A Search for Reality
Many of us have come across this little song. Maybe we sang it at Sunday school:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings …
Of course, then our minds were too immature to appreciate the deep message contained in these verses. But if we look at this little song now, we see that its message forms the bedrock of all religions and belief systems.
All the mystics from the dawn of time have tried to impress upon man his interconnectedness, his interrelation, his unity with everything around us – not only with our fellow human beings, but with the universe, the animals, the plants. We are all particles of the whole. Whatever we see, whatever we experience is a manifestation of this eternal oneness. The divinity at the core of our being is the same divinity that illumines the sun, the moon and the stars.
But man, through greed, has upset the divine sequence running throughout the planet. He has damaged or broken so many links in this chain that perhaps for the first time in history his own existence is threatened.
He has destroyed the rain forests; he has polluted the rivers, the sea and the air; he has wiped out so many species of animal and plant life. He is experimenting with food and introducing foreign genes into crops. He has upset the climate. We see strange and eccentric weather conditions happening throughout the world.
The world is going through turbulent times. We’re faced with unstable financial markets. We are in the throes of a global food crisis. Now we must ask the question: How did humankind allow itself to get into this situation? Where did we lose the plot? How did we get into this mess?
In 1990 while making its way into outer space the spacecraft Voyager took a photograph of Earth. Voyager was at that time more than four billion miles away, and the photograph showed this infinitesimal dot of blue among millions of stars and planets. That was Earth, this planet we live on. This amazing picture showed how insignificant our planet is in the vastness of the universe.
At the time the astronomer Carl Sagan said Earth looked like a tiny dot, a mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam. And yet it was home to all the men and women who had ever lived. He marvelled that throughout history so much blood had been spilt by generals and emperors so that for a brief time they could become masters of a fraction of this tiny dot.
This is the condition of humankind. We live our lives on this little dot, hurtling round the sun at 67,000 miles an hour. In the grand scheme of things this little dot is barely a grain of sand on a beach. But for many this is the be-all and end-all of our existence. All our dreams, our aspirations, our objectives, our hopes, our desires, our loves are associated with what is happening on this little grain of sand. And we have become so attached to what transpires on this grain of sand, so absorbed in its activities, so engrossed in its attractions that we truly believe that this is all there is to life. We regard what we see around us as the only reality.
If we look at humanity today how does an ordinary person occupy his time? Mostly it is spent in working for others. We may have to bring up a family. We work for our spouse and children, or care for aged parents. We have to provide them with the necessities of life. The average office worker, for instance, gets up in the morning, travels to work, carries out his duties and returns home. In the evening he may spend time with his family.
And this is his routine, day in and day out. He struggles to make ends meet. There are pressures in the domestic set-up. There are deadlines to be met at work. There are numerous stresses he has to cope with.
Then, as if this is not enough, there are three unpleasant ghouls always hovering in the background: old age, disease and death. He seldom has time to ponder: What’s it all about? Where am I going?
The poet Wordsworth sums up our plight quite beautifully in his ode “Intimations of Immortality”:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar.
Wordsworth refers to our existence here as ‘a sleep and a forgetting’. The average person has forgotten who he really is, he has forgotten his divine essence.
And this is the message that the mystics from the dawn of time have been trying to get across to us: that we are living in a state of consciousness dominated by ignorance. The purpose of the mystics is to reawaken people to their true identity as sons and daughters of God.
To find our true identity we have to follow a mystical path. Mysticism is a science that leads from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge. The only real purpose of human life is the search for reality. And to know reality we must meditate. There is no other way to unfold the divinity in us.
Through the practice of meditation we will expand our conscious-ness and reach that stage where ignorance is left behind and all the mysteries of life are revealed to us. Then we will be able to echo the words of Christ: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.” (John 3:11)
I stretched out my hands to my Lord,
and to the Most High, I raised my voice.
And I spoke with the lips of my heart,
and when my voice reached Him, He heard me.
And His Word came to me,
and gave me the fruits of my labours;
And gave me rest by the grace of the Lord.
The Odes of Solomon