An excerpt from Regaining Paradise
A majority of us on some level at times have felt a degree of inner unrest that seems to arise from a place deep within us. This unrest, I believe, is connected to our being unable to make sense of the human condition. We seem to be living inside an insulated bubble in the eye of a virtual storm. We go on with our lives, searching for answers that seem just beyond our grasp. We hunger for higher knowledge that can make our lives meaningful and whole.
Sages over the years have said that the answers to the big questions for which we have long been searching are in plain sight. Some thinkers say that these questions are unanswerable, that they are unsolvable mysteries and are best left at that. Then again, if we were given reasonable answers to the big questions, would they meet our standards of proof? There is another puzzling aspect of this mystery: If the answers are in plain sight, why haven’t we discovered them?
There’s an often-overlooked fact regarding truths. What you take note of, accept and honor is directed mainly on perception, the way you see the world, which arises from your particular take on life. Western society tends to see the world of people, objects and things as Aristotle did, as physical, material expressions. We are inclined to view the world as an extension of ourselves and of our material bodies. This ego-based point of view, called anthropomorphism, forms the basis of science.
Your perception provides the roadmap that you follow after birth, after being taken from the timeless dream-state of the womb-paradise. What we encounter after our birth drowns out the sweet memory of that earlier idyllic place. Technology in particular, especially electronics, affects you on a deep level. It fashions, depersonalizes and colors your world. The sounds and images on your screens and messages in the media dictate the steps you need to take to be welcomed into society.
But membership in society comes at a price. The steps you’re advised to take have been devised by experts to influence and manipulate you. The theme is relentlessly drummed into you, and the steps and instructions continue all of your life. Yet, where is the bliss that you’re promised by the messengers on the screen? The more you consume, the further you’re removed from your former state of paradise. On a deep level, you sense this deception, the self-serving intrusion into your mind, and you act out, actively or passively.
The influence of the ego, although recognized only recently, has been the driving factor in the wars, racism, greed and divisiveness that drives wedges between us. The ego is also the unsettling factor behind the inner turmoil, that lack of inner peace, that appears innate to humankind. Our inhumanity to one another seems to arise from our ego.
But how could plain sight on its own change the traditional course and enable you to enjoy a more genuinely productive and fulfilling life? Throughout human history, sages and prophets have taught us that self-discovery could engage us to see beyond the ego-based material worldview and permit us to become aware of truths that would free us from the treadmill of daily life.
I have come to see a connectedness between my own mind journey with the “hero’s journey” of myth that Joseph Campbell spelled out in his work on the relationship between myths and modern society. It’s not that I have always thought of myself as a hero. Far from it. I have simply tried to lead a life that includes caring for and about others as a central component.
Yet, my reflections on a series of experiences helped me realize that I needed courage to embrace the meaning of these experiences and learn how to explain it to others. I needed courage to travel into a realm that I was fortunate to glimpse early, as a child. It took courage to open myself to others and share what I’ve learned is the truth about our existence. I found that truth in my own journey in life, and my mission is to help you grasp that truth.