Monday, 16 January 2017

Our search for greater meaning

From the moment we become self aware we begin to search for a meaning to our existence. I remember being about 8 years old and experiencing angst over the concept of eternity. It wasn’t until a priest friend of the family spoke to me that I was able to try and conceptualize it and not think about it as much. In the end that really was about having trust and letting of something that was beyond my understanding.

We are all afraid of dying to some extent; some of us more than others and we try and seek greater truth than ourselves. What we are doing sitting on a rock that orbits another white hot object floating in space makes little sense. Yet the fact that we are able to ponder our own existence hints at something bigger than us.

I long ago stopped believing in the concept of heaven as it was explained to me in grade school when my religious instruction did not extend beyond a caricature tailor made for the mind of a prepubescent child. As someone in my fifties I accept the reality that I am not made to formulate concepts that exceed the capacity of my intellect for I am a flesh and blood entity aspiring to understand ephemeral and deeply complex realities.

My mind cannot imagine not existing and still has difficulty with the idea of living in perpetual eternity which would conceivably lead to boredom after a few millennia; but this is because I am trying to imagine things that exist on a different frame of reference altogether. I touched on this a few posts ago.

Religious instruction for the non-thinker stays at the level of pabulum fed to a child. But then not everyone wants to ponder beyond being given a set of instructions to follow in order to inherit a cosmic kingdom. It is more than likely that every religion in the world is wrong and only touches on grains of truth contained in the equivalence of a beach that extends beyond the horizon. In other words, we are only permitted a tiny glimpse.

The randomness argument does not appeal to my ordered mind and to what I observe and I trust that whatever meaning my existence has will be made more evident to me should I ever be privy to be afforded the right toolkit.

3 comments:

  1. What a coincidence you raise the subject of mortality. I've been seriously wrestling with it the past two weeks after a doctor told me I might be dying. (I believe he's mistaken.) We're all entitled to create our own beliefs but I never found any in organized religion.

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    1. Good Lord I hope your doctor turns out to be wrong. I am in my mid fifties so at best probably have 25 years left assuming no illness strikes before so it is more in my mind than it used to be. We never know the hour or the day when our time is up. We are never really ready but when we are told that we have a limited time we suddenly view everything differently. My father died of cancer at age 60 and I saw how that reality impacted him.

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  2. I'm now reading a book called "Designing Your Life" that was written by a pair of Stanford profs who created and teach a popular course by the same name. They take the approach of a designer, reframing problems, identifying problems that can be addresses vs. those that cannot be. Think of how Jony Ives starts designing a new MacBook hinge, for example.

    The book is very well done; I'm about halfway through it. It takes time, some effort to do the exercises, and trust that in the end I'll have some insights that I don't have now. I'm pretty hopeful and dedicated! Maybe this is a tool for your toolkit too.

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