Socrates believed that death is either a dreamless sleep where all futurity is nothing more than just one night, or a passage to another life where the body is left behind and the mind becomes free to travel, seek new philosophies and meet other minds whose bodies have also come to pass. The first theory forces us to think that nothing we do in this life goes beyond it, so all there is to do is to enjoy it while it lasts. The second theory suggests that our consciousness are the only thing we are left with when our bodies die, which is why it helps to master the mind while we are still alive, so that we can enjoy the benefits of the afterlife when we get there. In Buddhism, the idea of this consciousness being carried over to the afterlife is only possible if you reach enlightenment, a certain quality of mind so pure that it breaks free from the cycle of reincarnation.
So why then is enlightenment so popular and why are some people devoting their lives in achieving it? Well, if you think about it, at some point in time everything is inevitably going to stop existing. It may take another million years or so, but everything in this physical reality will either be gone or live in complete darkness where life is unable to sustain itself anymore. The only way to avoid ceasing to exist as a conscious being in this finite universe, is to transcend it, and that is the essence of enlightenment.
Most people take every day as an opportunity to build an empire on this land when there is a universe waiting to be built in our minds; a universe that we can ascend into once this land is no more, like an ark that carries us once the tides have come to swallow the earth. Suddenly the idea of what we can achieve not just in this physical reality, but in our consciousness as a whole, seems vastly underrated when you look at the possibility of living forever in our own minds. But whether or not any of these theories are true or even if you refute the notion of an afterlife altogether, furthering the mind to reach a point of enlightenment seems to be the root idea in understanding the purpose of life.
So what then is the path? Phycisists deconstructs the the abstract of laws to arrive in a new conclusion, historians travel back in time to uncover the mysteries of this universe, and true saints and prophets sacrifice their lives in attempting to unite the entire human race through compassion, in order to work as one specie on the path of spiritual transcendence. You may find that the freedom to create your own path is dauntingly varying, and I for one has struggled with anxiety in finding my own. But what helped me know where to start was in discovery of the greatest universal truth I have learned from Philosophy and Religion — the only Evil in any reality or consciousness is Ignorance.
So the nature of the path then becomes clear, at least in the way it works. The path is an inquiry, a recollection, a contemplation, and a discovery. To heal the mind from its disease, and to find your innermost awareness in astounding clarity. For the path is not a road on which you follow, it is the unravelling of the mind and the excoriation of unanswered thoughts. Solving, purifying, casting away ignorance again and again until you are left with nothing but yourself and your own truths. Whatever your idea of transcendence and enlightenment is, the only way to get there is to ask, and that becomes your path.
Photo: Grand Canyons hiking trail, Blue Mountains, Australia (April 2017)