What is life? What is death? What is consciousness? To me these questions are almost meaningless; let me try to explain what I mean. What is needed for the creation of fire? According to reference.com ““The three elements that are needed to start a fire are oxygen, heat and fuel.Those three elements are part of the fire triangle, which illustrates the interdependence of the ingredients that are necessary to start and sustain a fire.” Fire merely arises, forms, and falls; arises, forms, and falls when the causes and conditions are met. Take away one of these elements and there is no longer fire. Now, if one of the elements of fire is missing is the fire “dead”? It is only dead if we are speaking in a very specific manner. All of our notions of what is and what is not are only relative to what we prescribe them to and outside the particular context those definitions they are meaningless. Right now I think I hear “No, duh”!!! Let us quickly go back to the fire example. We – or I should say “I” – concluded that life and death of our imaginary fire is illusory for if we look deeply we will always see that there is, and will always be, fire when the time is right. It does not die nor is it born it is there, waiting.
Life is always, and I mean always, in a continued flux. According to string theory (the leading contender for a unified theory of everything) states that a small vibrating “string” was a cause for creating our universe. Life is, was, and will be created in a state of continual flow and movement. It is not dead or alive it is moving. In our present of “being” we think of life and death because we see ourselves as a solid and fixed through our state of consciousness. This is an utterly false conception of who and what we actually are (or who we think that we think we are 😛 ). Back to our fanciful bonfire again. You and your friends are sitting outside on a cold brisk evening and decide to rouse a fire to warm your mitts. After you have the fire well stoked you and your friends can observe that the flames of the fire are ever shifting, moving and it is never really the “same” flame from moment to moment, but it is always a fire; similarly, our consciousness works in the same manner. We perceive ourselves as being this constant entity like the word fire. Our consciousness is the “who”, or where this “who”, we think we are arises from. Upon close examination we will see that our consciousness is kind of a “holding spot” to “light” up some internal process within our body. Like the elements that make a flame and a fire everything within our body is in continuing flux. An itch here and there, our minds shifting from one thought to the next, blood flowing, heart beating, we are always fidgeting and shifting our positions and so on. Our consciousness only appears to be fixed to the untrained observer. But is it really? Is it really hard and concrete? Upon close examination of our own conscience what begins to emerge is that when the causes and conditions have been met it will arises, some might say this is something from nothing but I believe this too is a false notion – nobody really knows what the cause and conditions are for consciousness or what consciousness actually is. Before all the causes and conditions are met consciousness is not dead or alive it is there, waiting (1). Because we are untrained at observing we duped and fooled into believing that we are fixed, as a result we fear, hate, have greed, and become victims. From this confused state we linearly piece together our whole life and create our story (a question to reflect upon, what in life is linear?). We are surmised and bamboozled into notions of birth and death but these are absurdly narrow views; additionally, these terms only apply in the most limited context.
As we begin to see life in a few of the manners described the ideas of life and death fade and what is left is beauty and wonder; we begin to see everything in flux and moving about; we begin to see who and what we really are. Our feelings, finally, are just feeling that arise and fall. Our feelings are not who we are but are fleeting and temporarily based on causes and conditions and habitual tendencies. We are free because we are no longer tethered and enslaved to these false conceptions of reality (being free doesn’t mean these feelings and emotions are no longer present) . One could say that for that first time we truly get to exercise our liberties as human beings.
I encourage you not to trust or believe anything that was explained but examine for yourself. More than likely it will take time and practical experience. At very least you can begin to read, while practicing, and learn intellectually while simultaneously gaining experiential knowledge. As you learn, both intellectually and experimentally, this paradigm that was spoken about will begin to be clear.
The best way that I know how to begin observing is by meditation. The type of meditation is simply sitting there watching things come and go in a non reactive manner. Here is a list of a few applications that can assist you with your practice (below). If you are looking for some book hop on the Google machine and do a little research and just jump in.
- Calm (one that I’ve used in the past)
- Mindbody Connect
- Meditation Timer Pro
- Smiling Mind
- Take A Break
- Insight Timer (one that I use now). If you join look me up: James from Lehigh Acres
1) I said, “consciousness is not dead or alive it is there, waiting.” I wanted to clarify because, right now, I don’t give much credence to the notion of consciousness as something that is physical or has its own identity, though I do like to toy around with that idea. I was using that term “there, waiting” more abstractly. There is a thesis on panpsychism that some might be interested looking into if you are exploring various areas of conciseness.