ONCE UPON A TIME . . .
As every human grows up we pass through a developmental stage known as separation-individuation. The outcome of this process is a stable sense of being a separate entity with its own separate identity—the ego, or I—around which the 'story of me' develops and revolves.
My first cancer diagnosis came in April of 2013; I was 49 years old. The diagnosis was accompanied by a label: Anal Cancer.
Oh, great!! That's going to look fabulous on my epitaph. F*%#!!
The diagnosis was also accompanied by a statistic: 50% five-year-survival.
My second cancer diagnosis came—despite six weeks of combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy—exactly one year later. This time the diagnosis wasn't accompanied by a statistic: there simply wasn't one.
On this occasion a seven hour operation—which included removal of my lower bowel, anus, and perineum, as well as creation of a permanent colostomy—was the required treatment. Recovery from the surgery was long and painful.
I'm pleased to report that at present—2023: ten years post-diagnosis, and nine years post-surgery—my body is currently cancer-free.
As a result of these diagnoses life now looks very different than it did just a few years ago. Cancer invited me to stop the forward momentum of my life, stop the accumulation of more experiences and more things, and to deeply question: What's important to me? Where do I choose to put my attention? What do I want to give the remainder of my life to? And what, finally, is the meaning and purpose of my life anyway?
I'm excited to report that along with this inquiry a bubble of creativity is arising in me. It is clearly out of my control, and the best description I have for it is, the urge to become a storyteller. The goal of said storyteller bubble appears to be to write a version of my life story which will act as the foundation for the musical that I'm being drawn to create.
The musical, whose current working title is Beyond the Mirror, commences briefly in the biblical/historical Garden of Eden. The main body of the musical, however, is set in New Eden—a city that bears an uncanny resemblance to the New York we all know and either love or hate—in the year 2020. Humanity is at a crossroads and the future is anything but clear.
Now I know this is going to sound ridiculous, coming from someone who's never written a musical before, but I keep getting a message that Beyond the Mirror will be performed on Broadway one day.
Hmm, I wonder if l'll be around to see that?
"I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being."
WHAT DO I REALLY WANT?
My deepest desire in this life—if I had to choose just one—is to see freedom, peace, health, and happiness available equally to all beings everywhere.
It's my hope that at in the near future a sufficient number of humans will realise the deepest universal Truth—as described by Aldous Huxley in his book, The Perennial Philosophy — which points to the unified, intelligent, loving nature of the universe. This loving nature is variably called God, Spirit, Being, Emptiness, Tao, Brahman, Allah, JHVH, etc., and in my direct experience it is both the source and the inner nature of everything.
This Truth lies at the mystical core of all world religions and of every spiritual philosophical system. The realisation of this Truth, which is also called Self-realisation, is available to everyone at any moment if, firstly, they're mysteriously drawn to discover it, and secondly, they're somehow ready to open and receive it.
The one clear pre-requisite that I've discovered is required for this discovery, however, is to stop giving attention to the outside world for a time, and turn the focus of one's attention inwards. The mind then has the possibility of returning to its source—the infinite and eternal ocean of Love/Peace/Being—where the true nature of Reality is revealed. One then awakens from the trance of separation and suffering that is the core delusion of the ego. The ego's not wrong, it's just a stage in the evolution of the human species, and, importantly, the core cause of all human suffering.
Will the human story end with a spiral into war and destruction, with humanity as a species wiped out? Or will enough humans wake up from their state of mind identification, and in so doing catalyse the turning of the evolution of humanity to function at a higher level of Consciousness, and along with that higher level, the possibility that all humans might live together peacefully and harmoniously together? Well, that's the point . . . we don't know what will happen. We're writing the story as we're living it, we're making it up as we go along, and clearly, nothing is certain.
I believe that if a large enough percentage of the population wakes up then it's possible that the dominant worldview of humans can shift from the selfish, narcissistic, destructive, ego-centric one that is prevalent across the globe today, to a view that sees through the apparent differences and separateness on the surface of things to the interconnectedness, harmony, and oneness that is the true, essential nature of Reality.
This non-dual way of being and living is naturally present when all movement of the mind ceases. In this conscious moment of stopping of the mind, all thought—including the 'I' thought—falls back into the timeless and formless ocean of Silence from which they arose, and Purity, Peace, Joy, Love, and Wisdom are (re-)discovered to be qualities of one's ever-present essential nature.
Thankfully this awakened worldview is becoming increasingly evident, at least transiently, in the global responses to extreme acts of violence and terrorism, natural and man-made disasters of all kinds, and the thoughtless destruction of the environment. This hearted-centred way of being and living in the world quite naturally gives rise to compassionate loving action. The potential outcome of such enlightened action: health and harmony restored to the environment; protection and care for all plants, animals, and human beings everywhere; a possible future for the Earth that includes humans in it; freedom, peace, health, and happiness available equally to all beings everywhere.
Hmm, I wonder if I'll be around to see that?
As humans, the majority of us live out our lives believing that egoic experience is all there is. We suffer, to a greater or lesser degree, and we're generally unaware of the possibility of ending our suffering.
"Inside your body is a priceless treasure, a gift from the eternally generous one. Look for that gift inside of you."