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April 7, 2017

Awake

by Seijaku Roshi

I have spent more than half my lifetime inquiring about and observing the space I occupy and beyond. Science teaches us that the very material which makes up the known Universe can be found in a single human cell. With that I have always felt that the journey has always been one within and, if I cannot find it within me I cannot expect to find it anywhere out there. When I do find it within me, I will then find it everywhere out there.

Whenever you suggest to people, especially “spiritual people” that, “Life has no meaning,” there feathers tend to fluster. So get ready to be flustered. All the evidence shows that the human specie is the only species on earth that ever searches for “the meaning of life”. No where in Nature do we find any other life form in search of meaning. Trees do not ask, “What is the meaning of my existence?”, neither do grasses, mountains, birds of the air, or fish in the sea. Perhaps it is because they have no “ego”. Perhaps it is because they know by their very nature that, “They are the meaning of their lives.”  That trees exist to “be trees,” grasses to “be grasses,” mountains to “be mountains,” and so on. That the meaning of life, their life and ours, is “Authenticity”. I am born to be me and you are born to be you. Be careful however, trees know this instinctively, humans will take time to “think about it” perhaps. That’s because most people, especially spiritual people, know this intellectually and rarely truly experience it through and through. When we know “the meaning of life” only intellectually, we “think” about it in a way that we find ourselves back in what Einstein called, an “optical delusion,” experiencing our “meaning for our lives” as some “special meaning” separate from the rest. (That is why human beings tend to be the trouble makers on the planet Earth, threatening every other life form on the planet.)

Another topic spiritual people like to talk about because they “think” about it is, “The Oneness of Everything.” Once again there is no evidence that trees think about being “One with the Universe.” They simply are, by there very nature of being. Human Beings are a part of Nature even though we tend to think otherwise. (We have a lot to learn from our fellow beings in the forest.) Thomas Merton once wrote, “A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.” One could say that, “We are One with the Universe by being authentic.” Being authentic is the meaning of all life. All life forms exists to be what it is. However remember, if you think about this, you end up with an intellectual concept, and Ego uses concepts to convince you, you know it; and that is not knowing it, that is not Being One with The Universe.

When Human Beings are not looking for the “Meaning of Life” they are in search of “Purpose.” “What is my life’s purpose,” they will ask? Once again there is no evidence that any other species in the forest asks such a question. That may be because they instinctually “live” their life’s purpose. When you study as I have the nature of the forest, you discover that it is supported by what scientist call “Eco-systems.” These systems are wondrous, and essential for the sustainability of the life of all beings, including human beings. They exist for a singular purpose: the sustainability and longevity of forest life. They exist to “Benefit” the forest. The purpose of their life is to live their life as a “Benefit” for all other life forms in the forest. The Japanese say that Nature is, “The Great Benefactor.” (Only human beings can rationalize and even justify killing the Benefactor, especially One so generous.)

Once we learn that the meaning of life is living our lives “authentically,” and how to live authentically, we then can live our lives with the singular and exclusive “purpose” for all life; which is to “live our lives as a benefit for all other life forms,” not just our own and those closest to us. This is the real meaning of “Being One with The Universe,” or “At-One-Meant.” When we “wake up” to this meaning, and achieve it we first, can make “atonement” for our ignorance, and then enjoy the only real source for true happiness or contentment.

How do I know I am living “Authentically?” The other evening I learned about a social concept presented by a well accomplished academic and business man at a dinner event I was invited to attend, the idea is similar to the Zen teachings about Ego:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

The path to enlightenment or freedom from living a fearful life, begins by first realizing that each of us without exception, early in our childhood, become “imposters.” The only solution is to awaken to this fact and take the necessary steps to liberating ourselves from a “lifetime of Ego delusion,” which is the real work of any authentic spiritual practice.

The moment we became imposters, we began a lifetime of taking on numerous roles, living “others” lives or others “ideas” of life, beginning with our parents. It is “the fear of disappointing” others expectations that motivates most peoples endless “pursuit of happiness,” including their choices and decisions for their lives. “Happiness” is defined by most in our society, as meeting the goals and achieving successes defined by others and the socially acceptable expectations of any given society. We are concerned about the opinions of others, concerned or fearful of failure, or obsessed with always succeeding; worrying about tomorrow, or regretting yesterday. It is in these moments you are probably not living your life. You are more likely living someone else’s life, or some idea of the life you “should be living.” Most people live the lives they think they “should” be living and not the ones they’d prefer living. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a life you “should be living.” It’s the one you were born to live. It’s Your Life. How do I know that? Well, on the day you were born, YOU were born. No one else was born in that place or that moment. YOU were. So it follows that YOU were born to LIVE YOUR life. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Generations ago the early Masters sensed their own “inauthenticity” and set out to discover how they could liberate themselves from a “lifetime of ego delusion.” What followed were the Teachings and Ancient Practices we inherited today. The problem is, most “teachers” in our modern society present these teachings and practices as a means to “appease” the “ego” rather than a means to liberate their clients, or students, or followers, from the illusion of ego. This has only compounded ignorance and discontentment and left most spiritual people on an endless “spiritual pursuit of happiness.” Perhaps the words of Joseph Campbell can help:

“You must be willing to give up the life you planned to gain the life that is waiting for you. If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”

I love you,

Seijaku Roshi

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