What if this is all that there is? This. Right here, right now. A succession of moments in the physical world. After we die: nothing. No more “this.”
As I so often repeat here at the Church of the Churchless, I don’t know. I sure hope there is life after death. As Woody Allen put it, “I don't want to achieve immortality through my work I want to achieve it through not dying.”
But here’s another Woody Allen quote: “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.”
Recently a friend, Randy, and I shared some thoughts via email about Eckhart Tolle and his “The Power of Now” philosophy. A while back I started to read the book but it didn’t grab me. With over 600 mostly positive Amazon reader reviews, obviously a lot of other people resonate with his message.
As they should. I fully agree with Tolle’s prescription for a happy, fulfilling, and enlightened life. It’s just the way he packaged his “be here now” advice that left me literarily listless.
I told Randy that the mystic spiritual path we both were initiated into many years ago has some failings. Like most other religions, it preaches withdrawal from this world in the hope of entry into a better one. I said:
Sant Mat seems to emphasize a "this world is shit, get out of it" mentality. That may be good advice, but the downside is that it encourages people who already are depressed, withdrawn, unsocial, etc. to embrace their dysfunction. I've come to think that it'd be a cruel joke if this world really is all that there is--no life after death--yet so many religious people end up trying to ignore it in the hope that heaven will be their reward for detachment.
It seems strange that God would choose to create our physical universe, and then desire above all that souls escape from it. In Islamic thought we are told, “God was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known.” Meaning, creation is the observable manifestation of hidden divinity.
So why not enjoy God’s gift? Fully. Enthusiastically. Passionately. Every day I sit for an hour or so in meditation with closed eyes and ears, trying to tune in to whatever may lie beyond the physical. But the rest of the time I seek to drink in the sights, sounds, and other perceptions of materiality.
Why ignore what is here now? This. If this is all that there is, then every earthly moment is infinitely precious, for there is no infinity to look forward to. Yet even if there will be life after our deaths, it still seems that each moment is to be richly savored, for it never will come again.
God may have other sorts of existences ready for us, but this present earthly one is the gift to be enjoyed now.
I don’t usually listen or agree with Dr. Laura. However, while station-surfing as I was driving around this afternoon I heard this radio psychotherapist advise a woman with a sexual problem: “You don’t want to die, looking back, at 102 and think of all the nights of passion you’ve missed.”
Today I spent a highly enjoyable hour watching belly dancers with evident joie de vivre and listening to Middle Eastern music at Salem’s World Beat Festival.
[Tomorrow I'll probably post more belly dancing photos on my HinesSight weblog. Yesterday's post was about a less-joie de virvre'ly first day at the World Beat Festival.]