One Life…

Excerpt from this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU0PYcCsL6o

“So then, let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time, or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes, you would have every kind of pleasure you could perceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each you would say, “Well that was pretty great, but now let’s have a surprise! Lets have a dream which isn’t under control! Where something is going to happen to me that I don’t know what it’s gonna be”. And you would dig that and come out of that and say, “Wow that was a close shave wasn’t it!”.

Then you would get more and more adventurous and you would make further and further-out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today; that would be within the infinite multiplicity of choices you would have, of playing that you weren’t god. Because the whole nature of the god head, according to this idea, is to play that he’s not. So in this idea then, everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality. Not god in a politically kingly sense but god in the sense of being the self; the deep down basic whatever there is. And you’re all that! Only you’re pretending you’re not.”

I find this concept compelling – not the part of us being the ultimate reality (because I don’t agree) – but for the core concept of boredom. Changing Alan Watts’s version for one, not of dreams, but of immortality or reincarnation (not that different), you would have to agree that, given a vast amount of years to live (or lives), you would eventually get bored. The ‘risks’ you would take would be greater and greater, to the point where you would embark upon a ‘life’ from which you could not wake up – one where the end is definitive. That is the ultimate thrill. Death is obsessively fascinating!

Many people find the idea that we have but this one life absolutely terrifying. This is why there are so many invented stories of an afterlife or reincarnation or something more. Even buddhists and zen masters can’t find peace in this and have had to invent stories of Sacred Wheels and Nirvana and enlightenment (or are these inventions only for those who aren’t ready for the truth yet?).

Given the above, I don’t understand why so many people need something more. The above thought-experiment makes it seem to me perfectly reasonable to have but one life and be grateful that we do. I personally am relieved that I have but one. Sure, I’m also terrified! But I don’t need anything more. I feel sadness for all my past mistakes, immense sadness that I’ve caused so much pain to loved-ones through my own mistakes – but it’s not because I think “After I die I will be no more” that I don’t care. I am acutely aware that my own life has had millions upon millions of repercussions to the world around me – the one that will survive me – and it is my participation in the advancement of Life on this planet that makes me so remorseful of my mistakes.

But because I have but one life, I will not waste it commiserating that fact. I will enjoy it, experience it, live it. This harkens back to the pithy aphorism (not sure if it is Buddhist): “The journey is the destination.”

So much purpose can be derived from this truth – not least of them is that, given the intrinsic and unique value of the journey, it is my responisibility to make everyone else’s journey as free from suffering as possible – or at the very least I must not be the cause of their journey’s end (i.e. murder = BAD!). Another purpose that can be derived from this truth is to assure the harmonious perennity of Humanity as a whole – to maintain balance and harmony so that Humanity’s journey persists (Humanity’s duration far out-lasting an individual life). From there I realize it is my responsibility to keep our planet clean and hospitable to human life – or encourage our governments to pull together and start our great migration towards other planets. Humanity must continue and spread, in harmony with all other life.

I am born with a gift of compassion and love and it is my responsibility to use that gift within the tiny duration of my own life to assist the lives of others, and keep us all moving forward. Pretty simple reasoning isn’t it? That is why I think that consciously choosing to believe that there is no afterlife (whether or not it ultimately is true) is important and the mature thing to do. It’s bloody difficult, but you know what they say about worthwhile things being difficult…

17 thoughts on “One Life…

  1. Tough fucking shit for people who were born paralysed with cerebral palsy and were normally intelligent but treated as if they were brain dead all their lives 🙁

    A funny thing is that the decisions you make during your life will affect the life conditions of people who live after you die.

    1. If I may ask, what do you do for a living? I want to help people, too, even though I also need time alone (not very good at working with groups) and am preoccupied with esoteric things like this. I’m 21 and thinking about career options.

      1. My day job is completely unrelated. There are many ways to help people. It’s important to know whether that help is wanted though. If you’re not good at working with groups, then don’t do stuff that requires working with them. I don’t personally like ‘esoteric things’ – I dabbled when I was younger, but grew dissatisfied and disillusioned – so I will not recommend you pursue it – but if you mean ‘deep thoughts’ on existence and philosophical thinking, then do so cautiously, methodically – and keep careful track of your assumptions and preconceived beliefs. You said yourself: “A funny thing is that the decisions you make during your life will affect the life conditions of people who live after you die.” It is that reasoning that keeps me from going off the deep end. It is that reasoning that keeps me cautious of where my mind and my thinking takes me. I fear and respect my brain. So I try to stay away from convictions. To me truth is only true while it is not false, which means I could be wrong anywhere and anywhen. I count on it. I can’t advise on career options because my own path is haphazard at best. Go with what allows you to stay comfortable with yourself and keeps you sustained I guess. But I could be wrong. Others might advise to ‘get out of your comfort zone’ – I don’t, but then looking back at my path, maybe I should have. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

    2. Hi Azalea, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
      It’s true that having but one life may seem unfair to those born in difficult circumstances – or would it seem unfair to those not born in unfavourable circumstances? Being ‘gifted’ with a ‘healthy’ body may make one perceive someone else with a different condition as being ‘less’ so – or that their life is ‘unfair’. I cannot speak for them because I am healthy for the moment. But I might think that were I born into a body with difficulties that, since it is all I know, ‘fairness’ only comes into play when I want to do something I see other people doing but am unable to. I want to walk like others but I cannot. I want to speak like others but cannot. I may feel frustration at this. If others treat me as though I were brain-dead all my life (are you referring to ‘locked-in syndrome’?) then I may feel frustration if I were aware of this – but maybe it’s all I know: being born like this, I’ve always lived this life where voices talk to me, and about me. I cannot respond, so I do not try. I may have a rich interior life. I may have capacities no one could begin to fathom – look at Stephen Hawking and his incredible gift of imagination. Maybe the brain, in not having one capacity, strengthens others (like the blind who have heightened other senses), in being physically immobile, I may be highly mentally mobile. Who knows?

      But I don’t know and do not dare to presume. All I think I know is that knowledge is relative – truth is true only until it is not.

    1. That’s very generous of you, Hariod! I’m happy to see you here 🙂 To be perfectly honest, most, if not all of my posts were written in one shot, on the spot. I do write them with pen and paper first, and then transcribe them here, with only minor revision as I do so. And so that being said, I cannot claim it was ‘conceived’ so much as it was merely ‘delivered’. The same goes for my replies, only more-so because I am without my journal and pen! Thanks again for your visit and I hope to make further visits worth your while!

      1. Then you are to be congratulated all the more so, Thomas, as the feel you transmit, albeit within complex subject material, is quite lovely, easy to the mind, so to speak, and for most of us that takes an awful lot of doing. Then again, songwriters have often said that the best of their work comes quickly and with ease, as if ‘delivered’, as you said. I would ask your forgiveness if I sometimes fall silent on your more science or maths oriented articles, as they really are not my strong suits, if indeed I have anything worthy of that name. Mike at Self-Aware Patterns (where I spotted you) often (always?) writes way beyond my capacity to absorb his fullest meanings, but I tend to chip in with some minor observation nonetheless. He puts up with me most graciously, for which I am grateful. Anyway, I am delighted to have met your acquaintance, and send you my very best wishes, Hariod.

  2. Unfortunately ‘my blog’ doesn’t like a lotta things… animated gifs was my latest discovery (though that’s been solved now). Sorry! Being a bit of a gamer myself, I have come to enjoy emojis and many of the japanese-ish ones like ^^’ (i.e. the smiley-squinty-eyes and bead-of-sweat from embarrassment) or T_T (for the streams of tears flowing from shut eyes… though this font’ll kill it). And I do love the googly-eyes o_0

    But to return to your first emoji attempt: were you trying for a ‘perplexed’ emoji? If so, how come? My ‘Ditto’ was, I realize, only at the last part of your comment, so I admit I didn’t address the rest – perhaps therein lies the perplexity?

    1. Yes, I was aiming for a ‘perplexed’ emoji, because I’d said this: “Mike at Self-Aware Patterns (where I spotted you) often (always?) writes way beyond my capacity to absorb his fullest meanings.”, and you’d replied “ditto”, suggesting (though I now see I was wrong) that you too were at times perplexed. So, in a misguided, utterly and absurdly failed bid to represent our mutual perplexity and also our subsequent shoulder-shrugging smiling at the same, I resorted to using those three emoji. Phew! Words are so much easier somehow. 😉 Hahahahaha!

  3. Hahaha indeed 😉

    Although to address and possibly redress (ok, moment of truth: did that actually italicize or just show a pair of HTML tags?) your sense of humility at Mike’s content (or mine, as you mentioned elsewhere): You sell yourself too short! Your input and contributions are always on-point so clearly you do follow the gist of what’s being said – which, after all, is the best I could hope for (can’t speak for Mike, but I’d hazard the guess that he’s not that different). The nice thing about these blogs is that you’ve got all the time in the world and no one looking over your shoulder and tut-tutting or whatnot so you can give yourself all the room you need to wrest meaning from morass.
    The advice I can give for my own content is that these ideas are very much based upon my having suddenly understood ‘advaita’, ‘anatta’, ‘anicca’ and ‘pratitya samutpada’ (that last one really blew me away when I realized that that’s exactly what I had been attempting to convey with my ‘adjacency theory’). Everything I do on this site is an attempt to explain in ‘non-Indian’ and more-generally non-Eastern terms what I had understood. So (and I think you’ve studied the Eastern philosophies is that correct?) if you can approach my content by seeking parallels in those ideas you’re already familiar with, then you’ve understood 90% of it!
    Now, go on and give yourself a chance – you will surprise yourself 😉

      1. Hi Hariod,

        I have an ‘article’ I put on this site – but it seems like you may have already found it – called “Adjacent Existents” (deliberate spelling deviation btw). It’s ‘complex’ only in trying to fully internalize the degree to which all existents mutually arise and are ‘not’ each other – or to put it in words you might recognize: they are ‘reflections’ of each other… sound familiar? The ‘Jewel Net of Indra’…

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