To Augustine, spiritual unease (restlessness) was a movement towards God which is an unavoidable part of the human condition.
What Augustine here describes as a motion towards unity or wholeness, psychology today defines as congruency. Restlessness (spiritual unease) is a spiritual rather than a behavioural term. It describes the human process towards God. Restlessness (spiritual unease) is a process, a becoming. Only when a human being finds his or her own place does that person find rest.
If an individual loves creatures and material objects without reference to the Creator, he or she loses insight and understanding, and is thus unsatisfied in soul, i.e., not at ease, and restless. Sin and evil is a corruption of love; as such, it is its own punishment.To attempt to define a human person without making reference to God is impossible for Augustine because all people are created in the image of God. For Augustine, the phenomenon of restlessness (spiritual unease) characterises human life.
In his anthropology Augustine credits each human being with a spark of the Divine, and this spark restlessly flickers until we go to God eternally. As he wrote early in his book, Confessions, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." Without the gift of the grace of God (in Latin, gratia), humanity experiences a gravity that pulls us towards passing pleasures and transitory satisfaction. These might be bodily appetites, the acquisition of power, or wealth; about these he expressed considerable concern..
Augustine reminded his readers just how passing such experiences can be, no matter how good they might be in themselves. He stated that lasting happiness can neither be found nor guaranteed in external possessions. He was of the conviction that God made us such that we are not completely at home in this world, but are restless here. Human beings are visitors on earth. We cannot stay here permanently even if we wanted to. Our hearts are restless until they find eternal rest in God. Jesus Christ is both the road and the goal of our journey.
The teaching of Augustine was uniform in this conviction, including his world view, his view of human society, and his anthropology. Our Christian love - our centre of spiritual gravity - is ever drawing us on restlessly until it can find its repose in God, Who is the only real and supreme good. His interest in the operations of the human mind was revealed in his unease and his questioning of himself in his Confessions and in his images of the Trinity in his major work, De Trinitate. This had a strong influence on the theories of psychology of medieval scholars, and on the teachers of spiritual meditation.
The restless heart of Augustine prompted a searching, a commitment to truth and love, and an unrelenting desire to engage the mystery of God that both overwhelmed and called him. As a seeker of God, philosopher, convert, a person of prayer, literary artist, busy church official, Christian author and orator, Augustine sought to understand himself and humanity before God. In his attempt, he left behind a valuable spiritual legacy and a literary heritage. The restlessness (spiritual unease) of Augustine of Hippo has profoundly shaped the Christian faith of the West. VideoPope Francis asks Augustinians to keep St. Augustine's restlessness to help others.
(2 minutes 37 seconds) August 2013: Augustinians from across the world are in Rome to choose their prior general for the next six years, and set their agendas. The Pope accepted their invitation and celebrated the Mass to start of the Chapter General for the Order. The Pope asked them to live with the same restlessness that led St. Augustine, despite his sins, to find God.