LIFE – AN IMAGINARY DEBATE
The Buddha opens the debate by repeating an essential message already mentioned in the previous chapter:
What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our
present thoughts build our life of tomorrow:
our life is the creation of our mind.
The Quest agrees with Him:
Our life is what our thoughts make it,
what we are thinking of day after day.
Desmond Morris says that:
Life is like a very short visit to a toyshop between birth and death.
Heraclitus has a similar persuasion:
Life has the name of life, but in reality it is death.
Andersen strongly disagrees:
Life itself is a most wonderful fairytale.
James Joyce tells him that:
Life is like an echo: if you don’t like what is sends back to you, you must change
the message you send.
Gangaji presents another aspect of it:
Life is in charge. We can fight it and be miserable or surrender to it and laugh
at our own arrogance and ideas of what should be.
Adyashanti warns that:
If we do not live and manifest in our lives what we realize in our deepest moments
of revelation, then we are living a split life.
Teilhard de Chardin is a bit hermetic:
The whole of life lies in the verb seeing.
Rudolf Steiner is vague:
The meaning of life is giving a meaning to life
Buckminster Fuller shrugs his shoulders at that:
As many have long suspected – like it or not – ‘life is but a dream.’
W. S. Maugham agrees:
A little smoke lost in the air, that was the life of a man!
Henry Miller tells them that:
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
Laurens van der Post agrees:
There is only one thing that makes human being deeply and intensely sad, and it is
to be forced to accept a meaningless life…
An Unknown asks:
Which is the true source of life?
When nobody answers Vijay cracks a joke:
How to live? That is the post-graduate class
in the University of Yoga!
Oscar Wilde agrees
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist, that’s all.
To which extent do you really live and not just exist?
According to Ramana Maharshi,
Only those whose minds are dead are truly alive. Those who have a living mind, which is a delusion, are those who are truly dead.
Rumi speaks from his own experience:
I learned that every mortal will taste death.
But only some will taste life.
Epicurus notes that:
Thoreau advises the debaters:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. We live but a fraction of our lives: live the life you have imagined. Live the life you’ve dreamed.
Iris Murdoch notes that:
We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find REALITY.
Of course, to find Reality requires quite a lot of inner work..
Marianne Williamson thinks so, too:
To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life. Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.
The meaning lies in YOU.
Che Guevara almost drops his machine gun as he passionately says:
We cannot be sure of having anything really worth living for unless we are ready to die for it.
This is no exaggeration at all.
Vincent Benet points out that:
Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the small
Are you SURE that you do not lose too much of your life thus?Seneca agrees:
Life is so short, and we make it even shorter with our inconstancy, starting it again
now in a way and then in another, tearing it to pieces
And so does Darwin:
A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.
J. P. Sartre nods his head and sadly adds:
Everything has been figured out, except how to live.
Epicurus says something very Epicurean:
It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, impossible
to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.
How pleasant is your life?
If not so much, why not?
Krishnamurti points out that:
Our lives are not just on the surface, their greater part is concealed from casual observation.
Bertrand Russell presents another aspect of it:
Real life is, to most men … a perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible.
Anatole France has an even dimmer vision of it:
The average man does not know what to do with this life, yet wants another one which will last forever.
Socrates offers a way out of this impasse:
The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.
What do you pretend to be?
Albert Schweitzer disagrees:
The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help
To which extent?
Edgar Allan Poe is doubtful about it:
The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague.
Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?
Backfuller reminds the debaters that:
For the sake of getting a living we forget to live.
Do you sometimes forget to live?
T. S. Eliot nods his head at that and adds:
Yes, the permanent defeat of life comes when dreams are surrendered to reality.
How is the dichotomy between your dreams and your “reality”?
Henry Miller agrees with him:
Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement, a 440 horsepower
in a 2-cylinder engine.
Charles Schulz also agrees:
Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.
Which are the gears that you never, or too seldom, use?
Osho feels strongly about it:
Life is no more a celebration but has become a torture chamber, a concentration camp.
Is life a celebration for you?
If not, why not?
The Buddha is of the same persuasion:
This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm, a bubble,
a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning.
But He was talking of the life of separateness only, not of the REAL life.
Erasmus of Rotterdam has an even dimmer view of it:
Human life as a whole is but a game, the game of madness.
James Hillman doesn’t think so:
Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny. As the force of fate, this image acts as a personal daimon, an accompanying guide who remembers your calling.
Have you contacted your accompanying guide already?
If not, what are you waiting for?
Radha Mitchell also disagrees:
Life is neither comedy nor tragedy; life is what you make of it. What do YOU make of it?
And so does Osho:
Life is not a tragedy, it is a comedy.Being alive means having a profound sense of humor.
How is your sense of humor?
Anatole France speaks again:
The truth is that life is delicious, horrible, charming, frightful, sweet, bitter, and that is everything.
Erich Fromm points out that:
There is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers.
Which meaning have you given to your life?
shrugs his shoulders as he says:
Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.
Jean Cocteau adds a positive note:
I am trying to live, or rather trying to teach the death within him how to live.
How will you teach the death in you how to live?
Rilke pats him on the shoulder and comforts him:
Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.
But then why so often doesn’t seem so?
Camus has his doubts about that, and according to him:
Life is the sum of all our choices.
What is the sum of all YOUR choices?
Philip Larkin warns the debaters that:
Life has a practice of living you, if you don’t live it. It is a very SERIOUS warning.
Eckhart Tolle smiles while telling him that:
Life is the dancer, and you are the Dance.
Marcus Aurelius disagrees:
The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.
José Ortega y Gusset also disagrees:
No, Life is a series of collisions with the future!
Simone Weil speaks directly to him while saying:
Life does not need to mutilate itself in order to be pure!
Emerson tells them that:
Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.
Santayana agrees with him, more or less:
Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.
It is a feast or a predicament for you?
If a predicament, the reasons that came to your mind are probably not the real ones.
Kabir asks him with infinite compassion:
My friend, what did you do with your life? The heavy burden of stones you set upon your head, who will lighten it for you?
Who will lighten it for you?
J. Toomey shrugs his shoulder while saying:
We learn the rope of life by untying its knots!
How good are you at untying its knots?
You can always improve.
Jean-Paul Sartre adds that:
Life has always taken place in a tumult without apparent cohesion, but it only finds its grandeur and its reality in ecstasy and in ecstatic love.
J. W. Krutch agrees with him:
Only those within whose own consciousness the sun rise and set, the leaves burgeon and wither can be said to be aware of what living is.
Stanislav Grof points out that:
It is possible to spend one’s entire lifetime without ever experiencing the mystical realms or even without being aware of their existence.
Anis Nin must not have been happy with her life, for she says:
Life is only truly known by those who suffer, lose, endure adversity and stumble from defeat to defeat.
This is true to some extent, but it is still the worst possible attitude.
Mooji offers some comforting words:
Life cannot be against you, for you are Life Itself. Life can only seem to go against
the ego’s projections, which are rarely in harmony with the Truth.
Thomas Jefferson is not so optimistic:
The art of life is the art of avoiding pain.
How good are you at avoiding pain?
Einstein is not afraid of pain and reminds him that:
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
Abu – Said Bail – Khdir says something a bit mysterious but so true:
Life is a gamble in which when you win you lose!
W. Gardner says that:
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
Helen Keller stands up straight as she forcefully affirms:
Life is either a great adventure or nothing!
Baudelaire speaks of his own personal experience of it:
As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.
Both are definitely there, and we must overcome the first to experience the latter.
Rumi points out that:
Unless you live in the One who created the prophets you will be like
a caravan fire left to extinguish itself out
all alone by the roadside.
Is that a danger for you, by any chance?
Einstein says that:
Only a life lived for others is worthwhile!
Vivekananda said the same thing.
Jacob Boehme adds a poetical note:
Our life is a fire dampened, a fire shut up in stone
A. Powel returns to the real meaning of life by saying that:
Life is just a chance to grow a soul.
Seneca agrees with him:
This life is only a prelude to eternity.
William Barclay is of the same persuasion:
The awful importance of this life is that it determines eternity.
Shelley utterly disagrees:
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass, stains the white radiance of eternity!
BOTH are right – only on different levels.
Seneca has something else to say:
Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.
Sri Aurobindo wins and closes the debate with:
Our life is a holocaust of the Supreme.