Sunday, September 6, 2015

Great Questions

Curious where your life is headed?  Or why?
The right question might provide a clue.
  1. When it’s all said and done, will I have said more than I’ve done? (Ouch!)
  2. What is the one thing I’d most like to change about the world?
  3. To what degree have I actually controlled the course my life has taken?
  4. Five years from now, will I remember what I did yesterday?  Or the day before that?
Imagine a person trying to use a straw hat as a cooking pot.  Now imagine a person using up years of their life before finding its purpose.  Perhaps until we know what our lives are for, we are like that hat on the fire.  We can use up our days without any particular purpose.  Just passing the time.

It's easy to shrug off the idea of purpose and say that life is just natural, that the survival rules are all there is, and there's no real purpose beyond that.

If that were true, though, much would remain without explanation.  Great music, grand art, noble service, and unselfish love, all have nothing to do with survival.  They are inexplicable from that starting point.  If the 'natural' model is true, such things are insanity, dysfunctional behaviors.

Imagine the whole of humanity as a consistent model of natural selection.  Famous competitors for survival like Hitler and Stalin are understandable, striving for power, for the top rung at the expense of others.  History's great industrialists are similarly appropriate in that category, pursuing wealth and advantage much like today's financial industry moguls.  And winning is everything.  Parents raising their children are a nicer illustration, of course.

Supply, demand, food, arable land, energy, clean water, politics, and growing inequality all illustrate and confirm the natural competitive processes.

My atheist friends are big on 'life
without purpose'.  It's been an
interesting discussion over
the years.
But then there are those who just don't fit.  The ones who care for the poor, who feed the hungry and shelter the homeless, the ones who share what they have so that others might have hope.  In the evolutionary model of competition, there's no explanation for such behavior.  Caring for the oppressed and disadvantaged is the opposite of what the model allows.  The ones who fall ill or into poverty, they aren't among the 'fittest' who should survive, at least according to the science.

Philosophers who conjecture about free will provide the most convoluted reasons for why someone would unselfishly care about another or if it were even possible. They struggle with such things much like the natural science purists.  For them all, it appears, one cannot give unselfishly, give from a good heart, or genuinely care for the good of another outside the context of survival, self-benefit, and self-perpetuation.

To suggest that life has no meaning beyond the natural goes against the evidence we see around us daily and in ourselves as well.  So much of what we admire and strive for is 'unnatural', if you will.  It reaches beyond 'natural' to ... what?  A higher truth, a spiritual realm beyond just surviving?  Of course.

Fuji at night with lights

Ever notice that the most significant times in life, the ones that last in our memories, are found in healthy relationship to others?  Making a  difference, being a helpful contributor to the life of another is the most fun anyone can have.  It ranks above wealth or physical accomplishments like skydiving or climbing Mt. Fuji.  (Ask M; she's done that.)  And when examined, it is decidedly not 'natural'.

“The marketplace is full of materials designed to meet every circumstance in life.  Except the spiritual.  But, ironically enough, it's the spiritual ones that pursue us even when we don't pursue them.  It's the spiritual ones that plague us for answers even in the midst of plenty.  The fact is that people are far more interested in the great questions of life than they are in the small ones about making a living." ~ Joan Chittister