This I Believe

Paul - East Aurora,, New York
Entered on October 26, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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Questions Insights and Revelations

As a young man, answers, not questions were the joy of life that provided that solid foundation on which I could build my future, but as I got older I began to realize that life’s great insights start with great questions. Questions that we must continue to ask ourselves throughout our lifetime. Questions regarding our origins, destinations, and our human nature, are all designed to affirm life and reveal the meaningfulness of life within the realm of our humanity. The experiences of our lives offer the clues necessary for our insights. Our daily reality dictates that we experience everything in terms of its dual nature. How can we be thankful for light without the experience of darkness? One cannot know pleasure without first feeling pain, and your acts of compassion are made manifest when you identify unconditionally with those who suffer. It’s these life events which punctuate time and allow for the cyclic nature of everything to occur. We all live in the field of time, and everything that exists in the field of time has its dual component.

Now, well into middle age I’m asking? Do these day to day perceptions direct me to look closer at a more profound idea, that of unity with all creation? When I am out in nature I feel connected to all that’s around me, and I’m aware of all the forms of Conscious life about me, but I see it expressed individually among a multitude of living things that see their unique experience of reality as absolute. Yes, it can be difficult to reconcile our individual perceptions with this insight of unity consciousness, but I believe it is there veiled and waiting to be discovered in the heart and soul of all of us. It’s the grace and the glue that unites all human beings at the level of the spirit. In order to be fulfilled it must be acknowledge, then reflected like the “Net of Indra’s Gems” to others who through their own insight acknowledge the unity behind the diversity.

We are in all philosophers of a sort, and we all try to understand life’s mysteries in our own imperfect way . When I see suffering like that currently taking place in Darfur , I wonder why should it still trouble my spirit, its not my own so why does it effect me as if I were my own? We all know the first law of nature is that of self preservation. Reading the daily newspaper provides reinforcing evidence of just how barbaric we can be. War, enslavement, exploitation, and genocide in today’s news was the same news 10,000 years ago. Yet in the same newspaper I also read of extraordinary moments where complete strangers would sacrifice their lives to save someone they never knew. How are these paradoxes, both common to our humanity to be reconciled?

I will never forget the revelation that took place in a hospital not that long ago. I was visiting, and in haste made a wrong turn, ending up in the newborn nursery. It was evening, and all the newborns were content in their own little world. Arriving now in a place I did not choose I remember how I was overcome when an enchanted moment overtook my own sense of self importance and I began to experience just how beautiful this newborn moment was. It was through witnessing newborn bliss that I was brought into a personal bliss, a still point around which everything else revolves and ultimately that point to which we must return.

When I recall this story I’m reminded of a quote by the poet Coleman Barks who said, “The fact that we are multiple is not so true as the fact that we are one”. He is referring to a universal spirituality that can be realized in the very acts of life itself ,through transcendent connections. Our virtues of compassion, wisdom, and love should not only be reflected through our humanity but inflected in an absolute sense of oneness with all sentient beings. The nursery story demonstrates that when fate and serendipity work together, revelations may be at hand.

As I write this I am constantly reminded what a poor substitute words are for direct personal experience. These words should never be graceful replacements for the power of your personal experience. The best things in life (and worst) cannot be understood in terms of words alone. They must be realized within the moment by moment experience which is your life. Great teachers cannot show you the way. They can only give the guidance necessary through their insight, generating a spark that kindles a light. Then you become a light for others, and their light for others, and on and on just like the “Net of Indra’s Gems”. A gift to the world!