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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cher Explores Desire With "I Hope You Find It"

And I hope you find it
What you're looking for
I hope it's everything you dreamed your life could be
And so much more

And I hope you're happy, wherever you are
I wanted you to know that
And nothing's gonna change that
I hope you find it

Whatever it is out there that you were missing here

Well, I hope you find it
What you're looking for
I hope it's everything you dreamed your life could be
And so much more

And I hope you're happy wherever you are
I wanted you to know that
And nothing's gonna change that
I hope you find it
I hope you find it

From "I Hope You Find It" by Cher

We're all looking for something -- that element that will make us feel complete. We long for some thing -- a piece, a portion, a parcel -- to satisfy our existence on earth. Wistful desire and the search for ultimate happiness have plagued humans since the beginning of time. Perhaps a disconnection between the heart and soul is the price we pay to be born a homo sapien with an egotistical brain.

Mythic Origins of Desire and Love

Why does it seem we are always yearning and wishing to complete ourselves? Let's look to an ancient myth for an interesting perspective. In his dialogue The Symposium, Plato has
Aristophanes, playwright son of the great philosopher Socrates, present a story about soul mates.

Aristophanes states that humans originally had four arms, four legs, and a single head made of two faces. He continues that then there were three genders: man, woman and the "Androgynous." The men were children of the sun, the women were children of the earth and the Androgynous were children of the moon, which was born of the sun and earth.

According to the myth, in those days, humans had great strength and threatened to conquer the gods. The gods, wishing to remain all-powerful, were then faced with the prospect of destroying the humans with lightning as they had done with the Titans, but then the gods realized this destruction would cause them to lose precious tributes given to them by humans.

To remedy the situation, Zeus developed a creative solution to half the power of humans by splitting them in half with his lightning bolts. He could then punish humanity for its pride and effectively double the number of humans who would give tribute to the gods. He bade Apollo to give the face and the half of the neck of these "split humans" a turn in order that they might contemplate the section (half) of themselves: humans would thus learn a great lesson of humility.

Apollo was also bidden to heal their wounds and compose their forms. So as Apollo gave a turn to the face, he also pulled the skin from the sides all over to form the belly, which he fastened in a knot (the navel) -- an opening in the middle to serve as a reminder to mankind of his earlier state.

Yet, then, something rather unexpected happened. Since each of these humans had been cut from two, they longed to reunite with their other half. The new "split humans" now spent every waking moment in search of their missing halves. Inside each one was a primal memory of oneness that his present body alone could not fulfill. Although many of the humans would successfully reunite and throw their arms around each other, they could do nothing else until they died. They longed to grow into one and began to suffer great sorrow.

And so, humans began to die from hunger and self-neglect in large numbers because they did not like to do anything apart. When one of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought another mate, man or woman as we call them, and clung to that union.

To remedy that situation, Zeus decided to allow humans to rejoin temporarily and also reproduce more efficiently. He came up with a plan to move their genitals to the front of the anatomy. He had Apollo reform the man’s genitals on the outside and the woman’s on the inside.

Before then, humans had sowed their seed like grasshoppers, in the ground. After the transposition the male generated sperm in the female in order that by the mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and rest, and go their ways to the business of life.

According to the story of Aristophanes, that anatomical change caused the birth of love and physical desire: A desire which is, at its heart, nothing more than the need to be, literally, re-made whole.

The creatures who had been double women before, naturally sought out women; those who had been androgynous, sought out members of the opposite gender; those who had been double men, sought out the company of men, and not simply for intercourse, but so they could become whole again by being rejoined with their "soul mates."

Therefore, Aristophanes taught that the desire of one another which is implanted in us is ancient. It amounts to reuniting our original nature, seeking to make one of two, and to heal the state of man.

(Translated by Benjamin Jowett, The Internet Classic Archives, 
Symposium by Plato, 360 B.C.E.) 

"I Hope You Find It"

Where do we find what we are seeking? It seems many of us don't even know what we want, yet we still are driven to look for "it."

A. Is "It" In Religion?

Because desire can cause humans to become obsessed and embittered, it has been called one of the causes of woe for mankind. Still, in Christian belief, desire is not considered to be a bad thing in and of itself but a powerful human force, once submitted to the Lordship of Christ, that becomes a wonderful tool for good and for advancement of abundant living.

In Buddhism, the eradication of craving leads one to ultimate happiness, or Nirvana. Desire for wholesome things, though, is liberating and enhancing. While the stream of desire for sense-pleasures must be cut eventually, a practitioner on the path to liberation is encouraged by the Buddha to "generate desire" for the fostering of skillful qualities and the abandoning of unskillful ones. 

(Thanissaro Bhikkhu, "The Seven Sets: Part II," Wings to Awakening, 2011-2013)

 B. Is "It" In the Mind?

Psychologists often describe desires as different from emotions. For psychologists, desires arise from bodily structures, such as the stomach which needs food, the blood needs oxygen, and so on; on the other hand, emotions arise from a person's mental state. A 2008 study by the University of Michigan indicated that while humans experience desire and fear as psychological opposites, they share the same brain circuit.

 (Kent Berridge, "Changing Stress Levels Can Make Brain Flip From Desire to Dread," Nature Neuroscience, The University of Michigan News Service, March 19 2008)

A 2008 study entitled "The Neural Correlates of Desire" showed that the human brain categorizes any stimulus according to its desirability by activating three different brain areas: the superior orbito-frontal, the mid-cingulate, and the anterior cingulate cortices. 

(H. Kawabata and S. Zeki, The Neural Correlates of Desire, 2008)

While the "neuroscience of happiness and well-being is still in its infancy," research on the "distant cousins" of pleasure and desire show that reward is a key element in creating both of these states. Studies showed that a chemical called dopamine is the brain's "pleasure chemical." Research also shows that the orbitofrontal cortex has connections to both the opioid and dopamine systems, and stimulating this cortex is associated with subjective reports of pleasure.

C. Is "It" In Human Development and Language?

French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Jacques Lacan (1901–1981) argues that desire first occurs during a "mirror phase" of a baby's development, when the baby sees an image of wholeness in a mirror which gives them a desire for that being.

As a person matures, Lacan claims that they still feel separated from themselves by language, which is incomplete, and so a person continually strives to become whole. He uses the term jouissance (In French, jouissance means "enjoyment," in terms both of rights and property, and of sexual orgasm -- the latter has a meaning partially lacking in the English word enjoyment.) to refer to the lost object or feeling of absence which a person believes to be unobtainable.

 (Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, 1994)

D. Is "It" In the Spirit?

Australian newspaper editor, tantric master, and author Barry Long defined desire as stress or strain -- "a tension between people and the things or states they desire." As the thing does not feel this stress, the desiring is a one-way tension within a person, an apparent reaching out towards the object or person.

When the person responds in the way desired, or the object is attained, the desire settles down into a relationship. A relationship is identifiable by the presence of an attitude in yourself which reacts in terms of "mine."

This view holds that the strength of a relationship cannot be known until after it is broken. Then, the original desire reappears, modified by experience. It continues to be modified by repetition of experience until eventually it vanishes. Unsuspected by the long-suffering "desirer," its final stage is usually a shadow-existence of thinking and going back over the past, powered by nothing more than habit. Every habit is a track left by desire.

Long believes desire, itself, can only be eliminated by desiring, and that always results one way or another in pain for the desirer. Living is just that: ceaseless desire eliminating and reforming itself by the pain and frustration of its own wanting.

When a desire has been reduced to the level of a habit or idea it can be dealt with and eliminated fairly quickly by observation - seeing it for what it is. In that moment a person suddenly realizes he is  free of the relationship as a need or dependence "of mine."

 (Barry Long, Knowing Yourself and My Life Of Love & Truth: 
A Spiritual Autobiography, 2013)

My Take

I first heard Cher sing "I Hope You Find It" from her 2013 release Closer To the Truth on the David Letterman Show last night. The song was produced by Mark Taylor, and it was originally released by Miley Cyrus a few years back. To me, Cher's delivery was superb, and I was strongly drawn to the simple yet thought-provoking lyrics. I put her rendition in my personal category of "magic tunes."

The theme of "I Hope You Find It" expresses that true love, comprised of equal measures of giving and forgiveness, allows a person to put a loving companion's freedom and desires first. The ultimate gift of such a lover becomes earnest devotion to the wish that a paramour attains completeness and satisfaction, even if that attainment requires the paramour to search for something indistinct and completely beyond the lover's ability to bestow.

I was struck by the "hope" expressed in the song. Isn't this what we wish for, for those we love? We hope they find the "thing" they are looking for, and more importantly, we hope once they find "it," it is exactly what they "dreamed" it would be. Doubts filled with cloudy realities always exist in our best wishes, but we know we must dream with the dreamers, believe in them, and allow them to find their own desires. Just as the lyrics express, we lovingly say: "I wanted you to know that" and
"nothing's gonna change that." Simply put: "I hope you find it."

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