Hunger

I am thinking about hunger this morning.

David Hinton, an American poet and Chinese translator, wrote a book called “Hunger Mountain:  A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape”.  I read the book both voraciously and laboriously (it was quite scholarly in sections).

He talked about the ancient Chinese poets and how they sought to inhabit the constant-flow-of-things.  He also spoke of the hunger which drives the world and the ways we seek to fulfill it.

Hunger is no stranger to any of us.  Even if our plates lie heaped in fruits, vegetables, tasty morsels of meat, whipped cream desserts, we often experience hunger for creativity, love, peace, happiness.  We maneuver through our days attempting to satisfy an inner ghost who wants, wants, wants.

More, more, more, the mind whispers.

Much of this life I experienced waking up with a deep inner hunger.  It manifested as restlessness, not-knowing-what-to-do, a deep pang in the heart buried beneath everyday ritual and manifestation.

In younger days I often drove to town to eat breakfast.  It seemed the only temporary appeasement to that fierce hunger for something which could not be satisfied by eggs and toast.  Usually it found wings when scribbling in a notebook, sipping coffee, attempting to express the inexpressible.

In recent years, intensely observing human mind and nature, it appears that so many of our actions fuel from hunger.  The mind wanders restless, seeking to create the next new experience, the next new love, the next appearance.

It’s our gift.  The energy moves us forward into the dreams we create for ourselves.

Yet, this hunger is also our burden, especially when it beats fierce and strong like a roaring lion in our chest.  It demands appeasement.  It wanders through unconscious fields and devours the sheep within us.

Is there a hierarchy of hunger, I wonder?  Is there a way that hunger matures within us?  Can we make a place for it, a valley of allowing?

Is hunger mostly unconscious in our youth, beneath our understanding and guidance?  Can it be met as a friend, perhaps even lover, coaxed into the sunlight?  Does it turn from crawling to walking like a babe?

Can our raw hunger be transformed into a hunger for *what is*?  Can it dance between dreaming and presence without turning it into a demon?  Can the lion of it prowl on our inner prairies, majestic, unafraid, turning us again and again and again toward what matters so dearly?

I want to ask your experiences with hunger, but it seems like many of us protect this inner rawness so fiercely.  It’s rarely mentioned, even to ourselves.  Our vulnerability quivers here in this place where hunger can not be met by anything of this world.  We cover it up with words, paragraphs, explanations, rationalizations.

I sit here on Hunger Mountain this morning and feel it.  The lion roars.

The day beckons forward.

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4 thoughts on “Hunger

  1. First time through, I thought of-what I think that I still believe, of teachings banishing desire, and I growled. For me desire (hunger) is LIFE!!! Lust for the joy of every thing that passes by the attention in every moment. For me to eradicate it is a killing of the self, suicide, a horrid slap in the face to the Creator.

    Second time through–I have to stop typing because when I typed the first part the moment swept over the second time. I’ll have a few sips of tea, do a phone call from the college about Z and then come back. —ooo it seems as I was going to type something about looking at the lion roaring, that it might be simpler to discuss it or to deal with it for some, in making a decision about what one thinks one sees when one is looking at said lion. Perhaps, sometimes said hunger is not a creation, but The Pit. Maybe there is more than one place like that within the human.

    • It sounds like you’re looking at both sides of hunger, too,Elisa. Interesting how you said hunger is LIFE–perhaps the ancient Chinese poets would agree with you. I see hunger as both a gift and challenge, and can not always find my way when in its teeth.

  2. I don’t think I can articulate my thoughts about hunger. Partly due to the rawness of it, partly due to a lack of words to express the way hunger has both moved me and held me back in life, and then I wonder if it matters, the movement or the holding back. I am reminded of Hungry Ghosts, creatures with large, empty stomachs and pinhole mouths, forever hungry because they are unable to eat, and how some people now think of addictions as Hungry Ghosts. It makes sense to me since addictions are a form of hunger, and I wonder if we made offerings to our hungry ghosts, would it appease them?

  3. Hunger.. The need for that which is not here and the fantasy of having it. I think hunger is a weapon which causes a strong motivation within us towards reaching a point in life which we dream of. It causes inspiration and gives inner strength to hunt for the resources to fulfil our purpose. Hmm.. I don’t think there’s any eternal fulfillment to our hunger. It’s a never ending process that drives our journey of life. .. Well these are my thoughts… For now.. this is my truth…

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