Everything Is Going to Be Ok

I left my startup in 2019 and went through a tough period, which led to an interest in personal growth stuff. As I went down that path I started to bump into questions like what's the point of life and what happens when I die?

I made it down to my foundational beliefs, only to realize there wasn't much there. I got interested in spirituality and philosophy, read books, listened to podcasts, and tried psychedelics a few times but the questions remained until a year ago when I went on a meditation retreat.

During the retreat we practiced Vipassana, a form of meditation where you observe sensations in your body. At first you feel obvious sensations, like the tickle of breath on your lip, but after 5-10 days of focus your mind sharpens and you feel vibrations everywhere.

At one point I could feel my brain vibrating, which startled me. After I calmed down, it dawned on me that feeling my brain wasn't as interesting as what, exactly, was doing the feeling. The "me" that was observing my brain didn't feel like my brain. It felt peaceful, expansive, and loving, like being embraced by warm empty space in a quiet meadow. I think of it as consciousness.

When I got back to my room, I started to cry. Normally, when I cry, I instinctually try to stop, but this time I tried to be fully present. I was surprised to find I wasn't sad. I was in awe. It was the first time I realized, at an experiential level, that I was not just my brain.

My brain, which was still vibrating, told me to stop crying because people might hear. My consciousness responded that there is no I and my crying transformed into laughter. Two parts of me were joking with each other! It must sound like I was losing my mind, but it's the most sober I've been.

That evening, as I watched steam swirl up into the cold air out of my mug of tea, I wondered if I was like the tea. Maybe the tea bag was my body, holding in the tea leaves of my mind, suspended in the water of consciousness to create this unique experience I call life.

Until that moment, I'd been stuck in a dichotomy. I thought that if life is so great, death must be really bad. But if death is ok and there's heaven or whatever, life starts to feel more like a shitty appetizer. It was the first time I realized that both life and death could be great.

Life is special because it's the only time consciousness will be able to experience this body and this brain at this time and place. The exact combination of atoms that drank tea that night have transformed forever, never to find themselves in that exact combination again.

When I die, the atoms in my brain and body, just like the atoms in the tea, will become some other things (most already are, 98% of the atoms in our bodies are replaced each year). Perhaps "my" consciousness will evaporate like water before raining down to experience something new.

For the first time, I was excited to live and excited to die. It has been years since the retreat and I still feel at peace, which is odd because answers from religion, science, and philosophy never satisfied me for long. In retrospect, I didn't need to hear the truth, I needed to experience it for myself in order to believe it.

Of course, my belief is just that, a belief. I don't know for sure why we're here or what happens when we die. All I know is that since that retreat I feel a truth I can't fully articulate, other than to say I believe everything is going to be ok. This has helped me move on with my life, and in a very literal sense, made everything, well, ok.