What do we have to do to Feel Alive (Excerpt)
For this blog I thought I would share a track that was recently released on Insight Timer along with a new piece that was edited from my book The Survival Guide to Staying Conscious. I hope it would inspire everyone to get out into nature and enjoy the last few weeks of the summer.
With Metta, Burgs
Life is A Deep Mystery, From Survival Guide to Staying Conscious
Life is A Deep Mystery, From Survival Guide to Staying Conscious
I think there’s a little part of everybody that has an inkling, a hunch, a sense that there’s a mystery in the background behind this life that we haven’t quite clocked and we’d love to know what’s going on.
In the deepest part of us there is clearly a sense that there’s more to life than meets the eye. No matter how hard we’ve tried to break life down into the nuts and bolts and say, ‘Well, this is what it is’, honestly, we have to admit that life is an extraordinary mystery. And anyone trying to rob it of that mystery and insisting on understanding what’s going on, I think, is probably missing the juiciest part of it, the part that makes it feel that life is really something worth getting stuck into.
There’s an awful lot of drudgery in life, there’s a lot of things we have to do that are inconvenient, there’s a lot of hardship. Life isn’t easy. And yet the desire for life, the ‘longing’ for it, remains so strong. Even in the face of extraordinary adversity the longing for life is still there.
If we look out into nature, everywhere we look – apart from where we have put something – there’s life just pouring forth, and it has this extraordinary, inexorable, unstoppable-ness about it. This boundless power of life is working through us too, we are a part of that, we’re an expression of it, we are that. That mysterious power that is driving all life is there within us, twenty-four hours of every day, and although we distract ourselves so desperately and spend most of our time really distracted from what’s actually going on, somewhere inside of us there’s a knowing or a hunch that there’s clearly more to this than we might have thought.
I would like to encourage you to look at life with an open and honest mind, and a courageous heart so that we might reach a place of deep reverence and respect for it and not fall into the tendency of taking it for granted or assuming it will always be there. It is rare indeed and most precious. I believe that only once we have rediscovered the sense of awe and wonder at life, will we develop a more healthy attitude towards it. This attitude will form the backbone and bedrock of not just our own welfare, but that of the generations to come.
If we can learn to really pay attention to what is going on within us and around us, life itself becomes our perfect teacher. If we are willing to recognise it, life is showing us what it is we need to do all the time. There is an innate intelligence at work behind our lives which is reflected in all times in everything that we experience. Maybe it’s been going on beyond our perception and conscious understanding, but still, deep down, some part of us knows this intelligence.
In the early morning I meditate. Early, when the world is still sleeping and at rest. And in the stillness, I tune in to the energy of everything that is going on around us endlessly. And there are two things that I feel remain when my mind has stopped. The first is the sublimely peaceful, harmonious, even blissful rhythm of life as an expression of the natural order. Life! Coming into being, growing and passing away as it has done for billions of years. There is the subtlest rhythm to it, and not the slightest feeling of tension or friction. Always and everywhere it rests effortlessly within itself. There is such a profound feeling of love behind it all, in-spite of the hardships and struggles that are sometimes involved in coming to life and passing away.
And then I feel the energy of man. The energy of the will of man and the mass of humanity upon this earth. And I feel the unbearable tension that humanity is living in, in its effort to hold sway over its domain and bend it to its will. I feel the impact of this upon the natural order and the creaking and straining that it produces.
As I sit with these two inexorable energies, I tune into the stillness from which all of it is arising and I know that there is never a hair out of place. The world and the universe always and everywhere expresses itself the only way it ever could. For billions of years this planet expressed itself perfectly. It was just a shame that no one was here to witness its extraordinarily beautiful display.
Well now we are here, and we can witness it. It is easy to come to the end of a life having toiled to uphold our personal world. Bemoaning the loss of it as it is stripped from us with our final breath, it would be easy to have been here without ever stopping to take stock of what we have been a part of. That would be the greatest tragedy imaginable.
There is little doubt that if we all departed in a puff of smoke right now, the planet would breathe a huge sigh of relief and within a hundred years or so it would be the majestic, sublimely imaginative and creative display that it always has been. It would be such a shame if once again no one was here to witness it in the way we as humans have a capacity to do. So the question really is not whether we survive, but the quality of life we are going to create in our efforts to survive.
The further out of alignment with the intelligence behind our lives we become, the more of a challenge life becomes. If we resent the suggestion that we need to change, it is usually not just because it is inconvenient, but because it interferes with our personal aspirations and the pursuit of our goals and desires. When I left my last teacher in India, at the end of years of intensive training in meditation and yoga, his final request to me was to return home and to continue to meditate for the benefit of others. Over the years many people have come on retreat to learn meditation, and almost all of them come hoping that meditation will in some way enrich their lives. At the end of every retreat, I explain two basic principles that our welfare and progress in the future stands upon.
The first principle is that if you are going to continue to centre your life around the pursuit of your desires, you will need to be totally unwilling to harm others or yourself in the pursuit of those desires if you are to safeguard your well-being in the long term.
The second principle is that if we expect to be able to take out more than we put in, it is a certainty that over time the quality of life will degenerate, because however abundant our planet is, it is not infinite in its capacity to provide.
It may take more than a brief glance at these statements to grasp what they are truly saying. They are, in effect, nothing more than expressions of a living intelligence that is behind life itself. By adopting these principles we can align ourself with this intelligence and start to bring about the change that many feel is so badly needed.
The point I am making is to encourage you to investigate this as honestly and realistically as we can, and in doing so, to seek solutions that will point a way to a wholly positive and life enriching future not just for us as humans, but for all beings who are sharing in the extraordinary experience of being alive.