There is a word (sehnsucht) that describes a deep and ineffable longing for something beyond description, joyous and enjoyable beyond anything in this World, that 'haunts' many people: like CS Lewis for example. I myself feel it so strongly that I feel joy and ecstasy is rendered tiny next to my hope but I fear it doesn't exist because my notion of it is so vague ( though certain things inspire it). A lot of Christians say this is the hope we were born for but there is no evidence for that scale of joy in the Bible ( it says there is no pain as well as other negation a in Heaven and mentions joy here and there). That makes me think there must be philosophical 'evidence' for so many to believe that...but I also wonder if such a desire is not, itself, proof? Are we born with a futile longing that dwarfs all other desires?

  • I don't have time for a full answer, but Robert Barron disucsses this sometimes, referencing Aquinas, as one argument for God's existence ("existence through desire"). Like many of these things, it is a serious argument from a well established school of thought, but there are those who disagree with it. Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 20:40

2 Answers 2


Some of us are not born with such a futile longing, and there is no particular reason to suppose that such desires prove that what one desires exists or is a good idea, any more than desire to eat sweet things proves that we should eat candy all the time, or intense desires by the mentally unsound prove that they have a different God or live in a different universe than do we.

I am not exceedingly familiar with Christian philosophy and apologetics, but if such was taken as proof (rather than as rather weak confirming evidence), it would be an invalid argument. When I have encountered the argument, it has always been in that context: not a proof, but a gentle suggestion that supports that world-view.

  • But it's not like overly desiring alchohol. Joy is holy. Can it really be so that a mortal can desire a better reality than God can create??? Surely not! Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 19:23
  • @ThomasJennings - If God exists, then it seems likely that God could create a better reality than a mortal can conceive. But wishing I had a unicorn does not mean I have a unicorn any more than wishing that God exists and has created such a reality gets me God and that reality. Thus: desire is not proof.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 19:26
  • True. Sorry, it was misworded (I just assumed we would be beginning with the notion of God existing.). If he does, I've come around to thinking it logical (if He is truly infinite and perfectly good- as the Christian God is meant to be) that if such a being 'was', it's part of our definition that he is beyond us in power and goodness and, thereby, we can't outdo Him in the level of our desire for a good thing (like joy and happiness). Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 19:39
  • I think sehnsucht is fairly common. It may not be proof of God but, at least, it is an interesting 'problem' Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 19:40
  • Even if God exists and there is something worth yearning for it is not obviously necessary that we yearn for it, or if we do that it be stronger than other yearnings.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 20:03

Your desire for that deep state of joy exists as a reality for many including some I know and have known. And there are definite ways to achieve it. One of them is being in the present for as long as you can which takes you in a state of acceptance and simply being. But once you practice this you realize it is easier said than done. But this is only one technique which you will find in several selfhelp books. There are many other lesser known methods which I have learnt. Although I have not reached the state you describe, I have certainly felt it for decent durations. I can direct you to learn those.

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