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 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, doomed unless we turn to God (through Jesus). 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, that God is a human invention, but their arguments do not tell us how we came to be, or more important, why. Or what are we 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 what they are actually telling us is that their particular definition of God doesn't exist — which I am quite sure is true! But that doesn't mean that some fundamental nature of our being, which one could call God (or any name you like), doesn't exist — it just means they have defined God in a particular way which they then dispute the existence of. The fact is, anything that can be thought of, including their own mind, must be made of something! So you go back to whatever is the basic 'substance' of which everything else is made. The name is not really relevant because that also must be made of whatever you are naming. The action of naming it is even made of 'it'.

Scientists like proof of things but can call observations like this 'self-evident' because they need no proof – i.e. 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 when someone stands on our toe!

So I shall use the conventional word 'God' for whatever 'it' is that everything else has being by, and because of. Sanskrit has so many names for 'it', including 'Tat' - that! So called because it is that which cannot be described because it is beyond the mind (and everything else). Atma, the divine, the infinite, the IS, the Father, etc. I don't like 'the universe' because there could be many universes of many dimensions and qualities within whatever 'it' is that created this one. So, for simplicity, we'll say 'God' – but we better drop ideas of a friendly chap in the sky somewhere, just waiting to answer our prayers.

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

These words are virtually a description of the Hindu view, that everything is a form of God. Or, to put it another way, God's form, or shape, is what is – whatever we see in front of us, whatever we hear, whatever we feel and experience, is God. You would expect God to have a pretty interesting shape, wouldn't you? Look around! And then include feelings and experiences.

If the word 'God' sounds a bit loaded with religious ideas, we could use the word 'Energy'. 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 hippy, New Age, doesn't it? But it is physics fact, tested to the limits of our current ability to observe. The atomic bomb is proof of the correctness of the theory. And the accuracy needed for space travel has come from the accuracy of Einstein's equations.

Well — returning from science to a human consideration — if we are all made of energy/God, we must, in fact, BE that rnrtgy/God! Hmmmm. Do we FEEL like God? No? Why not, if we truly are? The reason seems to be: it's all because of the mind...

The Mind

The ancient texts of Hinduism state we ARE God but also that we do not know we are. They describe an aspect of God called 'Maya', illusion. Or more accurately, the delusion that the world really exists when it doesn't! 'An aspect of God' must therefore mean 'an aspect of myself' if I am entirely made of 'God'. Some trick of God's creation – which I now have to identify with and say my own creation – hides from me the knowledge of my true nature, replacing it with an illusory idea, a dream, of what I am: a chap called Ian. But 'I' am not the same Ian that I was when I was 2, or 22, or 65. So who am I? What is the 'I' that has persisted through all the changes – and I can certainly testify that something that I call myself has indeed done so! Hinduism proposes that the only worthwhile point of life is to regain awareness of our true nature, which became enveloped in Maya, illusion. Any other purpose for this life is – deluded!

What is the nature of Maya, this deception? I think that I am a person called 'Ian', Nicola thinks she is 'Nicola', etc. — but we rarely think that we are God, when in reality we are ONLY God! The key word here is THINK. So ... what is it that thinks? My mind. Whose mind is reading these words? My mind! So, who am I?

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

So to sum up, I (and you) seem to have been blessed with a reality that is God/Energy – but also includes a mysterious 'deluding mechanism' — a mind.

How curious! Why did I do that? After all, it MY creation, if I am truly God. What do I do about it? Perhaps the answer is something very familiar, at least when I am in a good mood: fun! Playing about! But we'll come to that in a moment.

True?

So is all I have said here true??? Has it been tested? It is all unfamiliar territory for rational Westerners. But in the East, fortunately, wise old people have been exploring the nature of reality for far 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 and what is beyond, perhaps hoping to break through to 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 where I am, right here and now, is just another activity of a (deluded) mind.

Hinduism is very old, so old that it does not have a founder. But there are 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. Such insight can bring instant freedom from old, limiting thoughts; hence the word liberation is often used. Or realisation. Or awareness. Buddhism and Hinduism also provide more steady, practical routes to the awareness of a deeper self such as meditation, and yoga; these help the mind develop in order to help it see reality.

So, it is OK to see the point immediately – and it is also ok to take time to mull over it. The mind is not the wonderful and mighty thing that we consider it to be in the West but actually the one thing that is blocking us from what we really want: bliss, peace, love! It has been doing it for a long, long time so it may not stop very quickly.

If our mind immediately sees clearly and totally that it is not wanted, it can become immediately silent, allowing us to feel our true nature instantly. That feeling may last for a short while or for a longer 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 the methods I mentioned! And you get encouraging results from the moment you start.

Play?

Let us now look at this in a slightly different way.

There is a Sanskrit word 'leela' that means 'divine play' – God's entertainment of creating the universe and all that's in it. God is having fun being all this – it is just Divine Play. Eternal Play. A totally playful kaleidoscope, tumbling in time for no reason or purpose; and part of it is the fun of rediscovering that all this is only a kaleidoscope and is not real!

When I first heard these ideas, I felt deep delight – and peace. "Yes!" I thought. An instant and intuitive sense of freedom from the tyranny of thinking that I have to achieve something, please someone, pass some test – and the awful fear of failing to do so. All of that pressure, gone! Yay! Nothing to do but BE and PLAY in this dazzling existence. Some people just know this and are happy.

But when we hear bad news, or feel some pain, then we think: if this is play, it is rather serious play! It doesn't seem like play when we or others experience pain. It seems an insult to think of the awful misfortunes that befall others as 'play'. We want to throw away the idea as totally ridiculous. But consider: when we are feeling good, happy, in good company, sometimes the surprising choice we make is to tell stories of drama, crime stories, horror stories even, for pleasure. And more – if we don't find them very convincing, or not very scary, we are disappointed, aren't we?

So there is a case for accepting that the Divine activity is just play? The entertainment is of course God's and we have only small parts in the whole. Reflection suggests that the world adds up to nothing, an 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?

Step back and identify with our reality, not our illusory personality.

How?

The times when life doesn't feel at all like play are when we are immersed in strong thoughts and feelings, sadness, pain, often consequent on pleasure, and our thoughts grow more and more intense. What if we were able to 'think' less? The theory would predict that we would feel less deluded and feel more 'reality', the energy of which we are made, and less of the 'matter'. What would that feel like?

So ... 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. Stop wanting anything at all, or avoiding anything at all. This means everything - try wanting ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It's the totality that does the trick, not picking and choosing bits that are 'ok' to want or avoid. 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, satisfying, peace.

If we could train ourselves to want less, or want nothing at all, what would happen? The biggest problem is that it is not easy to live like that. Our Western culture is all about WANTING, WANTING, WANTING and people think we are weird if we don't want things. But in fact we become better equipped to get what we want when we are at peace, and not actually wanting the result we seek. But it is too easy to slip back and let desires grow again – and we lose the peace.

Difficult and paradoxical. But if any of this is right, we are talking about the supreme goal that anyone can set themself, the highest possible challenge – the final stage of human evolution. Would you expect it to be easy?

But then again – it can be easy – depending, possibly, on how much work you may have put into this during previous lives. There's an amazing life of a great saint in India that you can read about, born in 1879 and living throughout most of the 20th century: Ramana Maharishi. He slipped into the state of awareness of his reality while still a teenager, lying on his bed alone one afternoon, wondering what it would feel like to be dead. His concentration was so strong that he quickly experienced the pure energy of which he was made. Over the following weeks ordinary life became meaningless to him, and he slipped away to the foot of a mountain in South India called Arunachala, where he remained all his life, from his teens to a ripe old age, never leaving the mountain and becoming considered a great spiritual teacher.

I was amazed and lucky enough to discover this clear understanding of life when I was actually in India for 3 months, travelling. I realised that the Indian civlisation is much older and wiser than that of the west, despite appearances to the contrary. Civilisation has been going on for a long, long time in the East, thousands of years longer than in Europe. I had the time to think... and change... I left London as a money grabbing 26 year old westerner and came back a meditating vegetarian ... and a lot happier!

OK, enough for now! Plenty to think about. The 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. 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 a colourful kaleidoscopic existence there – but behind it, a wonderful stillness and peace.

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.

But it has to happen gently. Don't be in a rush to become a great sage or teacher. It is considered the highest calling to live a good, moral, normal life and even become prosperous, while seeing 'God' as the reality behind all everyone and everything that you encounter.

Final Note

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

Well, it may seem daunting, when you start to loosen the hold the mind has on you... but the basic idea is not complex or daunting — or even 'secret'. I Think the founders of the great religions probably made it seem very simple. 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 stated so simply.

The Chistian creed starts, "I believe in one God, Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible." Perfect! Comprehensive! No escape from every part of you being made by God, and 'of God', as he must have have made everything from himself if he made absolutely everything. But then it goes and gets all complicated, talking about historical events that may or may not be true and certainly have nothing to do with your reality, here and now. And how can we be 'miserable sinners' when we are made of God! Jesus spoke the simple truth but his commentators have made it so complicated!

How much more simple can you get than this: E = mc² ? Energy transforming into matter and light and back again. This idea fits all the basic principles of religions and beliefs in one simple stroke. See if you don't become happier and healthier by practicing 'being' the energy that you truly are. Want less, by realising that you are already have – already are – all that you (used to) think you wanted! It is that which leads to a moral life, not trying to figure out some complicated rules of behaviour.

But let's not get carried away and give up everything because I or some sage told you to! First get the experience of the energy and then that energy, that love, will replace your silly mind as your guide. The Buddha may have walked out of his life and gone wandering 'to find himself', but if we all did that, it would just lead to chaos. You don't need to change anything about your life; it's enough just to change the way you see it. The revolution is on the inside, not the outside!

So a steady path to a quiet mind is the method, and the inner self then begins to play a greater and greater part. Many techniques of meditation and yoga exist to help us to quieten our mind and thereby get a glimpse of what lies beyond. I'd love to help and talk more. A book, one day, perhaps. I've certainly glimpsed my own 'pure energy' – but, I have not made that glimpse a permanent state, yet! Still working on it! But the theory and the glimpses have given me immense peace, simply from realising that the mind and all its babble is NOT something to take seriously! It slips away, with little persuasion, when you remember that we are all just energy, made of stars, born from a point that expanded into all this universe over the last 14 billion years, becoming a kaleidoscope of matter and light, thought and experience, with no direction, no purpose, and no 'test' at the end. Seeing what you are wanting, and then stopping wanting it, really helps in the middle of a sleepless night! You may find it hard to switch off your mind but you can quieten it, just by making it do something pointless, like repeating a peaceful name, or counting slowly, "21, 22, 23, ..." with each breath.

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

Peace, contentment, love – the feelings that come from a quiet mind – these are far more important than money, pleasures and ambitions – though it may take a little time to get convinced of that! You could try reading this through again...

 


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

.... last edited 12th Jan 2020. 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 Sathya Sai Baba in 1978 and visted his ashram.

Much has been said to try to diminish Sai Baba. However, if you are loving, his teachings warm your heart, if you think, his teachings are clear and if you try them, they work. His nature is subtle, so simplistic praise, criticism or attack is 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 over 100 countries...