Like so many things––indeed, everything!––this blog is ever in process, so I can't be too distressed by not having successfully concluded the last post in convincing fashion . . . The following is my attempt to take it a bit further.
The questions that must remain in any reader's mind were already in mine, and both you and I need more complete answers to them than I have yet given. If you can accept, however, even, for the moment, as a provisional hypothesis, that we all want to be effective in our lives, I think it's reasonable to suggest that, in the absence of any conviction that we truly are, we will settle for a convincing feeling that we might well be, or that someone we admire and feel some identification with, is. Even if we cannot find a living person who warrants that projection, there must certainly have been someone in the past whom we can admire as a successful avatar of ourselves, or perhaps an almost successful one. Even further, if we can find no such person, we can nevertheless entertain the possibility that such a person might exist.
In that light, it is understandable that many of the world's religious beliefs are attached to a person, whether a saviour, or a prophet, or a holy person, who carried in their person the aura of one with a complete understanding of the meaning of life, and knew how to live effectively in the light of that knowledge. The obvious examples are the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Lao Tse, and possibly a host of others who are unknown to me because of the limits of my own experience, education, or intelligence. Interestingly, what those people have in common is that they were, in fact, people. In other words, they were like us, and therefore can stand as models for the possibility of achieving a transcendent understanding of the meaning of existence.
It won't have escaped your notice, I suspect, that my references to meaning in the above paragraph bear on both existence in its entirety, and life itself as a particularly significant aspect of it.. As symbolizing and conceptualizing human beings, we are of course concerned with the meaning of both. Would it be too extravagant, then, to suggest that the interests of human beings have led us to separate those two different sorts of understanding? Specifically, that our efforts to understand the meaning of life are different from those directed towards understanding existence . . .?
It's certainly apparent that such a summary is indeed born out by our observable human preoccupations and activities. It is by no means a large step to feel that our own existence cannot possible fall into the same category of potential understanding as that which bears on how galaxies come about and whether quantum "mechanisms" will eventually lead to the discovery of "the mind of God." (That was Stephen Hawking's prediction a few years back.)
I notice in the news today that there is now extensive speculation on the possibility, now revealed by the apparent discovery of the Higgs boson, that our universe might well be such as to disappear "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"; but not until an almost unthinkable amount of time has passed. Although much of the commentary in response to this speculation seems to be very much like a collective shrug of our human shoulders, the possibility might well, I hope, give us pause to consider more thoughtfully the role that we ourselves continuously play in the unfolding of the universe. It is not adequate, I believe, to ask simply if we matter to the universe. We can't possibly know that now, or perhaps even ever, but every single one of us knows that we matter to us. Shouldn't we endeavor to live consciously in the light of that? Every single one of us matters. It is how we respond to that which will profoundly affect the future that is available to us.
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