What I Know For Sure About Life

By John Rocheleau
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Life is… let me think a minute about my personal meaning of life… alright then, here’s a picture for you: life is a ball of tangled elastic bands with something really special buried deep inside. The lure is to find the hidden treasure.

Life is a mystery, full of enticing next steps to take.

Like those cereal boxes when I was a kid, with the baking soda powered toy SUBMARINE FREE INSIDE (you’d have to be a certain age to remember that one). Well, It was a hook and who could resist?

Back to the ball of elastic bands though. When I was a small boy I wondered why golf balls bounced so high. My Dad was a golfer so I took one of his golf balls and dissected it to find out why. I was exhilarated as I cut through the casing, like I was splitting the atom or something. What would happen? Would it explode in my face? The energy of that ball had to be locked in there somewhere, and I was about to release it.

After removing the outer shell I found tightly wrapped elastic bands. No explosion or drama. But wrapped around what? I imagined there had to be something beneath it all, and so I kept unwrapping the long thin strings of elastic. They snapped and twirled to a pungent rubber smell as the ball grew smaller. I sat entranced as I slowly unwound the mystery of the incredible bounce. And what did I find? I found a small squishy rubber ball. Anticlimax? Well, it didn’t seem solid so I sliced it open and squeezed. Out came a thick blue-green creamy liquid. Now that’s what I came to see; something strange and unexplainable. A mysterious fluid was at the core of this golf ball that could bounce so high… But why? And so our curious minds draw us deeper.

We are all born with a penchant for mystery; to unearth the hidden treasures buried just beneath the surface of the ordinary. It is how we have survived as a species, helping us to find food, shelter, and comfort.

But our curiosity and sense of awe is more than just a survival mechanism. It is an unstoppable force. For those of us born into fortunate parts of the world where we have already answered our survival questions, our curiosity extends to infinity. It calls us to question and explore the very nature of existence — and our place within it.

Four things about life that I am sure of

There are countless things that I do not know about life. Thank goodness it is still a mystery, but here are a few things that I know for certain:

  1. We are all seekers. Our human nature compels us to explore. It is encoded in our DNA. If we claim personal freedom it is not just that we claim our right to choose, we also claim and empower our curiosity; our human drive to uncover the mysteries of our life.
  2. We are easily distracted. We often mistake the wrapping for the treasure. We sense the reward. We are drawn by it. But we become enamored by the snap and bounce of the web we must unravel in the process, and we lose sight of the prize we are after. We are encoded with a destination but with no clear directions, we get lost in the tangents of our curiosities.
  3. We are all on a path to enlightenment. Our natural compulsion to seek answers, to unravel the mechanics of our world, is actually our natural drive to understand all of life; to experience the mysteries beyond the surface; to become enlightened and released from judgments, definitions, and fixed conceptions. We are on a path to unconditional awareness.
  4. It all begins and ends with simplicity. The childlike curiosity that cannot resist unraveling the golf ball to find its center, or digging into the cereal box to find the hidden prize inside, is the juice that drives us to greater and greater discoveries as adults. That simple seeking holds tremendous beauty and power. It is our means to discovery. The treasure at the center of the tangle of life, is the beauty and power that resides within ourselves.

So that is what I know for certain. What are some of the things about life that YOU know for sure?

Over to you now.

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14 comments ↓

#1 Catrien Ross on 03.13.10 at 2:09 am

John, thank you so much for this simply and beautifully expressed post. Your four certainties are ones I have experienced as truths in my own life.

I would like to add:

We each have a unique note in this world – whether human or non-human – animal, bird, fish, tree, stone. Our journey is a mythic path to rediscover that note and sound it again in the harmony of vibrations which comprise the greater web of life.

We are much more than we give ourselves credit for. We have more courage, more wisdom, more fortitude, more loving appreciation than we know. Returning to awareness means returning to that deeper knowledge of who we are, that the answers we have been searching for have been here inside us all along.

With warm wishes from the mountains in Japan – Catrien Ross.

Read more from Catrien Ross here… Catrien Ross on Blasting Mount Fuji to Bits – Does Live-Fire Artillery Count As a Spiritual Distraction?My Profile

#2 Banji on 03.13.10 at 6:19 am

Thank you for sharing this post John. It’s been a while since I was here.

I like your 4th point where life begins and ends in simplicity. Life is really that simple, we are the one who complicate it along the journey. I truly believe that once we set our mind to look at things in its simplicity, it will become just as simple.

Read more from Banji here… Sustaining Motivation With The Burning Rock MethodMy Profile

#3 David on 03.13.10 at 3:16 pm

Thanks for shining the spotlight on curiosity. It is a very potent motivator as we move forward. It battles with passion at every turn. Where will we end up?

It depends upon who wins this particular battle.

Read more from David here… Oscar Reflections/ Moments Beyond Time/ Henryk GoreckiMy Profile

#4 John Rocheleau on 03.13.10 at 4:30 pm

Hello Catrien,

What you say, “We are much more than we give ourselves credit for” is so true. It may be the the most hidden of all truths. It might be easy for most people to agree with the statement, but if they only knew the extent to which it is true. We have a future that is unimaginable to most. The things we are capable of would astound our understanding of physics, and certainly our conception of what it is to be human.

Of course we have to get to that future gradually, and that means as you say “returning to awareness;” deepening, expanding, making it genuine, removing the templates that we hold before our perception.

Throughout our lives we accumulate definitions of what is possible and what is not; laws of physics, laws of nature. I have seen these laws cleanly broken and have done so myself. It is an incredible leap and yet it is grounded in simplicity; clearing the definitions, and moving through the power that is our source.

Thank you for your inspiring addition Catrien :-)

John

#5 John Rocheleau on 03.13.10 at 4:42 pm

Hi Banji,

It is good to see you again. Simplicity is an odd concept isn’t it? If a person arrives at the simplicity that we speak of, they know the power and beauty of it, and they know how simple it is. But the word simple misleads us sometimes.

Sometimes we think that it means that it is easy to arrive at this simplicity. Well, it is easy in hindsight because being there is easy; it is natural. But getting there can be extremely difficult. It can be difficult when we are not yet simple. We have too much clutter in our minds; too many limitations blocking our way; too many fear-based emotions complicating our conceptualizations of where we are and what we are experiencing.

And I agree with you when you say, “I truly believe that once we set our mind to look at things in its simplicity, it will become just as simple.” Because when we do that, and do it everyday, we declutter and clear the way for simpler more basic and therefore more powerful perception and ability.

Best to you,
John

#6 John Rocheleau on 03.13.10 at 4:50 pm

Hi David,

Curiosity IS a powerful motivator. Must it battle with passion though? There is a personal-to-you thread running through your comment, and it has me intrigued.

Who will win this particular battle? I hope that YOU win this battle that you are experiencing. I think that passion and curiosity can be expressed on the same team to move in the same good direction, and that would be YOUR direction. That’s why I am rooting for YOU.

Does that make any sense at all (my comment that is)? :-)

Best,
John

#7 Robin Easton on 03.16.10 at 9:42 am

Dear John, this is so YOU. I love how your thought/emotion processes work. There is a simple clean beauty to this that I really relate to. Also, I find this a highly creative idea for a post. It really makes us all think, and then ask, “What do I know for certain?” I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself that.

I now know that I am able to love myself, even when I make mistakes. (I could always forgive others, but was harder on myself). I know that life IS “the journey”, which is far more important to me than the outcome, and I don’t want to miss any of the journey. I know there are people who truly love me, would miss me if I was gone. I, like you, am grateful that life is still a mystery to me, and I now see that as a VERY good thing. And I know with certainty that I am passionately in love with life. And yet if I had to define “life” I don’t think I could. Maybe I am just “in love”.

Thank you my dear friend. This has really made me ponder, even made me want to sometime explore more deeply–through a post of my own–what I know for sure about life.

I also found this very endearing and humble. It moved me.
Thank you so much. Hugs, Robin

Read more from Robin Easton here… How We Shape Our WorldMy Profile

#8 John Rocheleau on 03.16.10 at 6:14 pm

Hi Robin,

Thank you for your nice comments. I agree that we don’t need to define life. We just need to experience it deeply, without prejudgment. The rest takes care of itself I think. I appreciate your always in-love-with-life thoughts. It is obviously something that is genuinely true for you. And is there anything better than that? I can’t think of anything :-)

Best,
John

#9 Phil - Less Ordinary Living on 03.17.10 at 12:50 am

John -

I think you have captured some truth here – we are all seekers during our brief stay on this planet. I believe that everyone has a light and love within them that has huge potential. By seeking we can bring that light out and inspire it in others. You are spreading the word and helping others to do that – thank you.

Phil

Read more from Phil – Less Ordinary Living here… How to Keep GoingMy Profile

#10 John Rocheleau on 03.17.10 at 8:21 am

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your thoughts here. As you say, we all have light and love within us, and when we seek from that source, we discover bright and beautiful things about life and about ourselves, that we then share. Of course this isn’t a cakewalk. It is challenging.

Your post that you linked to in your comment is a great example of all this. Very inspiring.

Best,
John

#11 Michael Cheverie Dewey on 03.17.10 at 6:29 pm

Yes awareness of where are at. Yet we could be at our dreams tomorrow.

#12 david on 06.02.10 at 10:19 am

Ah – “It all begins and ends with simplicity” – yes! First the simplicity of naivete, then the simplicity at the other side of complexity.

Read more from david here… Thoughts on education on the back of my mindMy Profile

#13 Carina on 06.30.11 at 11:42 am

I love that you mentioned the simplicity of it all – because that is how I felt when I re-discovered the awe-inspiring concept and philosophy of the circle of life – it was such an “oh!” moment, like a light switch went on in my head, and I realized that it really is something we could consider a “foundation” for greater concepts, the base knowledge that we all grew up with, but never really stopped to truly observe and understand it for ourselves. It showed me that we as a species really do need to get back to basics – since it appears that the simpler something is, the more pure it is, and closer to Truth!

Since I used to really be into quantum physics, that philosophy really made sense to me… the more simple we make things, the purer and stronger the energy is. I’ve always liked quantum physics for that reason, as the smaller you go, the energy gets bigger, the activity becomes wilder and more mysterious and all we can seem to do with these unanswered questions is become philosophical and incredibly intrigued.

#14 John Rocheleau on 07.01.11 at 8:20 am

Carina,

I totally agree that simplicity is the core of the mechanics of existence. That simplicity gives birth to all of the seemingly complex manifestations of life. And so, to gain understanding and power we need to experience this simple unified engine that drives the universe.

The Daoist philosophies point the way quite clearly. And in my experience, the Daoist practices of spiritual Qigong are the most refined and complete way to directly experience this unified state. When that happens, our experience of that state is one of being that state. There are no divisions in that experience and so everything is perceived at once. After the fact, you could say that when in that state there is a complete and sudden merging and melting. You become existence in a sense, instead of experiencing existence. There are then no questions; understanding is complete; the power is total and yet calm.

Being in that state even for a minute or two opens doors of perception and understanding in a person for long after. The gifts one receives are treasures that belong to us all, but only those with the discipline to reach that simplicity will acquire them. It requires letting go of the temptation to break things down into pieces to study them. The logical mind wants to separate observations into small chunks, and that works well for most studies.

But when we seek the unified core of existence, dissecting observations and using our logical mind to figure it all out is an almost impossible task. We end up with an infinite number of now dissected pieces that we have partially understood in isolation. How will we ever put them back together again to really understand the whole in a unified state? And if physicists ever did, will they wind up with only a cognitive understanding? I prefer the experiential route through direct perception. It is the natural way; it leads to real power that we can use, and understanding that leads us to use it wisely.

Cheers :-)
John

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