The search for home goes so very, very deep in the human psyche. Throughout all human history it has expressed itself in every single facet of our lives – in our art, our music, our science, our mathematics, our literature, our philosophy, in our quest for love, in our spirituality.
Male and female seek each other, try to complete themselves through sexual union. We seek our ‘soul mates’, search for our ‘other halves’ who will complete us. In our cosmic homesickness we seek union with God, with Spirit, with Nature, with the guru. We buy houses together and magically transform them into homes, and after a long, exhausting day at kindergarten, or at the office, we just want to go home, back to mother, back to our loved ones, back to sleep, back to the cosmic womb.
We populate landmasses, create countries, and call them our homeland, our motherland, our fatherland. We fight and die to protect our homeland – the land that we love, the land our ancestors were born in and died in. We wander in the wilderness for a thousand years and long for the promised land, for our heaven on earth, for our Jerusalem.
Characters in novels, in plays, in movies, journey far away from home, discover who they really are and return home, somehow changed, somehow the same. We love our movies, our television shows, to end with a tearful homecoming, a tearful reunion, and the story of the one who never came home haunts us like anything. In The Wizard of Oz, a young girl leaves her colorless home, goes on an incredible journey, meets various facets of herself, and returns to the same place – but now she sees what’s really there.
As children, we are homesick when we are away from home for too long, away from the ones we love.
In art, the interplay of foreground and background, light and shade, positive and negative space creates tension, drama. Our longing for resolution makes the artwork compelling. Perhaps it is the same longing that has driven mathematicians, philosophers, physicists, for all of human history, to seek some kind of grand, unified, all-encompassing theory of reality, to find wholeness in the chaos, to find love in the midst of devastation.
The spiritual seeker leaves home in search of enlightenment, and returns home again, only to discover that the enlightenment he sought was there from the beginning. When people die we say they have ‘gone home’, or found a new home where they can rest eternally. We are told that even the universe is expanding and contracting – somehow seeking equilibrium, seeking home. Yin and yang, light and dark, creation and destruction, tension and resolution, contraction and release – this is the heartbeat of the cosmos, the heartbeat of all art, music, literature, spirituality, the beat of our very own hearts, which must come to rest eventually. All things long to come to rest. It is no wonder that at its root the word ‘home’ means ‘rest’ or ‘lie down’. Home is not a place, a thing, or a person – it is rest.
Jeff Foster is author and speaker influenced by Advaita, Sufism and Zen holding meetings and retreats in UK, Europe and USA.