When one becomes enlightened, laughter is almost a natural by-product; spontaneously it comes, for the simple reason that we have been searching and searching our lives for something which was already there inside. Our whole effort was ridiculous! Our whole effort was absurd. One laughs at the great cosmic joke.
One laughs at the sense of humor that God must have or the existence: that we have it with us already and we are searching for it. One laughs at one’s own ridiculous efforts, long long journeys, pilgrimages, for something which was never lost in the first place.
The purpose of life is life itself. That phrase might sound meaningless, but hear me out.
Biologically, physically, the purpose of life is life itself. That should be self-evident. The purpose of all life is to breed and create more life.
But I realize that’s not what we’re talking about. Certainly having children can give your life purpose, but not everyone can have children, and not everyone wants children. Even those who do have children will eventually lose that purpose when their kids become independent adults. Would we ever want to return to the days when people died in their early 40s because their biological purpose was over?
Ummmm, no. There must be something else.
What is the purpose of life psychologically, emotionally, dare I say spiritually? Again, the purpose of life is life itself.
In fact, the purpose of all psychological things, all emotional things, all spiritual things, are those things themselves.
Take music. What is the purpose of music? The purpose of music is the music itself. You’re not listening to a song because you’re trying to gain something else. You’re certainly not trying to get to the end of the song. The entire point of listening to music — its purpose — is the listening. The point of music is to enjoy the music, to let the music swing your emotions, to feel the music. That’s all, and that’s more than enough.
Why watch a movie? Again, the purpose of the movie is the movie itself. You want to enjoy the movie, maybe feel something you don’t always feel strongly in your everyday life, maybe learn something. But you can only do that if you immerse yourself in the movie. It won’t do any of those things if you spend the entire film trying to analyze the “real” purpose of the movie. The purpose of the film is the film itself.
Same goes for any human endeavor. Why paint? Why sing? Why climb a mountain? The purpose can only be found in the full embrace of any human activity.
Why make love? Is it a coincidence that one of the most thrilling things we can do in our human bodies is exactly that which creates more life? Strange coincidence. It’s almost as if we are meant to enjoy ourselves or something.
Just one more and then I will shut up. Why play games? Again, the purpose of a game is the game itself. The enjoyment of the game is its own reward.
If you are a child you might think the purpose is to win, and throw a short tantrum if you lose, but if you are slightly more mature you will understand that the joy of playing is its own reward. You might even let a child win because it makes you so happy to see the excitement on that child’s face. You have learned that winning and losing are irrelevant. The purpose of the game is the game itself.
Were you ever alone as a child and so bored that you tried to play both sides of the checkerboard? Or both hands of a game of cards? It’s not fun, because you know exactly what moves you will make. So you’re stuck with boring old solitaire.
And maybe that’s God, stuck alone in the entire infinite universe with no one to play with. No surprises. No excitement. It knows everything so it can’t even get a good card game going. Nothing but solitaire for all eternity.
So instead, it plays the most exciting game of all. The most elaborate infinite game of hide and seek imaginable. It splits itself into billions and trillions of separate beings, each born with the illusion that they are separate, distinct individuals, and it pretends not to be God for as long as the dream lasts.
For what purpose? For joy, for growth, for creation, for wisdom, for love. For life itself. The purpose of life is life itself.
The Meaning of Life
If the purpose of life is life itself it becomes easy to argue that this outlook makes everything meaningless. If the purpose of life is life itself why bother trying to do anything other than fulfill the most hedonistic urges a person could possibly have?
Well, fine. Do that. Many people have done exactly that. And they all find out, in the end, that it’s an empty existence. Because I guess it isn’t that you want life to have some purpose, but that you want life to have meaning.
And here we go with more paradox. Life is meaningless. But your life doesn’t have to be. Because meaning is up to you. As with everything else in life, you are free to choose whatever you want. You are the person who gives meaning to your life.
So how to find meaning? I don’t want to pretend that I know anything that is ultimately true (despite the entire premise of this book), but let me give you this advice:
Meaning can come from anything that you enjoy. That which makes you happy gives your life meaning. And if that’s not concrete enough for you, try this:
Help somebody. Or do something — anything — that will improve the lives of people near you. Because you will always need help from people who are in a position to help you. So you should always help people who you are in the position to help. And unless you are the weakest person on the entire planet, there is always someone you can help. That’s meaningful.
Beyond that, life is simply about creating. Your journey to rediscovering the power of the universe at your disposal is all about learning how to use that power to create the life you think you want. The true central purpose and meaning of life is always creation. Decide what kind of life you wish to lead, decide what type of person you wish to be, and then create that.
But until you learn that, none of those other answers will satisfy you, because maybe you are searching for something — meaning — that is yet another outer world trinket that you hope will fulfill you. Maybe the entire premise of seeking meaning (for that matter, seeking anything) is more misplaced mental energy.
Maybe the entire meaning of life is simply to marvel at the bizarre miracle you find yourself in.
Admit it, no matter how shitty you think your life is, the fact that you have a self-conscious brain inside a movable body on top of a spinning rock flying around a nuclear furnace through the cold, dark depths of infinite space is a trippy, surreal, intense and unbelievable turn of events.
And the fact that you share this rock — share life itself — with billions of other people who all share the same existential angst is even more mind-blowingly strange. It’s so intensely bizarre that it becomes — with the proper perspective — endlessly fascinating.
And despite all that you still choose to focus on what’s lacking in your life. Even if it’s something as amorphous and ambiguous as the word “meaning”. I say don’t do that. Just don’t. It’s pointless. It’s meaningless.
Instead, think of it this way:
Imagine that you have written, directed, and edited the most amazing movie ever made. It has it all: an excellent story, fascinating characters, shocking twists, hilarious jokes, incredibly moving emotional moments, and the most satisfying ending in the entire history of film-making.
Millions upon millions of people love this movie. They are moved beyond words by its brilliance. Everyone agrees that watching your film is one of the most satisfying experiences of their lives.
There is only one person who is not touched in the same way: you, the creator of this movie.
Why? Because you were there at every step along the way. You know what’s going to happen, so there are no surprises. The jokes aren’t funny because you know they are coming. The twists aren’t shocking. The conflicts of the characters don’t move you because you know exactly how they will be resolved. And the ending — the one that everyone agrees is the best ending ever written — well, needless to say, you saw that ending coming from a mile away.
Of course you will take pride in your accomplishment, you will take tremendous joy in what you have created for people, but you will never be able to experience the same wonder as everyone else.
When you watch your own movie, all you can think of is the years of blood, sweat, and tears needed to make it happen. You think of all the things you could have done differently. You think of the compromises you were forced into by studio execs who didn’t share your vision. You think of the actors who didn’t quite pull off what you wanted.
Plus, you’ve seen every scene a hundred times in editing. There simply isn’t any way to remove yourself from the entirety of the experience. There’s no way to look at your film with fresh eyes.
The only way you could ever enjoy your own movie would be to wipe your memory of everything that had to do with the making of the film. Ideally, you wouldn’t even want to know anything at all about the crazy amounts of hard work necessary to create the illusionary magic of movies.
You would want to enter the theatre with absolutely no knowledge at all about anything that is about to unfold.
Now, if you’ve read this book so far you know where I’m going with this. Imagine that you created the entire planet and all the billions of its human inhabitants. Imagine that you know everything involved in the creation of this stupefying story we call life. How are you going to truly enjoy that?
With fresh eyes. By entering the theatre of life without any knowledge whatsoever about what’s about to unfold, or about how or why life exists.
And here you are.
Perhaps the real reason you are here is simply to marvel at the miracle of this tiny jewel of a planet hurtling through the incomprehensible vastness of space.
Perhaps the real reason you are here is simply to marvel at the miracle of your serendipitous existence within this massive web of craziness that is life itself.
To enjoy it. To laugh at every joke. To cry at every misfortune. To cheer for the characters you love and to hang on tight while you are tossed through the ups and downs of existence. And finally, hopefully, to smile contently as it comes to an end.
And then you might say to all the infinite beings in the universe, “Wow, that was brilliant. You should go experience life on Earth. That planet deserves an Oscar.”
I was a bitterly depressed teenager. At the tender age of 17, I had already given up on life. I planned my exit and then I decided to give “God” one last chance. I said something like this:
“God, I refuse to live a pointless life in a meaningless universe filled with pain, hatred, suffering, and evil. If it is all nothingness and I’m just going to die anyway, what’s the point of fighting for survival? God, if there is a God, please save my soul, if I have a soul. God, show me something to change my mind or fuck off once and for all.”
I didn’t believe in “God,” of course. I didn’t believe in anything. I gave up such delusions as a young child, when I used to pray fervently for an end to the psychotic abuse and torment in my home. To no avail. Obviously nothing was listening. Obviously the universe couldn’t care less. Like many people, my traumatic childhood caused my teen years to be a dark time. I had turned into a nihilistic atheist with a deathwish.
But as a child, before I had given up completely I had been mostly agnostic, and I had always been fascinated by the possibility of the spiritual world. Sometimes — on sunny days with huge puffy clouds in the sky and sun rays shining to the ground — sometimes my childish mind even dared to think that maybe God was sitting up there watching us. So as a last gasp at life, I asked it to show me something that would change my mind.
And God showed me something. God showed me everything.
A few days later, on a beautiful spring morning in 1986, as I walked down the stairs from my apartment to the street, time stopped.
Suddenly, inexplicably, for a fraction of a second, I was able to see the entire universe at once. I saw all of the past and all of the future at once. Beyond that, I saw that the past and future don’t exist, that everything exists in this present moment which stretches out for all eternity, what has been called the Eternal Now. In that instant I could see that the energy which animates the universe is a living, conscious, all-powerful force and that this energy exists within every molecule of existence.
Not only did I see this life force in the people, animals and trees, but also in the cars, in the roads, in the buildings and the telephone poles. The energy that animates the universe exists within every molecule of the universe, including the molecules that make up your brain and your body. We are all connected to the infinite power that creates the universe.
Not just connected, but we are one. We are it.
We are each, “God,” experiencing the physical world in one of infinite forms of life. The entire universe is a playground created by — and for the amusement of — consciousness.
Needless to say, I was awestruck, and didn’t kill myself.
In the months following my temporary insanity I spent most of my spare time in the library trying to figure out what had happened to me. Slowly I discovered that it was nothing new. For all of human history people have had glimpses of the true nature of reality, just as I had. In the old-school books that I now devoured this was called a mystical experience. Today it might be called a flash of enlightenment. Whatever the terminology, it seems to have been integral to the evolution of humanity. Most religions were probably sparked by a similar type of experience. Something like it might have happened to Jesus when he went to meditate in the desert for 40 days. Something like it might have happened to Buddha while he sat under that bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India.
Even today, many ordinary people (perfectly sober people, as I was when it first happened) claim to have had similar experiences. As well, the psychedelic literature is positively overflowing with wild descriptions of experiences which those who have had them swear are not mere hallucinations, but seem far more real than ordinary consciousness. These days, the resurgent interest in Ayahuasca has revealed these types of truths to tens of thousands of spiritual tourists. On top of it all, thousands of people who have been brought back from the brink of death describe similar visions.
This simple idea — that all is one, that there is an intelligent energy which guides the matter of physical reality, that there is an eternal and infinite psychological force which expresses itself in every atom of the universe — this simple idea has been expressed in this simple way throughout all of history, in all cultures and all times, by people who have felt their connection to the universe in a powerful, meaningful, real way.
And yet it’s impossible to explain to someone who has not experienced it. It’s like trying to describe a sunset to a blind person. And that’s why everyone who tries to express it is met with disbelief, if not mockery or downright scorn. What a stupid flaky trippy-dippy pile of horseshit. Obviously any real experience in the real world proves that there is no loving energy that cares about human life.
And so I still felt alone in the world, as there is simply no way to convey in words such things without everyone thinking you’ve lost your mind. Instead, I kept it to myself and tried to write a book called The Intelligent Universe, a book full of scientific sounding ideas pinched from quantum physics in order to try to prove to myself that the experience was real. But I never finished writing that book. I realize now that my “mystical” experience was purely intellectual, and so I tried to write an intellectual sounding book, which completely missed the core of my experience. It took another 30 years for me to discover what was missing.
The Missing Link
After that, I lived a normal life, with jobs and relationships and children and all the ups and downs of everyone else. I had assumed that the experience that saved me from debilitating depression would stay with me forever. But though I now knew some of the secrets of the universe in an intellectual way, emotionally I was still the same scared, abused child that had caused all my problems in the first place. Outwardly I lived a normal life, but over time the emotional pain and darkness returned, and perhaps inevitably, my belief in the “beyond” slipped away. Once again, I became hypnotized into the belief that life is a pointless accident in a dead universe.
That could have been where this story ends. But serendipity had another plan for me. Around 2006 a new wave of research into psychedelic medicine began discovering fascinating results. (Read Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence for the full story.) A decade later the mainstream media began to slowly publish some fascinating findings: properly administered psychedelic medicine was found to relieve various intractable conditions. MDMA was being used to successfully treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Ibogaine could interrupt addiction to cocaine and heroin; a single dose of psilocybin (magic mushrooms) could cure anxiety and depression for up to 18 months; and micro-dosing of Lysergic Acid (LSD) could, possibly, cure migraines.
I won’t get into the long and depressing story of why I was willing to go to the extremes of alternative medicine for relief, but the main point is that 15 years of doctors and specialists weren’t showing results, so psychedelics didn’t scare me like they do most people. Besides, I had done LSD and Magic Mushrooms many times in my 20s, and could easily see the magnificent benefits they could bring in a medically-supervised setting.
A bit of research and soon I found an underground healer who dabbled in such fringe experiments. As we talked about the magic of plant medicines the subject naturally went to the spiritual power of psychedelics, especially in the form of DMT and Ayahuasca. As I revealed my past spiritual adventures and my current dark night of the soul, he suggested I try what has been called The God Molecule or The Spirit Molecule — 5-MeO-DMT.
And thank God (literally) that I did.
The experience lasted no more than 10 minutes, and felt like no more than two. But in those two minutes, once again time stopped and I was given access to the infinite source of life which I had once before experienced as a young man.
This time, it was a thousand times more powerful.
Basically, I was shot straight into Heaven. Not a religious heaven, of course, but simply an infinite field of pure light powered by the most indescribably intense field of love I had ever experienced. (Something almost exactly like what people describe in near-death experiences). Nothing but pure love poured into my soul.
And I felt like I was surrounded by infinite intelligence which would answer any question I ever had. But every single question I asked was met with the same answer: “Doesn’t matter.” None of our human concerns matter. Every “negative” aspect of our lives is caused by our refusal to love. All that matters is to try to feel the love of the universe as fully as possible. That’s all you ever need to do. Do that, and everything else will fall into place.
And then it was over. I laughed. I cried. I shook my head in disbelief and said “What the Fâ€¦?” Slowly my consciousness returned to something resembling “normal”.
What this experience taught me is that all of the trivial things we worry about (that is to say, everything that we worry about) are simply illusory experiences designed to help our souls evolve to ever higher levels.
Ultimately, everything is good for you — even the most “tragic” events — because everything helps you grow.
Eventually, everyone finds their way back to “God,” because, in reality, we are all gods pretending to be mere mortals simply for the amazing experience of living life and endlessly evolving spiritually. Simply, we are here to enjoy ourselves and love our lives. More specifically, we are here to create our lives and enjoy our creations. We are each the creator.
Once again I wanted to write down what I had experienced. And so began this book. But why bother? In 1986, when I first dipped my toe into the spiritual universe, these ideas felt fringe and radical and vastly under-explored. Today, there are thousands of books for anyone who is interested. But there still seems to be one angle that is missing. Many authors write glowingly about getting in touch with your creative inner spirit in order to build a better life, but very rarely does anyone take the argument to its logical conclusion: if there is indeed an intelligent, loving foundation to the physical universe, then there cannot be any limits whatsoever to what is possible physically or psychologically. While many teach that your individual life could be infinitely improved, everyone still seems to accept that life on Earth as a whole is limited. Resources are limited. Land is limited. The ability of the planet to sustain some arbitrary upper limit of humans is questioned. The environment, obviously, cannot sustain us.
But what if all of that is entirely wrong?
I’m old enough to remember the beginnings of all the current hysteria about the coming end of the world. And yet life on Earth is far superior to life in the early 1970s, despite endless doomsaying to the contrary. Trust me, I was there. Or simply look at the modern statistics of violent crime, infant mortality, hunger and poverty, literacy and education, democratic reforms, access to electricity and clean water, life expectancy and global income equality. All have improved dramatically over the past half century. In fact, a spate of articles published at the end of 2019 proclaimed that the 2010’s had been the best decade in the entire history of humankind.
There is a very good reason why life is better today than it was for the cavepeople. There is a very good reason why life is better for you than for your cold, hungry, suffering ancestors. There is a very good reason why life is better for the majority of the world’s population than it was 50, 100, 1000 years ago. The reason is that life on Earth is evolving. And evolution means growth. Nothing can stop that. We will continue to evolve, in fits and starts, ever so slowly, until everyone on the planet has access to their own personal happiness and a satisfying life. Even if it takes 1000 or 10,000 years, it’s still inevitable.
So the point of this book is to try to argue what I believe is the most important principle to remember: that maybe we do not live in a limited reality based on scarcity, but in an infinite reality overflowing with abundance. I hope to explain how this knowledge can help any person experience a more joyful life without worry and stress. I hope to share with you what I learned and how it can help you in your life, whether or not you ever have a spiritual experience.
In truth, every moment is a spiritual experience, whether you know it consciously or not. So I hope that the words I write will resonate with you and help you live a happier life.
Eventually you will learn all of this anyway, even if it takes another thousand lifetimes. But here, perhaps, is a little shortcut for the evolution of your spirit.
All you need is to want it. Jesus supposedly said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I now understand those words. If you truly want a more satisfying existence, simply ask, and the universe will gladly respond. In fact, you might just be reading these words in response to your previous questioning.
When my son was young he taught me a game kids played, called “The Game”. It goes like this. Everyone is always playing The Game. But you forget. Sometimes you remember that you are playing The Game. And that’s how you lose. When you remember that you are playing The Game, you say to everyone who is listening, “I just lost The Game.” And that reminds them all that they are also playing The Game, and they all lose at once. And everyone groans. It’s hilarious.
But I always like to bend rules. So when I remembered that I was playing The Game, I would say “I just won The Game,” just to be a contrarian.
The Game We Are Playing Is Life Itself
Let’s pretend that The Game we are playing is life itself. Everyone is always playing The Game. Sometimes you remember that life is a game, and that’s when you win the game. When you remember that all of life is a game, and your true purpose is simply to enjoy playing the game, and becoming a better player (that is, a better person) by making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, and by suffering and becoming a more empathetic soul, then in those moments the stress of life melts away. You have won The Game.
At various times in this book I have said something to the effect that everything is already perfect, so relax. Maybe perfect isn’t the right word, because obviously everything isn’t perfect. Maybe the right word is “whole”, or “complete”.
Imagine buying a video game. When you open up the box and plug in that little cartridge (I know they don’t come in boxes anymore, but bear with me, I’m old) the game is already complete. It has a beginning, a certain number of levels, and an ending. You start the game knowing very little and you end up beating the last boss, or whatever the final level requires of you.
If, at level 3 of a 12 level game, you look around and say “this game sucks, I don’t know how to proceed, everything is challenging, I can’t get ahead” then you might not think the game is perfect, whole, or complete.
But the point of the game is to challenge you. The point of the game is to slowly teach you how to become a better player so that you can advance through the levels and “win” the game. The point of the game is the game itself. The struggle and the growth and the enjoyment. Mostly, the enjoyment, because if the game isn’t fun, why bother?
Someday you might realize that it can all be enjoyed. Someday (maybe today) you can realize that every obstacle, every struggle, every painful experience is exactly what you need at that moment.
And every “reward” you are grasping for might be exactly the right thing necessary to motivate you to grow stronger in that area of your life. Wanting a beautiful lover might help you care more about looking slightly more attractive. Wanting an intense new surround sound stereo might help you slog through a second job. Or whatever. The point is that the supposedly shitty parts of life are there for your benefit. Everything negative is positive. Is that more trite bullshit? More inane rationalization? Maybe. But it works, doesn’t it? Admit it. Accept it.
And that’s why games are such a great analogy for life. You play games, you don’t work them. In the same way, you should play life. Only you can learn how to overcome your own obstacles and win your own game.
You are the only person who can enjoy playing your life. You are living a single-player first-person choose-your-own-adventure from inside your skull.
Stop looking around at your level 3 existence and complaining that everything is not how you want it to be. Figure out how to get better, get stronger, and move forward to ever-higher levels. You might never win, but you can always play.
Can you imagine being able to listen to a 15-minute MP3 to turn on any mind state you want.
For example, want to experience razor sharp focus? Just listen to an audio.
Want to feel happier? Listen to that audio. More brain power? Pop in that audio.
That’s what a new “brainwave entrainment” site claims you’ll be able to do. And, apparently, they have the science to back it up.
Today, I’m going to pull back the curtains and see if their claims are the real deal – or nothing but hot air.
My Brainwave Shots Review: A Scientific Answer to Self-Help?
The Premise: Every one of your mind states or moods is marked by a distinct brainwave pattern.
If you’re feeling happy, there is a particular pattern. Feeling relaxed, that’s another pattern. Experiencing clarity and mental focus, still yet another.
The Promise: Listen to an MP3 recording for just 15 minutes and you can instantly activate any desired mind state you want.
How It Works: Brainwave Shots has apparently created a proprietary way to duplicate brainwave patterns using soundwaves.
So, supposedly, all you need to do is listen to one of their MP3s and your brain will automatically begin mimicking or mirroring the brainwave pattern of your desired mind state.
But, The Question Is: Do They Really Work?!
To find out the answer to this question, I had to try it out for myself.
So, I headed over to BrainwaveShots.com and got started. Nice site. Easy to navigate. Very professional.
The Pitch. Before I chose my Brainwave Shots from the 35 currently offered, I watched a brief video presentation that explained the science behind the technology.
After watching the brief video, I selected my Brainwave Shot from the 35 options. These include:
Brain power. Learning. Focus.
Creativity. Relaxation. Stress Relief.
Sleep. Confidence. Happiness. Motivation.
Peak Performance. Energy. Pain relief. Success.
There’s even have a party mood Brainwave Shot!
I have a really full schedule at this time of year, so I went with their signature Energy Brainwave Shot.
Getting Started: Within minutes, I had my shot and was ready to listen.
It was super relaxing and – if I’m being honest – the music was beautiful. After the 15 minutes were up, I actually didn’t want the session to end.
The Result: Relaxing or not, I wondered if listening to a 15-minute MP3 could realistically change how I felt.
I opened my eyes after the short session was up and I felt more alive, clearer, and more energized than I had in quite some time.
Really? I don’t even know how to explain it. It was like I’d enjoyed a nice, long deep sleep, then followed it up with a HUGE cup of coffee (without any of the jittery side effects of caffeine).
It might just be placebo, but I actually felt younger too.
All it took was a few short minutes and I felt like a new person. It was actually pretty incredible.
My Conclusion: I’m no scientist. But I know my own body. I also know the difference between feeling low and feeling fully energized.
The results of listening to a 15-minute MP3 were pretty impressive.
In reviewing Brainwave Shots, I was ready to expose its faults and flaws, and poke a little fun at something that seemed a little “out there”.
But, honestly? It just didn’t work out that way. Brainwave Shots actually made a difference in the way I felt, exactly as they promised.
These guys managed to turn a skeptic into a fan. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: I did only try one shot, so I can’t speak for the other 34 of them.
UPDATE: In the last week, I’ve used the Energy Shot twice more. Each time I used the shot, the results were the same: more energy than I had just 15 minutes earlier. So, it does what it’s supposed to do. I can’t argue with that, and am about to start experimenting with more from their range.
Rating: 9.5/10. Brainwave Shots are inexpensive, transformational, quick, and easy.
Pros: Low price. Based on proven science. 365-day guarantee. Most importantly, these seem to actually work!
Cons: No telephone support. Limited to 35 ‘shots’ in total.