To ask this question deeply is to step into quicksand from which there may be no return for those who sincerely ask it. You may, for the rest of your life, be consumed with trying to answer it. Nothing will ever seem to be the same again. Just look at the Pied Pipers of the 60’s: Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Alan Watts, and later, Terence McKenna, and so many others. Reality, they discovered, was not what it seemed to be. Many died without finding the answer.
A question felt. Something felt, perhaps, with friends over drinks. Never asking is to be totally submerged into the necessities and hardships, hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows, of everyday life. Fair enough. Life is a challenge to all of us. But most of have stepped back at one time or other, perhaps often, and wondered what is THIS? Is there a meaning, a pattern, in all of This? Where do I fit in? To ask “What is?’ is really to ask about the world as a whole, not just the cycle of events we find ourselves consumed by daily. Perhaps by asking we hope to better navigate our private sea of experiences. Perhaps we want to find out if our little lives have a significance in this vast machine we call the universe. Is there more here than meets the eye?
After the high school angst filled with poetry, existentialism, Herman Hesse, social upheaval, I was stunned by a guest lecture in my freshman literature class in college by a young philosopher who posed the question, “What is beauty?”. To dissect beauty with thought stunned me. Here was power. Later, another professor, fresh from India, teaching Hinduism, spoke of his meditative experiences in a temple where he spent the night listening to the chanting of the thousand names of God, intimating a reality that was more than meets the eye. My own life, as a result, has been an outward failure.
What is the road to Reality? Philosophical thought? Transcendent experience? Seeing the radiance of everyday life? Extreme situations?
This journal will record my thoughts on these subjects. For now, it is still an open question.