Can you see that every question I am asked here is about the Management of your Existence? That you’re asking me how to get your ego from this struggle to that little oasis of peace? That like a traveller on a trail you want to know how far the next rest stop is—how long it will take to get there, and what the most effective and efficient route is? But you’re all insane. You’re all trapped in a cloud of thought. You’re all asleep, and it is time to wake you up.
I have spent much of my life quite confused by human beings. With precious few exceptions you all have looked entirely crazy to me, and I’ve been fully aware that many people believe the same of me. I am aware that I look crazy when I sell a successful business at a young age to attempt a long-shot career in an unlikely industry that seems to have no connection to the rest of my life. That I take strange trips to unusual places and while I’m there I invest myself in seemingly meaningless activities. That like a child I am mesmerized by nearly nothing, and that I don’t care at all about nurturing your opinion of me.
Anyone who knows me well and is honest will know it is routine for people who’ve known me 10 years or 10 minutes to conclude that there is something strange about me and about my life. That whether people judge me generously or harshly there is this nagging sensation that there is something different guiding my life. That moments fall from me like water and that despite all of the opinions about my life, that I live mine in a oddly deep—and some might even say beautiful— way. That I can love even in the face of hate. That I can be free.
But I am nothing. That is my gift. I am merely a key. And today I offer myself to you. I offer to open a door. I offer to wake you up. I don’t offer you a pleasant existence, I offer you everything. There is an answer. Your dream of something better is founded in a universal truth that is so strong, so powerful and so meaningful that it can penetrate down into the recesses of even the darkest, coldest, most judgmental ego. How long you stay alone is up to you. How long you suffer is your choice.
The door is open. You only need to walk through the entrance and your life will be transformed. We won’t fix your problems, you will join with God. You will realize the universe within yourself. You will feel the stardust from which you are made. You are never outside of this truth. You are never separate or lost or lacking. You merely use your thinking to tell yourself that story. So today I am shaking you awake. Today you stop becoming. Today you have the opportunity to realize that you are one with everything.
I have lead a privileged life. I awoke to a nurse at five years old as she worriedly clasped the crucifix around her neck and, without knowing it, she set me free: “They said you was dead. Where was you?” That was when I lost the rest of you. That was when I returned to a childlike view and rejoined with everything. That is when I reconnected with the truth. Because I knew that I could die, I lived. But because you are afraid of death, you cannot. It is time to stop clinging. It is time to stop holding on to cherished beliefs. It is time to be free.
You cannot see another perspective and so you cannot comprehend other views, other judgments, other ways of shutting out the glory of existence with beliefs. And so I lived not knowing that while I was alive, others were merely existing. I remember so clearly in elementary school a teacher presuming a fear of death. I remember being startled beyond belief. Was she insane? Why would she say something so ridiculous? A fear of death? Who would waste their glorious time Being to instead tell themselves a story about time, about ending, about limits? It’s all so incredibly small.
I have travelled. I have met with glorious spirits on trains on buses on footpaths. I’ve floated with them on ferries, and jostled with them in lineups for subways. I have met them in boardrooms and hostels and on airplanes, and at schools and funerals and hospitals. I have dove to the bottom of oceans and held wine bottles from another century. I have seen skulls and femurs and flood and war. I have held babies and comforted the dying. I have raced cars and flown planes and played instruments and sang. I have been happy and angry and sad and alone. And throughout it all I have been home. I have never been lost in that way and neither have you. There is no outside. There is no separateness. There is only Being.
I have had the great pleasure of knowing some remarkable human beings. Many have been famous or fabulously Earth-shatteringly wealthy. I have met people who have been to the bottom of the deepest mines and others who have seen our planet from space. I have said yes many times. And yet there was one thing I had no knowledge of. I did not know existence. I did not know the plodding responsibility of managing an existence. That is what 99.9% of lives are. The Management of Existence.
Roughly seven years ago someone did something that impacted my life far more than they could ever have known. This action was dark and ugly and mean and cruel and it’s entire reason for being was to bring about suffering. Like a gift in the ugliest wrapping paper ever, it offered me the chance to experience the Management of Existence. It taught me how to suffer in the way that egos suffer. It was a theft, and it literally stole my life and replaced it with existence. And like a frog who does not leap from water that is slowly brought to a boil, I lost perspective and my life became a memory and not a verb. And the responsibilities and the obligations and the requirements of existence blinded me to the absence of life.
Now I don’t want to pretend that I suffered like many of you have—so many lives on this Earth are so much worse than mine. I never lost complete connection with the knowledge that came as a result of trying to answer that nurse’s question when I was five. But I came to know suffering well enough. So without knowing it I was experiencing a course in a spiritual university—I was learning how to appreciate who I had previously been. And the juxtaposition of life to existence was what brought the former into such clear focus. Because on this past weekend something happened to bracket that existence. Something happened that reminded me of life. Something woke me back up. And I could not be more grateful. Because now I know what to say to you. Now I know what existence is. And now I know how to open the door to your life.
Life is not a set of events. Life is a flow of experience. Events are placed in time, and they are relative. So when I designed and built the beautiful home I live within, my dear brother questioned my choices. I had painted my walls green. He lovingly tried to talk me out of it. “You should paint them white,” he said. “It’ll make it easier to sell.” Sell?! I was still awake then, so I knew he was bonkers-crazy. Sell? I hadn’t even moved in yet! Why was I going to make choices for some other person who would own my house in some distant time? So while my brother worried about my financial existence, I lamented his inability to appreciate his actual life. My house wasn’t a place with a value. It is and always will be a flowing movement of experiences.
Have you heard of the Shackleton whisky? Over 100 years ago Ernest Shackleton embarked on an adventure to reach the South Pole. And among his supplies he carried bottles of scotch. Not just any scotch. Scotch that was before the world was impacted by ego. The water and grains in those bottles had never experienced the quiet rain of radioactivity that fell after each of more than 2000 nuclear tests and two offensive attacks. It had been distilled by a connoisseur who regarded the flavour of good scotch with the reverence of a priest. And the man who shares his passion today is equally religious. To an ego such a person seems crazy, but to someone clear-headed it’s easy to see that these men have glimpsed the glory of God and they are swept up by their desire to share that experience. They are true artists, and their canvass is your palate.
Whether someone designs a car, or points a telescope at the sky, or if they build a computer or a construct a math formula or blend whiskey, true artists are attempting to expose to others the remarkable, amazing truths that inform their actions. They aren’t trying to impress you with their achievements. They are attempting to share the glory of the universe with you. And so long ago such a priest placed a message in a bottle and he, with the unwitting help of Shackleton (and another modern connoisseur), sent it travelling through time to today.
He wasn’t interested in pre-nuclear water or labelling success. Like the composer of an instrumental song, he was merely attempting to join with you in a place—a spiritual location. He was attempting to convey an experience. And just as a song can be written by Mozart and played today, my friends and I were able to share in a taste experience with brave, adventurous men from another century. Can you see it? We may have been separated by more than 10,000 miles and 100 years, but our experiences were common. Our experiences were shared.
With tremendous thanks to the gentlemen I was with, I put that glass to my lips and I tasted the glory of God and in doing so I woke up. I woke up to realize what being asleep was. Thanks to the juxtaposition of my suffering existence, and the authenticity of the spirits in that bottle, I was awakened and reminded of what my life had been prior to me being tricked into existence. And in doing so I instantly knew that I now had the final piece of a puzzle that I was unaware was even being built. I could now see the whole picture. As well-intentioned as my efforts have been, they have been partially blinded by my lack of appreciation for the subtleties of existence vs. being alive.
It’s not good enough. It’s not deep enough, profound enough or worthwhile enough. I am grabbing you by the lapels and I am screaming at you to wake up. Your life is not some desert that’s populated by the odd flower or sunset or mountaintop. Your life is a wonder each and every moment. But you cannot appreciate that if you are blinded by thoughts about Managing your Existence. It’s time to wake up. It’s time to stop thinking. It is time to Be. It is time you tasted life.
Stop thinking about defending against disaster. Stop trying to stave off death. Live instead. Accept the suffering of life as the Shackleton adventurers did, and in doing so drink deeply from reality. Because far from being locked away by the responsibilities of your existence, you are free to dive into the reality of appreciation. And I look forward to meeting you there. Because I love you.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.