Excellence Reporter: Fr. Seán, what is the meaning of life?
Fr. Seán ÓLaoire: Life is a dream that the ego is having; the ego is a dream that the soul is having; the soul is a dream that Spirit is having; and Spirit is a dream that Source is having. So, everything that exists in the phenomenal realms is simply God in drag.
We live in a concatenation of interconnected dreams, all of which are real. The trick is to dream lucidly and to realize that, though all levels of the dream are real, some are more pristine than others. The more we hang out in those levels, the less we can be thrown by “events.”
Since there is nothing but Source, She decided to play a game of Hide-and-go-seek with Herself by spinning off fractals who are blindfolded by the limitations of incarnation, namely: (a) having a space-less body condensed into a human frame; (b) having a cosmic consciousness compelled to operate with the little laptop we carry between our ears; (c) being burdened with the illusion of time, so we can break up the now-overwhelming gestalt into bite-sized pieces to be grokked chronologically; and (d) amnesia for our true nature.
The objective of the game is to overcome all of these obstacles and still remember we are God; to creep up behind Her and shout, “gotcha!”, only to realize that we have grabbed our own shoulder.
We come in cohort groups, with a pre-conception contract to create improv theatre in which each player gets to work on the virtues and issues of their choice. We are equipped with two main pieces of information: first, a thorough knowledge of the track records of each member of the troupe; and, second, our purpose or mission each time round.
Apart from the unique, individual mission, we are all meant to move from freewill (the ability to do as I please) to freedom (the ability to do as pleases God); to move from narcissism to compassion; and from self-engrossment to Self-Realization. Karma, then, is seen for what it really is – not punishment for previous errors but, rather, the realization that the hand I was born with is precisely the hand I planned before I came in. Fate is seen for what it truly is – not an unavoidable outcome, but simply the life that logically and consistently unfolds depending on how I play that hand. And destiny is the opportunity to continue the lessons in the Bardo state, which then prompts me to plan the karma for the next incarnation.
And the very first sign of waking up, I believe, is laughter; quickly followed by compassion – a compassion that starts with forgiveness for myself, and ripples out to embrace others, then my “enemies” and, finally, all sentient beings. And laughter is the difference between fanaticism and commitment. Any God at whom or with whom I cannot laugh is far too small a God for me. And the laughter is birthed by piercing the illusion that I am separate from God, separate from others and separate from nature. It is the sense of playfulness created by the realization that I had been seduced by mere appearances.
It unfolds in three stages: to look deeply beyond the veil; to laugh loudly at the illusions; and, then, silently to offer Namasté to all whom we encounter – from incarnated bodhisattvas to slowly-sliding banana slugs.
Then we can begin to create less and less inaccurate maps of reality and allow unconditional love to lead us home. We will notice that the ever-patient ocean of God’s immanence has washed clean the pock-marked beach of yesterday’s feverish foot traffic, so that we may imprint new hieroglyphics – cosmically-inspired sacred writings – on the newly-rearranged sands of an awakened lifetime.
~Fr. Seán ÓLaoire has a B.Sc. degree (major in Mathematics). Ordained a catholic priest in 1972, he spent 14 years working in Kenya. He is multi-lingual and has an M.A. and Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology; he is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice. He is co-founder and the Spiritual Director of a non-denominational community called “Companions on the Journey” based in Palo Alto.
He is the author of four books and co-author of a fifth:
- “Ukweli ni Nini?”(What is truth?) – written in Swahili
- “Spirits in Spacesuits”
- “Souls on Safari” – published in 2006
- “A Sensible God”
- “Why? What Your Life Is Telling You about Who You Are and Why You’re Here” (with Matthew McKay, PhD and Ralph Metzner, PhD)
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