Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Beauty of the Bubble

If pressed to explain my thoughts on life and why I believe it's eternal, I often draw upon the metaphor of a soap bubble. As we all know, when we blow a soap bubble we temporarily encapsulate a bit of air inside a delicate, rainbow-like membrane. That membrane then floats through the air, carrying the contained air with it.

If the air inside the bubble were somehow capable of experiencing consciousness the way we humans do, the first thing it might notice is how pretty the world looks when viewed through the prism of the membrane that contains it. It might spend most of its time gazing out at reality through the beautiful rainbow window of its shell, enraptured to be observing such exotic splendors as birds, trees and clouds. Like a child, the bubble would admire the world around it and exclaim with delight whenever it noticed something new appearing outside its fragile window. Occasionally a few air molecules would cross the bubble's permeable membrane and enter it from without, while some would also leak outside from within, but the bulk of the air inside the bubble would be so entranced by its experiences it wouldn't even notice what was happening.

Later on, if that air bubble developed a sense of self-awareness, it might suddenly begin to realize that some of the other bubbles around it were bumping into each other and exploding. Whenever they popped, the air bubble would notice that they disappeared...seemingly forever. It might then begin to fear that it too could disappear if somehow another bubble (or a bird, or a plane or a butterfly) bumped into it. Worrying about what that meant might begin to constrict the joy the air bubble felt from simply being present, aware enough to experience the world through the prism of its fragile rainbow. The bubble might even become aggressive due to its fear, bumping into other bubbles on purpose to try and pop them before they had the chance to damage it. Whole bubble wars might eventually evolve, with the younger, bigger bubbles working together to attack and destroy the smaller, weaker ones until the whole sky was filled with the fury and energy of smashing bubbles.

The irony, of course, is that those of us who exist outside the limited perspective of the soap bubble know something the bubbles don't yet realize: when they pop, the airy part inside them doesn't just vanish. It expands back into the larger atmosphere, where it mixes with all the rest of the air outside. While there it picks up some new characteristics based on whatever combination of molecules the outside air contains, then eventually it enters some other form. Perhaps it enters another bubble, or perhaps it flows into a living creature by way of an animated in-breath. Who's to say? But whatever happens, the atmosphere relates to all the temporary forms it encases by entering them and suffusing them with life.

To compare life to the air inside a soap bubble is to let go of the profound fear of disappearing when we die. To recognize one's conscious self-awareness as similar to the air inside a soap bubble is to realize the idea of "self" is an illusion. At bottom it's all the same air; it's just that some of it is having a temporary soap bubble experience.

Our bodies are like the membrane of a soap bubble. Each one of us is beautiful, unique and amazing, as well as fragile. The world we think we understand is the world we see, feel, touch, smell and taste and interpret as experienced through the prism of the bubble (human form) that contains our awareness. It's not necessarily the truth of what the world outside of us is, so much as a magical reflection of what the bubble we occupy is, as we gaze through the bubble into the vastness of the totality that contains us. The AIR - not the bubble - represents the deeper truth of what we really are.

Sadly, too many of us go through life fearing that all those other bubbles are dangerous, because they have the power to destroy the very air inside our bubble, when all they really have the power to do is pop our fragile bubble shell which is temporary anyway. When our bubble shell does inevitably pop - whether it pops by itself or is bumped by something else - all that really happens is we're released from the temporary - albeit beautiful - constriction that has been our human form. Death does not destroy us; it only ends our capacity to experience the rest of the world as perceived from within the bubble. The harm in that isn't in our destruction; it's that the greater world has been denied the opportunity to fully experience, observe, enjoy and delight in the magnificent bubble we each have the power to be!

It helps us anchor this metaphor if we consider the formation of the bubble (birth) as similar to the constriction that is an in-breath, and the inevitable dissolution of the bubble (death) as the expansion that is an out-breath. What we call "our" life then, is really only the infinitesimal pause between the in-breath and the out-breath. True life can be found in the endless flow of the atmosphere between the forms and the formless.

To "fight" to the death to preserve and protect that infinitesimal pause - to attack others and exist in constant fear that they will perhaps attack us - is to miss out on the entire reason the atmosphere energetically created and occupied the bubble in the first place. Its underlying purpose is to enjoy, explore and experience itself through energizing an infinite variety of temporary forms and by playing with a variety of senses and experiences, because it CAN. Since the atmosphere that fills up your bubble is the same atmosphere that fills up my own, for me to attack your bubble or try to destroy it means I'm essentially attacking myself in another form. Far better then for me to honor the air inside of you as the same air I hold within me, and to do my best to support your bubble while you become the most beautiful and amazing bubble you can possibly be! When that happens, hopefully I'll be around to enjoy the show you give. If not, the atmosphere that contains your bubble will also contain what was me, so I'll surely be there anyhow; just not in a physical form.

The beauty of this bubble metaphor is that when we embrace it we're able to let go of our fear of death as a form of self-destruction. We come to view the formation of the bubble and its eventual dissolution as inevitable as the contraction and expansion of breathing and not something to be feared. We understand that the experience of being inside the bubble is but a brief, joyful, exhilarating ride we're here to enjoy and share. When our bubble pops, at it eventually must, we'll get to carry back to the larger atmosphere all the experiences, observations and wisdom we've gained from having been on this amazing ride. Our individual feedback will blend with the contents from all the other bubbles that have burst, just like our atmosphere blends a variety of molecules to form a unified field. That blend determines what forms the atmosphere will occupy next: more bubbles, or perhaps something completely different. It's important to note here that the atmosphere doesn't wish to have mainly painful or bad experiences for very long, because every bit of air inside the bubble that experiences mostly pain and suffering eventually feeds those negative experiences back to the whole and makes the entirety of the atmosphere that much sadder.

None of this is personal. Humanity may or may not continue to survive as a life form, but truly it doesn't much matter. Whatever we collectively learn from this temporary human experience will inform the larger atmosphere what works and what doesn't work, so it can figure out how to create more love for the totality of itself. It will then respond to our input by choosing to animate forms that bring it more joy.

Perhaps if enough of us wake up to the truth of the beauty of experiencing the world from inside the amazing bubble that is our temporary body (which may be what the atmosphere is encouraging us to do now) we can collectively rediscover the unfettered joy of being human without experiencing the fear that this temporary form is the only thing we really are. The key seems to be to let go and perceive yourself as the air and not merely the bubble, so you can discover within you the truly exquisite lightness and joy of being!