I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
Joseph Campbell directly addresses the seeking part in us and implies that the meaning of life is transcended by the experience of being alive.
The experience of being alive.
If you’re reading this, guess what? You’re alive!
“The meaning of life” puts an intellectual spin on what seekers seek. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Think about “being alive” and “the experience of being alive.” What’s the difference?
You can be alive and not have the experience of being alive. You can be asleep, or in a coma — alive but not aware. More common is experiencing some minute fraction of being alive — seeing the pine needles on one branch of one tree, and not seeing the whole forest. Do you do that? I raise my hand.
“The experience of being alive” includes so much more than the intellect — emotion, sensation, and self-awareness, awareness of one’s own life.
I was talking to Peg today during practice inquiry about my practice focus — whole body awareness — and I said that it seems to take a shift in the point of view of my identity to even be able to imagine my whole body as I sit. She called that “the big step back” or something like that. This change in perspective is a known marker on the Zen/zazen path.
She said that recently psychologists have learned that toddlers follow their mothers around at the distance from which they can see the whole bodies of their mothers.
Today in zazen, after I spoke with Peg, I practiced awareness of being in my body, breathing, sensing, as I simultaneously imagined being able to see my whole body sitting in zazen from the outside. This is a little tricky and fun to practice.
I’m going to do that some more.