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14 People Were Asked: What Does Life Mean To You? Their Answers May Surprise You

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“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” – Alan Watts

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The meaning of life is a burning question that has inspired some of the greatest literature/art, fueled heated debates between atheists and spiritualists, and prompted existential philosophers to wax poetic on what the human experience really means (or doesn’t mean). But… what does life really mean?

It is easy to find insightful opinions on this query from influential authors, teachers, sages, mystics, and scientists with a quick Google search – but, what about from our peers, or people we wouldn’t necessarily think to ask?

As an experiment, I decided to ask this question to a diverse group of friends, artists, creators, and strangers alike – and the results were really incredible.

What Does Life Mean to You?

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“What does life mean to me? Life is love, love is immunity. Life the beginning of ends to start again. Life is the grounding and understanding of your purpose in the moment. Life is the death of the old. Life is courage to let go and freedom to move on. Life is the balance of energy in vessels of flesh and bones. Life is the infinite spectrum of vibrations and motivations. Life is respect for all life forms. Life: User discretion is advised. Life is neither either or. Life is currently undergoing metamorphosis. Life is intending the future and living the moment. Life is love. Love is the flow. Go with the flow. Love is the undercurrent permeating consciousness. Life is the inexplicable moments and catching glimpses into the unknown. Fear is the antithesis of life. Life is tireless and evermore. Fear is wayword, life is forward. Life is the infinite maze of unravelling of truth. Life is knowing your power and using it wisely. To use it wisely is to use it for the greater good of the universe. Life is knowing the longer I stay, the more trouble I have adjusting, but realizing it all begins at the end of my comfort zone. Like the universe, I am beautiful, complex, harmonious, conflicting. I am a part of this universe and the universe is chaotic and constantly evolving. Dare to be. Believe in yourself, believe in others. Believe in your mission. You must remain open to receive. Life’s mission is clear: make bonds, claim time, right wrongs, leave fear and love through to come through.” – Nas Cilia

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“Life, to me, is the quest for perfect balance. the balance between spontaneity & planning, so that things are fresh enough to avoid monotony, yet stable enough to lead to action. the balance between finding the good in the bad & attending to the bad when everything is good, so that one never becomes too caught up in the sadness or too distracted by life’s fleeting delights. the balance of doing things for you & doing things for other people, so that one may be devoted to themselves & the part of themselves that resides in every person in the universe. the balance of believing, loving, & supporting people, while committing to surrounding yourself with higher vibrations, & understanding that attitudes & vibrations are contagious. & the balance of respecting the multiverse of opinions, while speaking your own truth, so that people may, hopefully, come to see the beauty that is the spectrum of human experience in this life. life, to me, is about living the most positive experience possible, uplifting as many lives as possible, questing for knowledge & a higher understanding of the various truths experienced in this world, & avoiding complacency at all costs.” – Alyssa Rochelle, Student, Santa Monica, CA

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“i believe in one rule and one rule only – ‘do whatever you want in life, absolutely anything that feels right to you and evokes your own true happiness; as long as it has no negative effect on another soul.’ i believe in connectivity and the concept that ‘we are united’; and we are. we are one big conscious entity operating in unison; humans, creatures and planets alike. i affect all that happens in the universe, as you affect all direction and reaction also. i believe in more than human. i believe i can learn more from the trees than i can from human words on paper made from them. i believe in more than what the eye can see and more than the science will temporarily find proof of; for what i can see may not necessarily be what you can see right now. i believe in reaching your goals in your own time. i believe there is no point in competing for or stressing about what you most want of your time in this name and form; it’s never too late to make a go at it. most importantly, i believe in the silent magic – the moments not fit for words – that feeling of content pure ecstasy; whatever may evoke it. we are privileged – not by situation or class – but by the mere idea that we have all been created from complete nothingness. we developed senses; birthed into the opportunity to feel and be more than what we have collectively been conditioned into believing of ourselves. i believe in living past the borders of potential. i believe in the power of positive progression – individual for collective.” – Rico Garilli, Acoustic Musician, UK

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“Life, to me, is an amazing opportunity. We all play a part in our individual and collective evolution. We are given a body to house our souls and how we choose to use it is up to us. Personally, I feel I am on a constant journey of self improvement because everything starts from within. As humans, we were not designed to be perfect; it’s a learning process. But we leave our mark on everyone we meet and it’s up to us to decide what that will be; everything we project has an impact. One small act of kindness could spark a chain reaction of positivity and I think connecting with people is one of the most valuable things we can do. I want to meet people with a similar mindset, people who disagree completely, and everyone in between. I want to learn as much as I can and use it in a way to bring people happiness. We’re all interconnected at the deepest of levels and I think our growth comes from learning from each other, we need to treat each other with kindness and compassion and we need to listen. I feel that we are here to play our part in the growth of the earth and its inhabitants, it’s our collective responsibility to work towards an increasingly conscious and compassionate world. It all sounds very serious but it’s not! I just think we need to take care of ourselves and each other, we need to find our happiness and share it.” – Emma Summer, Model, UK

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“Life means loving your body, your mind, nurturing your soul, creating with your community, your planet, and understanding your universe.” – Katy Walker, Things Are Changing Productions/Time is Art, Brookyn, NY

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“The meaning of life to me is a little bit different than most people, I have the ability to connect with spirit as a psychic medium. The meaning of life for me is to face all these battles and lessons in order to help heal other people but I don’t find that to be the reason other people are here. I know the only reason I am on this earth is to connect people with their… loved ones and teach reiki. In the meaning for them I think everybody is on their own beautiful journey of their soul’s growth sharing their little bits of their soul that could help make this world better. I think the meaning of life is to stop trying to find the meaning of life and just live the most positive amazing beautiful life that you can and always make sure to help others. I think it’s to evolve your soul enough to see clear, that we create our own destiny with a little help from our higher sources and to have faith. ” – Alex March, Tattooer/Psychic Medium/Reiki Practioner, NJ

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“Life is about connections and experience: learning from each and every person we come into contact with and giving others a new piece of insight from our own experiences resulting with positive encouragement to evolve and ascend.” – Jennifer Crimmins, brand ambassador/community manager Tarte Cosmetics, Pt. Pleasant, NJ

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“Try to be the best version of yourself. Help other people try to be the best versions of themselves. Look at bugs doing their thing. Wrestle some dogs. Give someone a present when its not their birthday. Improvise a song about the person in the car next to you. Take pictures of your poop. Learn to laugh at your own misfortune. Be a sponge. Pay attention! There are a million things going on at any given moment and our senses limit us to only being aware of a very small fraction of those things. You should cherish every experience and observation because this whole “you-being-alive-right-now” thing doesn’t last for very long.” – Richie Brown, artist/animator/alien, Toms River, NJ

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“The meaning of life is an endless question. It’s something that can be unique to every, single human being. And so every lifetime is an opportunity for a person to reinvent who they want to be in the world and how they want to impact every being around them. The meaning of life is there is no meaning, so you get to create it.” – Jesani Drew, Love and Empowerment Coach/Motivational Speaker, Brooklyn, NY

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“I would just like to begin by saying that to speculate about the meaning of life is both an interesting and beautiful pursuit. However, the nature of life is much like the nature of that which created it: the great mystery or Wakantanka as the Lakota people describe it. For a person to say that they are certain of the answer to this question would be foolish to say the least, not to mention a bit of an admission of arrogant ignorance. I doubt I will ever really know the meaning of life. Perhaps in death I will receive that information. I have come closer to death than I wish I had or would ever want to again and don’t think it brought me any closer to understanding life’s meaning.
What I can share are a few humble insights I have had on the way. First, I believe the purpose of all life is simply to live, otherwise I suppose there would be no life. Therefore, if you are a squirrel be a squirrel: Eat nuts, climb trees, etc. If you are a human, be a human. Many transcendentalists say to avoid sensory experiences and “transcend” humanity. The way I see it, we are humans, if we weren’t meant to be humans we wouldn’t be human. It seems pretty obvious that the key to humanity is the same as the natural world: balance. Alright now, what is the meaning of human life? What to do? How to live? It is scientific law that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed. Matter and energy interact and exchange in a kind of dance perpetually transferring and transforming.
The way I see it, there is only one tangible thing that is completely created where there wasn’t something before and that is you and your life. I do not mean the physical person you are. I mean the personality you are, the people/places/things you touch and the way the world changes as a result of your presence is actual palpable genesis. Therefore, in my ever so humble opinion, there must be some meaning to that, so create something amazing! Before I get too long winded I’ll wrap this up by sharing what a colorful and insightful medicine man once told me. He said people were always asking him advice about their lives. “What should I do?” “What is it I really want?” “What is the secret?” The list went on and on. He said that his answer to them was always the same. He said that when it all boils down, “everybody just wants TO…BE…HAPPY! So…I am happy!!!” It hit me like a load of bricks because it rang true. Why do you want love? Love makes you feel happy. Why do you want money? Money provides comfort, entertainment, etc., and these things make us happy.
You can see that the list also goes on and on forever and at the end of all these roads we really just want to feel satisfied with a smile on our faces. He insinuated that happiness is really a choice and he chooses happiness. There you go. These things may not be the meaning of life but they bring a lot of meaning to MY LIFE!” – Ben DeVoe, artist/fabricator, Brooklyn, NY

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“Life to me is about doing the things that make you happy. People spend their whole lives searching for happiness and when they find it they never want to let it go. It can be spending time with a person or a group of people, it can be a specific activity. What makes me happy is playing Basketball. I let that go last year and I had one of the worst years of my… young life. When you let go of what makes you happy you don’t feel like yourself. When you are truly happy you feel like you belong and there is no better feeling than that. The best feeling in life is being truly happy. When you’re happy all the little things that bother you don’t matter. All that matters is that moment and feeling right there. Some people go their whole life searching for the feeling so when you find it, don’t ever let it go.” – Arick Sodini, Student, Manalapan, NJ

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“Life, for me, has always been beautiful and simple. It is being childlike and always searching for new truths. It is setting your heart free, so love can pour out. It is allowing your mind to break the chains of ignorance. Change is the only constant–spiritual, mental, emotional growth is necessary to live a life of fulfillment, love, & happiness here on earth.” – Kait Moorefield, Student, Freehold, NJ

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“My meaning of life is centered around experience. I like the idea of going in the cold without a jacket, in order to understand the cold. Some call it Tantric, because you absorbed positive and negative aspects as a means to have a firm understanding. Although, these experiences only shape you and your story, and give you a basis to understand. Our journey in life is to seek balance and enlightenment, whichever path takes you there is up to you. Some of us prefer the road less traveled. There are many doors to the universe, and love is the key to unlocking them. We come into this earth as pure souls, but our environment and social development shapes us into the adults we are fated to become. The underlying theme is understanding karma, while connecting to the path toward your destiny. Destiny is written, and fate is malleable. Life is beautiful, and it’s the story that gives it definition.” – Billy O’Brien, co-founder of EvolveandAscend.com, Asbury Park, NJ

And, finally… here’s my take on life’s meaning…

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“We incarnate on this planet with a sort of curriculum of learning, where life puts us through tests, trials, and tribulations in order to deconstruct our ego to reconstruct our heart. The paradox about this is that we are born exactly how we are supposed to be, but life tricks us into thinking we are to “become” something. The reality is, is that there is no “becoming,” there is only an unbecoming to reconnect with the heart we are born with in the first place. The key to appreciating life, and understanding it’s meaning, is to maintain a childlike enthusiasm during your curriculum, and to never lose faith in the satire of your story. Life is its own ouroboros of learning and unlearning, but maintaining passion, curiosity, and love for all that you experience during the cycle will help your heart stay light. Love, above all else, is the true destination of the journey… love is why we are created, love is the source of creativity, and love is ultimately what we return to when our time here is up. So, with all of that being said, this is my take… life is about letting your heart guide you as you live, learn, unlearn, stay light, let go, laugh through the darkness, and love every person/experience/moment as if they are an extension of yourself.” – Jennifer Sodini, Founder of EvolveandAscend.com, Asbury Park, NJ

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What does life mean to you? Let us know via the comment section below!

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Consciousness

What The Black Cat Symbolizes (More Than Just Bad Luck)

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Cats have had a special bond with humans and have been domesticated since ancient Egyptian times. In fact, they were even regarded as gods in these times and treated with the utmost care and respect. It seems that for those of us who really know cats, we understand that there is something special about these animals, so much so that we too are willing to feed them, scoop up their poop, and let them destroy our furniture… seems like perhaps not much has changed since ancient Egypt after all.

Throughout history, many people have been superstitious about black cats in particular, and will avoid them whenever they see them. If you are thinking this is just a silly superstition and people don’t actually believe that black cats are bad luck, then you should know that they are the least likely to be adopted from an animal shelter. There are stories that they are sometimes tormented, captured and even killed on halloween night.

So, where does this superstition come from? Should we be wary of black cats? If so maybe I’m screwed because I have been the proud owner of my handsome black kitty I call Salem, (I know, how original, right?) for the past 5 years. This also brings up the point of how black cats and witches seem to go hand in hand. So, why is this and what do we need to know about these furry black creatures?

My handsome boy holding my page.

First, Some History

Throughout history black cats have generally been associated with occultism. According to Hebrew and Babylonian folklore, cats are compared to serpents, coiled on the hearth. In ancient Egypt, the act of killing a cat was punishable by death, and when a cat would die it would be mummified followed by the family entering into a period of mourning. Roman cultures considered the cat to be sacred and brought this animal into Europe. The vast majority of countries in Europe consider a black cat crossing one’s path to be bad luck and the church has long since associated black cats with witchcraft. These animals were also believed to be shapeshifters and that witches were able to transform into them with their spells and do evil things without being noticed. Many people believed that the devil himself would take the form of a black cat and sadly on holy days like Easter, in the Middle Ages, black cats were often hunted down and burned.

Luckily, in some cultures the perception of the black cat began to change and it went from being seen as bad luck to good luck in countries like Scotland who still regard a strange black cat on your porch as a sign of prosperity to come. In England, fishermen’s wives would keep black cats in their homes while their husbands were away in the belief that these animals would prevent danger from occurring to their husbands while they were off at sea.

I often refer to him as my “Halloween Cat.”

Some More Updated Theories

There is no doubt that superstitions regarding black cats are some of the most widely known and popular. One has to wonder what witches really saw in black cats and why they had a relationship with them in the first place, because by now many people realize that witches were not evil, but just more connected to the power of the universe that lies within us all. The powers that be did not want this information getting out, hence the massive crusade against witches and pretty much any intuitive woman during the middle ages. So why did the witches really keep black cats?

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According to a website called Witches Lore, a black cat is a good companion to have around because it will double the power of any spell, black cats are witches themselves and are more connected to the mysterious powers of the universe. You can learn everything about magic just from talking to your cat.

Black aside, the cat represents the following attributes, according to spiritanimal.com

  • Patience, waiting for the right moment to react
  • Independance, yet enjoying social connections
  • Spirit of adventure, courage
  • Deep, relaxed connection with self
  • Healing from the inside out
  • Curiosity, exploration of the unknown or the unconscious

“Another way to see the meaning of the cat as a spirit animal or totem is to pay attention to its ability to see in the dark and be at ease when most other animals and humans are not. If the cat shows up in your life as a spirit guide or you have this animal as totem, you may be inclined to start exploring areas in your life or aspects or yourself that you do not know well yet.

When we observe cats, we see that they are characterized by the flexibility and agility. No matter the circumstances, it will always manage to fall back on its feet. By affinity with the cat totem, you may be encouraged to develop your flexibility at many different levels, whether it is in your physical body, mind, emotions, or spirit.

The cat totem is a source of inspiration to renew your perspective and have the courage to act or integrate it into your life. If the cat spirit animal shows up in your life, it may be time to explore new ways to look at things.”

Here’s another interesting point made by the Archives of American Art,

“It’s not all bad for the black cat though. Black cats aboard ships at sea are a longstanding tradition associated with good luck. From pirate ships to naval vessels, cats have been welcomed on board because they keep the rodents away from the ship’s food supply and provide companionship for an isolated crew. Unlike in the United States, where they typically have negative connotations, other nations—like the United Kingdom and Japan—believe that black cats can bring prosperity, bless a marriage, ensure good harvests, and even help bring success to a theater production.” 

Do Cats Show Up In Your Dreams?

Of course some people perceive the presence of cats in their dreams as bad omens, others believe that the cat represents your feminine essence and sensuality. These dreams may be a reminder to let your inner mischievous and mysterious nature shine through. If a black cat shows up, this is a message to pay attention to what your intuition is telling you. The Ancient Egyptians believed that cats could travel between dimensions, so it would not be that strange to see a black cat in your dream with a message for you.

It seems as if there has been an heir of mystery and wonder around black cats since their relationships with humans began. I believe they are just as special as any other cat and my boy, Salem, just happens to be the friendliest cat I’ve ever met, he crosses my path on a regular basis and as far as I know, I’m doing just fine! Perhaps these superstitions are what you make them.

Much Love

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 27: The Testament)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

27. The Testament

By noon on Remembrance Day most of the villagers had found their way into a large circle in the village square. Remembrance Day on the island of Allandon was a celebration of the present through an embracing and owning of injustices and atrocities of the past. Any one would have the opportunity to give testament, in their own words, to events from their collective history that they felt needed to be remembered.

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After several minutes of silent contemplation together, the orchard owner was the first to rise. He put his hands in the air and bowed his head.

“Let us remember a time when we gathered up the harvest for the few, so that we could grow fat while others starved.”

“We remember,” the villagers said in unison.

The renovator stood up next. “Let us remember a time when we burned homes and villages, so that we could strike fear in the lives of others.”

“We remember,” the villagers said.

The old woman who cleaned the village square banged her pail on the ground signaling that she wanted to speak: “Let us remember a time when we tortured those who thought differently, massacred those who looked differently, a time when we raped the defenseless for pleasure and dismembered the innocent without remorse.”

“We remember,” the villagers said.

After a short silence, the orchard owner encouraged the young man who planted seeds in his orchard to say something. As the seed planter stood up and looked around shyly, the villagers clapped to encourage him to speak. And so with a deep breath he began.

“Let us remember that when the news of these acts of cruelty came into our ears and eyes—often as these events were still going on—we felt deep sadness in our hearts and anguish in our minds. But at the time we did not consider them our acts. We only judged them as wrong and mostly did nothing.”

There were audible gasps among the villagers. Some bowed their heads while others looked about perplexed. The seed planter bent down to the orchard owner and whispered, “Did I say something wrong? Aren’t people supposed to say ‘We remember’?”

The orchard owner smiled wistfully and said, “Give us some time. We will.”

If we step into the future just a little bit, it is not hard to imagine that we will look back to the present day and marvel at our relative inaction in the face of the human suffering and need on our planet. This is not at all to discount the incredible work that is being done by people to directly address the sickness, the starvation, the disease and the injustice; but it is still the work of the few, the exceptional, and the money that we provide for this work remains a drop in the bucket of global wealth, especially when compared to the amount being used to manufacture the tools of war and destruction.

More than ever in our history, we are front and center to the misery that is occurring around the world. We are hearing more about the aftermath of natural disasters, becoming more acutely aware of the spread of deadly diseases, and witnessing in graphic detail the catastrophic consequences of wars and conflicts as they happen. It makes us wonder if this is occurring because of the advances of modern telecommunications, or if the world really is headed towards fragmentation and eventual self-destruction. Either way it has become nearly impossible to turn a blind eye to it.

And perhaps that is a good thing. Not because we are more likely to be guilted into giving a donation, or to drop everything to become a relief worker abroad, or even to be forced to appreciate all that we have. The reason I say it is a good thing is because I feel that the broadcasting of human atrocities of the past and present sharpens our collective self-awareness and propels the evolution of our consciousness, which is the only avenue that will lead us to that long sought-after dream of world peace. Before Adolf Hitler orchestrated the holocaust, few people would have considered such massive crimes against humanity possible in the twentieth century. However they occurred, not because of the twisted vision of a single man, but because of the complicity of so many whose darkness had gone unexamined.

In a way, few people made a greater contribution to the eradication of discrimination than Adolf Hitler, because through his actions the darkness that was in humanity as a whole rose to the surface, like a disease that moves from deep inside us and erupts on our skin for all to see. The holocaust is rightly kept in memory not as a reminder that an evil man perpetrated unthinkable deeds, but that something in the darkness of our collective soul made such an event possible.

In the new conversation humanity is a true community, in which we share ownership of the darkness and fear that explodes into the world. As the development of the individual reaches new heights, so too is there a greater opportunity to see ourselves as One. So long ago Jesus implored that ‘he who is without sin should cast the first stone,’ to show us that the blame placed by one person or group on another is not really where the solution is but actually where the problem lies.

Blaming others for all the suffering in the world is a rather limited way to empathize with that suffering. We are better off being straight and simply saying that it causes us suffering as well. We may deny that we are affected, but denial is an acute form of that suffering. For a long time we have used coping mechanisms to escape from the guilt, the shame, the sadness that the current state of the world brings to us.

But can we be faulted? Can we really be expected to fathom what it is like to be an innocent bystander in a war zone and be captured, terrorized, and finally have our head sawed off? Can we grasp the anguish of a woman who is dying a painful death from AIDS as a result of having been raped repeatedly by soldiers of her own country? We might be excused for avoiding much more than a cursory, detached glance at these events, for fear of being overwhelmed and not being able to get on with our lives.

But this fear is only reasonable at our old level of consciousness, the one we are growing out of. It is coming from a place where we feel absolutely helpless and powerless, disconnected from our world and what goes on in it. From the point of view of our old consciousness, being at peace with what is going on in the world can only be seen as complete ignorance or unmitigated apathy. And so we proclaim righteously that these horrible events in the world are wrong, that they should not be happening!

Ah, but this is where we need to be the most careful, because—I’ll say it again—herein lies the lynchpin of the whole problem. What is most pressingly needed, in this matter as with all human matters, is not our judgment, but rather our acceptance.

But that seems absurd! How can I suggest that we lend acceptance to these horrible events? If we don’t judge these events as wrong, then why would we ever act to make things right? In accepting the occurrence of these events, are we not automatically condoning these human actions and sending a message to the perpetrators to keep right on doing them? These are the questions we ask ourselves. What we ask less often is: how effective has our judgment been in bringing peace and harmony to our world? If we look at the evidence honestly, we will realize it has been wholly ineffective.

In order to bring about lasting change we are required to bring our consciousness to a level above the one in which these problems were made and continue to perpetuate. Let’s face it once and for all: judgment does not lead to action, it only leads to reaction. Look at what has been happening in the Middle East since the end of the second World War. It is a chronicle of reaction. But history does not have to be about reaction. It can be about creation. The only thing we need to do is stop being informed on how to act based on what we know from our past, the favorite stomping ground of our Ego Self, and act instead from our deepest voice inside, from our self that is connected to the All, our Dao Self.

Let us begin with the most obvious of propositions: what is, is. In other words, if an event has occurred or is occurring, then judging it to be bad or wrong or horrible does not change or affect or negate the event one iota. It only changes us. It separates us from the event. It makes us feel powerless, because it makes us feel as though we are not part of the event, that we are not connected to it in any way. If we are not connected to it then we have no power to affect change.

Now true, our governments show us that if you have enough might, you can effect some changes in the world using the old paradigm of good over evil. But these are not the deep lasting changes that get to the source of any problem. These are more like the superficial shifting of lines on a map and titles of governments, while the real energy behind these events are pushed down into the depths of men and women, to re-emerge at the first opportunity. Ever wonder when the wars will end? The War on Terror? The War on Drugs? The War on Cancer? They will end the moment we stop believing in the need to wage war, the moment that our consciousness evolves enough to see that war is self-perpetuating.

It is tempting to pronounce ourselves on the side of good, but believe it or not, being on the side of good is actually the problem. Being on the side of good is really equivalent to being on the side of evil, for we will always be ‘evil’ in the minds of the group that we are opposed to, the side that we have called evil. This old consciousness is driven by our fear, and makes us proclaim to others that “you are with us or you are against us.” Even those who want to remain neutral become the enemy. It is only with an elevated consciousness that we can arrive at the truth about all the fighting we do—that ‘we have met the enemy, and he is us’.

In war, everybody believes that they are on the side of good. Everybody believes that the One, the Dao, God, Allah—is on their side, and their fight is in their Name. But this is the most absurd of contradictions. When you are on a ‘side’, it means you are in opposition to. It means you are fighting against. If we are truly with the One, the Dao, then we are not against—anything! There is only the One! Duality is transcended, duality which is fueled by judgment, by right and wrong, good and evil. Mother Theresa may have encapsulated this best when asked to join an anti-war march. She declined, and then added, “but if you have a march for peace, I will be there.” Perhaps, finally, we are ready to step into a consciousness that sees beyond the very human obsession with good and evil.

We have always had visionaries throughout our history who have known about this, and in their own way have tried to inspire people to a consciousness of unity. They realized that this consciousness cannot be forced, cannot be pushed, but can only be offered softly and humbly as a choice. We may have heard the words of this wisdom thousands of times in hundreds of different settings, but seldom have gotten to its core. No matter. The words will continue to be there for when we are ready. And when we are able to let our minds become still, it may be possible to hear those words again inside us as if for the first time, words of a stirring speech, a sacred text, or even a song like this visionary oeuvre by John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try

No hell below us, above us only sky

Imagine all the people, living for today…

.

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too

Imagine all the people, living life in peace…

.

You may say I’m a dreamer,

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people, sharing all the world…

.

You may say I’m a dreamer,

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one [1]

We are ready to be moved by great visions like this, and we are preparing to share similar visions of our own. The move to a new approach has started to change the way we are all thinking about healing the divisions on our planet. When we approach life from our Dao Self, we think globally rather than locally. We take ownership of the ills of the world rather than opposition to them. A recent campaign for AIDS awareness read ‘We All Have AIDS’, which shows the growing awareness that each one of us is complicit in any condition that befalls humanity, and we are an essential part of the healing of that condition as well.

Many organizations are now being created which, although certainly supportive of action in the world, are focused on the proliferation of a consciousness of unity. Initiatives like Humanity’s team, Alliance for a New Humanity, and the One campaign believe that when a critical mass of people have elevated their consciousness to the point that it is abundantly clear and self-evident that we are all One, something will become immediately obvious: there is nothing more pressing to do than to put all our energies into helping the most desperate among us in any way possible. This means no longer marginalizing people and nations when their ways are different from ours. This means making a priority of sharing our food, water, medicine and other resources.

This happens in the most spontaneous way. When we gain greater self-awareness our hearts are opened. If enough people move into this higher awareness, it is not impossible that one day the world will be freely willing to offer up all its resources—yes, ALL its resources—until each human being on the planet is free from worry and suffering.

Imagine if your young child was sick and needed immediate medical attention to survive. Would you decide that since you have budgeted 3.5% of your total wealth to this matter, that you would stop after it runs out? You would let your child die? I don’t think so. When we think about humanity the way most of us currently think about our immediate family, when we realize we are connected in just the same way, our behavior in the world will naturally change.

In the new conversation caring about others on our planet is not a command or even a request. The new conversation is simply an exploration of the experiences in life that we truly want, in a space provided for the expression of our truest, clearest, most grounded selves. In itself life isn’t bothered with the prospects of people starving and the planet disintegrating through war. Life will go on regardless. Our world is the backdrop to our experience, providing us with the possibility to make choices. When the situation in our world is dire it just makes those choices more meaningful, more felt. If we really could free ourselves from our old consciousness, we might have no greater desire than to care for the less fortunate among us and help to heal our planet of the Ego-devastation it has experienced throughout its history.

This does not all have to be overwhelming. In the consciousness of unity we realize that as goes the microcosm, so goes the macrocosm. Each shift in our individual consciousness affects human consciousness as a whole. Each gesture, each interaction with others in our lives has global consequences. And so if we want to exercise our choice to help make the world better for all people on the planet, we need to look no further than healing our everyday relationships.

[1] Imagine Words and Music by John Lennon©1971 (Renewed 1999) LENONO.MUSIC All rights Controlled and Administered by EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC INC., All Rights Reserved, International Copyright Secured, Used by Permission

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Consciousness

Ask Yourself: Would Would You Do If Money Didn’t Matter? What Would You Do If It Didn’t Exist?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Alan Watts delivers a speech that puts into question the idea of money and what we are all doing here on planet Earth.

  • Reflect On:

    Do we have enough resources and technology to provide everybody on Earth with abundance? If we do, and if we did, what would human beings do? Would we return to our natural state and start exploring and advancing?

You probably hear this now-cliché question all the time: “If money was no object, what would you be doing with your life?” But hearing a question multiple times doesn’t make it any less valid. There is a profound truth underlying these words which it seems many of us have come to belittle or outright ignore, and yet the implications of truly internalizing their meaning are huge.

You may be a young, excited individual coming into the workforce or you may be part of an older generation who has been in the workforce for a while, wondering, “How did I get here?” Or perhaps you are someone who already loves what you do. In any case, I truly think that regularly asking yourself what it is you would love to do with your time if money was no longer an object can be a powerful tool. So why don’t we go ahead and do some self-analysis? But first, let’s listen to what Alan Watts has to say about the topic, as I think it will really get us into the right mindset for this task.

The Exercise

This exercise is a pretty simple one, just like the question it addresses. When answering these questions, it is important to go beyond some of the things we are kinda taught are the things to strive for. For example, letting go of our ideas about ‘success,’ money, material goods, fame, etc. and instead looking at it like Alan says – if money didn’t matter and I could do anything right now… what would it be?

Don’t worry about the whole career or job thing right now, just begin with what you like. Then think about what you feel you can contribute to the world, whether it be to just one person or a whole community (or the entire globe!). Educating others, contribution to a project, and bringing joy to others are all examples of ways you could contribute to the world. 

Then grab a piece of paper and write:

“What do I enjoy doing? What makes me tick or gets me excited?”
“What would my ideal day look like if I could do what I wanted to do?”
“What is my ideal job? What does it look like?”
“What are my favorite hobbies or things to do?”

Once you start answering some of these more basic questions, we dive into things like:

“Why do I like these things I enjoy doing?”
“What about them are interesting to me?”

What this does is gets you thinking about yourself and the things that you enjoy. More importantly, it gets you thinking about why you enjoy them. This is key, 
because it helps you to isolate the elements of those activities that are important to you. You can then use that knowledge to find or incorporate those things into many different tasks or jobs. Because sometimes you really should ‘sweat the small stuff.’ Sometimes it’s those little details which make a job really great, or really awful. 

In the end it’s all about participating in activities that bring you joy and ignite your passion, even if it’s only for a few hours a week. The key is trying not to get too stressed about the process either. Worrying that you can’t find your passion or your purpose is not going to help you find it. Have fun and be playful with it. The answer may also change a year from now or 5 years from now. It is human nature to change and to grow, and our passions and interests may change as we do.

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