I came across the online travel magazine, "Brave New Traveler," and am really digging it. They write articles about traveling the world, with a multi-cultural, philosophical, spiritual bent. Its tag is: "Exploring the inner journey through the outer world." I love it! I just recently found it and look forward to exploring it some more.
The article that drew me to the website was their post, "20 Questions for Every Spiritual Seeker," by BNT's founder, Ian MacKenzie. The questions were featured in the documentary, "One: The Movie," answered by several different spiritual teachers and seekers in the world. The post invited us all to ponder and answer them for ourselves.
And so I did:
1. Why is there poverty and suffering in the world?
I think that poverty exists because, as humanity, we allow it to. There is more than enough of everything for everyone on the planet, and for whatever reasons - greed and fear (?) - we choose not to live that way. As for experiencing suffering, the way I understand it, the only way that can come about, is when we believe the thoughts we're thinking that would tell us reality in this moment is other than it should be.
2. What is the relationship between science and religion?
I don't know much about either of those, so I can't really say anything about their relationship. But I think that, like everything else, they're both just ways that humans try to explain and make sense of things - and our relationship to the world we live in.
3. Why are so many people depressed?
A combination of brain chemistry and the thinking (and believing) of thoughts that lead to suffering - which are the kind that argue with reality.
4. What are we all so afraid of?
Being alone. Being wrong. Not being good enough.
5. When is war justifiable?
When it's a matter of defense, I guess. Man, I don't know. That's tough for me to answer.
6. How would God want us to respond to aggression and terrorism?
I'm not convinced that God/Universe has any kind of wants - or needs, for that matter. What could Infinite Awareness possibly want? I think that life is just a matter of What Is, playing itself out. I think the question to ask is how do we want to respond to aggression and terrorism? What we choose is our will. And our will for our lives is God's will for our lives.
7. How does one obtain true peace?
By remaining in the present moment - and realizing that the Now is all that is ever truly needed, and all that will ever be.
8. What does it mean to live in the present moment?
Living in the present moment means to wholeheartedly receive what the Now is providing us with. It is vigilantly remaining aware of who we really are, beyond the stream of thoughts that continuously go by. It is no longer obsessing over past and future, and realizing that our present, aware stillness is the only thing that's real and lasting.
9. What is our greatest distraction?
Our thoughts. We worry with past and future. We worry with how we compare to others. We worry with comparisons, period - mesmerized by thoughts of how things should be, instead of accepting the greatness of what is.
10. Is current religion serving its purpose?
Everything is serving its purpose in the moment, just as it is. People seek religion for whatever reason; they come and see what they see; learn what they learn; observe what they observe; conclude what they conclude; and then do what they do. It is the people doing the seeking that decide if religion - or anything else in life - is serving them how it should.
11. What happens to you after you die?
I have absolutely no idea.
12. Describe heaven and how to get there.
Infinite, abundant, unconditional Love. You get there by realizing that you're already there. The present moment is recognized as Heaven when we question, and see clearly through, the thoughts that would tell us otherwise.
13. What is the meaning of life?
I don't think it has any inherent meaning. It's Brilliance, doing its dance. Life is the One (God), experiencing itself as the many. I'd say that life's meaning and purpose are whatever we decide them to be.
14. Describe God.
I have heard that Ramana Maharshi often sat in silence as a way of conveying the Ultimate. And I think that that's the perfect description of God - silence and stillness. No words or concepts come close to capturing God, because God is an experience; God can only be known as awareness - not thought about.
15. What is the greatest quality humans possess?
16. What is it that prevents people from living to their full potential?
On one level, we are all living our full and divine potential in every moment. From the level of the ego, I guess the reason that people don't accomplish more, or whatever it means to "live their full potential," might be that they are afraid and/or don't believe they can.
17. Non-verbally, by motion or gesture only, act out what you believe to be the current condition of the world.
(I'm slowly opening my eyelids, right along a smile.)
18. What is your one wish for the world?
For everyone to realize who they really are.
19. What is wisdom and how do we gain it?
It is knowing one's Truth and living it fearlessly. I don't think that it's something we can gain. It is given us...as Grace...in "time."
20. Are we all one?