Monday, February 11, 2013

Life: Meaning of Life? (Take 1 of infinite)

My Views on Life (Part 1)


With the recent event in life and the Chinese New Year ("Lunar New Year" for the nationally-agnostic friends), I've been spending some time thinking about death, (re)birth, and meaning of life.

Death is such an interesting topic because anyone who is trying to make sense of the world, or living life to the fullest, or just trying to live more effectively must at some point ponder on the idea. What is it? What happens afterwards? And no one alive has experienced it.

Logically with current knowledge, I cannot possibly know what happens afterwards except that I cease to exist in this plane of existence. I have some beliefs of what may or may not happen. These beliefs fall into three general genres: nothing, another plane of existence, a different state of existence in the same plane. There could be others, but they are beyond my comprehension at this point of life.

What if nothing happens? What if there really is no meaning to life? Although a lot if not most of the evidence points in this direction, I just cannot convince myself without a doubt that this is it. But even if there is no purpose, I could create one by transcending basic instincts in "surviving" this world by supporting an idea or meme that could survive through time and hope that someday someone will be able to use such information to know the answer.

The other part of me wants to believe there is something more. I know this belief exists because I continue to question that very logical thought (at least to me). This belief drives me to continually question what reality is. This act makes me wonder if there is something built into my existence to seek some sort of fulfillment even though I do not know what it is. I have a friend who has told me several stories of the Hindu gurus. I believe I have touched upon such enlightenment about being one with the world. Although I may potentially be able to convince myself that a certain point of reference is sufficient to attain a type of nirvana, the "solution" seems too boring. Also outside that reference, I know my existence although they may think we are of the same existence.

What does this mean? There is a similar passage to Hinduism from Taoism. Paraphrasing, "a path that can be taken is not the path; a name that can be given is not the name." This resonates with me strongly in that I believe everyone has their path to enlightenment. I have a path that I take but it may not be your path. The name "my path" is not "your path" although there may be many intersections, overlap, or not at all. Although I may not follow your religion or your school of thought, you way may not be wrong.

But... this enlightenment does not answer what is death or what happens after death. I see this type of enlightenment as a death to "I"-ness. Where does the soul or the mind go? What is soul or mind? I sense there is some uniqueness to me (ie "I"). Let us say that cloning is possible and all the brain matter is exactly the same. The instance that clone exists, the clone is still not me because in the moment we have different experiences although we may "share" the same memories of the past. To others, I may be the original but the clone could still claim it is the original but just "teleported" or could accept that he is not the original. What if I were the clone? It would still not change my "I"-ness because the original is somewhere else.

Translating Descarte, "I think therefore I am." I think... why do I even think? What is thinking? A ball thrown up will follow the laws of gravity and fall. The ball does not think. If I live life as dictated, am I thinking? Can I live a life without thinking? Would that then be death? If so, what is wrong with that thought? Such a life seems so simple and possibly fulfilling if one does not have to think beyond its own existence.

Such a school of thought makes me cringe at some level. To me, it seems like a different type of suicide on a meta-level. But the "life" of thought seems to be cruel to be seeking an answer that has a rather good chance that there is no answer. Given today's science, the world will continue to exist without intelligent beings.

The only problem is that "I" still question the information that I process. Is this the world real? The only reference that I know is my own and I cannot leave my reference. Perhaps, this reality is something like a computer-generated simulation; perhaps, this existence is something like the Matrix; perhaps, there is an all-power being that decides our fate upon death. Is there proof? Well, clearly not evident to myself.

Thus far, the dilemma of thought appears to be the source of life. I live because I seek an answer. Hypothetically, the answer does not exist because if there was an answer I would not be living. This means my life was temporary or I was never really alive. Or perhaps this means that this is the  "contradiction" to be living. Almost like my will to getting things done because I'm lazy.