Sunday, 1 February 2009

The heart of being

There is an unfathomable mystery at the heart of being - why is there anything rather than nothing?

There is an unfathomable mystery buried deep down inside each one us. Who am I? How come me? How come here? How come now? Not "who am I?" in the sense of what is my identity, age, height, weight, resume, bank balance, personality, close personal relationships, job, etc. Rather "who am I?" in the sense of "who AM I?"


(A) Why don't we all get together to talk about the mystery?

(1) Some of us are not interested in the mystery.
We have our attention on other things... sex, money, careers, DIY, whatever - you name it.
My thought about this is that its fair enough.
If you're not interested you're not interested.
It doesn't look to me like the mystery cares whether any of us in particular
are interested in it or not.

(2) Some of us don't acknowledge that there is a mystery.
Well I suppose possibly there isn't.
If you're determined to uphold this, then it makes complete sense that you wouldn't want to talk about something that you consider isn't.

(3) Some of us are fixated on a particular view of the mystery or belief about the mystery
to such an extent that we aren't willing to talk about it to anyone
who isn't similarly fixated.
Possibly even the idea that our belief about the mystery is a belief about a mystery
as opposed to "the truth",
is already alien, uncomfortable, heretical, and so forth.

(4) Adults don't like to tell children that there is something they don't know.
Adults don't like to talk to children about things they don't know about.

(5) Some of us can't see the point or think there is no point.
Some of us think there is nothing to say about the mystery.
Its a mystery... what is there to say about that?
Good question! What is there to say about the mystery? (See section B. below.)

In summary we may say that the standard responses to the question/mystery are either to assert that it has been answered sufficiently (ie. that there is NO mystery really) OR to assert that it is unanswerable, and hence not worth bothering with considering.

Either of these two approaches has the tendency to turn our backs on the mystery... to turn away from the mystery, to direct our attention away from it and on to other things. Possibly, we might even say they involve a "denial" that there is a mystery.

What would our lives be like if we were to turn towards the mystery? What would our lives be like if we were to direct them to point in at the mystery? Not to close down the experience of the mystery with shallow answers, but to engage in the mystery and have an ever more full experience of the mystery as we point ourselves in the direction of it.

(B) What IS there to say about the mystery?

Here are a couple of things that occur to me first off.
I may add more to this list if I think of more.

(1) None of us knows. Really none of us. Not a single person.
Not ever.
Not even that person who you think might know, or might have known.

(2) We could if we wanted to point our lives in the direction of the mystery.
We can be fairly certain that the mystery isn't ever going to go away.
But that doesn't mean we can't pay attention to it.
Pointing our lives in the direction of the mystery probably starts with having conversations with other people about the mystery and the nature of the mystery.
Not from the point of view of knowing what we are talking about.
But rather from the point of view of acknowledging that we don't know what are talking about.

And it is this exact matter (the matter whereof we don't know what we are talking about) that we are talking about.

Anyone want to talk to me about that?

(3) Q: Why is there anything rather than nothing? ... A: Why should there not be?

(4) Since the nature of regular explanation is always to explain one thing/concept in the universe by reference to other things/concepts, by the very nature of explanation there cannot be an explanation for the universe itself. This is because in order to be able to explain why the universe exists, regular explanation would have to make reference to something outside of everything in order to have terms of reference to make the explanation. Since obviously there is nothing outside of everything, regular types of explanation are inevitably not going to work as a means of explaining why the universe exists.

This line of reasoning is related to Godel's incompleteness theorems (see Godel's incompleteness theorems and the theory of the absolute infinite contrasting to the regular orders of infinity as understood by the theory of infinite sets. (see Infinity on wikipedia... or for the layman mathematician like me, there is a very good book by Rudolf Rucker that makes this easy to understand: (see Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite (Princeton Science Library)) That is a link to where you can browse and buy the book on Amazon. There are a load of reviews of book there, including mine. My review of the book on Amazon is here: review of Infinity and The Mind by Rudy Rucker


Nobody said...

You've been thinking too much. This isn't good. We're better off just thinking about sex and money. If we think to much about why we are here then we'll realize how pointless everything is. In history people have invented religion in order to invent the answers that they could not answer. How did we get here? What is our purpose? What happens when we die? How did this planet we're all on get made? There will always be some questions that will never be answered. I'm glad I live now where science has answered many questions, rather then 2000 years ago when not much was known.

kevinf567 said...

There is an element of truth in what Nobody has voiced; the days when I ponder these things in greater capacity are the days when I am at my emotional lowest. My feeling though is that the low feeling gives rise to the desire fir exploration, rather than the exploration perpetuating a low, pointless feeling. The difficulty with this match, in both cases, is that the uncertainty and nebulosity (I copyright that word 2009) of these mystic explorations can perpetuate the lows. But come here on your highs and find how much higher the highs can get: there may even be a case for this reducing the depth of any subsequent lows.

Andrew said...

The mystery is not "why are WE here?" ... the mystery is "why is there ANYTHING here?"

These two questions are very different. The first question is akin to the naive "what's the point?" etc. It has the tendency to move "us" (human beings) to the centre of things. Although it sounds like a question, it brings with it the baggage of centuries of mindlessness.

The question "why is there ANYTHING here?" is an entirely different question. Instead of moving "us" (human beings) to the centre, it moves everything to the centre.

And I think there is a related mystery in the heart of every person, which goes something along the lines of "who AM I?"

In the light of this second question ("why is there ANYTHING here?" / "who AM I?"), our lives start to point in the direction of the mystery.

This is not an en-burdening inquiry, rather it is one that frees us to experience freedom from the prescribed meanings that our historical situation is otherwise determining us with, and our own authority to say, afterall, THIS is who I am.