It happened suddenly. I was probably four or five years of age; I cannot remember exactly when I became aware of myself as a separate being. That is, aware that I was alive. Of course, my parents and other people did know it before then, but I was not aware of it myself for at least four years after being born, or I cannot remember.
I recall it being an interesting experience, to be surrounded by family, discovering things, including myself, getting into trouble, learning names and behaviors. I was fascinated and had an overall remote feeling, that I had landed somewhere, not knowing why.
I remember one day when I was five, I was with my parents in a car, sitting on the back seat, and as I looked through the window I saw another boy in another car with his family, and I asked my mother -why is it that I am here in this car with this family, rather than in that car with that family? I remember this well, because my mother always told me this story, as they were surprised by the question.
A couple of years later, when I started to walk by myself to school, I had this fantasy; that I was a little tiny person, sitting in a control room behind my forehead, looking at the world through the periscopes of my eyes. I would even move my head mechanically, to emulate someone looking around through a periscope.
I remained curious all my life, about the reasons and meaning of being this me. And I have explored many possible answers to the questions, of what is being me, what is being, and what is being aware that I am aware of.
All answers go from a poof to a long journey or a combination of both. From a timeless Being that created or dreamt it all, and keeps on doing so, to an infinitesimal energy seed that exploded at random out of nowhere and evolved. And there seems not to be, an absolute answer that one can understand with the mind.
As a child, when I discovered that people and pets that I loved died, it baffled me. Why? What is the meaning of life? What am I doing here? I became very scared about my parents dying, and about my own death.
I grew up in a Catholic family, in a Catholic culture, so ready-made answers were immediately provided to my questions of whence and whither. God, God created us -I was told- and one does not really die, one just leaves this physical body, you are really the soul that inhabits the body, which is invisible, and when you live the body, if you led a good life you go to heaven, and live happily ever after with God, but if on the contrary your actions were mean, you go to hell, which is like an eternal fire and burn forever there.
Well, that model only sustained me for a while. By early adolescence, I could not handle it anymore. In my childhood, they also talked to me about Jesus, the son of God, who they told me was the source of the explanations they gave me, that it all was written in the Bible.
In my school, they were always telling stories about Jesus, and I liked him, I do not know why. As I was kind of a solitary, imaginative and introspective boy, in my imagination I felt he was my friend. And I would feel him, walking with me, accompanying me.
My favorites stories of Jesus were; when he intervened to rescue a woman from a crowd that was about to stone her, and when he helped the host of a wedding who was running short on wine, by making wine out of water. I thought Jesus was a cool guy, and somehow, I felt he had an exquisite sense of humor.
I always imagined him smiling, helping people, laughing and making others happy, different from the way they portrayed him at school, always around an aura of suffering, warning about eternal punishment, talking about valleys of tears, and fear. Not for me, for me, Jesus was an elf of elves, a close friend, that accompanied me whenever I walked by myself to school, and helped me cross the street, while holding my hand as a breeze.
As I grew up, I became a precocious reader, and the world started to open. I discovered other cultures, other worlds, other ways to answer whence and whither. I had always been concerned in my catechism classes, about the fact that many people had lived before Jesus was born, many years before him, and as he came to save people, to save everyone, I would always think, what happened to those who lived before, why did they not get a lifesaver?
I also found out that there were people all over the world who lived during the time and after the time of Jesus, and that they had and have, other religious beliefs, other stories, and that some of those stories were as beautiful as the stories that I liked of Jesus.
So, I began to suspect, that all these stories had a common denominator, that all were really telling the same thing, and that it was a story from within us. And I started to feel, that my friend Jesus, has been called other names, and that really all these names were a code, for us to remember and communicate, with an inner level of being, with our deeper self. That one would give it a name, after feeling this being, based on the stories within the cultural context that one is raised, to establish a relationship with this inner being and to remember it.
My life went on manifesting. Expressing its inner drives, accumulating experience, entering relationships with others. A whirlwind of emotional and intellectual discoveries, feelings of self-importance, satisfactions, frustrations and so on. Just life, life within the me realm. And I was so caught up in excitement and turmoil and accumulation of impressions, that I forgot the inner friend.
The one that I used to call Jesus, the inner being with all its aka's.
My mind was drawn to scientific thinking and rationality, I became full of theories and narratives, which still seemed to have gaps, but that sounded more objective and real in describing the outside world, the universe, the connections between things and processes. I found more precision and logic, in theories about the origin of the universe and life through science than through religion, as the latter relied on myths, dogmas, and unproven beliefs, rather than on reason, empirical observation, and experimentation. And I also started to think that I knew more than others.
But sometimes, looking at the starry Caribbean nights, when having a good time with friends, I would feel a deep sense of loneliness, amid the awe of the vast marvelousness of the universe. I would feel empty inside.
At that time, I fully subscribed to scientific story that stated that:
• the universe was born out of a random non-terrorist explosion, 16 billion years ago, from a primal most dense point, a super atom, a cosmic seed;
• particles from that explosion first spread at velocities unmeasurable, then cooled down, and started to congregate;
• Earth, the planet in which I found myself, was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, cooled down from hot gaseous stuff;
• that it became roundish, and then water came, as well as all sorts of elements in atoms packages of stardust that dissolved in water;
• these elements became mushy and gregarious in water and started to live together in condos called molecules;
• some of these structures, accidentally aligned themselves side by side, and started to copy themselves. Reproducing, setting on life.
And it was good.
The unfoldment and complexification continued, the replication went on and became more elaborate, little bubbles -unicellular organisms- were formed- which in turn, built villages and became multicellular forms. And these living forms, evolved through eons, amid Earths’ changes, climate oscillations, volcanic eruptions, and continental drifts.
Life manifested in an ever-increasing diversity, going from the simplest viral and bacterial formations to more complex vegetation, insects, reptiles, birds, fish, mammals, arboreal primates, then homo Erectus, Neandertals, homo sapiens. Life, continued, drinking sunlight, consuming minerals, other forms, reproducing, sensing its surround more and more, till it discovered its own sensing in mind and became aware of awareness -like me.
Then the mind of those like me, individually and collectively, was set loose in its wonder, imagination and creativity and constructed a supernatural and superimposed world, a cultural social setting, beyond flocks, herds, and packs. Enabled by language and opposing thumbs, it created societies, civilizations and history, a collective awareness of the universe -through magic, artistical, mythical, theoretical, experimental appreciation. This was enabled a mastery of the surrounding energies that physically connected everything and the capacity to process information, which eventually led to the exploration of the faraway universe, of the trajectory of evolution, and of the infinitesimal constituents of matter, as well as to making beauty in music and art and literature and to communicate remotely in sounds and images.
It took a long journey for the universe, from that first poof in non-existing space, to see itself! What an incredible journey was undertaken by that magical, miraculous, exuberant poof, out of nowhere, to see itself, and its journey in retrospect!
What an incredible journey to perceive, this tremendous interwoven beauty, from utmost simplicity beyond complexity, made up of, energy, form, consciousness, thought, art processes, life. So many me’s looking at each other and the surround through periscopes with unique points of view, through space and time. Living, creating, reacting, being.
Upon reviewing the above nutshell of what is life, I would again feel, an incredible sense of loneliness, amid the awe of the vast marvelousness of the universe. And I would still feel empty inside, missing something and asking myself: who is looking at the expanded trajectory of the explosion of that unexplainable point of singularity, of that original poof?
Of course, besides the theoretical, scientific, and philosophical constructs of mind, there are, other dimensions constituting all me’s; emotions, insecurities, feelings, desires, doubts and so on. As well as subtle moments of consciousness and feeling, moments of love, that go well beyond the gymnastics of mind, beyond scientific and intellectual concepts. Like that inner world that I remember being accessible to me when I was a child. Occasionally, these moments do happen, maybe when you are walking by yourself at sunset, or embracing someone, or when you are in awe. And in those occasions, mind, thought sequence, and point of view, seem to cease, and one would just feel an awareness, without any identification, just pure awareness.
You can call it an aha moment, a transcendental state, love, being spaced out, whatever. But it is a state, in which thoughts and personality are not, where one just is, without a predicate. As if you look down the periscope, and get a glimpse of who is looking out. Mental processes stop, and instead a subtle sense, a being thing, a thoughtless calm, takes over. And it is sublimely natural; it does not feel otherworldly at all. It is like a deeply felt love, where you know yourself whole, and forget your identity and become lost in just being, being. An inner silence, an instant where one becomes aware that one is.
Mystics and seers from all traditions and times, refer in varying degrees, metaphorically or through stories or teachings, to this state of consciousness, that is beyond mind, beyond thought and reason, a pure becoming aware of awareness. They convey at the very end of the expansion of that original poof, one is to become fully established in this consciousness of consciousness, in this oneness of love.
After a long journey from my own poof when I first became aware as a child of this being me, I went back to the question posed in my childhood what is life? And tried linking the scientific concepts with the mystic descriptions, I came to what I call a working conviction to the answer of what is this life, what is this all about?
I am not claiming that is the answer, and expecting that anyone buys into it, much less that it references all words written and spoken by sages and rationalists and all the many me’s through space and time. No, this is not the result of scholarly research of comparative cosmology, evolutionary biology, quantum physics, Buddhism, Vedanta, Sufism, neither a dogmatic assertion, nor it has not been arrived at through an otherworldly mystic revelation.
It is simply a working conviction, born out of intuition, stemming from those thoughts and language free moments of consciousness mentioned above, which I have tried to describe using some readings in cosmology, evolutionary biology, and mysticism, and the teachings and inspiration of Meher Baba.
It is just the answer I have given to myself, to that question posed by me, then a little boy of 5, after losing his puppy and discovering death, after 72 years of brooding and exploring possible answers, within and without.
And it goes like this.
Everything is Being, or Existence (also called God). Existence is oneness, a unified field or love, Love is an unexplainable energy, it precedes mind and thought, Love, as Meher Baba says “must love”. But Existence is Oneness. So, the universe is a projection of Being, a manifestation, a dream. Its purpose is for Existence to express Love, through experiencing absolute separation or unconsciousness, and becoming or awakening to full consciousness. Mind is the instrument, that gradually is developed to encompass consciousness. To develop this mind, the one Being suffers an imaginary differentiation and goes through an apparent process of manifestation and evolution, -from that original poof nowhere in no time, through a long timeless journey to acquire consciousness of itself.
Once this self-consciousness is there, in the human mind, it is full, but instead of perceiving itself as consciousness, mind focuses on itself, on its past trajectory and individuation, on the myriads of forms, modes, transient oscillations, cataclysms, and instincts impressed upon it. Thus, it must start shedding these impressions, through another cycle of diverse human forms and circumstances, until it can see itself as just being - Being, without any identification or form. And it gets complicated, because getting rid of these impressions through actions generates more impressions.
The moments of pure consciousness, those aha moments referred to, are just hints, glimpses to that state of consciousness that one is searching for, the pure awareness, beyond provisional identity and thought.
A poof moment sparks the universe and after a long journey, a poof moment of me appears in a scene, and after a long journey I will be able to just be, beyond any definition of me. Meher Baba said:
To attain union (with Being) is so impossibly difficult, because it is impossible to become what you already are! Union is nothing other than knowledge of oneself as the Only One.