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Questioning Life?

The why and how of being human

Most people at some point ask questions like who am I, why is life so temporary and impermanent, or other questions like what is beyond life and is there any truth to religion?

But really we must understand there is no 'most', there is you and the 'most' have either accepted the line of church, state  or science because asking who am I also challenges us to question the nature of society. When I was growing up and asked this question of who we are as a collective, those who are considered wise in my community were of the opinion that we were simply here to do and die, not to have original thought and not to question.

Who am I?

We may not all ask ourselves this question or give it any serious thought because we reach an unconscious understanding of our identity[ that is this body/personality in relation to those around us. It is with this identity that we shape interests and career paths. However those amongst us who are considered wise recognise that we are neither body nor mind, we are in fact energetic lifeforms referred to as souls which puts us into a universal frame of reference.

An identity defined by the concept of a body/mind may live out a relatively healthy and happy life governed by local societal and environmental factors. Our civilisation is set up based on this idea of identity which has propelled us into the twenty-first century making possible the vast differences in social and political equity. Such a person is bound by cause and effect. An improvement in the socio/political/economic atmosphere can create prosperity but a downturn can create hardship and suffering, and these are situations the individual has little control.

A person who identifies themselves as a soul is bound by the same physical constraints but his or her state of mind is unperturbed by changes in economic, social or political circumstances. The soul is more able to understand the nature of existence and harmonise universal forces giving rise to an internal happiness and peace of mind.

The great yogis and mystics of the past spoke of the great wheel of samsara and life tied to it being a life tied to illusion. They have realised that body and mind are simply tools of the soul.

The real answer to who am I is "I don't know". The sense of self as body and mind with a strong desire to live is the root of self identity. Knowing oneself as a soul is the first step towards becoming human yet it is confined. The body mind personality is temporary and bound to suffering whereas the soul personality is bound by gentler circumstances and open to boundless possibilities.

Why is life impermanent?

The ancient mystics told us that life is impermanent and yet for millennia the majority have continued to act as if life was somehow permanent even though we know our body/mind will cease to be within the space of eighty-to one hundred years. This gives rise to a fear of death and grasping of things and a corruption of the human spirit

The real answer of course is that we do not know and we can gain some insights from modern science as well as those ancient mystics. Science tells us that the universe began as a Big Bang and in some far distant time it will cease to exist because this universe that we know, like our bodies and minds is also temporary. The ancient mystics referred more to the creation of the universe as a birth which like every living thing has a period of growth, proliferation and eventual decay. This is true of every living thing.

Is there any truth to religion?

Religions are systems of belief and yet we live in a universe where absolute truths are few and far between. As a body/mind personality, physical death is an absolute truth and yet that is also an allusion because life comes from life and goes back into life. Our body/mind is born of the earth through our mothers. The plant gets its nutrients to grow from the soil and water. We need to eat plants which are reconfigured to make our body parts and give us energy to function. When this physical life is over our body goes back to the soil to be recycled.

Religions promise a life ever after and they attempt to define the nature of existence into belief systems that as we have seen over the past few thousand years have failed to keep up with the processes of change or growth on actual knowledge. There was a time when people readily admitted they did not know the answers to the greater why's and were content to not only coexist with nature but to make a science of coexistence.

People by knowing they were part of nature had no need of religion because they understood the universe, our planetary home, our societies were impermanent and subject to constant flux yet the soul element they identified with was eternal. The soul in simple terms is energy and energy can be utilised, moved, changed but it cannot be destroyed. Not everyone would have understood this concept and those who did not understand became more susceptible to fears and fears gave rise to the need to know the unknowable so certain individuals pretended they knew and came up with belief systems that today we call religions.

The religions of today are based on misunderstandings and misinterpretations of ancient wisdom. They work to actually separate humankind from universal truth and work in collaboration with other economic and political systems to keep populations enslaved. At a local level the cohesion of members of different religious groups can create strong socio-political communities enabling them to thrive in competition with those of different beliefs.

Cover image by Michael Lipsey

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