Take a Trip Inside Your Head
“Is this existence real?”
I pinch myself. It hurts; therefore this must be real.
However, for anything to be ‘truly’ real it has to be everlasting, or else impermanence surrenders it to a dream-like past. In other words, if something ceased to be and eventually its very memory evaporated, would it hold any value greater than that of a dream? So when I say ‘truly’ real, I mean eternally real. So in this new light, my question is now a lot harder to answer and can be rephrased as, “Do I exist forever?”
For one thing, I can not imagine ceasing to exist, but that in itself is not enough evidence.
However, consider this point. Our body is composed of millions of cells and scientific studies tell us that new cells are constantly forming and old cells are endlessly dying. In fact, most of the cells in our body today are different from the cells we had seven years ago. However, interestingly enough, we did not experience death and rebirth every time these cells – parts of our body – died or when new cells came into being. So in effect, our body has died and been reborn countless times and yet we did not experience the end of our existence as a person. This only suggests that there is indeed no correlation between our existence as a conscious being and the birth or death of our body.
The key here is to understand the body, which is separate from our ‘self,’ as merely a medium for us to perceive our earthly surroundings. In which case, the neurons in the brain are not who we are, they are simply a facility in place for us to understand and interact with the world around us.
With the above notion of ‘self’ defined, we can now proceed to my next question.
“Why do I exist independent of my body, and presumably even after my body’s death?”
It is not as easy to verify, and you will find that to be the trend with questions asking ’why’. If you think about this one long enough, you may find that we hardly know why anything happens at all.
Chew on this for a moment. Modern science explains to us how the sky is blue, but there is no scientific explanation for why the sky is blue. Yes, blue light refracts the most blah blah blah… and that’s how the sky is blue, but why does blue light have that particular property and not red instead? In my opinion, it seems more like an artistic choice than an engineering one. An unintelligent or uninterested person might deem such things random; but, to conclude it as random is simply unscientific. Why? Well, have a look around you. Is it a matter of probability whether the ball that you throw into the sky will fall to the ground due to gravity, or whether the earth will remain on its axis this year? No, it is certain. Nature goes above and beyond to prove to us that there is reason and rationale behind everything in her purview, so to suggest that something that defines our very experience as sentient beings is a result of randomness, is a silly abstraction.
Some of the more existential why’s that we need to confront are, why am I a boy and not a girl or vice versa? More specifically, why did those X and Y chromosomes turn out one way for me and not the other? Why was I born to this particular family in this particular country, on this particular planet of this colossal universe and why not somewhere else!? Are all the events of my life predestined? As you may have surmised, this can go on…
Now, even if we are not immediately able to ascertain why these things happen, at least we can surmise that they do happen for a reason.
This leads me forward in my loop of questions on life.
“If I do exist separate from the body, and there is a reason behind it, then what happens after the body dies?”
At this point in one’s search it is best to admit that there is really no way to know besides turning to an authority on the subject – someone who has been there and done that – a bona fide guru or a spiritual teacher. On life’s short journey our spiritual endeavor is destined to run out of gas unless we find someone who has already spent their life pursuing the truth, and who, having learnt the art from their own guru, can transmit the knowledge down to us. The guru, no matter the tradition, must not be self-manufactured; must come from the folds of a legitimate succession of teachers and disciples that can be traced back to the source of all knowledge – which of course may differ from tradition to tradition. People tend to get very uncomfortable at the thought of accepting a spiritual teacher. But for those who are serious about their real long term future – which lies beyond the physical body – there is really no better way than to search for a genuine guru. Our advantage in this age is that one need not scale the Himalayas in order to find an appropriate teacher; the spiritual preceptors of spiritual traditions and institutions, aware of the increasing demand for authentic spirituality, have spread this knowledge across the entire globe in order to reach out to those who seek it. This most important search may not be easy and will definitely not be quick, but bear in mind that truth awaits those who persevere.
In conclusion, for us to grasp this existence, we must do two things sincerely – think deeply and get as much help as possible. Being fortunate enough to have found my own spiritual calling, I hope to share my happiness, peace, and satisfaction with you.