Friday, 11 October 2013

Seeking Meaning in Existence

What is the meaning of life, indeed, of existence? It’s a question probably as old as our race. Maybe it’s a question that only arose because of our race? Yet no one has ever found the answer, although many have found a truth that suits them.

Old Texts, New Thoughts

Religious texts, such as the Bible, at one time purported to have all the answers. Nothing much had to be questioned - and in fact should not be questioned - because everything was explained in these comprehensive tomes. Some insist on keeping these views alive, perhaps due to valuable morals but also from a reluctance to let go of beliefs and practices that once served a purposeMaintaining beliefs also provides a sense of comfort, security and familiarity. New ways of thinking and believing can be daunting, frightening and difficult for some to embrace yet for others they’re exciting, full of possibility and ultimately necessary; eventually the new will likely triumph. Many people are moving away from the dogma of orthodox faiths today. Perhaps we have evolved to a point where we need a new understanding of life, despite some pertinent wisdom contained in these ancient texts. Enough of us now see and understand life in such a different manner that much of old religious thought simply does not apply.

This is exemplified today with the emergence of new faiths and eclectic paths that many individuals prefer to walk, perhaps forming new groups and movements with like-minded souls. For example, the interpretation of Jesus' word in the Bible being mostly allegorical instead of literal, implying that each of us can find God or Christ within instead of without (the idea that we are all God and God is all). Beliefs such as Pantheism are gaining popularity and old pagan beliefs are re-emerging with a novel twist. Thousands of years ago, texts like the Bible could be taken as literal and interpreted successfully by its followers because human beings were then at a stage where it was relevant. In another thousand years or so, current faiths and practices will probably have lost favour. And no doubt a new generation will attempt to herald some fantastic, innovative religion that promises the ultimate truth, inevitably to be met with scepticism, fear and doubt. However, like today and two thousand years ago, this 'truth' is largely a truth of the time and of where we currently stand on our evolutionary journey. Ironically this is not to say that the 'truth' is not true - it is true, but only for the now, for the present moment in time. Traditional views of holy texts and related practices are not inherently wrong but much of what was written is no longer applicable to current human understanding, in the same manner as they were a thousand or more years ago.

Why Religion?

Perhaps we create religion as a means of expressing and understanding our current stage of spiritual development. Who knows what sort of outrageous beliefs we may hold in a thousand years time? What we can be assured of, however, is that no matter what way we choose to practice our faiths, they are all correct because they all ultimately serve the same underlying, root purpose - the celebration of our creation and existence. Ultimately we are all reaching for the same ideal - something greater than ourselves, something more powerful and superior to which we can aspire.

Perhaps the only reason we need a superior being, a God, is because of our human nature. We are all born, every single one of us - no matter what kind of people we grow to become, as dependent upon our mothers (and/or fathers). In those first couple of years we need to be looked after, nurtured, comforted and nourished in order to become independent beings. So it is conceivably our nature to continue looking for this outside of ourselves, even after we have become self-sufficient. For many people, life can seem like a struggle and so it is a tempting thought to believe that after everything endured on Earth there exists a higher being that will be there to comfort and relieve us, to reward even. Such beliefs were perhaps more steadfast just last century, when world wars gripped the Earth and death and despair were high. Life was largely a struggle and so the need for beliefs, such as Christianity, became more pertinent and widespread, with comforting dogma such as all suffering will be alleviated in Heaven and dying for God and country will bring just rewards in the afterlife. There is nothing improper about such beliefs because at the time they served their purpose and provided humanity with hope and a sense of togetherness to survive. Indeed at such times, divinity, God, angels and higher power all seem rather essential and beneficial to our race.

The New Age

Today, new movements are bringing renewed beliefs, in the form of Divine Spirit, Goddess worship, Arch Angels, Ascended Masters and other higher beings (souls who have transcended lowly human experience to evolve to a superior level of existence). Such beliefs endeavour to unite a much divided humanity in a spirit of Oneness, purporting notions of everlasting Light that is inherent in each of us; higher beings standing ready to help and guide us at every moment and the underlying unity of the Universe, the re-emerging Feminine encouraging us to reconnect with our abused Mother Earth. Again, such beliefs are appealing to many now because of the stage we have reached collectively but to others, traditionalists and sceptics, they can seem fanciful, ludicrous or threateningLike orthodox religions of their time, these new beliefs are not inherently wrong; they are merely a fresh attempt at understanding a fundamental part of our human experience. These higher beings may not actually exist; the concepts of Oneness and Light-workers may not be real yet we essentially make it real through our current needs and desires.

Ultimately, we are a unique race in that we know of no other sentient life in existence that is self-aware and has created so much. Of course that’s not to say there isn’t another race more spectacular, out there, orbiting one of those other suns. We are a curious race too, curious ourselves about the meaning of our existence and in the sense that we’re just quite strange. But if everything is fundamentally connected, if the entire Universe all came from a single source or a creator being then we’re all pretty much the same in essence. We create meaning by seeking it and by seeking it we find it because the Universe responds to us, as perhaps a conscious entity itself. 

Whatever the meaning of life, the Universe and everything, I don’t think it’s 42.


Thoughts on Origin

Where did it all begin? Perhaps a more pertinent question is how did it all begin? And why? Maybe it isn't all that relevant; we’re here and living life and that’s all that matters. It seems, though, I'm a little too curious…

Point of the Unknown

There is always going to be a point of unknown, a point of mystery. This is the point from which life and existence, as we know it, emerged. None of us know what existed beforehand, if anything or if it’s possible for nothing to have existed. For then where did everything originate; a big bang, a Metaverse, a parallel Universe or dimension? If so, where, how and why did they originate? Maybe everything was created by some grand, overseeing deity who was simply just bored?

I remember, as a child, staring out my bedroom one day and thinking, what would happen if the ground disappeared? There’d be more earth underneath. But what would happen if the Earth disappeared? There’d be Space. Then what happens if Space itself disappears? What lies beyond it? I imagined it as a cube but I couldn't fathom what lay outside, if anything and what was the space in which the cube existed anyway? Did it ever end? I remember feeling rather scared at that point and so I ceased thinking about it.

Today, I’m much more enquiring than scared. Perhaps it is easier to settle for the Creator scenario; take some humbleness, add a dash of ignorance and voila - an intelligent being created everything and we don’t really need to question or understand any of it because we only exist as its subjects. Maybe that’s relegating it too simply? Still, it’s an idea with which I just can’t feel satisfied.

And it All Started with a Big Bang?

At first there is the void or a sort of primordial soup of particles and radiation (now where did they originate?) Then something happens, a spark triggers a gigantic explosion. That’s also quite vague. This in turn creates a cocktail of particles needed for energy and matter, including lots we cannot discern like dark matter, propelling it outward into empty space. There we have our Universe, which grows and expands, particles combining and birthing new matter and forms of life over extraordinary spans of time. Too long for us to comprehend really, involving very complex processes, perhaps a sort of trial-and-error scenario until the conditions for life are just right? This still leaves us with a good few queries, though, like what caused the initial big bang spark and how could it have created everything of which we’re currently aware (and unaware) in the Universe? Scientists still aren’t certain that a big bang is even possible, which ultimately means it’s all just speculation.

A Parallel Universe

How about the popular notion of Parallel Universes, or alternate realities, whereby our Universe is just one of many that exists in a grand Metaverse? This is like a cosmic womb where all Universes, including our own, are born, expand and die. It can be thought of as a giant bubble in which other, smaller bubbles (Universes) occasionally appear, for a time. Our Universe would be one such bubble, inside the larger. Each Universe is developing and expanding or perhaps contracting and dying at its own rate. Each one is slightly different to the others, allowing for every possibility to be explored. These parallel Universes are constantly popping in and out of existence with no real fundamental point other than the fact that they exist and then don’t. Again we’re left with similar quandaries, like what created the Metaverse and how did it originate or come into existence? Is it all just meaningless chance? What if there is a permeating sentience, which births the Metaverse, a sort of cosmic mother giving birth to baby Universes? This would become the origin of everything in existence and the driving force behind it.

A Slightly Different Idea

Let’s take that idea a little further. Perhaps everything we see around us, including the entire Universe, is actually a projection from another dimension, which is in fact the true reality. Our Universe is then basically a reflection, a mirror image, of this alternate dimension where everything we know originates. Although our Universe – the mirror image – seems mostly empty at present, a dark and vacuous space, it is waiting to be filled with light, with new beginnings like stars, planets and life-forms. As matter appears and life evolves in this space, the Universe appears to expand.

It’s All Mostly Dark

Scientifically, this can perhaps be explained by current astronomical studies, looking at so-called Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Astoundingly, everything we can see in our Universe makes up only 4.9% of its total mass! This is what we term ordinary matter. So what about the remaining 95.1%Apparently this consists of 28% Dark Matter – mysterious ‘stuff’ that we can’t see because it doesn't emit or reflect any light and 68.3% Dark Energy, another unexplained force that’s apparently causing our Universe to continue expanding, against the odds of gravityDark Energy and Matter both have mass so Space, in fact, isn't quite so empty after all.

Perhaps an underlying sentience or intelligence can help explain this theory, not a creator god as such, but a vast consciousness that is orchestrating and directing everything. This would be the force pushing the boundaries of awareness and our consciousness and thereby literally expanding the boundaries of the Universe. This sentience could be likened to the idea of a God or deity except that it has no physical form or place of existence - it simply is existence. It would be more like a sea of flowing, changing energy or matter that is conscious on some level. It can take on many different forms and in fact, it does so in order to understand itself. Therefore we could still have a big bang event, where everything originated, the spark being this underlying sentience that wanted to discover itself but could only do so by creating our Universe or multiple Universes, as a means of self-exploration.

The Human in the Mirror

When we look at other people or indeed ourselves, we use our senses to experience and understand our beingWe can touch, feel, see, smell and generally experience the physical form - but we know it’s not everythingWe know theres something more to us. We have an individual consciousness that resides somewhere within our bodysomething intangible but very real, a soul if you like. Perhaps what we see, as our exterior, is a reflection of this inner state of being - our true self? Likewise the Universe, including the earth and everything on our planet, might be a grand reflection of the true nature of reality.

Human beings are a very unique and interesting factor in this scenario because we have powerful minds that invent through ‘thoughts’ and willpower. Thoughts aren't physical yet they eventually become physical things in our Universe because we create them in the outer world. Someone once had the thought of creating the wheel and made it, of creating utensils and tools, art and music, architecture, transport and technology. Even satellites and space shuttles that now venture into the unknown to find answers. In fact everything man-made started out as intangible thought forms.

Perhaps a cosmic sentience, permeating everything in existence, originally created stars, planets, galaxies and everything within the Universe, including us, as a means to explore? Dark Energy might be the physical substance of this sentience. Because it permeates everything, including us, we are all a part of it, all interconnected, growing, evolving and expanding, defying gravity in a bid to experience and learn. This sentience might be on a never-ending quest, as one question leads to another and there is always something more to discover, always another ‘what if?’ Our Universe will then continue to expand, as we and other life on our planet (and perhaps other alien races of which we’re unaware or are yet to evolve) push the boundaries of consciousness further.

Dark Matter is perhaps that which light is yet to shine upon, to illuminate into existence so that we can experience it with our human senses. Thereby, this cosmic sentience experiences existence through us. As we evolve and develop our knowledge, we will invent more and more things (dark matter becoming visible). In this way, we are all agents of creation – a hefty responsibility! We become like filters for the underlying sentience, individually and collectively, manifesting all the potential of what it means to exist. The more we want to understand, the more we create ‘out there’, which reflects it all back to us and this sentience learns and grows. Our Universe is essentially a grand mirror. Yet, as history shows, free will allows us to reflect both the beautiful and the hideous aspects of our nature  or of existence itself.

The Point of it All?

Unlike orthodox religions, which purport a benevolent creator and its arch-enemy, a cosmic sentience would be oblivious to what we deem good and evil. There would be no judgement. This, understandably, is a difficult notion for many to accept. Because the cosmic sentience is only interested in understanding itself, through existingall possibilities must be explored and experienced. It would be the only way to learn, what works and what doesn't work, what promotes evolution and what hinders it, what brings us closer to unity and what creates separation and suffering? As history also demonstrates, though, this is a seemingly long process. An impeding act manifested once ostensibly isn’t enough to avoid its repetition. Otherwise we would have stopped abusing and murdering one another a long time ago, we would've stopped exploiting nature and the Earth. In fact, it would seem that repetition is essential to the learning and growth of this sentience, just like it is for us when we wish to learn a new skill or art.

The Free Will to Create

What about punishment and retribution for the seeming injustices of human life? We have been raised for centuries on a powerful belief system that promises such outcomes for every soul. Perhaps it is a story we tell ourselves because the alternative offers little comfort. However, in this scenario, all acts committed by humans, everything we’ve created and do, good and bane, serves in the ongoing journey of this spiritual evolution (and perhaps biological evolution too, although that’s a whole other discussion!)

So why is it taking so long for us, as a race, to understand that the cruelty we commit brings pain and suffering? That we choose to create this cruelty? Why have we not yet joined as one in creating more joy and comfort and love for ourselves? Why haven’t we all pulled together to make this experience a little easier for one another? Many do already and attempt to do so with their short lives. It essentially comes down to free will – about your choice to create, to reflect in the cosmic mirror what you want to experience. 

Perhaps our existence only seems like a long time, from our perspective, because of our grasp on the concept of time itself. In reality, in the grand scheme of existence, since that mysterious big bang, human existence is probably something of a blip. On a cosmic scale, we may still be pre-school children. And that means we have a great deal of potential.

And So...

None of this, of course, can answer the real conundrum of existence. The ultimate burning question at the seat of our soul – where and why (if at all) did this sentience originate? That’s one rabbit hole too far for me. Still, I remain optimistic that one day, enough of us will reach a level of awareness where we are able to reflect only love. That may be an idealistic utopia, but there are worse ideals one could hold.


Suggested further reading online: