Understanding Life

By Y.A. Shahiid and Fran A. Lanza

Unbeknownst to many, just about every aspect of our overall well being, whether it pertains to our mental health, our emotional state, or our spirituality, all depends upon, and is directly related to, our concept, and understanding, of “life”.  First and foremost, we must ask ourselves, “What is life? Contrary to popular belief, our “life” is merely a reference to our existence, our being alive, our living and breathing. So many people confuse their “life situations”, or their “life circumstances”, with their actual “life”. To clarify, it is very possible to have a chaotic, turbulent, or unstable, “life situation”, yet at the same time have a peaceful and good life (existence), or spiritual stability. On the contrary, it is also very possible that a person’s life situation is relatively easy, or they have financial stability, yet their “life” (existence) is somewhat unstable, they lack spiritual stability.Obviously, a person who is attached to their higher power, and understands the reasons behind certain things, no matter what life throws at them, they are still living in relative peace. But the opposite also holds true, a person can have a life that is seemingly perfect, or appears to be so, but if that person has no attachment to their higher power their life will still be relatively miserable. In fact, if we are attached to our higher power as we should be, and we understand life, and what our higher power wants from us in this life, no matter what life throws at us, inside we will be experiencing peace and serenity, as opposed to anxiety, stress, or depression.

Furthermore, once a person can recognize that their life, and life circumstances, are connected, but not the same, and the fact that their spiritual state has a definite connection to their life circumstances, and once a person actually realizes why they were created in the first place, they start to see life as it really is, as opposed to how it appears to be.

As human beings it is common knowledge that we were created with three (3) dimensions, i.e. height, length, and width, but unbeknownst to many, life itself also has three (3) dimensions, i.e. height, length, width, and within these three (3) dimensions, life is truly understood.

Our “length of life” is how long we will live, our lifespan. But what must be duly noted is that, if a person lives 65 years, or 80 years, that is only the first phase of their life, but in the second phase of their life they will live forever. Unfortunately, we get depressed, anxious, worried, stressed, etc., thinking that life is going to end soon, when in reality we were created to live forever.

So that we can have a better understanding concerning the concept of our “length” of life, I will use the example of a caterpillar. A caterpillar has a pretty rough life, so to speak. It has to crawl around and try not to get stepped on, eaten by birds, run over by strollers, bicycles, or even car tires. This is a pretty tumultuous task wouldn’t you say? But, if it makes it safely through this minefield of adversity, it will eventually find a safe place to build a cocoon, or chrysalis, to which it will enter for a period of time. After undergoing a series of changes, this caterpillar will emerge as a beautiful butterfly, whose life is much easier than that of the caterpillar. Now the butterfly no longer has to crawl around at the mercy of others, but it can fly around and visit the most beautiful flowers, and enjoy the sweetest nectar.

The point that must be understood is the fact that the caterpillar/butterfly has ONE life, but TWO phases of that life. Similarly, we as humans have ONE life, but TWO phases of that life, as well. The first phase of the caterpillar’s life was filled with much adversity, trials, and tribulations, and the second phase was much more enjoyable. This is the same with us, our first phase of life will be filled with trials and tribulations, whereas the second phase may very well be filled with ease, comfort, and untold pleasures.  In simple terms, death is not the end, it is merely the doorway connecting our first, and second, phases of life. Furthermore, our first phase of life is limited, whereas our second phase is eternal, it goes on forever. Perhaps now it is easier to understand that, without knowing our true “length” of life we are in no position to live our lives to the fullest, since we are being neglectful of a large portion of it.

In fact, the real blessing of the first phase of life is knowing that it will not last forever. If you’re poor, it’s okay since you won’t be poor forever. If you have cancer, it’s okay since you won’t have cancer forever, once our first phase of life is concluded we don’t have to worry about the trials and tribulations of this life ever again.

The “width of life” is this material world, and all of its limitations, and our unrestricted movement within it. In fact, life must have three (3) dimensions in order for it to be bright, exciting, attractive, and not tiring, or boring. We have all heard, at one time or another,  the phrase “the game of life”, and this is actually a true statement, but most people don’t understand this concept properly. What this actually means is, every human being is competing with one another, whether it be for jobs, for houses, for grades, for status, whatever the case may be, we are in a never ending competition. Obviously, the wisest among us are actually competing for positions with their higher, i.e. places in paradise, as opposed to just competing for financial gain.

Nonetheless, just like in every other competitive sport, there must be a set of boundaries. As long as the players stay inside these boundaries it is considered fair play, but if they go outside of these boundaries then they have committed a foul, they are out of bounds. Similarly, in the “Game of Life” our higher power has also established a set of boundaries that the players must adhere to, and if we stay within the boundaries then it is considered fair play, and if you go outside of those boundaries, then we have committed a foul, we’re out of bounds. And these boundaries are His permissible things, and His forbidden things. This is, in fact, the “width” of life, our higher powers playing field, with its rules and regulations.

Every human being has a wide expanse to work with, or a vast area to operate, and still remain within the boundaries that their higher power has established, but only those who stay in bounds have a chance at winning the proverbial “game of life”, whereas those who are out of bounds do not. This is similar to any popular sport, since nothing counts unless it is within the boundaries designated. So, perhaps now the reader can understand the importance of knowing and understanding the “length”, and “width”, of life, in order to live our lives to the fullest extent.

The “height of life” is the place that we want to be in life, or the position that we desire in life, our aspirations, goals, or aims. Obviously,  if a person is heedless to his actual “length of life”, and only feels that he/she will only live for a number of years, and then die, then obviously his/her goals will be made accordingly. For example, their goals may be to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or to be the next Oprah Winfrey, or the next sports great, but we must try not to sell ourselves short. We must be mindful that our second phase of life is much longer, and we must not jeopardize it. In simple terms, we should make sure that all of our decisions, choices, goals, and aspirations improve our standing, and position, in both phases of life, as opposed to ruining the longest phase.

This phase of our life is sort of like the probationary period at a new job, and the employer is trying to find out if we are worthy, or not, to be a part of his/her company. A person must ask his/herself, is my “height” of life, or goal in life, just to have a big house in a gated community, or to also have a huge mansion in the next phase of life as well? Perhaps. Now you can truly understand why it is so important to understand the three (3) dimensions of life, in order to have the best chance at living life to the fullest extent, in both phases!