Nicolae Tanase: Itzhak, what is the meaning of life?
Itzhak Beery: On my 19th birthday I woke up frozen by existential fear. “What if my life will be boring and meaningless?” I was petrified. A dark memory from the age of five crept in: “Why was I even born, why can’t I go back?” That question found its way back into my delirious mind recently as I lay in an intensive care unit at a Tel Aviv hospital.
All I could think of – as it happened a few times during Ayahuasca ceremonies in the Amazon – is how much gratitude I felt towards my wife, children, family members and those who love me. Perhaps being in the presence of death brings a sharp meaning to life.
To understand life, all human societies use insight from observation to create symbols and give meaning to everything that surrounds us. But shamanic societies also affirm that we humans are similar to trees, rocks, fish, jaguars, rivers, stars or nails. We are in equal sacred relationship as contributors to the whole of the ecosystem.
For that reason, we have to learn to just BE. The obsessiveness with which our Western culture searches for Life’s Meaning disconnects the partaker’s heart, which experiences life, from the observer mind that questions it. This dissonance creates ongoing agonizing despair, as well as conflicts between different viewpoints. To be fully alive, the heart and mind must reunite and surrender to experience life’s mystery.
For me, Life has no logical, emotional or spiritual meaning. It’s truly what we choose to make of it, which is where our personal responsibility lies. Life is simply what it is, a forever-continuous flow of energy particles knocking against each other, some in predestined and others in chaotic order. This flow creates unfathomable opportunities and endless possibilities. Shamans believe that this energy contains the universal knowledge and consciousness.
Thankfully, I turned out just fine after my stay in the hospital. But when that pesky meaning of life question crept its way into my observer mind I just breathed deeply and let it go. Happily, my life turned out to be full of unexpected adventures and the most meaningful aspect of it was the deep love I formed with people, my community and nature.
~Itzhak Beery is an internationally recognized shamanic healer, teacher, speaker and Amazon bestselling author. For over 21 years, he bridges the spiritual and practical wisdom his indigenous teachers entrusted in him with a powerful contemporary approach relevant to our stressful and unbalanced modern times. He is the publisher of www.ShamanPortal.org, the global shamanic resource hub and co-founder of the New York Shamanic Circle. He is the recipient of the ‘Ambassador for Peace Award’ from The Universal Peace Federation. An accomplished visual artist and owner of an award-winning advertising agency, he grew up on Kibbutz Beit Alfa in Israel and lives in New York. He is a husband, father and proud grandfather.
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