Before I begin, I would like to say a few words in preface to the weird chain of thoughts that dawned on me during a particularly stressful moment in my life. The chain of thoughts I am about to espouse may seem to be merely nonsensical ramblings of an idiot on the surface, but I implore the reader that if they should find this worth any of their time at all, to consider carefully what I’ve said and try to see beneath what seems like the ramblings of an angry man. My goal is simple, to find something that most people in the world can at least agree on enough, that we are able to strengthen one another in times of difficulty regardless of individual religious convictions. I write this with the deepest sympathies for all of my fellow man, and it is my hope that in this brief exploration of mine same train of thought, but some may find and a sense of enlightenment.
It is common knowledge that things live and die, in a continuous cycle. When confronted with this thought as I had been so many times before, I simply thought of the clichéd song Circle of life found in the Lion King and tried to laugh it off. This time however was rather different. I was confronted with the thought of a human embryo that grows into a fetus, which grows into a baby, and is born into the world. From the moment that child is born, it begins a slow descent into death and decay. This presented me with a single thought, that the only thing that is certain in life, is the eventuality of death. This is a grim prospect to any human being, and when faced with it myself I began to despair. I began to wonder if life is simply futile, and is not worth living, and then contemplated suicide briefly. I then began to wonder if this sense of futility was simply a product of my own depressed mind, or if there was indeed some nugget of truth that could be gleaned from such a thought.
The thought that everything is in every descending state of decay is a rather depressing one. But even more depressing, is the thought that because of this perpetual decay the only other thing certain in life is suffering. From this thought I moved on to evolution. I’ve often wondered if there was a reason humanity had come into being; if there was perhaps some purpose humans served better than any other animal on the planet. Upon closer examination, I came to the conclusion that humans are the only species hardwired to dominate their surrounding completely rather than make some adaptations to it. Think about all the high-rises we’ve built, all of the amenities that exist in everyday life here in the West, do other animals really seek to make their environment as comfortable as we seek to make ours? Do other animals pollute their environments for the sake of the mining of natural resources, or in order to simply increase daily comforts? Do other animals hunt for sport, and simply leave the carcasses of their prey to rot in a wasteful ritual? In my mind, the answer to these questions ended in a resounding no. Humankind had simply become a parasite upon here, and a disruption to the natural flow. Why then should humans exist?
My answer was that they should not. Human beings should simply kill themselves and cease to exist. Or at the very least, cease to procreate until the species reaches some sort of natural extinction. The problem that presented itself however, was that human beings, like all other animals, have a biological imperative to procreate that is hardwired into every man and woman. So, by the very nature of our biology, humankind must continue to exist. And if humanity must persist, there has to be, given all of these futile outlooks on the existence of human life, some reason humanity should be allowed to persist. But why? Why should humanity be allowed to exist? If we have not learned our lessons by now, how could we possibly hope to learn them in future?
Humanity has a history of treating its brethren with utter contempt. The solution to this is simple: we as a species must realize we’re in the same boat. But if life is shit, and there is no point. And if there is no point to life, why can’t I do whatever the hell I want? The answer is also simple. Once we realize, that the only two things in life that are permanent are the eventuality of death and that everyone suffers, why not take it a step further? Why not let better understanding lead a man into compassion for his fellow human being?
We only have this life to live, at least in our own capacities to be certain. If all life must eventually come to an end, why not make the best of the time we have? It is the enlightened one’s duty, the one in whom this truth resides, to show his fellow human being that though the suffering of this life may be great, every other thing besides death, is impermanent. The hurt we feel when a loved one breaks our heart for the final time, the pain we feel when we lose someone dear to us to death, the anger we feel when we are betrayed by a close friend; these are emotional states that are impermanent. And by being kind to one another, we can show such things to be impermanent, that they soon will pass. It is important to remember, that we all suffer together as a people, and as a race. I know these thoughts seem scattered, but please bear with me as I try to make them more clear.
Let us look at an example. An enlightened man, one who has realized this truth is walking along the freeway one day, and he notices Someone has a flat tire. After seeing that the individual with a flat tire is becoming increasingly frustrated, comes to the aid of the person with a flat tire, in an age where helping one another is no longer the norm, the formerly frustrated person with a flat tire asks the enlightened man why he stopped to help. The enlightened man simply replies, there is always someone who has it better than I, and always someone who has it worse. But the one who has it better than I can sometimes have it worse, and the one who has it worse than I, can sometimes have it better, of this I am always mindful. The enlightened man seeks to help others for the sake of helping them realize the broader context in which they live. By doing so, he helps them realize that in the broader scheme of things, we are all the same, we are all suffering. And by alleviating those things which we are able, we have managed to in some small part make the world a better place. And if a man should act in accordance with this teaching, if people begin to realize that their mental states are impermanent, they will cease to worry about inconsequential matters and work toward a greater positive change.
Some of you may notice that I did not bring in any real talk of how one ought to behave, nor did I talk of God. There are reasons for this which I will briefly attempt to explain. A belief in God is not requisite to live by this knowledge. The only problem I really see in the world today, is an attitude of environmental dominance, and dominance over one’s fellow man. This requires a shift in attitude to change, not simply behavior. If one can understand the attitude that one ought to have, then the behavior ought to change in accordance with attitude.
The other main reason I chose not to talk of God is because I have seen many atrocities committed in the name of a supposedly kind deity. Condemnation of homosexuals simply for living as they were born, racial persecution and discrimination, discrimination on the basis of religion, all of these are ideas that stand firmly against the foundational principles of the country in which I live, and for these contradictory ideas, I cannot in good conscience stand. I am not saying that belief in God is inherently bad, nor am I saying that it is inherently good. I am saying that people are responsible for such a horrid treatment, as well as kind acts of charity as exemplified by people like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and many others. Please think on what I’ve said with an open mind, and an open heart. And it is my sincere hope that one reads this and sincerely understands will find peace. If some of you find this to be a perversion of spirituality, remember one thing, I am the Perverted Sage.