The Experiment


A friend recently shared her thoughts about the deeper meanings of life, which provoked a round of ontological speculation on my own part. Here’s what I discovered, and an adaptation of my reply, which was really a status report on my resolute adherence to the spiritual-existentialist way…

All my life, even during childhood, questions like this have fascinated, amazed and disturbed me. Religion, I think, is in part a response to our yearning for an answer to one resounding question: Why? The intolerance of organized religions is humanity’s desperate attempt to solidify and impose a resolution, which inevitably gets coopted by oppressors in their eternal quest to rule the world – i.e. usurp the role of the very god they profess.

I call myself a spiritual-existentialist. Spiritual because I cannot conceive of consciousness as anything but a universal, life-force manifesting in the material world. We are, in my view, an aspect of the universe becoming aware of itself, and that awareness is as much a part of nature as the laws of physics and biology. When we isolate that phantom energy, and vest it in an external being we call ‘god’, we distance ourselves from our own magical realm. I suppose, for me, the wonder of life is in the search for meaning, not so much in any kind of final answer.

As for the existentialist part of my philosophy, I believe each and every one of us has to create a world form the materials given. My world-view is mine alone, and I have to decide, as a responsible human being, what the rules of my world are: the unalterable rules of nature, and the adopted rules of morality and ethics. In modern societies the biggest influence on my emerging reality is other humans, and the ‘artificial’ environments we build and inhabit. To sum up another way, part of the work of existence is harmonizing my world-view with the beliefs and actions of others whose motives I can only guess at. The only way I can overcome the uncertainty and fear of this uncomfortable isolation is through trust, faith, love and courage. Inevitably, there will be betrayals in my search for commonalities; and triumphs.

Thanks for sharing. I never tire, thinking thoughts like these, because they are our reason for being.

Malahat Summit

Here, above the morning mists
I see nothing gives way
to anguish, or nausea
no matter what is said
by my outmoded mentor
of existentialist persuasion.

There’s nothing heavy enough
at the heart of me
to make me fall through clouds
tumbling down, down, down
into that harsh, predictable reality,
which is not so.

The trick is not to look
up, or down, or round
with eyes heavy as stones,
but to accept the vision
for what it is in this precise
and every other precious moment,
a concatenation of spirit, giving
meaning to everything –
even the vast imponderables
it knows it cannot know
are questions of my own making.

And I am forever, and ever so
despite this nagging notion
that my essence is all mist,
swaddled in this thinking flesh.

CSW