Tamar: During your shift of spiritual awakening, did you have a clear feeling or recognition of the meaning of life?
Shai: Yes, definitely. Put simply, the realization is that you don’t belong to yourself. It was clear that the meaning of life cannot be known if you look at it from the personal perspective. Within a personal context, any meaning is invented, completely made-up. It’s like saying: “My meaning of life is to be a poet,” or “My meaning of life is to be enlightened,” or “My meaning of life is to have children” – it’s all nonsense. We don’t exist in this way. It’s as if a flower would declare: “My meaning of life is…” The meaning of life is not “mine,” and so you cannot speak of it or even contact it from the viewpoint of the personal, separate self. You can only contact it when you realize that this life is not your own. It’s just not your own – even the breathing is not your own. There is one I AM and this one I AM is breathing you into existence, and every experience you may have, every feeling, every sensation, belongs to that I AM. It’s universal. So, the meaning of life can only be universal, and it begins to be realized when we no longer attribute our experience to our selves or accumulate it. We become this I AM, if we manage, and in the experience of that I AM, by that I AM, there is just life. And only as life does the meaning of life begin to make sense, because only life has a meaning. Life has its own meaning as a universal totality.
Tamar: So, you had the privilege to get that glimpse, and probably many more since then, of what the meaning of life is like for life itself. Because we usually ask it from a human and personal point of view: What is the meaning of life for me? What is the meaning in my life? It’s all self-centered. But you had the privilege to get out of that box and be reborn as life. Then, what kind of meaning was revealed in this most impersonal or universal sense?
Shai: The meaning of life is that life knows itself, learns itself, studies itself, experiences itself, expands itself through us. Of course, when we say “life,” it doesn’t mean the biological layer of the universe. We are not talking about this. When we say “life,” we mean the very universal experience that takes place through many layers , which can be the chemistry and the biology, the experience of rocks or the experience of black holes, and the experience of humans. This is all just one, and in this sense, we need to think of the universe as one entity. This entity has many ways to experience itself. Humans are just one way, and definitely I’m just one way within the bigger way of humanity, which is a part of the bigger way of life as organisms, or within the way of self-conscious entities – because who knows how many more there are of this type of self-conscious entities; at the moment, we only know humans. So life is a sort of a passion, unbridled passion that comes out of the unknowable source, and it is its expansion and extension. The passion and the source of passion are not two; we shouldn’t think of them as separate. And this passion is of that being to know itself, and it knows itself through the duality, through splitting itself into two, into knower and known.
Tamar: So, what you’re saying is that the very base of the split is that out of this source came forth consciousness, which is the knower, and creation, which is the known.
Shai: Yes, exactly. And then it creates a sort of a duality for its own sake. And so, what we experience as our own small concerns – the way we experience feelings and emotions and even the entire history of humanity – is just many forms of experiences that are enabled by this duality. But for us, they mean
nothing – and we know that they mean nothing when we recognize the reality of death, you see? Death tells us already that for the forms themselves, life is meaningless. What kind of meaning could it be, to be here for a short time, having even the torture and the burden of consciousness – because it is a burden to know that you are a mortal being, that you are a form that is going to disintegrate? So, what meaning could such a mortal form have? To have a few experiences of love and hate, suffering and pleasure, and then to die? For the personal self, for the personal experience, this is not only meaningless but also brutal. You are given an experience and then it is taken away from you, and you don’t even understand why. But from the universal I AM, the universal consciousness that is immortal and that only changes its forms, it is a play of duality. And it will try out any possible combination – even the bad, horrible, horrible, things we know in the world are because this consciousness must experience any possible form, even pedophilia and decapitation and horrible wars. It must experience the worst nightmares, as much as it experiences the most beautiful creations; it must experience the most beautiful individuals, as much as it experiences the most horrible individuals. It must experience any possible play of consciousness and form. It must, because this is the way it knows itself. And it knows itself through awareness, consciousness, creativity, knowledge, and it expands in endless ways.
Tamar: That’s amazing! So during that revelation, what was the meaning and purpose of the human journey? Because you talked about the meaning for the one consciousness, but what about a human journey?
Shai: The human journey was realized at that moment, and ever since, as this tension between consciousness and form. It’s a special experience for that universal I AM. It’s a special experience, because imagine that you are the I AM and you say: “Let’s do something really interesting, because there are lizards and there are zebras, giraffes and meteorites and suns, and they are all creations in unique and powerful forms. But let’s do something else. Let’s take a seed of limitless consciousness, a seed of I AM, one unit of I AM, and put it in a form that is pretty fragile. And then let’s start to see what’s going to happen when you have both consciousness and mortality, when you have instincts like an animal but also a divine spark in you. Let’s see what happens.” And this meeting point between the two creates
countless opportunities for the I AM – countless! – and we know that, because we see it as the history of humanity: How many challenges, emotions, beauty, ugliness, limitations and breakthroughs. How many of that we have known as humanity! But again, if you think of it as the journey of humanity, it means nothing, you see? Some people talk about the importance of the survival of the race – how important it is to survive as humanity, and that we should think of the future. I always think that this is nonsense, because what does it even mean? This is the instinctual part of ourselves as a race that just wants to survive, but in itself means nothing. Why should we survive – to survive even more? To have more generations of humans? This means nothing. But if you look at it from that universal perspective, then on the one hand you realize that it doesn’t matter if humankind is not to survive, because it’s just one play, one form – it’s a very interesting experiment, and this experiment will not tire as long as there are
more possible combinations (and there are countless combinations). And on the other hand, you realize that the whole human journey becomes meaningful only if you look at it from that perspective, when it is eternity playing through humanity, eternity experimenting through humans in that way. Then even the horrors of humanity become meaningful.
Tamar: I know this will sound funny, but let me take you back to a more personal level. Because although it seems like after this experience you moved to an “upper floor,” you obviously continued living on the lower floor as well – as a person.
Shai: No, I didn’t move to any floor, I became the apartment. That’s very different. You know, you can move from one place to another. That’s experience.
Tamar: What I am trying to suggest is that when we talk, there is obviously this universal field, and yet I’m looking at your physical, private, definite form and it reminds me that you must still have some kind of a private life which this unit of body and consciousness continues to go through. So, I’m interested in hearing about the consequences and implications of that experience. We are talking about a shift that took place almost 19 years ago. How would you describe the after-effects, the way this very profound realization has changed your life?
Shai: I cannot separate private life from a universal life, it’s inaccurate. Again, of course there is the individual. And that’s exactly the game, and it must be kept all the time – this tension between the universal and the individual, and the individual is meaningful only because there is the universal, do you
understand? Then you realize that the individual is meaningful as an experience for the universal. So in this sense, it is good that there is an individual.
Tamar: But you say that still the individual doesn’t perceive himself or herself as an individual, but as the universal, if one is lucky enough to have the realization you have just described.
Shai: Lucky? I’m not sure that most people want to be lucky in this sense. I’m not sure it is luck. Some people would consider it a horrific discovery, because they cling to the personal life. So you are asking: in what way did it change the experience of life? First, on the level of identity, and this identity has remained constant. In that sense, there is not much inner experience if you could say that, there is no more world of emotions and thoughts that are self-oriented and self-interested. It is as if there is no self-business, self-occupation, nothing moves in the brain except for responsibilities and things that demand planning and decision-making. Except for all that, there is no experience of inner world. There is no experience of any reason for me as an individual to stay on this planet, to be alive. It’s meaningless in
that sense. There’s nothing here for me. There are no clear desires that would keep me here and the feeling that I want to have this or that I want to have that. So, the activity of personal desire is not there. What is there is a state of complete availability and therefore compassion. There is a great flow of compassion that makes me do things for others in terms of spreading knowledge, spreading wisdom, teaching, helping others to be freer. Although my impression is that most people are not interested in this exactly. Most people want to remain in that personal experience and there is a reason for that, because the universe wants it to be like that. The universe prefers this personal experience in most humans. It wants it.
Tamar: Do you say that because that’s what you see?
Shai: I see what the universe wants through the reality of the world just as it is. There is no point separating “higher will” from what we have now as a reality. The universe is not idealistic.
Tamar: So, you say that the universe is interested in only very minor occasions of
becoming aware of itself through a human being.
Shai: Yes. It’s just another form of experience of the universe, to have here and there some individuals who would actually have their seed of self-identity explode in such a way. I don’t think that the universe needs more than that. So, the universe doesn’t seem to have a plan for mass spiritual enlightenment. And so, there are things I know that I am meant to do here and that are important for me to do before this form disappears, or more accurately, before this form transforms. And these missions, they come
clearly from the interest of the universal I AM. They are a part of its own expansion.
Tamar: Because you don’t experience it as personal desire.
Shai: No, because it has no personal content. These are universal interests that are also meant for the expansion or the evolution of this self-consciousness. When I say “self-consciousness,” I mean that our experience of self-consciousness is always for the universe. It’s not really for my own self-consciousness.
Tamar: Did this experience of the meaning of life, as it was a revealed to you 19
years ago, change or expand? Were there any additional layers added later?
Shai: There were clearly two shifts. One was a shift in which this realization became less and less of an experience, because before there had been many rises or increases of energy and vibration and a great variety of experiences that accompanied this realization. From a certain point onward, it became like a complete state with very little happening. There were no more fireworks around it, just that, like an absorption in that. And the second was a shift of the heart. There was an opening to the meaning of humanness, more deeply, to love as a connecting point between the universal I AM and its creation. So there was a greater revelation of meaning and purpose.
Tamar: In what terms was it a greater revelation of meaning?
Shai: Because before that it was deeply transcendental. The mind was emptied of the person, emptied of self, and there was little humanness in it. It was quite empty, quite distant, nonattached.
Tamar: When you say “humanness,” what do you mean by that? Do you mean the
more emotional layer of life?
Shai: No, when I talk about humanness I always refer to the clash between form and consciousness.
Tamar: So, do you mean that at those early days the clash was not there for a
Shai: It was less meaningful. It was less understood in this light. With time, the interest, passion, and compassion related to the very human predicament and experience, deepened dramatically. You could think of the early days in this way: there is a certain ratio between the limitlessness and the limited – and obviously most people live more on the limited, personal and so-called human side – and in spiritual enlightenment this ratio is disrupted dramatically, and so there is more focus on the limitless, the non-human and pure consciousness. And then there was the getting back to interest in the nature of humanness, and I realized that the nature of humanness or the beauty and value of humanness can be understood only through the heart and not through consciousness. This we could say was the latest shift.
Tamar: So just to be sure that I have understood the way you described the meaning of life before as the universal I AM experiencing itself through humans… After that second shift, when there was more connection to the human side, did that change in any way your definition of the meaning of life?
Shai: No, it just made it richer, but it was exactly the same. It redefined or more clearly defined the human experience in that context, you see – why it is there, why it is special and unique, and why the universe needs it. That’s why I’m mostly interested in that as my current project. What I am inquiring right now is: Why does the universe need humans? What does it do with them? What do they give this universe? But this question can only be answered from the universal viewpoint. As humanity, as a reference of itself, without putting itself in this broad context, it’s amazing that we are actually managing to wake up in the morning, because basically, what incentive do we have? I don’t understand what the incentive could be when we don’t have a conscious meaning.
Tamar: And this is something else that I wanted to ask. This is an age of a deep lack of meaning for many people. And I’m sure many people are searching for meaning. And so, what would you say would be your message to the general audience?
Shai: It’s an age of lack of meaning because it’s a self-centered age. Before that we used to have religions. Religions put God at the center, and put the human as the worshipper and the one in relationship with the greater center. We revolved around something that gave us meaning. Even if it was painful, even if it was full of sin and guilt and shame, still we had something greater than ourselves and that gave us meaning. Now we’re trying to invent ourselves as if our life is our own in the biggest way. And it’s not like I’m nostalgic about religions, because we do not need to return to them, since religious were just one experience of the I AM. But we definitely cannot find meaning within the context of self-fulfillment. It’s
just not possible. And that’s why we are miserable. And even when we think we’re happy, we’re miserable. There is something so futile about it, that I think that any individual with sincerity could look into himself or herself and realize that this self-invention is actually very sad, full of sadness. And the people I meet are full of sadness, because they don’t really exist as individuals, as personal selves. So any person can access at least the realization that one belongs to life rather than one possesses life. This is a
very clear realization. We can realize that none of us is breathing by themselves, none of us animates their own bodies. We are animated. We are being breathed. And when we realize that, it takes the burden off our shoulders because this is not our life, our life belongs to the universe. This sense is for me the new religion, the new religious feeling. And I think that everyone can access that.
Tamar: You mean religious in the sense that the universe replaces God?
Shai: Yes. Because it’s not about God in heaven, it’s not about a God that intervenes. This is over – at least for most people we know, not the people from the existing religions but people who belong to the Western secular society. For them, it is more the sense of the cosmos, the universe, the general totality of life, the movement of life. Everyone sees the sky, the trees, the flowers, the birds, the big bang in motion, the whole flow of the universe. Can this be that we are outside of this stream? I mean, isn’t the duality of “me” and the “universe” the most ridiculous and impossible one? We are a part of this stream. Obviously, there is no “I” that observes life. We are all life, you see? This is available for everyone. And without this sense of belonging to the totality, to the limitless, infinite universe, I see no chance for anyone to be genuinely happy.
Tamar: So, if I understand, one possible bridge for people who are not experiencing the spiritual impulse for such self-exploration, would be exploring the fact that we belong to life, that it cannot be that we are the only thing that is separate in this fabric of the universe. And just contemplating these ideas deeply – through the realization of being breathed and animated – might help to induce this sense of belonging. This is one possible key to a deeper sense of meaning and a greater sense of happiness in one’s existence.
Shai: Yes. Again, for people who want to feel better, who just don’t want to suffer, there are many ways to do that, even if they remained with this lie of separation, in the same way that there are many ways to bypass the problem of headache by taking a painkiller. You can be rid of the headache but not of the source of the headache. You don’t need to fix yourself. The headache we have is the headache of the personal life and we can clear it away with many techniques and methods and other ways to fool ourselves. But I believe that the existential tension, anxiety and sadness – and many people live with existential anxiety and sadness much of the time – will not be released, and it cannot be released even if they feel quite nice, even if they have good partners and wonderful children. How can you find meaning as a dissipating form? I don’t even understand how this is possible.
Tamar: When you speak about it like that, it makes perfect sense that it’s only a matter of a simple inquiry into the truth to allow at least a small crack so that some doubt can begin to operate in one’s system. And I understand that this is the central key to getting in touch with the meaning of life as it was revealed to you.
Shai: You’re just seeing life without interruption. There is consciousness, there is life, and there is something that is stuck between that hinders the capacity to know the meaning of life. Because the meaning of life cannot be known by the self – it can only be known by the disappearance of the self.