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We often pose the question in our work (as spiritual counsellors, teachers and readers) "what is life for?" Occasionally people react to this as a "gotcha" question, but mostly it produces a thoughtful moment that begins to take them out of the humdrum of physical goals and physical productivity. What is life for? Most people's answers generally fall in the area of learning, healing, growing, love, often veering too much toward service and sacrifice, but definitely not the goals that seem to drive them on a daily basis and bring them to a reading, such as work/jobs, education, marriage, making money, acquiring goods. So the question then arises, if you know there is a deeper meaning and purpose to life, why do you devote so much time and attention to physical goals, and not to exploring and trying to understand the deeper meaning?

        The answer to that, loosely put, might be Darwin and what we like to call "feeding the monkey". That is, we humans are all monkey_graphicabout survival, and in the USA in particular, you might say "survival of the fittest", since the USA has a harsher and more critical approach to social services than some other parts of the world. As well as our ancestral monkey that we have to feed in order to survive, there is also what some Buddhists refer to as "the mad monkey of the mind". That is the mind that keeps thinking, and ruminating, and going round in circles, and basically won't shut up. That monkey keeps you hopping all the time, albeit in a different way, with a litany of commands of one kind or another: eat your vegetables, go to the gym, get out your bike, visit your Mum more often, don't yell at the kids, get to work on time, quit smoking, dostrength card the laundry etc etc. These kinds always appear preeminently at the New Year as resolutions. Of course they don't last because ultimately you can't beat the mad monkey into shape. You need a more co-operative approach, as pictured in the Strength card of Tarot, where the woman and the lion work together. The Tarot image is much more realistic about the process. Without this sensitivity, insight, intuition and wisdom of the woman, the lion wins. He would eat her alive. It's a no-brainer.

        This brings us to the crux of this matter. If you are not going to combat life in the battle for survival of thehigh priestess card monkey, or beat life into shape by attempting to confine the monkey to a cage, then what are you going to do with life when it "comes at you fast" as the Nationwide Advertisement depicts it? What is your insurance policy? The answer lies in "the woman" on the Strength card. Tarot takes a whole different view of "the woman", not as Eve, the original temptress of Adam, but as that part of self that is sensitive, intuitive, and wise because "she" is open to guidance. She appears preeminently as the High Priestess in Tarot and is akin to the Holy Spirit in Christianity or Higher Mind in Buddhism. Instead of presuming to know and constantly impose meaning and purpose on life, she asks questions, seeks insights and understanding, is open to guidance. This will calm down both fearful monkeys considerably and allow other parts of the Self a place on the journey through life.

        The "mad monkey" is closely allied to the left brain, learning and your learned responses. The "woman" is closely allied to the right brain, emotion and intuitive responses. Either one is out of balance without the other, so they need to work together like two parts of a relationship. This is pictured in the Lovers card in Tarot where there is co-operation and harmony between theLovers Card man and the woman, or conflict. There is a wonderfully insightful TED talk on this right/left brain relationship by Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard brain scientist who had a stroke (that affected her left brain) and was able to witness this process and live to tell the story of what she experienced. Click here

       The bringing together of these two halves of the brain allows you to bring together the two halves of life, spiritual and physical. Spiritual and physical are not in conflict, but are opposite sides of the same coin and need to be seen as such. Physical life has a spiritual purpose and you can seek to understand it. Spiritual life has a physical expression or physical vehicle which you can honour in your life and in yourself. These two halves of spiritual and physical expression are pictured in theTemperance Card Temperance card in Tarot. You take the events of your physical life into your inner, contemplative spaces to understand; you take your inner insights and guidance out into life to practice, express and engage. Life is not a war between Spirit and Flesh. Flesh is the vehicle of spirit. Life is the expression of Universal Energy or the Divine within. Qabalah talks of "as above, so below".

       My own answer to the question "what is life for?" is to have the experiences. When you begin to wake up from your physically driven, monkey-lives, then you can begin to understand what these experiences are showing you. They show you mirrors of you; they show you certain patterns at work; they show you causes and effects; they show you certain laws at work; they teach you about the Bigger Universe, the creative process, creation itself, God-if-you-like at work in and through physical expression. We as readers get to look at other people's lives in detail. I am constantly amazed at the correcting of my own thoughts and judgements and have come to an expression "only God could have created that mess and made it work!" To quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush Afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest sit around and pluck blackberries". Go to Top. GoHome.

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