I’ve received an adequate education, in the eyes of society. Excellent, at times, slacking, at worst. But I’ve gone all the way, excelled academically in most subjects and immersed myself in academic learning. Yet, before I started university, I discovered – without being able to put it into words at the time – a huge, gaping, black hole inside me. I was on the other side of the world, in the midst of my first parental-free overseas experience, away from the environment I had grown up in and taken for granted, and my mind spiralled out of control. I was on my bed gasping for air most nights, crushed by the sheer knowledge that we are spinning around randomly in space without knowing one iota about the world we live in, raising against the only sure destination we know: Death. The eternity that surrounds us is not ours; we are finite beings in an ethereal world. I was nineteen and utterly terrified, and I felt had no one to turn to for answers. My rationale at the time was that no human on this planet was able to help me, since no one possessed the answers I craved. I finally confessed to my mother, who proffered her and dad’s views (non-religious, very much representative of the secular society we live in) and started to send me books on philosophy. Though I will always be grateful for her stepping up at that time, it created only more questions in my head, and no answers.
The experience created a fear in me that stayed with me throughout my twenties. Before drifting off to sleep, I’d sometimes sit up in bed and hyperventilate, trying to anchor my thoughts onto a subject of comfort to keep the panic attack at bay. I lived with this for so long that I thought life, for me, would always be fearful at its core. The experience of motherhood created temporarily relief and a feeling of purpose, belonging, and a bond that surpassed death, only to be replaced by a fear of the ultimate separation that was more bottomless than I had ever experienced before. I had now made the ultimate investment in life; I had created a being that I cared for more than myself, and now I had to believe in it. What’s more, I would once face the same questions from my daughter that I had asked my own mother, and I was still exploding into panic attacks as soon as I ventured near the subject myself.
For the second time in my life, I tried a psychologist, but this time I picked one with spiritual views, and opted for psychoanalysis rather than cognitive therapy. I had started my own spiritual journey, one that I am still on. To kick start it, I first turned to the altar of science (against my psychotherapist’s recommendations), as I had been schooled in the same and needed the support of human work and theories in order to push forward. The work of Stephen Hawking offered a lifeline to the spiritual world, as his physics operates at the boundaries of what any average human is able to comprehend, and in my view requires a being of normal intelligence to take a leap of faith. It allowed me to make the jump to Dalai Lamai’s ‘The universe in a single atom’ and I have been reading Buddhist literature ever since, silently converting myself into a believing Buddhist. This, coupled with meditation, awoke my appetite for learning and has made me look at the world with curious, childlike eyes. I am amazed at the wonder we live in, and I no longer take anything for granted. With my children, I marvel at the mayflower’s buzzing flight, study the thin fine lines on a green spring leaf, and look for snails slowly making their way from ground to tree on rainy days. There is so much to learn, and I feel I am discovering the world anew. Casting aside all the rules I once knew, I no longer have expectations about where I am, who I am and where I am going; I just am. And I accept that I know nothing, but trust that I am meant to be here, that I am just as I am, and that everything is as it should be. I also allow myself to be open to other dimensions than the one we think we live in based on this reasoning: If we assume that life is all that us humans see, how come that an insect ‘sees’ a different world, or is able to respond to vibrations in the air that we don’t perceive? I no longer think that believing the former is scientific; I think it foolish. There is no world but in our heads. And reality is what we make of it. Hence, ‘the world’ is our perspective, and changing that will change everything. When I discovered that belief in Buddhism, I knew in my core that this was truth.
I long to discover more, I long to continue my education and I love living inside this open mind. I long for learning, and I feel like there aren’t enough hours in my day to soak up all there is to find.