Excellence Reporter: Robert, what is the meaning of life?
Robert Beer: I have come to believe that death alone reveals the true moral and ethical stature of life, and while that life is being lived this issue always hangs in the balance. We are born with amnesia, and develop without recognizing our true innate nature, or the dimensions from which we manifest as eternal beings evolving towards self-perfection. So there is no longer the need to incarnate again with amnesia.
The evidence for the continuity of existence beyond death is overwhelming, if one seriously undertakes to explore the various avenues of research into ‘Non-local Consciousness’ being revealed in our time. This includes all aspects of parapsychology, quantum mechanics, the evidence derived from universal reincarnation studies, after-death communication, deathbed visions, and near-death experiences. The latter relating to the deep ‘life-review’ component alluded to in my opening sentence.
Plato’s ‘Republic’ records the earliest NDE in the ‘Myth of Er’, and Socrates’ statement that, a life lived without philosophy – an unexamined life – was not worth living. Philosophy, as the ‘love of wisdom’, with its three branches; natural (physics), moral (ethics), and metaphysics (what is beyond physics), is eternally fresh and pregnant with meaning, and to believe that life has no meaning points towards an unexamined life.
So what is the meaning of life? Life itself is the search for meaning, for the cultivation of love, wisdom, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity, but not necessarily happiness or pleasure, which are often just intervals between two pains. To me and at this time of life, this contemporary research has been extremely transformative. ‘There are the learners and the learned, memory makes the one, philosophy the other’ (A. Dumas).
Way back in the 1970’s I came across some graffiti on a London railway bridge, which read: “Death can be god-orgasm if you spend your life in divine foreplay.” I can live with this.
“When at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-nature that has been with you all the time; and by all the foregoing stages you will have added nothing to it at all. You will come to look on those eons of work and achievement as no better than unreal actions performed in a dream. Your true nature is something never lost to you in moments of delusion, nor is it gained at the moment of enlightenment.”
(Huang Po, 9th century)
~Robert Beer first first began to study and practice Tibetan thangka painting in India and Nepal between 1970-76, and was one of the first westerners to become actively involved in this field. Since then he has devoted most of his life to studying the iconography and symbolism of Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist deities. Over the past twenty years he has been actively involved with some of the finest contemporary Newar artists of the Kathmandu Valley, and has assembled a unique collection of their work. Apart from his continuing work with Indo-Tibetan iconography, he is also deeply involved in researching all aspects of the afterlife, especially the enhanced consciousness and enduring transformative effects of the near-death experience. His illustrations have been published and widely ‘pirated’ in hundreds of books and websites, and he is the author and illustrator of The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, and The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols.
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