The Examined Life

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spiritual Pilgrim

In the failing sunlight of the early evening I look out from my rain streaked windows watching the last of the yellow leaves quiver on the trees and flutter to the ground. I witness the endless dance the seasons play out once again as time spirals toward eternity. What is hidden from my view? What is obscuring of my perception? Intuitively I know there is something more. It cannot be that this view is all there is. As I feel myself cought up in this endless cycle of apparent life and death I want to believe there must be something "special" that makes my life experience significant and unique.

Yes, it is undeniably so. Where even two consciousnesses have touched and stood together in the awe and wonder of beingness, then it has been witnessed beyond all doubt that this cosmic parade is but the backdrop. It is but the stage upon which we play out this unique but brief experience that manifests in the so-called reality of what we take to be the totality of our existence.

I have carried this secret my whole life searching for souls willing to enter into this grand experiment to dare to look beyond the facade into the extraordinary. And yet I cannot distill the essence of this experience from the physical tedium and banality with which it is inexorably entangled. It seems I cannot even adequately describe it in isolation. What alchemy is required? Only the willing human sprit, using love as the catalyst, is pure enough it isolate and rarify the nectar from the amalgamation. Until more Spiritual Pilgrims are ready to emotionally venture beyond this incomplete experience we call reality, we will all continue to live ordinary lives with only brief glimpses into what is possible.

But for me, a brief glimpse will never be enough. I must go forward now. There is no going back. It is not my intent to merely involve others in an experiment to discover what was possible between human beings but also to forever transform reality itself. I have no way to foresee the outcome. I know not what that transformation entails. But for those who have been witness, those who have been touched, it is incumbent upon you [individually] to re-chart your life out of this experience and go forward.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We Always Have Choice

How many times have you heard someone say “I had no choice.” How often have you told yourself that in order to justify some action or lack thereof.

Every time we tell ourselves that we have no choice, about anything, we are giving up something precious. We are giving up our free will, the very thing that makes us human beings. Every time we accept that excuse from others we are enabling them to be less than they are.

When we say we have no choice, what we are really saying is that we cannot deal with the consequences we to attach to the choices that life gives us, whether these consequences are totally imagined or almost certain. When we give up our willingness to choose we become victims of our circumstances and others who would control us with their fears or desires. Ironically we feel we are directing our lives by choosing not to choose. But in reality we have abdicating the responsibility we have to truly live our lives.

Jean Paul Sartre the famous existentialists tells the story of how, in his early life, in occupied France, during the Second World War he was drafted to serve the Germans by providing intelligence against the allies as a weatherman. In a lonely outpost at a weather station it occurred to him that he had told himself that he had no choice but to sell out at the wishes of his oppressors. What he realized was not that he had made a “right “ or “wrong” choice but that he had not chosen at all.

Sartre’s later writings reveal how this realization influenced his life and inspired others to find the courage to make deliberate choices in their lives. His perpetual message to us as human beings is to never loose sight of the value of making real choices and the human dignity and responsibility for our lives which this expresses.

So what does choosing really look like? Well in the case that Sartre cites, he realizes that he always had the right to choose not to capitulate even if it meant he would be killed. It occurred to him that there was something more important than his life and that was that preservation of human dignity through exercising his freedom to choose life or death, the ultimate choice we all have.

Sartre’s message is all but lost today in a society where people routinely justify selling out and see themselves as having no choice. This has created a pervasive climate of desperation, fear and depression that is ultimately deadly to us all. But Sartre’s message was not lost on the people of France as an estimated fifty thousand people attended his funeral in Paris in 1980.