The Two Hungers

Are you hungry? What are you hungry for? We’re all hungry for something. Knowing what you hunger for is wisdom. The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa talk about “the two hungers.” There is the Great Hunger and the little hunger. The little hunger yearns for food while the great hunger, the greatest hunger of all, is the hunger for meaning. There is ultimately only one thing that makes human beings deeply and profoundly bitter, and that is to have thrust upon them a life without meaning. There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness. but of far more comfort to the soul is something greater than happiness or unhappiness, and that is meaning. Because meaning transfigures all. Once what you are doing has meaning for you, it is irrelevant whether you’re happy or unhappy. You are content. This was the beautiful and profound observation of the South African author Laurens van der Post. We pretend our hunger baffles us. We try to feed our hunger in a thousand ways, but still our hunger remains, because it will only be satisfied with meaning. We cannot thrive without meaning. Our need for meaning is as urgent and unceasing as our need for water.

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