American Indie rock band Modest Mouse said it best. The lyrics of one of their most iconic songs is:
“I’ve got it all most
I’ve got it all almost all figured out
But always when I get there
Always when I get there all the pieces they just fall apart.”
There’s a reason why the scientific community, atheists and religious fanatics all argue. They each think they’ve got it ‘all’ figured out.
But have they? There are a lot of great arguments on all sides, but what are they arguing for?
They are arguing for a definitive, final understanding of reality.
But reality is constant unfolding, life is forever evolving, and our collective viewpoint is always growing.
Is it fundamentally sound to try and define reality in an absolute manner?
We are not going to talk about NDEs, scientific evidence, or quote the Bible or Quran. That has been done and is being done very cleverly by many folk who are far more erudite than me.
But we are going to question the very fabric of what it is that they debate.
Why do we debate the origin of things, or where it’s all going to end up? What’s the point of trying to decide if God exists or not? Why do people try to convince each other of these things?
There are three layers to the answer to this question.
The first is superficial, and in fact the larger ‘blanket truth’ of the matter. It is that human beings are uncomfortable with the way their lives are. If they were not, they would not constantly change as people. Atheists would not become spiritual after taking LSD or magic mushrooms, and Christian-borns would not turn into atheists soon after they start going to college. People would not have alcohol problems, become workaholics, or sex addicts. They are not at peace with themselves. One of the most powerful things in a human’s life that can give him a sense of peace is the belief that a large or the largest group of other humans thinks what they think. It is a matter of emotional and mental comfort. In truth this is existential stagnation and dulls intelligence. It is a comfortable coma that 90% of us strive to live in by ‘converting’ other people to our own beliefs. “If everyone believes the same thing, all is well, and I am right.” But are you? If you need other people to believe what you believe to feel that you are right – even if you are right – you don’t really believe what you feel you believe. So even if it is right, it’s of no use to you, because you will always have doubts deep down inside. It is not worth living in or trying to convert people with this kind of belief.
The second phenomenon is one of a person who has found a belief, philosophy, religion or religious experience that has profoundly changed their lives. They feel an urge to share this betterment with others. There is a limitation to this as well: A big change in one’s life, whether positive or negative, can induce euphoria – often something that lasts even for years or decades. We are emotional beings and feel a desire to spread the positivity that we feel. Often, this transformation is superficial. Simply feeling better or getting over an issue that you were deeply tangled up in does not mean that you have found an answer to all things. Or, indeed, that your transformation was authentic and genuinely life changing. People tend to feel the same emptiness inside but choosing something new to try and fill it with can keep your mind and emotions engaged for a lifetime. God instead of sex, atheism instead of religion – all are an attempt to fill the void. If that something new has a lot of believers and information disseminated about it, you can be engaged and not feel your void as potently as before. But this is not truth either. Let’s face it, sharing your hell, even if it is a ‘better’ hell, is not something worth sharing at all. And if your living in a hell, you ought to keep wondering why.
Then there’s the rarest phenomenon that you can find in the tiniest subset of the human population. This population is characterized by something – formlessness. There is no form to what they teach – no methodology, no ritual, no 10 commandments. And everything they do is permeated by something consistent but intangible. And they share not to improve or better your life because they bettered theirs – it is because not sharing what they have learned in a world that is so lost is impossible – simple diffusion. They don’t intend to do it, but their very presence starts to transform people around them. Incidentally, you will find no belief system, no final understanding of reality, and no absolutes in their words and writings. Instead you will find a simple innocence which is evidence that they are in touch with reality – they are open to anything and everything that life might throw at them. They are curious and constantly learning. But they are not learning to reach somewhere – they are learning because that is the nature of living and growing up and growing old. They are neither active nor passive. They feel that they are neither right nor wrong. They are not upset by others having another belief system, nor emboldened by people that share theirs. These are the few that have found ‘it’, and paradoxically have learned that there is no ‘it’, just an unlearning of the old and learning of the new. They have no attitude towards life – because they don’t need the protection of a mindset when facing it.
So, to conclude, it is funny in a way that people debate truth and reality when they are standing in it. Debating truth is an attempt to induce a mass coma so that you feel comfortable that everyone believes what you do – and sometimes in fact so that you can feel comfortable that everyone is living a lie. Getting over a difficult solution with a mantra or learning or an ‘opening’ to something new or larger (even the concept or an experiential sense of God) is also nothing special. We all go through it. Feeling that this opening is truth or that this radical transformation in your life has opened you to knowledge and understanding of it all is also an error. It is an even bigger error to try to convince other people of it. The reality of existence is an open secret. It can be difficult and painful or blissful and romantic, but it is a constant experience. Until your fundamental relationship with yourself has changed, and until every moment of your existence is defined not by you, your attitude, or by what beliefs you share with how many people, keep your eyes open and your mind free. Because that something can’t really be ‘it’ if you need to argue about it.