October 30, 2014

Yes You’re Living, But are You Alive?


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Okay, here’s one for those days when life is sucky and your problems seem insurmountable.

This is a very popular video featuring an intrepid, spunky young man, Nick Vujicic, who was born armless and legless.

Take a gander and I’ll pick it up when you’re through watching.

Wow! Bam! Right? Brings me to tears every time—tears of joy and wonder.

It kind of puts our “shitty package” in perspective—you know, those moments when we question why life has dealt us such an unfair hand.

But then, (pause moment), let’s not kid ourselves: The only dealers here are ourselves.

And the question is: What are we dealing with and how authentically are we dealing with it?

The word Buddha means “awakened one” or “the enlightened one.” It refers to an elevation in human consciousness, or a raising of one’s spiritual frequencies of consciousness, to a point where the “enlightened one” is, if only momentarily, in a place of supreme awareness and intuitive knowing.

James Joyce, in his fictional work, Dubliners, calls it a “moment of epiphany.” You may call it an Aha! moment. It’s that moment when you know who you are and why you were born, and you know it with unapologetic passion and conviction.

One of the key non-negotiables I present to participants in the programs I lead is to think critically.

After all, wasn’t it Socrates who asserted that “the unexamined life isn’t worth living”? Now, by thinking critically I don’t mean being obsessively analytical about everything that transpires in your life and around you in the wider world; I mean not being a passive spectator in a lifetime that requires your full, conscious and active participation and input.

In the words of Thoureau, suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms. To not do this is, in my observation, to fall haplessly into a Cultural Trance. And what do I mean by that?

Most of us, I surmise, most of the time are asleep. And I don’t mean the snoring in Slumberland kind of sleep; but rather the deep sleep of the unconscious.

In this dimly lit state we tend to be oblivious to the magical and mystical beauty of creation—ever changing and ever new. We are not interlocutors in the cultural and political mind games and media mogul spin doctoring that fills our lives. Most of us blithely or indifferently ignore the institutionalized poverty, unequal distribution of wealth and resources, the willful environmental pollution and corruption all around us; and we barely scratch the surface of what it means to be fully alive and illumined in our mind-body-spirit consciousness.

The world wants us to be many things—consumer junkies, professionals, ruthless power-mongers, obscenely wealthy and perfect (full and able-bodied) players in the illusory game of life.

But what do I want? Who am I? What is my deepest passion and conviction about why I am here—and to what end? And how well and authentically am I doing it right now?

In the words of Thoreau, how do I “put to rout” the phony, culturally-conditioned crap that is not life-giving in my life? How do I suck the marrow out of my life, whether I’m “able-bodied,” Hollywood glamorous, or a recovering addict?

We do this by paying contemplative attention to (and deeply engaging with) what is real, beautiful and life-giving in our lives and world—and by “cutting a broad swath” through the bullshit along the way.

Rave on Nick Vujicic! You’re an amazing inspiration to us all!





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Author: Gerard Murphy

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr


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