We imagine our life about as effectively as we imagine our death. The image we have of both is a conditioned one. From the first time we hear our name and toddle on our tiny feet across the floor, we enter into a step by step process of groping for “reality”. We quickly learn to frame, define and otherwise “understand” the environment we’re moving in, and all of us end up with lots of bumps and bruises as we become oriented to this life we’re quote, “living.” Between what we’re told and what we think we experience, after much consultation with our peers and adult “experts” we find our feet – arrive at a set of operating principles to guide our further adventures. What was “terra incognita” becomes recognizable – because – labeled; our natural need to survive becomes more assured; our fear subsides as we get the hang of it, and we venture out onto the street of life, armed and equipped with a set of ideas and ideals, habits and inclinations that, for better or worse, pre-establish our “actual” experience. If we’re reasonably well trained and adjusted, we begin to “know” what we think will happen and how we will adjust and otherwise cope with those pesky “unknowns”. We all hope for the best, and dread the worst, according to our conditioned experience of what constitutes our installed “values”.
As we graduate by degrees, and enter the mainstream of our Life – in – Time , our appointed life scenario becomes more and more disappointed, shadows of despair loom ever larger, and a revised and renewed Hope gains its capital H status! Life may then be understandably viewed as coming at us from a recorded Past chock full of missed calculations and missed steps, and advancing into a vaguely described Future which we’re now ultimately, finally, completely, compelled to meet with the only, last weapon we have – Hope.
That’s the Path of our Life: first we Grope, then we Cope, and finally, we Hope.
And then we die.
Is that it then?
Well, “not quite,” as my British friends might say. That’s because the “ life” we’ve described here is truly only a “ near life experience”!
In truth, as in fact, we seem to live two lives, one real and one imagined. The life just described is the unreal one we think we’re living. The one we’re actually living is far and away, the most mysterious and magical event we could ever attend. But now here’s the rub: attendance is optional. Or so it seems.
My friend Jean Klein once said: “Live in the perceived, not in the conceived. Only the perception is right. All conception is…memory.”
In other words, the mentally and emotionally “examined “ life is not worth living because truth cannot be a concept. So if you’re looking for reality in your mind and feelings, all you will ever find is ideas and feelings about it. The truth is, a programmed body/ mind spins a problematic life/reality. That’s how the life-of-the-mind becomes standard practice and procedure on the planet Earth. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as far as it goes…which is, in a word, “ limited.”
“ What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”
So what is that Nature if not life? We can call it God, or Love, or Buddha. And we can also call it Heaven or Hell, a full stomach or a flat tire. The semantics are not the thing itself. What is remains unknown because unknowable. And yet there’s more, as Adyashanti says:
“It is not really true that you perceive all these experiences, but rather it is the whole that perceives itself. “
So, no matter what we think and what we do, we remain not a part, viewing another part, but the whole reflecting its wholeness. Awareness, aware of and as, itself. This awareness contains, but is not itself, contained. It is limitless. Deathless. Yes, and Lifeless, in the sense that what we imagine life to be is just that –imagination. With a certain grace founded on our innate need to know truth, that which is usually conceived, is perceived!
It turns out it’s all Grace! That what we thought was “me” ascending Sisyphean Mountain to reach the giddy heights of Happiness, then repeatedly falling off, is that blessing – in – disguise we heard about. We succeed by failing; we fall into truth.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.