The fundamental mystery of existence itself lies at the core of all that exists. A deep truth is reflected and given form by the fact that there is something instead of limitless nothingness. We live in a universe that is real.
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How easy it would be if nothing existed at all. Amazingly, nevertheless, the unfathomable truth still stands: existence exists, and existence will always exist from one instant to the next, year to year, and eon to eon. The cosmos itself seems to say “Yes!” to the wonder of existence with the birth of every new instant from within the profound mystery of being.
This declaration is a powerful affirmation. A part of the mystery that is existence itself, each of the following in their own special ways: the daffodil reaching through the late winter snow, the baby bird breaking through its shell, trees reaching for the sky, the river running to the sea, the stars blinking in the vast night.
Who is it that proclaims “I am!” with universality? When our hearts are open to it, we hear it and are touched by it ourselves. It is evident how having such an open heart affects us. We frequently feel that the experience is too strong, too delicate, or too unfathomable to put into words, and part of its profound mystery lies in its own ineffability. Write about the emotions you feel when you sit quietly with your life partner or best friend, really gaze into a newborn’s eyes, or tenderly caress the cheek of a loved one who is dying.
We keep coming back to one word, and that word is love. When we allow the wonder of existence to enter our hearts, how do we feel? We experience love.
Who do we love, exactly? Do we love the dying person, the youngster, or our friend? Yes, without a doubt. What makes this individual so lovely, so endearing, and so heartbreaking is the brightness in their face and their distinct personality. However, as we allow ourselves to go farther and farther into the love we experience, we also go farther and deeper into the sublime and wonderful mystery that lies behind that face. This mystery gives birth to, supports, fulfills, and shines within the existence of this specific individual, just as it does within every single being in the universe.
Put another way, we love and are moved by others because we mysteriously and compellingly perceive in them beautiful hints of the divine Self. We sense the light of the universal “I am” in their eyes. This inner beauty is independent of or unaffected by an individual’s external circumstances. Our beloved may possess exceptional physical attributes, such as startling good looks or homeliness. He or she may be young or elderly, affluent or possessing few worldly goods, in excellent health or unwell. We adore some individuals for who they really are—beautiful manifestations of the Self—rather than only for their appearance or actions toward us.
It is possible for Self-Revelation to occur in any situation. I recall being in the noon sun, many years ago, sitting next to a little tree on the edge of an Indian desert. India and Pakistan were at war at this period. There was some fighting going on not too far from where I was. There was tension in the air, I knew it. However, everything was motionless where I was seated. Nobody in sight, maybe for miles. It had been days since I’d spoken to anyone.
A little, unremarkable bird once landed a few feet away from me on a low branch of the tree. It emitted no sound. I stared at it for a while, watching it intently. It glanced at me as well, then away, and back at me. It turned its attention to me then. Its generally quite boring feathers caught my eye as being extremely lovely in their own shining manner. The bird seemed to be viewing me from different angles as it moved its head back and forth. I had a cozy feeling of affection for the bird. In actuality, it was more than that—it was a kind of acknowledgment. This means that throughout the instant I spent with the bird, I was conscious of both my own presence and the bird’s existence. I experienced a gentle surge of emotion within me as the bird and I shared our lives for a little while.
For me at that time, the wonder of the bird and myself being at all was a magnificent truth. There we were, seated close to one another amid the enthralling enigma of life itself. I turned away from the bird and took stock of my surroundings. I realized that the deep blue sky above them, the little rocks and hills rising out of the desert sand, and the tree were all a part of that same wonderful cosmos. I perceived a subtle yet potent presence that permeated and sustained everything in all of its immense diversity, and which I perceived as a singular Consciousness.
I had the impression that this consciousness was simply an affirmation of life, and that love and consciousness were the same thing. I couldn’t think of a term to describe this Presence, but if one had appeared, it was most likely God. Everywhere I looked, all I saw was a manifestation of God’s kind intentions for the world. All I saw was centered around love. Love was shown by the bird, the tree, and even the blanket I was sitting on. It was all love.
Even though it was all over in a matter of minutes, I felt as though I had entered the boundless abyss of eternity at that very instant. Time and space boundaries vanished, blending into a single, Consciousness-pulsating entity that is Love itself. I believed this divine Presence to be the energy that generates and maintains the entire world, therefore it was transcendental and strong beyond my wildest expectations. It was sweet, sensitive, yet closer to me than my own heartbeat all at once. It was all-encompassing, grandiose and personal all at once, and I felt it was kind at that very time.
I was aware that there was a lot of animosity between the locals, just as there had been throughout history in a variety of settings. I could not help but notice how many people’s lives are filled with a great deal of grief, suffering, and anguish. Nevertheless, I felt that the force and presence I recognized as God and experienced as Love persisted in shimmering and moving inside the very reality of life. It seemed very patient to me, because humans have undoubtedly not always reacted to life’s wonders with love and have occasionally abused one another and themselves in the most egregious ways. And yet, I understood that love is genuine and always there, even if I may not always feel it. In my opinion, Love possesses boundless compassion, despite the world being ripped apart by opposing forces. In response, I raised my hands to my heart in a meditative stance and silently said, “Thank you,” to this precious, welcoming presence that infuses and nourishes all life. Subconsciously and softly, I shut my eyes and descended into a peaceful state of meditation, fully enveloped in that Love. After a while, when I emerged from my meditation, I felt a prayer come to my heart: “May everyone realize how much God loves them and everyone else.”
All of this happened while I was having a brief conversation with a little bird. Any environment, including this seemingly unimportant one, can give rise to the awareness of the divine Self within all things. When it appears on the face of someone you genuinely love, it penetrates to a deep level. Even yet, the feeling of love transports you into the Self that is mirrored in the light of the other person’s soul, not just their outward appearance. That holy Self continues to be the ultimate object of your adoration.