Saturday, September 17, 2011

What it might feel like when Epiphany kicks in

A falling tree in Stanley Park Vancouver

Insight, epiphany, understanding, sudden realization – it comes under a variety of names, shades and classifications. In short, they are moments when something (or everything) suddenly comes into focus and you grasp it better. It is the camera lens that zooms in and gives us a crystal-clear image of what is really going on within and without us. But once you are lucky enough for this realization to kick in -- and in my opinion it is a matter of time and effort -- what will be your reaction?

There are two possible types of reactions I can think of when the moment of realization takes place. The first one would be that reality was all a sham. It is suddenly realizing or perhaps being told that life has been not only an illusion, but actually a kind of cosmic joke. It's like an episode of “Punk'd” or “Candid Camera,” where the host (God? An angel? The devil?) points towards the secret hidden camera.

When that moment arrives, there are two kinds of reactions. You may feel frustrated and angry. You may want to sue the host for wasting your time and making you suffer all for nothing. You may be angry to have been taken for a fool.

Or you may be relieved and happy. “I knew it all along,” you may shout out to regain a few shreds of dignity. Or you may smirk about it and be pleasantly surprised. You may even be amazed at the ingenuity of the “host” or “creator.” Or if there be no host, the atheist will give you a sermon on how they were right all this time.

In its Judeo-Christian version, you will be a game-show candidate. You will be told that all your life was just a test, a kind of reality show contest. You will then hear if you have made it or not. Did you win the grand prize? Will you get to enter heaven or did you not play according the rules, did you get disqualified, would you end up in hell for being such a lousy contestant after all? Or will it be a matter of random luck: Choose one among three doors and find out what lies behind it!

Another way we may realize the truth would be what Zen calls satori, generally known as enlightenment. It also contains the element of sudden insight or surprise; you may see it all as a sham, but you would only have yourself to blame. You will be like the dog chasing its tail and suddenly you stop and realize what it was all about. Yes, happiness and salvation were always there in front of your very own eyes. The devil (!) was in the details, and we have spent so many years just running around like a headless chicken, following the unnerving and incessant chatter in our heads. Everything is and has always been beautiful but we just failed to look at it properly.

Either way, I do believe one day there will be insight and everything will make sense. Perhaps not in human terms and perhaps not even very logical, but one moment will come in this (or the other) life where everything proverbially speaking falls into place. And yes, if the atheist is right, we would just fall into eternal sleep. Life may have been nonsense, but at that point, who cares, there is nobody to feel or regret anything and one would dissolve with all the natural elements and become enmeshed with loose particles whirling in the empty air. 

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