What is Life?

It is common to consider that the deep questions of life are questions about who made us? Do we come from a random chaos in the universe or is there an intelligence behind this? Basically, is there a god? If there is a God, are we separate from it or are we one with it. If there is a god, is it a he or she? Is there a son of god? These common questions are just a few of what we generally consider as deep and meaningful topics.The asking of these questions is from our innate human curiosity and also from the view we have of ourselves as a sophisticated intelligent society. However, in reality, most of these questions and most of their answers are just philosophical nonsense. The first real questions that we can ask are the most obvious, but they are very rarely asked. These questions are, ‘what is life?’ and ‘what is this awareness that we have?’ These are the first questions because without life or awareness, there are no questions. We tend to avoid these questions because they’re difficult. This thing called life is quirky and ephemeral, here one moment and gone the next. One day we are in a bassinet and sooner than we think, we are in the grave. We call life, the bit in the middle, but what is it really? Is it different from the life we see in a tree or in a dolphin or in a monkey?

I once chatted with a young doctor who claimed that life medicine or energy medicine was absolute rubbish and that he didn’t believe in it at all. I asked him if chemistry could tell the difference between someone who was alive and someone who had been dead for a few seconds. He replied that this was probably not possible. I told him that this was what energy medicine studied – the life stuff – the difference between life and death. This may not have much meaning to some doctors, but to the patient…it has quite a lot.

Curiously and obviously – this thing called life is alive in itself, it is a living thing -actually it is the living thing. It’s also in a way, what makes us, us – because it is not separate from our awareness, our consciousness if you like.
What is awareness? Well simply, it is not what we are aware of – it is that we are aware. In the ancient books of the Jews (aka the Old Testament), there is the notion of god as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, meaning all that there is. This is not a description of the Zeus like figure that has come to represent god in the thinking of western Christian society. It is a description of the universality of awareness itself. The understanding of god in early Judaism, early Christianity and early Islam is the same as the meaning of the Tao and Buddha nature in eastern religions – it is another word for pure awareness. It has no other meaning than this. Awareness is everywhere, in all things. This very life we have is awareness. Every little movement of every leaf in the wind, every nod of a head, every song of a bird, every water molecule in the lap of the ocean… everything is aware.

However, although awareness is the stuff of life, it is usually not apparent to us at all. This is because we are stuck in our individual consciousness. The ancient Hindu sages called this individual aspect, ahamkara. Ahamkara has a double meaning – it means both the I-sense, as in me and it’s mine – and also the veil, because the I-sense or ego, veils us from real perception of the pure awareness. This understanding is that our individuality only exists, as a filter to block our direct perception of pure awareness and thus give us the sense of being separate. While this I-sense gives us our sense of individuality, this is really an illusion. Every person, every dog and cat and horse and pig has this sense of individuality. Flocks of birds and insects have it as groups. Ego is nothing special.

Generally we think of ego in terms of the people who are the loudest and the first to dance. In fact, the most restrictive egos are those of the people who are too timid to dance. They are held in check by their fear. This is the true egotism, contraction by fear and opinions and a cherished belief in our individuality. There is a joke about an empowerment seminar where the main speaker was extolling everyone with the line, ‘You are all individuals!’ A small voice at the back piped up, ‘I’m not.’ No matter how individual we like to think we are, we are like drops of rain from the sky of awareness. Just as rain is all one downpour of water – we are all one awareness. Our individuality is an aspect of consciousness that keeps us in our particular pattern of frozen thoughts and dreams. It gives us something to hang our hat on, so that we can believe the dream that we call our individual life. 

It is the formation of habits that gives us both the inward idea and the outward sense of our own individuality. We all began with the same awareness, but different situations provoke responses which get ingrained so that we act out a certain way. This happens over lifetimes. Eventually, we become a pattern that reacts automatically. This is the pattern that is reflected in our astrology, our psychology – it is the pattern of our karma. You could have been him, she could have been that person – but for different situations evoking different habits. We all began as droplets from one awareness – some fall on earth, some fall in the sea and some fall on rocks. In the end there is no problem. Just as evaporation restores all to water in the sky, realization restores us all to awareness. Although we believe that we have a certain level of awareness, we still can’t prevent this habitual emotional and mental patterning occurring, because our I-sense keeps our consciousness, in a sense, unconscious.

However, this is not just a matter of a veil blocking pure consciousness. The 20th century Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff, taught that man isn’t born with a soul or higher consciousness – he has to develop it. What this means, is that aspects of consciousness can help transform unconscious awareness into conscious awareness. Gurdjieff also taught that there are two types of people – one interested in consciousness and the other merely existing for the purposes of nature’s involuntary and evolutionary constructs. Basically, just to fulfil their habitual karmic patterns of mind. In my opinion, this isn’t true. There is only one type of person – us. We all get opportunities for realisation and growth throughout our lives. What we do determines our path from that moment. When we act from our habitual patterns, which are our astrological psychology, our opinions if you like – then we act unconsciously. We have all had moments in our lives where our karmic patterns lead us to blame, anger and hatred. When we decide not to harm ourselves this way, to act from our hearts instead, when we forgive, when we act with compassion instead of false sympathy, when how we are in ourselves, is more important than our emotional patterns and when others needs become more important than our own wants – then we set off on the real path of life. 

However, the path to awareness can be fast or it can be slow. If we just work through the karmic blocks on our path, the path of right actions described above – then we are on the path to awareness, but it’s gradual. The lightning path is the path of meditation, the path of insight. Traditionally, the path of meditation has always involved an inner and outer practice. The outer practices involve the stilling of mind and the development and transformation of the heart and the attention field of the mind. This attention field is often described as light, as in the light in the body or the light of the mind. The inner meditation practice is the direct realisation experience of the pure awareness.

When our awareness is direct, we are the centre. In the Taoist text, The Secret of the Golden Flower it states, ‘The pervasive principle of the centre bears universal change.’ The simple meaning is that when we are open, things will change around us but our openness is not affected. We need to find the openness of energy, the openness of emotion and the openness of mind. For this to occur, we need to do a little practice in understanding that how we are, is the only true experience of our life. We need to be aware of how we are rather than living on the outside in external situations. We need to be vitally curious about ourselves, of how we experience life and consciousness. We need to understand that our opinions and the accompanying emotions are just stories from our karmic patterns – and from this understanding, let them go and let our pure awareness open.
Kevin Niv FarrowKevin is the Founder and Director of AcuEnergetics® as well as a Master AcuEnergetics® Practitioner and Teacher of AcuEnergetics®. Kevin has practised and studied meditation and the energetic system since 1974. He has taught since 2000 and his published writings, meditation CD’s and teachings have brought him worldwide recognition as a unique and practical meditation teacher and an expert in the field of energy medicine. He currently teaches in Australia, USA, India, Asia and Europe. For more information about Kevin, visit Kevin’s full biography.