The Purpose of Life is Exploration.
This is my 22nd entry into the 1001 challenge to write one thousand and one words everyday throughout the month of November. Peace
A few years ago, I came across an interesting creation myth in book titled Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch. The story framework is common among New Age spirituality practitioners, and for some reason, it made an appearance in my thoughts as I lay in bed last night. It goes like this: In the beginning there was the absolute, or all-that-is. This absolute was existence itself; it was everything that existed and was complete. However, while it was complete, it could not experience itself because there was nothing other than itself for it to reference. It’s like being in a vacuum, with no light, heat, sound, and having no body or thought; just you and your consciousness; you have the sensation you exist, but apart from that, you know nothing else, because there’s nothing to compare yourself to. So, in order to know what it was, and experience itself, the absolute divided itself, over and over. And this division, is what led to creation.
I previously considered it an interesting creation story, nothing more. But then last night, it hit me differently. I’m not about to burst your head and tell you this is true, well, it is, but not literally. Mythology, according to the reading and thinking I’ve done, is a tool human cultures have used across millennia, to communicate fundamental truths of life observed over long periods of time, across generations. These truths are usually embedded in a narrative, the same way artists use art to communicate hidden messages for those who know how to look.
On the surface, the above creation story, states that life was created as a result of the absolute’s attempt to experience itself. On a deeper level, I feel it’s another way of saying: life was made to explore all the possibilities inherent in existence, and in turn, the individual human, was made to explore the possibility inherent in the slice of the absolute that makes up his being.
Looking at nature already, it isn’t hard to see how this occurs. Life exists on all planes, and at all levels; from huge, multicellular creatures, to microscopic single celled organism; in dense, green forests, and in the vacuum of space. In every nook and cranny of existence, life has found a place to call home, and it has all been through unrelenting persistence, and blind evolution, i.e., life doesn’t care about results, it doesn’t care about conditions, it just works with whatever is presented before it, with no care for what may spring from its experimentations. The ultimate and purest example, of the creative process. Now, while blind evolution, and unrelenting persistence may work for nature in general, it’s a different case with us. Notwithstanding, for anyone who longs for a life of adventure and rich in experience; who longs to know the limits of all his capabilities, there are lessons to be gained from this example.
Two traits provide the same benefits nature gets from persistence and blind evolution. They are awareness and detachment. Awareness is the degree to which you correctly perceive the events that occur in your environment, and the underlying patterns that tie them. It is through awareness, that we learn to make observations, test our observations, and come to the correct conclusions. It also gives us an advantage over nature’s process, because it allows us to learn from mistakes much faster than blind trial and error permits.
Detachment is the degree to which you are emotionally affected or influenced by these events. High detachment frees us from social pressure of all kinds, and allows us to thrive irrespective of conditions, because who we are isn’t invested in the things we have or influenced by the things we feel.
A person who’s low in awareness, clings to ideologies and theories; lens of abstraction that skew his perception, and immerses him in illusion, rather than show him what is really happening. A person who’s highly attached to the things around him, e.g. family, friends, opinions of others, popular culture and so on, will find it difficult to maintain his individuality, talk less of braving the uncertainty that comes with adventure, and exploration.
That said, growing in awareness and detachment, for various reasons, isn’t straightforward. First major issue is that you don’t need very high levels of awareness to live a decent life, life is easy enough to make it through relatively absentminded. Just play society’s game and work as hard as you can. You’ll live an okay life. It will be the typical everyday affair, but then there’s nothing wrong with that. Second, though a lot of people like to form detached and all, it’s not our default nature to be detached. Also, society frowns on detachment; people like to know they have their hooks in you and can call you to order if need be. Nothing riles people more than knowing they have no say or influence on your actions; it’s an effective way to make enemies sometimes. Third awareness is useless if you don’t know what you want to do with yourself; being aware of something doesn’t mean jack shit if you’re not going to use the information gained. It’s either you have an aim, or everything you learn from your keen sense of observation will just be excess mental fodder for your brain to discard.
So, the real question then becomes, what do you want?
Do you want to live a decent/okay life?
Do you want to follow the truth this myth communicates? Do you want to go beyond convention and discover what you’re made of? What dwells in you? If you are, are you willing to do battle against the current of conventional living? To fight the factors that seek to hinder you?
It should be noted that there’s no right option here. There’s nothing wrong with living a decent/okay life. In fact, depending on your background, or the circumstances surrounding you, this is sometimes the only option; not everyone is equipped with the heart or traits for the alternative. The only catch is that you, in the best way you can, find time to diverge, to go beyond your regular schedule, and create room for possibility.
For the brave ones, the ones who are willing to dare, and possibly lose everything in the process, I bid you good luck, I hope your life is as rich and intense, and I hope you reach the very edge of your possibility. Peace.