That Time I Made it to the Center of the Universe & Learned the Meaning of Life

One evening, not but a few months ago, I was transported to the center of the universe. How I got there I’m unsure. It didn’t matter at the time. All that mattered was that I had made it, and now I stood (or floated?) before the very consciousness that embodies the entire universe. In the starry darkness, I knew that this entity existed and flowed out of the even darker circular void directly in front of me, like a black hole in reverse.

This consciousness didn’t speak, but it communicated with me. I could hear its ‘thoughts’ in my own mind. It invited me to ask the question I’ve always wanted to ask. I paused for the slightest second, a pattern of hesitancy that had grown with me my entire life. Hesitancy, self-doubt, shame, humility. An entire lifetime’s worth of weight. But the next second I became weightless, and I asked my question without speaking. “What is the purpose of all of this? What does it mean?” It wasn’t particularly eloquent, but it was the question I most burned to understand.

I could sense a palpable compassion beaming from that dark center of the universe. It wrapped me in invisible arms and responded calmly but forcefully, “Love. That is all. Love is all that matters in life.”

If this were a scene in a movie, I would have scoffed at the cliché of it all. But in that moment, it wasn’t about the words that were conveyed. It was the feeling that suddenly overtook me. The consciousness entity began to pulse, radiating a soft, all-encompassing warmth that could only be described as Pure Love.

It washed over me, through me, into my cells, calmed my brain, and opened my own heart to the ultimate answer of the universe. I hung there in suspension, absorbing these waves and realizing that the one thought running through my mind was, “Yes. This is it. How could I have not known?” I felt no desire to be anything, to do anything, to accomplish anything. I already had. I was there, radiating with the only true energy that exists.

It was so powerful I would have cried, except there was no need for tears in such a loving state. It wasn’t ecstatic; it was serene, gentle, and timeless. It was as if I had returned to the ultimate womb, rolling in warm waves of love and gratitude with no expectations or projections or worries. This was the most powerful feeling I had ever felt within my body, and it came not only from that conscious entity but also from within myself.

As quickly as the love manifested, it washed away and I had fallen back into a series of nonsensical dreams, eventually to wake and recall just the slightest hint of that ultimate feeling of love. Technically it was all a dream, of course. I don’t believe that I actually travelled to the center of the physical universe. But this was one of those dreams that stays with my body for some time, like the remnants of light that slowly dim after switching off an incandescent bulb.

And while dreams are an expression of the mind, they certainly give us opportunities to connect subconsciously with deeper physical, mental, and emotional frequencies then we may be consciously aware of. I remember one time when I was caught up in a particularly tragic dream in which I was sobbing profusely, and I awoke still sobbing with a pillow soaked through from my tears. The emotion was real then, just as real as the ultimate love.

What I mean to say is that while I didn’t physically travel anywhere at the speed of light that night, I have no doubt that I traveled deep within myself and somehow penetrated a thickly guarded barrier behind which rests an everlasting fountain of love. I can’t help but think that we all have that fountain, that core, that energy, deep within us, buried under years of trauma, exhaustion, abuse, betrayal, and general adulting.

What I felt was real, unadulterated love. It was breathtaking. It made every cell in my body buzz with a knowing that calmed all questions, all doubts, all yearning. That feeling only lasting a few dream moments, but my own mind, my own body created that feeling – it throbbed in my stomach and radiated through me as if burning away all pain and suffering – so I have to think that feeling is possible to achieve in ‘waking life’ as well.

And I suppose that’s the whole point of this thing. To find whatever means allows you to dig through all the material distraction down to that little pulsing core of love. It has no doubt that it exists, so why should we doubt it? Even now, as I struggle to remember just how joyful and fulfilling that love energy of my dreams felt, I know it’s still in there somewhere, calmy waiting for me to rediscover it. It’s not the center to the universe that will answer our ‘whys’, but a journey to the center of ourselves. The universe may begin and end and begin again, but the energy that drives it exists always. And that energy pulses through each of us.

I don’t have the answers (not that we need any) to how to find that love, that completeness, again. I don’t know if I’m on the “right” path, or if I’ll ever find my way back to the center of the maze again. But I did find it, once. I have to think that’s something. Even as I doubt myself constantly, some part of my being is saying, “Look! You have it! It’s right here.” And maybe I’ll trust that voice again one day.

Have you ever found that center of the maze? Perhaps you are lucky enough to be sitting there calmly even now! I’d love to know how others experience ‘purpose’, ‘meaning’, and ‘love.’ We are all winding through this journey both together and alone. For that I am grateful.

What Do You Do

I wrote this poem in response to the innate fear that often manifests when you are presented with an opportunity you’ve asked for, that you want deeply, but that you are terrified to accept. Perhaps because you are afraid to fail, afraid to change, afraid of making the wrong choice. How do you let go of that fear and embrace inner wisdom? I don’t profess to know the answer, but I’m contemplating it daily.

What do you do

When the universe grants your prayer?

Do you cower in fright

Like a child who fears the night?

Do silent, salty tears flow down your face

And consume your soul

Washing away any semblance of your past self?

Do you give in to the power

Of understanding and pure love

That you can’t imagine possibly exists

And leap into the flowing current

Against the judgement of your mind

Or the cautions of others?

Does your heart shrink into itself

Hiding beneath the thick layers it has built over years

Lifetimes

Like countless woolen blankets suffocating truth?

Does your mind pull you back into the past

With invisible bars and cold floors?

Or does your heart expand toward the light

The possibility

Of knowing itself in ways unimagined

Of swimming through fear and doubt?

Unsurely at first, cautious

But swiftly feeling the current lifting you up

Not pulling you under

As you give in to it, it gives back in turn to your supple movement.

Who were you, back then?

It doesn’t matter. You are here now, and each now is new.

Each drop is whole unto itself, but indistinguishable from all else.

Feel it.

Rip off the blankets. Dissolve the bars.

Dive.

Leave the heavy voices behind like unneeded layers cast off in the warmth of the sun.

Feel the light on your cheek

And melt into the joy of the light.

What’s wrong with being wrong?

egoI feel like most of the suffering that we as humans create for ourselves originates with just a few misguided behavioral tendencies that become reinforced by society until they solidify into norms that lead us astray from our true fundamental selves. One of those tendencies is the habit of refusing to admit when we are wrong about something; i.e., our tendency to protect our worldview through defensiveness and refusal to accept new information/evidence that is presented before us as ‘truth’.

If we as individuals, as well as society as a whole, were better able to (or perhaps better encouraged to) admit when we are wrong about something and be open to other possibilities, we would subject ourselves to a significantly lower amount of suffering and delusion. The field of science, while far from an error or value free existence, is one of the few professions that appears to encourage a trial and error approach in which errors and mistakes are considered a valuable component of moving closer to the ultimate truth. When you are trained as a scientist, you prepare yourself for being wrong (or at least only partially right), for making mistakes, and for starting from scratch again and again. In fact, the scientific process thrives on this iterative approach in which incremental successes are built of a delicate play between errors and discoveries, until a clearer and more accurate picture of our world is slowly constructed across the eons.

Unfortunately, in most other professions (and societal roles), admitting that you are wrong is often considered weak or shameful–whether it be in the realm of law, politics, law enforcement, or even teaching, where admitting that you were wrong about something is typically perceived as losing face and credibility. Even as a parent, admitting wrongness to your children may feel like you are undermining your own authority and ability to garner respect. It’s quite sad really–most leadership positions require at least the appearance of unquestioning faith and confidence, even though most of us are fumbling about in this world looking for half-hidden answers. When you attempt to perform a task or gain understanding and are genuinely wrong, admitting your mistake should be considered noble and honest, not weak or wavering. It should be a sign of a thoughtful, critical, and scrutinizing individual.

We are all continuously re-writing our realities, coming to terms with who we think we are and how we engage the external world. Nothing is constant, so why must we pretend that our perceptions are so unwavering? Perhaps it is just an extension of our brain’s ability to filter out all ‘unnecessary’ information, to shield us from information overload. Maybe we shield ourselves from the many other possible ‘truths’ and ‘rights’ that don’t fit our personal worldviews or paradigms in fear that this openness would overload our sense of self, doing away with the Ego for good. It’s a legitimate fear—we spend our whole lives building up a sense of self, so the threat of losing it does seem great indeed. But maintaining that persona comes at great pain and often violence or emotional suffering not only for ourselves, but for others we subject to it.

Sometimes, I feel like we would all benefit from letting go of our sense of selves, at least temporarily, a bit each day. This is, really, the point of meditation, isn’t it? To let go of our ego, our ‘personality’, that is not the true US, just the caricature we have built up over the years to try to protect our underlying selves from pain and embarrassment (which, ironically, tends to open us up to even MORE suffering!). I wish we could all be better encouraged to lower our shields and respect each other for who we truly are, and to realize that everyone is valid, everyone makes mistakes, and that all paths may ultimately lead to the same place. Those that are misguided have become so lost in their solidified personalities, trying to protect themselves from being torn down, that they lash out at others, sometimes entire groups of people, causing great pain, only because they are crumbling inside.

I guess that the ultimate remedy for all of this defensiveness is compassion. Compassion allows people to let down their guard, to realize that their likes and dislikes, their understanding of science and religion, or their struggle for meaning in life, is all part of one giant puzzle–they fit together with everyone else, and we are constantly rearranging that puzzle in an attempt to ‘solve’ it, when in reality it is what we make of it! All the puzzle pieces are really just fractals of one giant ‘reality’, universe, existence, or whatever you want to call it.

If we could only admit that we are all ‘wrong’ sometimes (in that our perception is inevitably limited and as new information is introduced it is normal to evolve and negotiate new relationships with the world), we would be a giant step closer to the world that I think almost all of us imagines would be a ‘better’ place to live.

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