Mark Zegarelli
Mark Zegarelli

Insight 34:
​Consciousness is who I am, therefore peace is who I am.

There is another world, but it is in this one.                  

             Paul Eluard


You want this to be true, that love is the answer at the back of the book. Are you willing to be open to it, engage it, and welcome it in the ways it comes?


I’ll be honest: For a while, you may need to say no to a lot of crap that you know perfectly well is crap – crappy food, crappy TV, crappy shopping, crappy get-rich-quick schemes, crappy gossip, crappy video games, crappy social media, and crappy timewasting in general – and just sit or walk in silence, alone or with someone you care for, without a ton of expectations.


Here’s some good news: If you do this for a while, some of this crap will reveal itself to be exactly what it is: crap.


For example: I started smoking pot when I was 17, and for a while it was great. By the time I was 19 or 20, though, I knew I had a problem. You know the words wake and bake? I struggled on and off for the next 15 or so years to free myself from falling back into getting stoned every day. First a week, then two, then a couple of months, six months, even a year or two. Even so, every time I would fall back. Over the course of a few years, my friend Simon agreed to simply observe me, reserving any desire to comment. Finally, one day, I called him, forced to admit that I was back in the struggle. Without hesitation, he said thoughtfully, If I were you, Mark, I would get used to saying these words: I am a pot addict.


They weren’t welcome words, but they were exactly the ones I needed to hear in the way I needed to hear them. The message got through: For me, smoking pot was a particular brand of crap that it was time to put down.


If life is just a lot of crap – just stuff, dead matter infused with no particular meaning – then I might as well go ahead and partake of all the crap I can cram in. This is, perhaps, the greatest unintended consequence of materialism when taken as the unquestioned baseline truth of life. And if you’re limited to this dimension, you’re going to wander up and down the halls of a very large maze for a very long time, wondering how you got here and whether it’s possible to get out.


Or, as Einstein famously said: We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.


One last story: Back when I was still smoking weed, in my teens and early 20s, I was very skeptical, even cynical about any perspective you might call spiritual, or love-centered. Sure, I wanted to believe, but doesn’t everyone? I see now how very hurt and disappointed I was at that time, that I couldn’t bear to make myself vulnerable enough to believe in anything that might turn out not to be true and disappoint me again.


But I’d also begun to have a variety of experiences that were forcing me to question whether a strictly non-spiritual view of life was sufficient. So, in my mid-20s, I compromised: I allowed myself to explore – tentatively – whether there was anything to this idea that the universe was made of conscious love rather than unconscious matter. It was as if I’d placed one foot inside a door, but kept the other foot outside, just for safety.


I explored in this way for maybe five or six years. In that time, I could feel my heart begin to heal, and my life as well. Opportunities opened up around me, and I found the courage to accept a few of them. Year by year, conditions both inside me and around me slowly, slowly, slowly started to improve.


It was about this time that I could feel a message coming through, similar to the one that my uncle received at that table in the restaurant. This one said something like: Don’t you think it’s getting to be time to take your foot out of the door?