Life: A Complicated Mix of Experiences
What is Life? A 2 yr old child will say “playing all day long and filled with chocolates and treats” whereas a middle-aged man points out a “boring and mundane routine experiences with bits and pieces of sadness and happiness”. So which one of the statement is true?
A Few Definitions of Life First!
Maybe a child’s analogy will be ignored easily because “they are silly and don’t understand intellectual stuff.” And, they are not the ones making decisions like this! However, what is life really? Why are our experiences so varied according to age, religion, race and even gender?
A general view is that life can be explained as a bundle of experiences- good and bad mixed. On the other hand, from the overall world view, life is the sustainer of all forms of sentient beings in the creation. It provides existence to all living beings for plants and animals alike.
Technically, life bears physical existence to all living being but it is time and space bound. And dualistic in nature with experiences of opposites. Again, spiritually one may say that life is God’s gift to humanity.
Different sects… different definitions. However, I am going to explain my view which is a little abstract yet similar to all of the above. Well… another definition for you. Enjoy!
My View on Life
Life as I see- it is a mixture of two forms of reality. One on the physical level and another on mental one.
Physical reality is easy to observe. It is the world around us. Whom we interact with, what objects we possess, what we eat and wear- all fall under physical existence. It is basically the objective world we all experience while awake.
Mental reality is umm… where we differ largely. Our experiences in the mental realm are as varied and opposite as they can get. Since we can experience an object in a multitude of ways, our mental projections are very unique and ephemeral. These experiences keep changing from time to time and place to place. But they are exclusive to our awareness only. No one can really feel what we feel or think what we think.
When we experience our body, it can be short or tall, black or white, muscular or obese. But the same body is experienced differently by different people. For some, I can be considered a sweet and well-behaved girl. However, to some, I may be arrogant and pretentious. But these projections on me does not change my reality of myself and my life. Of course, it changes their projections on my identity but mine remains unchanged- at least that should be the case.
Our health, career, relations- which are the integral parts of our life are nothing but a composition of these mental projections.
Is it a Complicated Mix of Experiences?
Imagine this- you are married and with your husband/wife. Your significant other has a relation with you and you have a relation with them. Now let us add a quarrel within the relationship. Whatever may be the reason for the fight, your idea of your wife/ husband’s viewpoint changes depending on your level of anger. The same goes for them.
The catch is though- can you see the mental projection of your partner clearly without them explaining it to you on the face? No, right? Similarly, they cannot see your projections either. There always remains a disparity between the projections that cause confusion, anger, frustration and violence. Not only in a marriage but it happens in any kind of relation.
Life is a Game of Projections
The higher the difference between the projections, the higher is the level of dissatisfaction. Then we expect each other to change and make amends. But without the knowledge that these projections are truly our own and the others have no idea of them, most of us are just scratching the air in darkness.
Such projections are also extended to objects and situation with an exception. These objects and situations don’t have their individual projections. They are what really is. Yet we have our own expectations of them and want to control them according to our whims and fancies. Well, it must be understood our individual projections don’t change the situation or the object or other beings including humans.
The solution is simple- to become aware of the problem and its root cause. You cannot stop your projections but you can definitely fine-tune them according to the environment. Next time your partner shouts at you- remember it’s your partner’s projections on you. And in no way can you change that. But you can change your projections and be more understanding and compassionate.
What is Life then?
So, with the assumption that everybody’s mental projections are limited to their own reality even if it involves other people and situations, our main field of question goes back to “what is life then?”. Is it a universal bundle of individual mental realities where we are superimposing each other in a borrowed physical existence or are we more than that?
It reminds me of virtual reality games. We are similar to the virtual players with our own scores, weapons, and skills. And fighting through the virtual world for surviving. Sometimes on the journey we may team up or fight with others for our own needs. Well, it does make sense. Except that the VR players are being controlled by someone external- the real player.
So this brings me to another mind-boggling question- can there also be a force governing us to live through this world of seeming reality, to speak?
Personally, I don’t think so. We have awareness or consciousness of our own reality. We ourselves monitor and control our own instincts unlike those characters in the game. It may sound absurd or crude but life can really be a video game with an added pinch of our awareness.
If this is true, it gives us the choice of will at every moment. In short, we become the masters of our own destiny in this magnanimous epic event called Life.
Experiential reality of Life
On the experiential level, we can categorise life into two distinct realm- outer world experiences and inner world experiences. These experiences are very different on ground level. Allow me to explain.
Outer world experiences consist of our daily interactions outside our mind. It is very similar to the physical reality mentioned above. But, the difference between the two is that the outer world also includes bodily functions and any actions that you do for working with the world, unlike physical reality which consists of only inert interactions of matter.
The inner world focuses on the interactions that take place on the mind level. The thoughts, emotions, feelings, decisions on the mind level interfere with the outer world experiences to a great extent. Again, the outer world can modify inner world experiences. They are highly correlated.
But the outer world has an independent existence of its own as well. It is not primarily dependent on your inputs. Individual inner worlds can affect it, yes but can work nonetheless without it too.
Have you ever noticed that when you don’t do anything for a whole day, the world doesn’t stop? It just keeps moving as it must. The Sun rises and sets. Birds chirp and flowers bloom as usual. People go to work even if you stopped. Even if you are required somewhere else, the work doesn’t stop. The world finds ways to substitute you.
It is a fact in your experience. The world doesn’t stop for you. You are required only when you put effort to be seen. It seems a fatalistic and pessimistic approach. However, it is a mere fact.
To summarise, life is an invisible force keeping us all alive and providing us with a favourable environment for nourishment. However, it is also happening on the individual mental level where we experience sadness, happiness and all kinds of objects. Hence, we as the subject is the real-life- the real experiencer. What we experience can never be us.
Ponder on it.
Having put forward my theory of Life, we must remember this- Life is what you make of it. You have to sail the boat of Life. Sometimes the tide is in your favour and sometimes it creates hurdles on your journey. But whatever the case, you have to ride it anyway with the hope that everything is going to be okay in the end. With a smile, you have to sail. With courage, you have to sail. But sail you have to.