The Mystery of Life

I like to think of the mystery of life as the greatest of all magic tricks. When a magician shows me an impressive magic trick, I always want to know how he did it. I don’t ask out loud, however, because I don’t really want to know. The reason for this is that as soon as I know how it’s done, the romance, the mystery, and wonder all disappears. And life itself I believe is very much like this. The brilliance of it is kept in its mystery, and as many people in the East hold, a mystery is sacred.

Guruji_Pic_1Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the great saint of our time, speaks on his website of the five secrets that are regarded as sacred. He says that “In the West, a secret is usually shameful and dishonest. However, in the East, a secret is honored and considered sacred. Mysteries of the creation only deepen.” I find it very natural to question the meaning of life, and in fact helpful when I need to get a better perspective, and realize how small my problems are in the bigger picture. Therefore, I don’t think we should stop questioning, but rather do so with more humor, or wonder, rather than a serious investigation. After all, it is well known that the more scientists discover about the universe, the more they realize how little they know about it. We must then live happily in the mystery, and understand that we can never know the answers to life’s biggest questions.

Eight days ago I found what I am speaking of now to be true; that the joy in a mystery dissipates as the secret is revealed. A magician showed a group of us a trick with a ring on a table. Following the typical showmanship, he began to levitate the ring with his hand, and without touching it, guide it to his other hand and slip it over his ring finger. My astonishment changed to disappointment, as I noticed a the faintest sparkle come from his hand, and reveal that attached to it was an almost invisible wire, thus exposing the method of his trick. Life is similar to this then, because I became dissatisfied when I realized he had been stringing us along all the time, making us think his trick was actually real. So he was able to suspend our disbelief that what we were watching was reality, which brings me to the next point.

Life-of-Pi-3In a lecture by Alan Watts, he says that the success of a film can be judged by its ability to make the audience believe that what they are watching is in fact real life. This he says is exactly what life is like, except life is the ultimate act. We are so convinced that everything around us is real. This includes what happens to us, who we are, what others think of us, ad infinitum. How real is any of this stuff really? I’ve been so sad while watching a film that I’ve cried. The same I can say for life. So the question I believe is this: If life is really just this great act that we’ve all bought in to, what’s the use in making such a huge fuss about it?

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