The above links connect to various places that those of a philosophical bent might like to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who am I to talk about Life?
And why?

Everyone who is born wants to know why. Or at least they want to know why they go through pain. Everyone is allowed to think about it – we don't have to be someone special to ask why we are here. Or to find out!

We like to be told things — but surely, no-one can really 'tell' us who or what we are. Isn't that something we have to know? Something we have to experience for ourselves.

Christianity would have us agree that we are miserable sinners, powerless but for God. Hinduism would have us discover that our own personal reality is God! Famous thinkers like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking tell us that both are wrong, but their arguments do not tell us how we came to be, or more important, why ... and what we are made of — only some stuff about chance, or mathematical laws of physics. But who/what created 'chance'? Who/what created 'laws of physics'? These big thinkers tell us that God doesn't exist but they only tell us that their version of God doesn't exist — which I am quite sure is true! But that doesn't mean that something fundamental that one could call God doesn't exist — it just means they have defined God wrongly. Something greater than their mind must exist because their mind, like everything else, is made of something bigger!

Scientists call this 'self-evident' because it needs no proof – it is an undeniable experience that we exist, however much we may try to discuss or disprove it. Are you conscious? No physicist has yet discovered what consciousness is, but we certainly know we have it! Stamp on their toe and ask them about consciousness!

One thinker tried all his life to include the idea of God in Physics – Einstein. He was able to show us that everything is a form of energy. That is, every 'thing'. He announced his discovery that energy changes to and from matter but it cannot be created or destroyed.

These words are remarkably similar to a description of the Hindu view of 'God', which is that everything is a form of 'The Divine' – whatever that is! Or, to put it another way, God's form, or shape, is what is – i.e. whatever we see when we open our eyes, whatever we hear with our ears, whatever we feel and experience. You would expect God to have a pretty interesting shape, wouldn't you?!

If instead of the word 'God' we use the word 'Energy' (or whatever word you like for 'the universe', 'what is', etc.) we find we are describing most philosophies on the planet. Who doesn't believe that there is energy? And Einstein pointed out that everything (including us) is made of it. It's nice that E=mc² links Energy, Matter and Light. Sounds very hippie, New Age, doesn't it? But it is physics fact, tested to ... destruction ... by the atomic bomb which was one proof of the correctness of the theory. Amazing amount of energy locked up in a small piece of matter...

Well — if we are all made of matter/energy/God, we must, in fact, BE that God! In FACT!! Hmmmm... do we feel like God? No? Why not, if we definitely are? The reason seems to be ... it's all in the mind...

The Mind

The ancient texts of Hinduism state not only that we ARE God but also that we do not know we are. They describe another aspect of God that they call 'Maya', illusion – or rather, the delusion that the world really exists when it doesn't...! 'Another aspect of God' must mean 'another aspect of ourself', if we are made only of God. Some trick of God's creation – of our own creation – hides from us the knowledge of our true nature, replacing it with an illusory idea of what we are: a chap called Ian, in my case. But 'I' am not the same Ian I was when I was 2, or 22, or 65 as of today! So who am I? Hinduism proposes that the only woirthwhile point of life is to regain our knowledge of our own true nature, which got enveloped in Maya. Any other purpose for this life is ... deluded!

What is the nature of Maya, this deception? OK, we think we are 'Ian', or 'Nicola', or whoever — but we rarely think we are God, when in reality we are ONLY God! (Or 'Energy' – even Einstein's equation says this is true.) The key word here is THINK. What is it that thinks? Only the mind. WHO is it that thinks – YOU, your reality!

Our mind is certainly capable of giving us an altered experience of 'real' reality — take alcohol or drugs, or dreams – or hypnotism. Each of these changes our perception of what, who or where we are, because they affect the mind.

So to sum up, we seem to have been blessed with a reality that is God/energy/consciousness but also includes an interesting 'deluding mechanism' — our mind.

How curious! Why did we do that? (It is OUR creation!) What do we do about it? Perhaps the answer is something we are very familiar with, until our mind gets too boring... fun! Playing about! But we'll come to that in a moment.

True?

So is this all true??? Has it been tested? By whom? It is all very unfamiliar territory for Westerners. But fortunately, in the East, wise old people have been exploring the naature of reality for a lot longer than us babes in the West.

Hinduism lists the names of many wonderful people who have set out to explore the nature of the mind, perhaps intending to break through into some other reality or place. But the most successful seem to have realised that there is nothing to break through and no place to go to. In fact, trying to go anywhere other than we where we are here and now is just another activity of a deluded mind!

Hinduism may be old, so old that it doesn not have a founder, but there are now many developments of Hinduism. Buddhism is a development of Hinduism, exported to countries further East than India. And one development of Buddhism is Zen Buddhism. The idea of Zen Buddhism is that sudden and complete understanding can take place in a flash of insight. Other forms of Buddhism and Hinduism are based more on practical activities such as meditation and yoga.

The point is – you may be able to see the point immediately – or it may take a bit of time spent thinking about it – to spot that the mind is not the wonderful and mighty thing that we consider it to be in the West but actually the one thing that distracts us from everything we really want - bliss, peace, love!

If your mind immediately sees clearly and totally that it is not wanted, it may become immediately silent, allowing you to feel your true nature instantly. At least for a short time. Earlier in my life, before I came across any of this understanding, I had occasional 'ecstatic' moments that I couldn't explain. I just felt supremely blissful, happy, carefree, for no reason. If you get that feeling from reading this, stay with it! if not, keep thinking about it ... rather more likely you will have to train your mind to shut up! There are methods! And you get encouraging results fro the moment you start.

Play?

Before we go further, let me put all this in a slightly different way.

There is a Sanskrit word 'leela' that means 'divine play' – specifically, God's entertainment of creating the universe and all that's in it. The point is that what God is doing is having fun being us and it is just Divine Play. Eternal Play. Nothing has a reason or a purpose. It is a totally entgertaining kaleidoscope, turning in time for no reason or purppose, except perhaps the fun of rediscovering it is only a kaleidoscope and not real!

I found that simple thought utterly fulfilling, when I first heard it. Yes! Freedom from the terrible tyranny of thinking there must be somewhere we have to get to, something we have to achieve, someone we have to please ... and the awful risk of failing to do so. Gone, all that! Yay! Nothing to do but BE and PLAY in this dazzling existence.

But then we think: if it's play, it is rather serious play! It doesn't seem like play when we or others have terrible pain. It seems an insult to think of the awful misfortunes that befall others as 'play'. At first sight one wants to throw away the idea as totally ridiculous. BUT... may I pass on something that was pointed out to me? When we are feeling good, happy, in good company, sometimes the surprising choice we make is to immerse ourselves in drama stories, crime stories – even horror stories – for pleasure! And more – if we don't find them totally convincing, horribly scary, we are disappointed, aren't we?

So there is a case for allowing the Divine consciousness experiencing the universe and all the life within it as a 'leela', as play? A whole interplay of equal and opposites? Good and bad, big and small, forward and backward, hot and cold, dark and light, pleasure and pain, fun and misery, success and failure ... is there anything that does not have an opposite? A whole drama that adds up to nothing!! What an extraordinary creation.

If everything is God, our ups and downs, loves and hates, wins and losses are all just part of the opposites that ebb and flow as this infinite and indescribable kaleiodoscope. And as Einstein's equation points out, nothing is real except energy ...

Of course, the illusion of life feels very real to us, with pleasure the only goal and suffering a totally unacceptable part of it: not 'play' at all. So naturally, the solution to the human problems of why are we here? and why did God create pain and suffering? becomes the great goal of life in this mightly measureless drama of the universe...

So, what to do?

If we think about it – the times when life doesn't feel at all like play are when we are immersed in strong thoughts and feelings, such as sadness or pain, and our thoughts grow more and more intense. And, if we are honest, the obsessive pursuit of pleasure. So, what if we were able to think less? The theory would predict that we would feel less deluded and feel more of the 'energy' and less of the 'matter'. What would it feel like?

So ... perhaps we could try thinking less. Easy to say – but hard to do. Thoughts are all based on wanting something, or wanting to avoid something. So by stopping wanting things, or trying to avoid things, will we think less? We can try this, right now: simply stop wanting – anything. But, that also means everything! Try wanting ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It's the totallity that does the trick, not picking and choosing bits to suit us. I've found I gain immense and surprising peace by stopping wanting anything at all. It may not last very long – the thoughts and desires crowd in again pretty quickly – but I get a brief experience of surprising peace.

So, if we could train ourselves to want less, or even nothing at all, what would happen? Of course, it is not easy to live like that... which is the biggest problem. Our Western culture is all about WANTING, WANTING, WANTING and people think we are weird if we don't want things. Amazingly, in fact, we become better equipped to get what we want when we are at peace, and not actually wanting the result we seek. Sounds easy but it is too easy to slip back and let desires grow again (including the desire to have no desire!) – and we lose the peace again.

Difficult and paradoxical. But if any of this is right, we are talking about no less than the supreme goal that anyone can set themself, the highest possible challenge: the final stage of human evolution, no less. Would you expect it to be easy?

But then again – it can be easy – depending... There's the life of a recent great saint in India that you can read about, born in 1879 and living through out move of the 20th century, Ramana Maharishi. He slipped into the state of consciousness of his reality while still a teenager, lying on his bed alone one afternoon wondering what it would be like to dead. His concentration was so powerful that he experienced his pure energy. He realised in the following weeks that ordinary life had become meaningless to him, so he slipped away to the foot of a mountain in South India called Arunachala, where he remained all his life as a great spiritual teacher, from his teens to a ripe old age, never leaving the mountain.

So, are we waiting for something? I was amazed and lucky enough to discover this clear understanding of life when I was actually in India for 3 months, travelling. I was finding that the Indian civlisation is much older than ours, and much wiser than ours. Civilisation has been going on for a long, long time in that part of the world, thousands of years longer than in Europe. I had the freedom to think... and change... I left London as a money grabbing 26 year old westerner and came back a meditating vegetarian ... and a whole lot happier!

OK, enough for now! Plenty to think about. These words here are not proposing any cult, any method, or any product. This is just a chat: a few thoughts and observations from someone who has been on the planet for a while now (65 as I write this). I will write more soon... like you, I have so little time to spare! What a crazy life it is in the West. Go to India and find even more craziness of life! But you'll also find a wonderful stillness lurking beneath it...

There is enough on this page to completely change your view of life if you want to think about it. When enough of us think about it, society will begin to change. "Society will change only when individuals change," a great teacher said.

Final Note

I like to speak plainly. There are many great books and great teachers. But many also make the 'meaning of life' out to be very complex and daunting.

Well, it may seem daunting, when you start to loosen the hold the mind has had on you since birth... but the basic idea is not complex or daunting — or even 'secret'. I Think the founders of the great religions would have made it seem very simple, like this. But their followers, and commentators, come along: they love to make themselves seem important by writing long books 'interpreting' what the great men had already made so simple.

E = mc² ... one energy transforming into matter and light and back again, fits all the basic understanding of religions and beliefs in one simple stroke. See if you don't become happier and healthier just by 'being' the energy – wanting less because you are already have – already are – what you think you want!

But don't get too carried away and give up everything because someone told you to! First get the experience of the energy and then that experience will tell you what you need to give up and what you don't. The Buddha may have walked out of his life and gone wandering, but if we all did that, it would lead to chaos. You don't need to change anything about your life; it's enough just to change the way you view it.

Many techniques of meditation and yoga exist to help us quieten the mind and get a glimpse of what can be seen in mental silence. I'd love to help and talk more. A book, one day, perhaps. I've certainly glimpsed my own 'pure energy' – but, I have certainly not made that glimpse a permanent state of mind! Still working on it! But the glimpses and the theory have given me immense peace, simply from realising that the mind and all its babble is NOT something to take seriously – and it slips away, with little persuasion, when you remember that we are all just energy, made of stars, just a kaleidoscope of matter and light, with no direction, no point, and no required achievement. This really helps in the middle of a sleepless night! You cannot switch off your mind but you can quieten it by making it do something pointless and meaningless, like repeating a peaceful name, or counting slowly, with each breath, "21, 22," etc.

In India they say, "Mind is a mad monkey!" Ignore it and it slips quietly away when no-one is paying it any attention!

Peace, contentment, love – these are far more important than ambition, money or pleasures — though it may take a little time to get convinced of this. You could try reading this through again... unless you have already 'got the point'!

 


Email me if any difficulties. I don't want anyone feeling worse because of anything I have written.

.... last edited 19th June 2017. More to come when I find time, if anyone is interested! Contact me if you wish to.
All the best! (and the 'best' is LOVE!)
Ian

Sathya Sai Baba

One source of information about life stands out to me. I discovered Sai Baba in 1978 and visted his ashram.

Much has been said to try to diminish Sai Baba. However, if you are intelligent, his teachings are clear and if you try them, they work. His nature is subtle, so simplistic praise, or attacks on him, are pointless, unless your ego is trying to make a name for itself!

Check out why the President and Prime Minister of India went to his funeral, why George Harrison and John Lennon went to see him, and why followers of his teachings are to be found in well over 100 countries...