Stepping Stones to Freedom

Principle #8

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?


 
Sometimes life just doesn't make any sense at all.

R: What is the meaning of life?

It had been a sunny day.  I and Mr. Babushnik had been sitting in the grass playing a board game. To others who were passing by it might have appeared to be an odd scene, a child and an elderly but elegantly dressed man sitting on the grass, their attention studiously affixed to an inconsequential game. Still for us it seemed the most natural thing in the world. Yet since the games we played often became the material for our discussions, the question I asked seemed most apropos.

Mr. B: Pish...what a silly question. There is no meaning to life—there is only your question. Look inside first -- wherever you think inside is -- and then ask where did that question come from. Who, what asked it, and why...and there is where you will find your meaning.

I looked up from the game.

R: Okay...I'm looking inside...

Mr. B: What do you find there?

R: Nothing.

Mr B: Exactly. I used to be confused. So I looked inside. And, what did I find? Nothing...the more I tried to look inside and find out who and what and why I am, was like a dog chasing its tail. I could never catch it. You see...there is your meaning...

R: Where?

Mr. B: Nowhere...now let's go for a walk...

Mr. Babushnik rose from the grass. Taking this gesture as I cue that our game was over, I quickly packed the game board and pieces in its cardboard box and tucked it under my arm. There had been no winner. And in truth I cannot recall that we ever finished a game, at least to the point that a winner might be declared. Rather it always seemed to be the pleasure of the play that mattered most, and not the final outcome. 

I stood up and we ambled together in silence down the path that led to a bramble of trees. After a while I plucked up my courage to ask again?


R: But if I didn't, then who asked the question in the first place?

Mr. B: What question?

R: What is the meaning of life?

Mr. B: Oh, that question. The Universe asked the question...

R: What do you mean by that?

Mr. B: I don't mean anything by that. Only the Universe itself can ask such a question...

R: The Universe?

Mr. B: The one and the same...

R: Now you're being ridiculous...

Mr. B: Not really. The Universe is quite alive you know...it thinks, it breathes, it goes to the bathroom.

R: Please now...you're making it up. You're making the Universe into a man.

Mr. B: I am not making anything up. The Universe is alive. Now, you've heard people talk about the idea that we are all One, and God is the same as the Universe.

R: Yes, but...

Mr. B: You can think, can't you?

R: Yes.

Mr. B: And you're awake, aren’t you? At least since you woke up this morning.

I nodded.
Mr. B: And you are a part of the Universe, aren't you?

R: Yes.

Mr. B: Then the universe must have the capability to be awake, since you are part of the Universe and you are awake, Ergo: the Universe itself must be awake.

R: At least.

Mr. B: We've also figured out that all you know about yourself is that you can think...at least some of the time...even if you are only thinking about ice cream, you are thinking and you know you are thinking about it.

R: Yes.

Mr. B: And since you are part of the Universe that means the Universe can think about ice cream. And sometimes when you are asleep you dream about ice cream. So that means the Universe can dream about ice cream.

R: Yes, I guess so.

Mr. B: We know that sometimes you watch yourself think. I like to call that self-awareness. Then so is the Universe. It is Self Aware. Since you are part of the Universe whatever quality you have is a quality of the Universe. Can you love?

R: I think so.

Mr. B: Then so can the Universe. Do you laugh?

R: Sometimes.

Mr. B: And so does the Universe. Do you cry?

R: Occasionally.

Mr. B: And so does the Universe. Any quality of yours is a quality of the Universe.

R: But, Mr. Babushnik, how on Earth does that become a practical idea? You've said yourself that no idea is of any value unless it lives as part and parcel of every aspect of your being.

MR. B: Did I say that? Hmm, very nice. I must remember that. Well, then you must live these qualities of the Universe fully.

R: How?

Mr. B: By being completely aware of these wonderful qualities that make up you and make up the Universe. That when you laugh you are totally aware of what it is to laugh. To enjoy it so fully that you can't help noticing that it is the Universe that is laughing with you, underneath you and behind you, because you are part of that Universe. And when you cry, to cry with full compassion for yourself, for that is how the Universe cries with you.

All the qualities we've talked about are the many paths that lead to one point, Self Awareness. Make yourself more Self-Aware. How? Practice gratitude, humility, imagination… all the Stepping Stones. The Stepping Stones are there to reach one quality...Self Awareness. Because you and the Universe are the same fundamentally, it all points to one ultimate aspect of pure self-consciousness. Be aware as possible of all these qualities that are you, for that is the essence of the Universe. Be that purely, and you will be totally free...

R: I don't get it.

Mr. B: You're not supposed to.

R: I'm not?

Mr. B: That my friend is the meaning of life...Let's get an ice cream cone.

R: Okay.

And with that we stopped at the little ice cream cart and Mr. Babushnik bought me an ice cream cone. It was one of those inexpensive cones that come wrapped in paper. I remember that particular ice cream cone so clearly because no ice cream had ever tasted so delicious, so sweet and creamy. But the best part was that I could watch myself enjoying the cool taste. And the more I watched myself enjoy the ice cream, more of the experience unfolded to watch. . I could smell the scent of vanilla, I could feel the texture in my mouth, the coolness as it slid down my throat. It was an explosion of delights I had never known could be found in a simple ice cream cone. And the very fact that I knew that I was enjoying it brought further layers of glee and satisfaction.

Then as I looked out across the green pastures of the park, the world around me itself appeared to transform. I had never seen a world so alive. Though it took years to even begin to put it into words, I knew then and there that my world was forever changed. For I could now experience who I truly am.  For I was not a boy, I was not skin, nor thoughts, or even a breath. I was the awareness to these experiences. And the sights and sounds that I called the world outside myself was but another side of the very same experience… of myself. And of the Universe.

To this day I can not say that I have found the meaning of life. I can say though that the essential awareness that allows me to know who I am is the very same substratum that lies behind every part and parcel that makes up the Universe. The quality of awareness of knowing oneself is the fundamental essence of Who I Am. It is the same fundamental essence of what underlies all Creation. If I am Awake the Universe is Awake.