The Big Questions
There was a time, early on in my spiritual development, when I thought there might be answers to the big questions presented by the serendipity of a conscious mind. As an adolescent the BIG questions, for me, perpetually centered around my own mortality. It wasn’t necessarily the death of my physical body that disturbed me so much as it was the existential crisis presented by the emptiness seemingly inherent in ceasing to be conscious. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around why/how we humans were blessed and cursed with the awareness of our own mortality. Looking back, I can see how my unusual childhood tuned me to this sometimes dark fascination which was further amplified by an inherently artistic temperament. By my late teens and early twenties, I was primed to spend a large portion of my energy as an adult seeking answers, looking for truths and generally being earnest. I explored the problem from a variety of angles, imbibing various substances in an attempt to dissolve the self imposed barriers between me and everything else. I resolved to fight a pitched battle to unlock my chest and hips through hours of asana practices. I meditated alone and in groups, for hours and sometimes days, staring into the eyes of another human. I repeated my mantra and chanted or sang with passion. I read the sacred texts, the histories and philosophies, the self help books and the reflections of great minds. In short I searched in earnest.
More than two decades later, I haven’t found The Answer and more than once I have cast about in confusion, wondering what it is I am searching for. After all this time, with no apparent goal in sight, I can’t help but wonder from time to time at the futility of my efforts. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been great benefits to all this effort. There certainly have been, but most of them are as transitory as the seasons. Most profoundly and possibly importantly, I no longer feel the existential angst as deeply.
So the questions remain but so to do the lessons. The most lasting lesson has been the realization that all the striving and searching we do as humans to have the answers, to garner ownership over this fleeting experience we call a life, is just another form of grasping and attaching. Although the searching we do is perhaps somewhat more ephemeral than our attachment to external things, the end result or the net effect on us energetically is the same - tangible or intangible, in the end we must release it all.
My searching will continue, not because I believe I will ever find the answer, rather because I see now that being blessed with consciousness means being entangled in living. We are forever grasping and releasing, grasping and releasing. Living is poignantly beautiful and distressing all in one breath. There is no answer to this predicament. Regardless of chaos or the promise of a bright future, life looms before us and demands to be lived. I don’t know about you but I will likely continue to cling and become attached. I will also continue to celebrate the practices like yoga and meditation, running, swimming, walking, loving, nature, dogs, etc. that cultivate a lasting sense of peace within me.