AFTER DECADES OF PROBING into the many mysteries and enigmas of this world, and life in general, I’m certain of precious little in absolute terms, but I do know a few things…
I know that the soul seeks its secrets and the body its amusements, its perfect fleshly miracles and its shameless naked amazements. I know that we humans love our pleasures and loathe our pains; that not only do most of us want to live long lives, we want to live forever.
Unfortunately, the Grim Reaper can – and will at some point – sneak up on us with his cursed, merciless scythe and put an end to that dream.
We all die.
That is indisputably true of the physical body anyway.
As for the “soul” – the animating essence of the physical body in which so many of us believe – there is a great deal of room for debate.
Fortunately, many a mystic, sage and yogi in the course of human history has told us that we are immortal.
Those who have experienced what are known as “near-death experiences” also insist that the animating essence of the physical body is immortal in nature. That animating essence is believed to be the psycho-spiritual complex itself. It is believed to be consciousness in its purest form.
Invariably, the various sacred, philosophical and mystical writings that have been handed down through history tell us that life continues on after the Grim Reaper has made his move, has cut the flesh out from under us, so to speak. These saints, sages and mystics say that the “real” person simply “inhabits” a physical body and does so as pure consciousness, as a pure soul essence, that can exist quite apart from the physical body.
This soul essence generally finds itself in a more ethereal realm after physical death, we are told, in an “afterlife” consisting mainly of light forms of a very subtle nature. We are also told that our perceptual ability is heightened. What we experience is super vivid and hyper-real.
So persistent have these notions been over the centuries that virtually every religion on the face of the Earth has come to believe in some form of an afterlife, which is heartening to most of us.
Ultimately, of course, we are free to believe whatever we want to believe and we may do so in secrecy or in confidence, or in as public a way as we choose.
Which is good. After all, freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of religion are among the cornerstones of our human rights.
And, of course, if it is our predilection, we may even believe that there is no God, that there is only oblivion when we die, that there is absolutely no substance at all to the notion of an afterlife.
Personally, I believe that there is an afterlife and that the soul not only lives on in some Otherworld, it does so for a purpose.
That purpose is to help each of us to spiritually evolve.
We evolve in order to contribute to the enrichment of the inherent collective consciousness that pervades this world of ours and possibly even the cosmos as a whole.
I find the notion of spiritual evolution spectacularly intriguing. It implies that it is possible to grow and expand as a “being” and to become more enlightened along the way. To become enlightened, I think, has more to do with one’s ability to understand how all of life is intertwined, than it does in making a single individual some kind of a “super soul” with “magical” powers.
Magical powers implies a supernatural ability to defy the known laws of physics. I think that we humans may not be aware of the full measure and nuances of the laws of physics, and that what is strictly true in one dimension of the cosmos may not be true in all.
Are there really other worlds, other dimensions in this cosmos? The best minds of science say there is. Check out super string theory, for example, with its eleven dimensions or the idea of a subquantum realm that has been advanced by certain scientists.
The most advanced practitioners of the yogic arts most assuredly believe it.
The more one grows in a spiritual way, I believe, the more one sees that we do indeed reap what we sow, as the Judeo-Christian Bible tell us, and that there really is such a thing as “karma” as the Eastern religious traditions insist.
What we do, what actions we take, in other words, come back to us.
Which is why we should treat others as we would have them treat us. This maxim is known as the Golden Rule and every religion on the face of the Earth offers its members some version of this wise advice.
I think that we humans have much more in common with one another than we have differences, no matter our race, religion or country of origin, but this is only perceivable when we get below the surface of our cultural idiosyncrasies and look at our own interests, passions and proclivities with unmitigated honesty. After all, we need not apologize for our needs and wants and desires.
As the English mystic, William Blake, put it. “Those who enter the gates of heaven are not beings who have no passions or who have curbed the passions, but those who have cultivated an understanding of them.”
Compassionately understanding and respecting ourselves and others in an equal manner is perhaps all that evolutionary spiritual advancement requires.
In other words, why complicate it?
As the sage, Nagarjuna, wisely states in his sutra, String of Precious Jewels: “Compassion achieves everything we all wish for.”
How beautifully simple!