The first question:
I don't understand. You said that longing is in and of itself divine. Yet you have often said that all desiring, even for God, is mundane and not spiritual.
Longing in its purity is divine, longing when it longs for nothing is divine. The moment an object of longing arises, it becomes mundane. Longing is a pure fire that purifies, longing is a smokeless fire, a smokeless flame. But the moment it becomes attached to any object whatsoever: worldly, otherworldly; money, meditation, God, nirvana, it doesn’t matter – any object, and the longing is no longer pure. It is contaminated by the object. Then the object becomes more important than the longing itself. Then the longing is only a means, it is no longer the end in itself.
And the whole effort of sannyas is to help you drop all objects of longing. Longing will not disappear – in fact, the more objects are dropped, the more intense, the more total the longing will become, because the energy involved in the objects will be released. And there comes a moment when one is simply thirsty – not thirsty for something, but just simply thirsty. Hungry – not hungry for something, just a pure fire of longing. And that very pure fire consumes you, reduces you to ashes. And out of that, something new is born.
This is the meaning of the parable of the phoenix, this is the significance of the parable of the phoenix. The bird dies in a fire that arises within his own being, is consumed by it, disappears into it, and then is resurrected.
And this is the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection too: his dying on the cross and being reborn. Jesus says again and again, “Unless ye are born again, ye will not be able to enter into my kingdom of God.”
But how to be born again unless you die first? An ultimate death has to precede it before the ultimate birth can happen.
I can understand your confusion – because on the one hand I say, “Longing is in and of itself divine.” I repeat it again, it is so. And there is no contradiction when I say that all desiring, even for God, is mundane and not spiritual. Longing is divine. Long for, and you have fallen. This is the original fall. You have lost the purity, the virginity of longing; it has become muddy, it has fallen on the earth, its wings are cut.
There is no contradiction in these two statements. Whenever you find a contradiction in my statements make it a point to meditate over them, because essentially there cannot be a contradiction. Apparently there may be, but now you have to start doing some homework too.