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The meaning of life Learn more about focussing your meditation with heart concentration A beautiful guided visualisation meditation as a drop in the ocean
The meaning of life
Background Notes
Wisdom is simple; it is knowledge that craves complexity.  

One of the main sources of stress is not having clear life directions or goals. So often we are caught by the urgent things in our lives – our material responsibilities and day-to-day struggles – that they create their own vicious cycle within our minds. This vicious cycle often distracts us from the real meaning of life. This is what we may know as the 'tension loop’.

The 'tension loop' confuses meaning with movement.  

Just like a computer, the mind processes data from many sources. The more programs you run in a computer, the less time it can spend on each program before having to go and process a little more of the next. The time the computer spends switching from program to program makes the computer run slower and slower until it may break down or stop.  

The mind works in the same way. Only our programs that run around in circles using up the minds resources are our fears, anxieties, doubts and worries. As we run out of resources, the mind (unlike a computer) speeds up. It becomes so involved by the number of things that it has to do that it spends more and more of its time switching from one to the other, drawing us further into the superficial and further away from the analytical and obviously the intuitive or meditative levels. Worse than that our ability to resolve anything is diminished as it is as though we keep re-reading the same page over and over again without taking anything in.
The top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by paliative care nurse Bronnie Ware:

  • I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.. "This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.""


  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard.."This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

  • I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. "Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."


  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. "Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."


  • I wish that I had let myself be happier. "This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
  • We find that we can’t concentrate for very long, we’re flighty and scattered and it is self-compounding. This 'tension loop' can be permanently transformed only through calming the mind and allowing a deepening of our awareness.

    We need to identify the negative thought patterns in our lives and transform them into positives. For example, worries are perhaps the most insidious of all negative thought patterns as within the mind they are like a program that loops or is never completed.

    They use resources, create stress, and are happiest when nothing is ever resolved or an ‘end-point’ reached. In the end, however, the real problem is not so much that we may be stressed or sick or having a nervous breakdown, the real problem is that we have confused ‘busy-ness’ with our life meaning. Meaningful goals become less and less clearly identified. Every moment can be an opportunity to reach your real self - to meditate - no matter where you are, or what is going on around you. It is all a matter of where your consciousness is.

    How many times in your life have you wondered about the meaning of life: Who am I? Why am I here?
    Most people have stopped asking these questions, as if there is perhaps no answer; or if there is, it must not be necessary to know.

    Can you see how absurd this is?

    How are we supposed to have clear life goals if we do not know why we are here?
    We have all listened to speakers who were very complex in their arguments; and probably thought ‘I don’t know what he is saying but it sounds important.’ We have learned to value complexity because in our society it has meant increased prestige. So the natural progression of this is, that the most important of all questions must have the most extremely complex answers.

    Gladly, for us, the opposite is true. Have you ever said - ‘I know this is right and it doesn’t matter what anyone says, I know this is something I’ve got to do’.

    Perhaps you touched your heart and continued; ‘because I felt it right here.’ Or perhaps you were reading a particular book or listening to a person speak and suddenly something they said struck a chord and you found yourself saying ‘Yes, that’s right’. Sometimes these feelings might have even defied logic but you knew they were true as grass growing for you.

    These are the 'Aah' moments of real wisdom. Wisdom requires not thought but experience, It always feels very simple as it is a revelation of our real self. It is a meditation experience. What we need to experience wisdom is meditation. To know the meaning of life, we need it in abundance.

    Imagine for a moment that you were the creator of the earth. Would you have made it so difficult for us to know the meaning of life, that we would have to renounce all other attachments and travel on a sacred pilgrimage for years and years until finally arriving at some Himalayan cave, where a holy teacher in a dim, dark cave would proclaim that the meaning of life was 42?

    Or would you make it so simple that it would be sitting right in front of us, waiting for the child in us to see? And perhaps we, in valuing complexity are looking for the most complex of all answers to the biggest of all questions, and continually missing the simplest of truths.

    It often seems much easier not to know the meaning of life because in not knowing we do not have to change anything.

    Some of us are subconsciously afraid that knowing the answer might mean a change to our present life-style. Many of us are not happy with our present state but fear changing might make it worse.

    So ask yourself if you really want to know. Take a moment if you need to, because once you know it is impossible not to be transformed by knowing. (Wonderful isn’t it?)  

    Now try this... Instead of asking what is the meaning of life, simply ask yourself what puts meaning into your life? What moments would you like to increase? Take a break to think this over, write some of them down if you’d like, and read on...  

    Of the thousands of people to whom we have taught meditation, most describe very similar moments that are meaningful: Relationships, travelling, laughing, children, birth, death, experiencing and growing, nature and the like. Virtually no one ever disagrees. All of these can be reduced to three words - loving, learning (wisdom) and being happy. (They are always 'Aah' moments)  

    That’s it. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. All three qualities mostly arrive now when fate decides. Meditation shows us, however, that once we start to focus on these important, meaningful qualities we can begin to invoke them when we decide.

    Now look at all those meaningful moments in your life. You will see that there are moments where you have experienced the love, wisdom and happiness, that is your real nature. What Jesus called the kingdom of heaven that is within you or what Buddha described as the entire universe being within, within all of us, in this moment right now.

    The reason loving, learning and being happy are meaningful is because they are the qualities of the heart.

    This is important: All moments of meaning in our lives are moments of the heart.

    The funny thing is these three words - loving, learning and being happy are so misunderstood in our world.

    We think of each of them in mostly 'outer' ways.

    Love  Our world says to us that we will be happy when we find the perfect partner. We will 'find love' outside of ourselves in terms of our human relationships. Our world says that there is more or less only one perfect person for us and if we do not find them we will not find love or be complete or whole. So we need to go outside and find love.

    This is an extremely narrow version of love and nigh impossible to find, but most of us are convinced that we will not know love unless we are riding off into the sunset with our perfect mate.

    From the point of view of meditation and spirituality the reality is almost the opposite. It says to us that love is vast and huge, that it connects us to every single atom and it starts right now inside of us. That our relationships do not solely define our experience of love, that we can know love anywhere and at any time in infinite measure, watching a sunrise, walking through a forest, sitting on a train - and that our doorway to this infinite love is our own soul, our own heart, so that we must begin by loving ourselves and opening up and developing the muscle that experiences this infinite love.

    If we don't accept and love ourselves how will it be possible to experience anything fully. In short the highest love is defined by the sheer number of atoms we can reach with our love, with the fewest conditions. This is the experience of the great masters, the ability to be connected by unconditional love to everyone and everything. By limiting ourselves to one person, we will never know real love.

    Learning  Our world says that we need to go outside to learn. Go to school, to university or college, go outside and have lots of experiences, travel and learn. Again, meditation says to us almost the opposite. It says go within and find wisdom.

    You can get lots of intellectual knowledge outside of yourself but real wisdom comes from within. Many very wise people have had very little intellectual knowledge, but have been extremely happy, calm and astute. Conversely many extremely intellectual people are not happy, calm or wise.

    Meditation says that the experience of wisdom is another 'Aah' moment where we touch the wisdom that is inside us at every moment.

    When the solution is simple, God is speaking. - Albert EinsteinKnowledge from science is constantly changing and evolving, over even the last 100 years our view of the world has changed immensely, but for over 6000 years the same essential truths derived from meditation that lie at the heart of all religions, that we all have an eternal soul within us that possesses infinite love, wisdom and joy has remained unchanged. "Real wisdom is always simple."

    Happiness  Our world takes us outside again and says we will be happy when we have financial security, a career, a house, a nice family, a strong social life or even a paradise to live in.

    It paints a picture of happiness always being at another space and time, 'you will be happy when... - you have that Porsche, that girlfriend, that party, win lotto ' but meditation says happiness is not at another place or time - it is now.

    Within us now there is infinite joy, there is infinite bliss, but we simply do not know how to experience the kingdom of heaven within us.

    We glimpse it from time to time in our accidental 'Aah' moments but it is time for us to realise the infinite bliss that is our real nature.
    This is why we meditate   Later in Class 6, we will spend more time discussing this important topic, but first let’s experience it.



    Guided Meditation - The Drop, visualisation
    Please read this information on preparing for your meditation

    Imagine a time before time itself existed.

    The universe is a symphony of planets, stars and suns but no life.

    The earth is just a mass of water and rock. You are a tiny drop hurtling through the heavens.

     
    Feel your form drifting upon the winds as you descend to the earth.

    Clear, pure, simple, you ride the skies. Way off in the distance you see our precious, beautiful, blue planet.

    Our earth.

    It tugs somehow at your heart, attracting you like a magnet towards it, and letting go you allow yourself to be drawn to it.

    As you accelerate towards it you see it’s heavenly beauty rising from beneath you, your vision filling with the vastness of an ocean below.

    For a moment you feel a little trepidation for you fear that you might lose your identity in this vast ocean.

    A moment later, however, a feeling reassures you; that this is an experience you will treasure forever if only you could let go of your fear.

    So, focusing only on the ocean, you relax and splash down into the middle of that vast expanse.

      Calm and still, you realise that you now have a sense of expanded feeling.
    Not only do you still feel conscious of yourself as the drop, but also your awareness has enlarged to the experience of the whole ocean.

    Fascinated, you notice that you can feel the waves on top as well as the dark stillness of the depths of the ocean, and again you can feel yourself lapping up against the shores of a distant country. A sense of silent power fills you as you see what you have become. You are the ocean.   Gradually days pass, time flows; your physical being begins to change.

    Some parts of your larger self, the ocean; form plants and organisms and even small fish.

    Your awareness of the whole ocean expands. Now it is not only the water of the ocean, but also the perceptions of the plants and animals therein. You are able to feel what every animal, every plant is feeling, and as time goes on in this way, so too does your expanded sense of awareness continue to grow.

    You realise that everything is a part of you and you, a part of everything.

      You realise that this ocean is nothing other than the love in all things and the love inside of you.

    And it is this love that makes you much more than just a drop in the ocean.

    So you explore that love, expanding your awareness into the evolving perceptions of all within the ocean.

    And you watch as all life within the ocean grows and progresses within your larger, divine self.