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing to you. I do not feel myself to be in a hopeless state – at the same time, I feel a void and that leads me to seek for answers. But since I am not completely beaten down, does that somehow prevent me from progressing or from finding what I seek?

It seems that enlightenment or awareness comes either to those who live in intense suffering or devote their lives completely to spirituality (like Buddha or Ramana Maharshi). That is somewhat discouraging – what about ‘normal’ people or at any rate people with low-intensity unconsciousness?

Or am I thinking too much – just let things be?

I look forward to any thoughts you may have


Emotional pain and suffering are not required for conscious awakening. Most of the people I know that have really developed their consciousness didn’t do the path of deep depression or emotional pain. This is easier because they didn’t have such a big hole to dig themselves out of. What little emotional drama they did do was enough for them to decide to make a change. For others it was enough of a void and yearning to be fulfilled that was motivation. That commitment or agreement with themselves for change was strong enough that they took action, and that new and different action created the change in consciousness and emotion.

I specifically say “take action” which is quite a bit different than being a seeker of knowledge. Accumulating knowledge by reading books does not constitute action. Challenging the voice in your head and the beliefs in your mind is the kind of action I am talking about.

If you look you will find others that did not follow the path of suffering towards consciousness. Miguel Ruiz is one, and his son Jose Luis is an amazing spiritual teacher who avoided the deep emotional pain route. I know quite a few consciously aware individuals that have not devoted their lives to a spiritual path but are masters in their own way. They are devoted to raising their children and still have their day jobs as pediatrician, graphic artists, IT manager, and real estate brokers. They did their pursuit on the weekends, some evenings, and spiritual retreats for vacation much the same way I did.

Suffering is not required. Desire is. And that desire has to be strong enough to spur a person to sustained action. Yearning to fill that void is enough, IF you are willing to change some habits and take sustained action to satisfy the yearning.

Most people don’t take actions or change habits because they don’t have enough desire. They let their mind talk them into not meditating, doing an exercise, or going to a study with a teacher.

A lot of time desire comes from emotional pain but not always. Sometimes desire just builds over time as the feeling the emptiness and yearning that is unanswered builds. The stronger the desire the more definitive will be the action. If the yearning to fill the void is stronger, you will take more actions and create more conscious change faster.

It was an emotionally painful relationship that got me started in the personal development process. But that wouldn’t have been enough motivation to keep me going. If that was all I experienced I would have just gotten myself comfortable and gone on with my life asleep. But then the real inspiration came. My real desire came from the experience of my heart opening and feeling an incredible amount of love flow through me. It was ecstasy, bliss, but better than any drugs could create.

It was love that inspired me to take sustained action. I wanted to feel that unconditional love flowing all the time. The desire was strong enough that I continued for months making small steps every day. I was determined. Not because of pain, but because of the emotional pleasure of love. It was a feeling I didn’t even know was possible before I experienced it. Even after I experienced it, I wasn’t sure if I would get there again. But I had to try. Each time I experienced that much love and joy flowing through me it increased my desire even more. I wanted to get back to that feeling again and again. Love and happiness can be very addicting.

Emotional suffering is just one way people get motivated to a path of action that leads to emotional change and consciousness. It is not the only one. The joy of your unconditional love flowing out of you is probably the most powerful motivator for sustained action. It shows you by experience the destination. From then on, you know what you are seeking is an emotional feeling. You know it is real and it is possible and that is an incredible motivator for action.

The Catch 22 of this is that you may not experience that feeling of great love flowing out of you until you’ve taken sustained action for a while.

For many people they are motivated just to get out of emotional suffering and once they do, they stop there. A smaller number will continue further and experience waves of unconditional love and they are inspired to go much further in consciousness than the average seeker. These often become the spiritual teachers you hear of.

Related Material
For individuals wondering what actions to take, I suggest beginning with the free lessons in my Self Mastery Course, and then adding the paid sessions if they are inclined.