EXPRESSIONS OF FAITH
Answering life's central question
By Steve Shapiro
What's love got to do with it? Tina Turner asked this question many years ago in a popular song. Eventually, everyone asks the same question. What does love have to do with anything?
It brings a host of emotions, but who is it anyway, having all these thoughts and feelings? Are we merely brain and body output? Are we, perhaps, a soul inhabiting our body? And how is who we are related to everything else?
Inquiries into the central question of life, summarized as "Who am I?" arise for everyone, at some point. Especially in our modern world, these questions are left to so-called professionals; scientists, philosophers and religious leaders. But everyone, whether unconsciously or not, considers these matters. You may be thinking about this now, just because you're reading this.
The consideration is useful, whoever we are, or whatever conclusions we arrive at. If we're serious, perhaps we look to others who have considered these things. Through the ages, certain extraordinary men and women have communicated to the rest of us their answers to "What's it all about?": Buddha, Krishna, Jesus Christ, Adi Da Samraj (the founder of Adidam) and many others have told us, in stories, parables and aphorisms, the secrets of life.
Their words have been recorded and passed down, in what we may refer to as the great tradition. Many say things such as, "I and the Father are one." "Abide in me and live fully in the world."
At the core, they communicate the notion that there is only one being, mysteriously appearing in and as all beings and things, in effect as the world. What must it feel like to experience life like that?
Recently, while considering the great question with a friend. I was asked, "Is there any separation between you and everyone else?" The mood of the occasion and the question put me within grasp of the answer. I felt the question posed to me as a real challenge. I felt that in order for me to know the answer, I had to surrender all my usual concerns about myself, relax profoundly and look up into my friend's eyes.
Somehow, for a few moments, I was able to do this. Then suddenly, real transcendental truth broke through. I won't be able to tell you how it felt. Words can't do that. It was completely intimate. My friend, my surroundings, were me. When everything is felt as one, even though differences can obviously be distinguished, then we get a sense of life as it is meant to be lived.
This reminds us how alone we ordinarily feel, when everything and everyone is separate, different and in some sense threatening.
Experiences such as these tend to bleed through to ordinary life. I'll be sitting at my desk and notice that I've been uptight. And then I relax. I breathe, and somehow stop whatever I was doing that was keeping me apart from my surroundings. Then, love's got everything to do with it.. The one being shines through.
Steve Shapiro is a practitioner of Adidam, a sect founded by Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj) in 1970. Shapiro resides in Honolulu and works as a travel agent.