We look in the mirror and notice a new wrinkle. Oh my God! I'm getting old! But I'm only forty-four! Let's see, Americans live to an average age of seventy seven. That gives me thirty-four more years! Wait a minute, Japanese live to be eighty one! I do eat a lot of fish. Maybe I have thirty seven years left. Wait another minute - I quit smoking! That has to add a few. Of course mom and dad died in their fifties (probably because of me), hmm, but I guess that doesn't help my longevity too much. Of course, I've always been lucky. Yep, I have another forty years at least.

(Fast forward forty years). Hoo boy does the old joints hurt today! Well, here I am looking in the mirror again. I don't see any new wrinkles. I don't see anything! Wait a minute! Let's get the light on in here. Where's the damn light switch? This isn't the bathroom! Damn, I wondered into the closet again. Where's the door? . . . . . Okay, I'm in the bathroom. Boy, how many years do I have left now? Let's see, at an average age of eighty four, I can look forward to living another . . . . Ten years! According to some chart on my son's computer. Wow. Cool. . . . So what?

(Fast forward ten years) Where am I? Am I at home? Why don't you stupid nurses answer me? Take me home immediately! What do you mean this is home, this isn't home. Do I have any kids? If I do, tell them to get over here right now. I won't put up with this. Don't ignore me - Do you know who I am?. . . Uhh, can you tell me who I am ?

(Fast forward 6 months) . . . . He was a great dad. He was the light of my life. I just don't know what I'll will do without him. Oh, honey, did you remember to pick up the tickets for the concert this evening?

And so life goes on, a flash of lightening in a thunderstorm, a bubble in a stream that can pop at any moment, a bitter-sweet existence that has no meaning except to perhaps a few close relatives - for a few years - if we are lucky enough to have any caring relatives. Maybe our life will have no meaning to anyone, if we dont.

Eternity is a long time. If the atheists are correct, this instant of existence called a lifetime will fade into what could only be called the long, deep sleep from which we never wake up. Never. And never is a long time for us humans who cannot accept finality.

All of our triumphs and defeats now seem as tiny blades of grass cut down by that incessant mower called time. What was it all about? Why did it all happen? Against all impossible odds, how did I get to experience this lifetime in such a vast universe where life is such an exception, life that only lasts for such a little while on rare planets before their living conditions no longer support life?

Surely, I must be special. How could I ever end for eternity? I must somehow continue to exist somewhere . . . . somehow?

And so religion is born. And we believe. We must, otherwise what would it all be for - just a few short decades of following our desires and satisfying our sense pleasures to keep away from the incessant , incipient, suffering that is like a shark just below the surface of our lives? Waiting? There must be more, as the saying goes. And as another good saying goes: Is this all there is?

These are the conundrums and confusions that we can get into when we believe that we are real, that we exist as an entity above and beyond what is obvious. And what is obvious? What is obvious is that we are made up of earth elements and will return to the earth when our life span is over. Very simple and straightforward.

Regarding whether another part of us continues however is not so straightforward and can only be speculated about. On one hand, we as human beings are very limited regarding intelligence and perception. Only a few can read minds and communicate non-verbally, the rest of us have to do it the old fashioned way. Into what unknown attributes might our minds evolve in the future?

Only a few can see ghosts, devas, angels and spirit worlds. The rest of us slugs can only see gross physical existence. What else is out there? To say that we know for sure when we are only guessing by using our infantile logic to make judgments, or believing what some book or priest says, is the height of conceit.

But is there some way to hone the mind, to shift our consciousness a notch where some of these other phenomena can be experienced? Wouldn't that go long way in eliminating doubt about the endless possibilities of the world world and universe we live in, instead of believing only what we can discern with limited and elementary senses?

Hidden in antiquity for over 4,000, maybe 6,000 years are the secrets of the Rishis, men and women of higher consciousness emanating from the The Indus River Civilization of old. The higher consciousness of these sages were the result of meditation. It gave them the power to see things unimagined at the time and what has come to be, if not the origination of many of the worlds religions, then having a great influence on them.

Their meditation consisted of emptying the mind and just sitting, with no gross sensory input whatsoever. What resulted was touching a reality unknown to civilization at the time.

They claimed that the long sleep is neither an escape into oblivion nor a place to where our personality goes, but there is something after death, which is neither ourselves nor not ourselves.

So what will our long sleep be? If you want to inquire, take a look at Eastern religions - the roots of most religions of the world today. It's fascinating stuff, especially for Americans who have inquiring, open minds.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at:

http://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 Theravada 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.