We see, and we believe. Isn’t that right?
We see a chair. It’s right over there. Yup, that’s a chair, all right. We can see it and sit in it too. But is that enough to say that its physical reality is real?
Real or not, it would be extremely unwise to ignore the possibility that chairs and other perceived objects exist. An oncoming train will quickly dispatch both you and your quantum theory if you choose to stand in its way, expecting its atomic particles to suddenly behave as waves. Better to believe that a train is a real train.
But there is a greater reality than what our senses can experience, and failing to adhere to it causes problems that nag and never quit. This greater reality is the spectrum of the soul. Strangely, though, most of us give it little consideration. Because it does not conform to any method that science can measure, we hesitate to trust it. Hence the fix we are in.
The material world cannot be denied.
As we are to live on earth, the material world is where that living must be. But here’s the rub: To abide in material consciousness, as society has trained us to do, is to fear an end to what it can offer, and end it will. Moreover, this state of mind kindles material desires, which flare into attachments, which spur the creation of possessive habits, which encourage more of the same until we are fully ensnared in suffering’s web. What a choice to make! But who of us, more or less, has not made it?
A question I still have to ask myself is why I would be afraid to die. The answer, always the same, stares me right in the face. Like Karna in the Bhagavad Gita, part of me wants to believe that real happiness can somehow be won on this finite plane of existence, and it urges me to give chase. This, I am constantly reminded, is absurd. The finite, after all, cannot yield an infinite result. Yet, though I am well aware that physical death is a natural aspect of life—that the real “I” inside my borrowed body will go on—my mortal side continues to want the cake and eat it too.
One of the lessons of the Bhagavad Gita is that none of us shrinks, but rather expands, in ousting the ego-born aspects of our personalities. Ingrained as they may seem to be, they are merely expressions of energy which, when directed inward and upward instead of outward, diminish suffering and add to our joy. The self is not lost, it is lifted.
Likewise, it should motivate us that life on earth is but a series of lessons that lead us higher to the promise of infinitely more. We cannot die except to the millions of wishes that stand in our way. It is crazy to hold fast to their fleeting amusements, to endure with disappointment their limitations. And yet that is what we incline to do, ready to excuse with reason the reason why.
Wrestling with restless thoughts goes on.
But as every saint and avatar has assured us, a willingness to engage more deeply, to seek and follow the guidance of God’s inner call, guarantees a life of no regrets.
For each of us, regardless of where we are stuck, the road is one, the direction is one, the destination is one. Let us at least understand where we are headed: out of our heads, into the wilds of the soul’s inner world, into the kingdom of Oneness. Like the Jews who wandered the Sinai in search of the Promised Land, we are destined to cross the desert of our own fruitless delusions, arriving at last at the realization of Self. Whether it takes forty years or forty million, we are headed Home.
I feel better already.