I had a major realization two days ago which I’ve just been quietly being with. I could call it a revelation. But it might be better to call it a remembrance because it was knowledge I’d had but had forgotten. I’d like to say a few words about that here.
There’s only one thing I know for certain and that’s the purpose of life. I know the purpose of life because I was shown it in a vision on Feb. 13, 1987. (1)
The purpose of life is enlightenment. But let me say that a different way. The purpose of life is that each of us know ourself, that each of us know who we are in essence.
The first part of my revelation was a reassertion of the central importance of Self-Knowledge, of knowing who we are.
It arose like a starburst and then reverberated through my being. It swept away any other priorities I had and re-established itself as the only thing in life that must be done. Perhaps I can be permitted to look at the matter of who we are a little.
I can tell you the answer to the puzzle of who we are but the answer alone won’t make the slightest bit of difference to you. If you were to ask me who you are, I’d reply: God.
That was simple.
Everything is God so why would you not be God? If you weren’t God, you’d be the only thing in existence or outside of it that wasn’t God. So of course you must be God. And so am I. And so is everything we see around us.
But simply knowing that does nothing. We have to experience it in every cell of our bodies and in every unit of our spirit – if something indivisible can have units and whatever those units might be.
We have to realize the truth – not simply know it conceptually.
And realizing it is the one job that’s asked of us. Everything else is negotiable.
It’s the one request made of us, the one demand. It’s our assignment lifetime after lifetime.
Rumi talks about it here:
“There is one thing in this world which must never be forgotten. If you were to forget everything else, but did not forget that, then there would be no cause for worry; whereas if you performed and remembered and did not forget every single thing, but forgot that one thing, then you would have done nothing whatsoever.
“It is just as if a king had sent you to the country to carry out a specified task. You go and perform a hundred other tasks; but if you have not performed that particular task on account of which you had gone to the country, it is as if you have performed nothing at all. So man has come into this world for a particular task, and that is his purpose; if he does not perform it, then he will have done nothing.” (2)
I think that all other ways of talking about what’s important for us are important because they tie in to Job One.
For instance, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind and heart and soul. Why? Because doing that will lead you to God and leading you to God will result in you knowing who you are.
Well, maybe. I admit that loving God is good in itself, but it’s also instrumental in revealing who we are.
I think we have difficulty thinking about knowing ourselves because we associate it with narcissism. And admittedly it’s a tightrope act to walk the line between narcissism and spiritual enquiry, which Ramana Maharshi called Atma Vichara or Self-Enquiry.
But it turns out that the more we know ourselves, the better life becomes. I suppose that’s because the more we reveal our true nature, the more we act godlike because God is our true nature.
So our fears of becoming narcissistic are revealed as groundless once we know ourselves beyond the simple constructed self and ego.
But I saw a second thing as well in my revelation. I also saw that I fall asleep on Job One again and again. I remember that I’m here to know myself and then I forget. And then I remember and then I forget.
I distract myself with anything at all. It’s amazing how easy it is to distract myself from the most important thing in life.
The third really significant thing about the spiritual experience I had was that the desire to know myself burst through the bonds of my forgetfulness. It reasserted itself in a blazing confirmation of the longing for liberation.
I had fallen asleep on Job One for perhaps months, maybe even years. And then my spirit finally put its foot down.
So that’s the third part of the revelation – that I could fall off the path for so long and my spirit would rebel.
I’ve spent the last two days walking the streets of Vancouver in a very different experience of loneliness. I wasn’t lonely for another. I was lonely for myself. I’m lonely and longing to know myself in the deepest, most profound way.
That’s all I wanted to say. This was for me a very noteworthy event – the blazing forth of the desire to do the work of life – to know myself. I’m again changed by the experience. I have to meditate now. Many things have lost their flavor for me and the things of the spirit are asserting themselves in a much stronger way than ever before.
(1) “Ch. 13 Epilogue,” The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/16244-2/the-purpose-of-life-is-enlightenment/ch-13-epilogue/
(2) Rumi in A.J. Arberry, A.J., trans., Discourses of Rumi. New York; Samuel Weiser, 1977; c1961, 26.