In the last year, I have gone through one of the deepest and internal processes since I can remember. While dealing with the challenges and trials of daily life and struggling to find a balance between handling the workings of my inner world and the fast moving society we live in, I embarked on a journey that took me to the deepest questions I had about the awe infusing miracle of life we find ourselves in and I want to share what I found out. Questions that were present within me have been the ones listed underneath:
Is there an afterlife? Do we have a soul? What is consciousness? Is the world real? Has life a meaning or inherent purpose?
The grand question mark
These were and still are questions floating around within me. One could just have a yes or no answer to most of these questions, but that doesn’t satisfy this incredible curiosity within me. Accepting defined and set answers to questions that push us to the edge of everything we think we know leaves a foul taste in my mouth.
Around two years ago, I was certain about many things, but through traveling and having a certain amount of time to contemplate and reflect a lot of things, there has come a point for me, where I am not so certain about anything anymore. The questions mentioned earlier have been with me since I was a child in one form or another. I always had a deep curiosity and a sense of awe for the existence I found myself in.
I have never been a friend of accepting dished out answers for the truth, but that has become even more obvious to me as time went by, which must also be the reason why religions and the golden cage of dogmas and belief systems that come with them have never been to my liking.
That doesn’t mean, that in a way I didn’t adopt a religious attitude towards the mystery of existence, as true faith, which should be the essence of true religion, is not found in holding on to our beliefs and assumptions, but in letting them go, until we are stripped naked in the face of the universe, until we can encounter life with true intimacy, with a clear seeing, free from our beliefs about the world, only then are its deepest secrets revealed to us.
Although I will never be able to have a satisfying answer for all these questions, I still want to share what kind of conclusions I have reached regarding the stated questions above, hoping that it might be of help to some people out there who share the same kind of curiosity as I do.
The eternal search for answers
Is there an Afterlife?
The question, whether there is an afterlife or not really leads to the logically following question:”Is there a soul?” As for there to be an afterlife, there has to be something in man, that survives even the death of the body.
In order to find that out with absolute certainty, one has to die themselves, but I find it a very real and tangible possibility for there to be something after this life, but instead of dreaming up something in my mind as a refuge to go to because life here is hard and tough at times, I want to concentrate on this life now, not what might come afterwards.
Is there a soul?
This is the only question that I somehow feel like I can answer with conviction and that is, that there is an essence to man, in fact to all of life, that goes beyond the periphery of his appearance and the phenomenal nature of the world as we all experience moments of indescribable beauty and a sense of deep connection when we look into the eyes of a dearly loved one or a beautiful scenery of nature.
Those moments, although they may be rare, are hints of a normally overlooked reality. A reality that unifies all life on a level that reaches far deeper than the seemingly separate world around us.
So our soul might be less of an entity inside us and more like a drop in this giant unifying ocean that hides behind the world’s play.
But the questions that really intrigues me the most and in a way creeps me out as well, is the question about the nature of consciousness.
Consciousness is a word that describes a mystery that we take for granted and that is our ability to be aware, of the outer world around us through our senses and of our inner world of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Isn’t it fascinating, that within us lies a faculty, that enables us to observe, both, what happens out there and what happens inside of us without losing ourselves in any of those realities?
Without the ability to be aware of our inner world and what’s happening out there from a more resting place within us, we would get lost in it fairly quickly, as there would be no space around what happens and how we react. Consciousness allows us to reflect and redirect our attention, which enables us to break free from the bondage of automatic reactivity. Consciousness to me is truly the greatest mystery of all.
Now that I mentioned the world around us I would like to move on to the next question starting with a quote from one of my favorite movies and maybe one of the most famous ones: The Matrix:
“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.“ – Morpheus
So, is the world real?
The quote above is not just some cool sounding statement to melt the mind of the one watching the movie, it is true and has been known for millennia by many people and is written down in many religions and traditions. The way we perceive the world is a product of filtered sensory information which is then being put together by our magnificent brain to give the best picture of the world it can, mapping out a reality that gives us the best chance to survive.
So the world really is more like a big dream, than a concrete and material world “out there“, maybe that is what a man who lived a little more than two thousand years ago meant when he said:“You are the light of the world.“
Knowing this doesn’t make the experience or the reality of the world any less real for me. Hitting your head on the ceiling is still going to hurt, hot food is still going to burn your tongue and horror movies are still going to be able to scare you to death.
To make it short, one could say that our experience of the world is aboslutely real, but the proportions that come together to generate this experience carries the characteristics of a dream.
Being aware of this fact really just takes away this heaviness and density that a material and objective worldview comes with and the sense of isolation and separation it makes one feel, that regards the world as being something independent of us, rather than one biological reality in which we are actively involved.
And I think that is one of the greatest and most dangerous collective hallucinations that we suffer from, regarding the world as separate from us. What consequences follow this assumption is not hard to see if we just look at the onslaught on the natural world.
The world flows into us, and we flow into the world and in the end, reality, the world and ourselves, are but a giant big dream that we find ourselves in and I see no reason why we can’t just be happy in our big shared dream.
On to the last question.
Has life a meaning?
If there is one question that resides within every human being, it is the quest and search for the meaning of life. To me, life seems to be neither meaningless nor meaningful, in my humble opinion, life transcends both of these human notions of thought. Everyone has a different answer to this eternal question so it will be hard to find a collective agreement on the question of life’s meaning.For me, there is meaning to life, but not in the form of words. Life transcends words and human knowledge, it is more or less a feeling I have, rather than thoughts and words.
I feel like we are part of a deeper purpose, of a deeper meaning that unfolds throughout this cosmic dance of life, as when I look back at the years I lived, one could say there was an invisible hand that guided me through my darkest moments and participated in the most joyous moments I lived. So even if I will fail to ever ascribe a meaning to life, I can’t shake off the feeling that something tremendously significant is going on, and we’re intimately involved in that.