More and more, I'm wondering if the biggest problem with life is believing that life is a problem. Personally, I just don't see how there could be anything wrong with Life as a whole, capital "L" version.
Yet religions tell us that there is.
Christianity speaks of original sin, and of a fall from God's good graces. Similar teachings are found in Islam and Judaism. Buddhism informs us that life is suffering. In Hinduism, the everyday world is maya, illusion, not the place a psyche wants to be.
The root of "religion" is relegare, which denotes a binding back to God. Which, of course, wouldn't be possible unless there had been a previous loosening -- a distancing from divinity that now makes life (and a supposed afterlife) a lot less pleasant.
Yet where is the evidence for this? Show me the problem with Life. Sure, there are lots of discrete problems I, and everyone else, has to deal with.
But let's consider how something becomes a "problem." Seemingly it is when an actual state of affairs doesn't match up with a desired optimal state of affairs.
My TV won't turn on. I'd like it to. Now I have a problem. It used to work. Now it doesn't. Problem!
What, though, would lead me to conclude that Life as a whole has a problem? There's nothing to contrast Life with, no perfectly functioning alternative state of existence that would cause me to say, "Oh, that's how Life is supposed to work."
I've spent quite a bit time with some people -- gurus and advanced disciples -- who supposedly were well on their way, if not entirely there, to a spiritual realm of being. I've seen videos of the Dalai Lama and other religious leaders, such as the Pope.
None of them show any sign of having left this Life behind. Each appeared to be solidly human, with strengths and weaknesses, just as we all are.
Still, most people on Earth have bought into the religious notion that Life (with a capital "L") is a problem begging to be solved. By faith, revelation, surrender to God/Guru, meditation, spiritual practice, or some other means.
True believers often say, "A teacher is needed to learn everything else in life. Religion is no different." Well, yes it is.
I accept that my dance instructor can teach me her skills because I can see her dancing a lot better than I can. But where is the evidence that someone can Life better than the rest of us? This is what religions claim -- that LIfe itself, as lived by us now, is the problem with our lives.
And we need to be saved, enlightened, or otherwise raised into a whole other form of Life. Which, however, is nowhere to be seen. Only conceptualized in religious dogma.
I've been enjoying the blog dialogue that began with a comment by OshoRobbins on this post on May 23. He pretty much made the same point: that there is no place to get to on a spiritual or religious path.
Life is Life. This is it. There is no place to go, and no one else to be, except where and who we are -- human beings living our earthly lives.
If we ever are living some other form of existence, that will be obvious. Until then, which likely will be never, it's senseless to imagine that there is a problem with Life because it doesn't match up with some abstract hypothetical state of affairs.
Heaven. Nirvana. Paradise. Whatever.
On another post, I said:
If we have a real self that has been covered up by gobs of illusory ego-crap, then our goal should be to restore that divine cosmic gem to its original shining glory. However, what if our problem is believing there's a problem with our self?
Same reasoning applies to LIfe as a whole. What if our problem is believing there's a problem with Life?
Danes and Swedes are some of the happiest people on Earth. Most of them don't obsess over the meaning of life. They simply live life, enjoyably. Ditto with citizens of other Scandinavian countries, which are minimally religious.
So the next time you think, as most of us do, "I've got to figure out what life is all about," try telling yourself: "No, you don't."