A few days ago, a friend posted on my Facebook a link to a website full of amazing wallpapers that he said reminded him of me; the picture to the left is from that sight, and is currently my active wallpaper.
At first I was just drawn to the quote because it completely summed up my own world philosophy – it was not until a few minutes ago, when I was reading up on what the name of this philosophy might be so I could share it in this post, that I realized that this is a quote from a Alan Watts, a renowned Western philosopher who tried to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western thinking. So, what drew me into this line of thinking was not Watts himself, but rather the ideas embodied in this quote.
Religion for me is a difficult and intriguing question. I used to be a strident atheist – although never a very good one, I admit, as I was still always terrified of ghosts and other inexplicable phenomenon. In time, however, my positions softened and I ended up becoming a fairly strong believer in God; this in turn then softened to an exclusively personal ever-evolving inclusive spiritualism.
The cornerstones of my belief rest on three things: 1) Organized religion is inherently meddled with by people who often use it for their own gain, and thus are never as true as they insist they are 2) I believe strongly in a unity of creation; that is, all things come from the same source and are inherently unified in an ultimate sense, and 3) Given the vastness of the universe and its ever-expanding nature, consciousness evolved as a way for creation to dwell upon itself. After all, if God – or a universal consciousness, well spring of creation, etc – is infinitely complex and powerful, and the universe is constantly changing and expanding, then an inner mode of experientialism is required.
Or, as Homer Simpson eloquently put this kind of dilemma, “Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?”
I’m sure that any grade-F philosopher can tear this belief system apart; then again, that is what makes it a belief system. I am also sure that smarter people than me have, throughout philosophical and religious history, argued those previous three points and ‘proved’ them in their own way.
Inherently, though, I find this belief system incredibly freeing – almost alienating to a point – while also being completely comforting. It is alienating because it rightly assumes that every single thing we experience – every action, thought, feeling, or belief – is completely personal, since are all helping the universe experience different facets of itself. We all have our own prejudices, assumptions, neural wiring, and chemical balances which necessitate that each single thing we experience will forever be unique, and will never be experienced by anyone like that ever again. This is also freeing, since it means that no matter what, we are unique and will experience creation in some completely individual way.
At the same time, this belief system is extremely collectivist since none of us are just an “I,” instead, we – in the inner meaning of all things – are a universal “We” that are just experiencing different aspects of what being actually means. The best way I can kind of grasp this is by imagining a brain making a decision; there might be millions of different feelings and thoughts racing for that one decision. Just as your brain is made of different component cells and neural connections all working as one unified whole, so is existence. Our experiences make up one flickering of the overall whole.
This trail of thoughts has also lead me to consider the overall progress of human society and creation. At first I thought that maybe you could parallel human development – starting off as hunter/gatherers with basic joys and basic suffering through the modern day, with amazing baffling marvels and unspeakable horrors – to the maturing nature of a universal consciousness; just as how an adult can comprehend sadness and joy in more depth than a child could.
However, I’m scraping those ideas since I now realize they are incredibly Homo Sapien biased and don’t take into account the eons of existence before man was created. Unless if you believe that humanity slowly evolved to take this exploration of consciousness to a more direct level. But, that requires a little more thought on my part…
Picture credit at Imgur.