Do you feel at times that you are just going through the motions, living life unconsciously? Did you know that this feeling is actually close to spirituality, more so than being entirely and endlessly enthralled with life?

Now, there is a difference between living life unconsciously and loving life. Living life unconsciously can be a result of just boredom, or dumbing out from a lack of creativity and energy, where actually loving life can be a result of some good karma that won't quit! But I don‘t think that John had either of these two in mind when he reportedly said: "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."

I think he was moving around the point that if we don't take the effort to "Look" carefully at life and instead just get sucked in by all of life's illusions, fooling ourselves into believing that everything is cool, then there is a certain degree of ignorance in our make-up that will preclude any kind of meaningful spiritual advancement. This intimates that "we" are responsible for our spiritual advancement, and that we can't just sit back and wait for some random grace to bop us on the head.

Religion, surprisingly, can keep the illusions of life alive and the stresses of life under the radar, so to speak, because no matter what happens it is good for us because it has all come from God. So we remain happy regardless. And we love our life no matter our bad luck - every day is full of joy! But John says that we will lose our life eternal this way! Bummer.

So should we droop around and be depressed all of the time? Yes, actually, that would be a good start! When we first begin to see life for what it truly is, which is far from what God's world or the spiritual world must be, it is natural to become depressed. Our illusions of what a great world it is are being challenged, and it is these illusions that have kept us in ignorance for an entire lifetime.

God's world cannot possibly involve slimy, organic human bodies so awfully prone to physical and mental disease, and death. The sex act, eating, defecating, sleeping; we take all of these for granted and never think how weird they would be in a higher realm (or how weird they actually are here!)

But . . . this is all we know, what we experience on earth, so how could we know anything else? Well, how could we if all we do is make money, talk, eat, entertain ourselves, and sleep? Where is our practice to become familiar with the spiritual realm, and actually come face to face with God?

Doing kind acts and good deeds will not cut it, because these are all wrapped up in our small, familiar world - there is no shift in consciousness great enough from these acts for us to catch a glimpse of the spiritual world. Being good, being religious, talking about our religion, etc. . . . nada. None of this will smack us side the head and suddenly shoot us a momentary understanding of the other side, which is all that it takes - that monetary "WOW!"

Momentary "WOWS" come from left field, but you have to be in the ballgame and on the playing field for them to come. If you are out in the parking lot, out in the world enjoying life - fugetaboutit. It won't happen. You'll just keep enjoying life, remaining in your comfort zone until it's too late, and you will lose your life eternal.

So come on, save yourself from losing your life eternal and begin practicing your religion with one purpose in mind; to see that life on earth is indeed stressful. If you can see this, sincerely, you will not want to stick around here much longer, and this is what John was getting at.

People just don't practice their religion at this deeper level, and the shallow levels that they do practice at won't help them in the end. It's nice and fuzzy to have an eternal Father in the heavens that looks after us, and Jesus who helps us in every way, but if we get too comfortable with this childish psychology, then we again find ourselves sitting in the parking lot!

Okay. So how do we practice our religion in a different way that will insure our eternal life? For one, stop asking for favors from God! Just shut up and listen. Because if he grants favors, then you will have a better life and will be happier - not good according to John! I guess if you asked for pestilence and bad luck, that might be okay, but better to stop all dialogue entirely and just listen.

What will you hear? What you will hear is God telling you in the silence, which is God's voice, the truth about life on earth! That it is chancy - everything changes and can be taken away from you in a New York Minute. And He will tell you that your big ego is an illusion (that's a tough one to surrender to!), and He might even throw in the fact that life on earth is indeed - suffering.

And you will feel bad, for awhile, until this all settles out. Then one day, instead of trying, for the gazillionth time, to constantly escape from these realities of life by never ending activity and keeping the mind busy, you will surrender to the inevitable - that you have misled yourself your entire lifetime about almost everything.

And in that moment of surrender, of emptiness and of desolation . . . will come the "WOW." You will have touched God's world, and suddenly all the frills and thrills and garbage on earth will seem as nothing.

You won't be able to talk about this, other than it happened and changed your life, and you won't even be able to understand it yourself. But you will change, and this is what John was talking about - a transition from a sleepy existence on earth to a wide awake understanding of the eternal.

And as a result, you will begin living life very consciously . . .      

Author's Bio: 

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary
www.dhammarocksprings.org and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk. He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.