Sunday, February 26, 2006

Existential Angst


[All images lifted from this cool site]

Do you ever have one of those moments when you just take a giant step back from yourself and take an objective look at what you believe to be true about the Kosmos?

In the moment when it is happening, I see the entire Kosmos as though I am looking down on it, and the thought that seizes my mind is that I am foolish to think I have any understanding at all of how things work. In fact, it seems like the ultimate hubris to believe that there is any form of creative intelligence or divinity present at all--especially one that values human existence as somehow special within the vastness of created space. To think that we are important in any way to the overall evolution of the Kosmos feels, in that moment, like the wishful thinking of a child.

And then the But . . . .

So what?

In that moment I feel so small, so unimportant, so humble.

I am one small, somewhat fragile biological creature among 6.5 billion similar creatures--most of whom will not live more than 75 years--on one little four-billion-year-old planet in a rather nondescript solar system inhabiting one limb of a trivial galaxy in the midst of an infinite universe that has been expanding for more than 10 billion years.

Why would I ever think I know anything about anything?

And yet, I have faith that at least several hundred people throughout human history have meditated, prayed, or otherwise transcended egoic consciousness to the point that they experienced some sense of oneness with an intelligence as vast as that whole amazing Kosmos.

Maybe it was illusion, delusion, or the real thing. I don't care. I am choosing to believe that there is such an intelligence; that said intelligence is in no way male, female, or anthropoid; that said intelligence is compassionate and loving--the embodiment of a divine Eros--rather than vengeful and motivated by jealousy and power.

In the absence of such a belief, life is absurd. I am willing to take Soren Kierkegaard's leap of faith. I used to ridicule such faith, and perhaps I am growing foolish as I get older. Yet I am willing to risk being wrong on this rather than live with the alternative.

When I was a young nihilist I drank a lot. It's easier to believe in nothing when all that matters is the next bottle, the next woman, or the next opportunity to trash someone else's beliefs--mostly in that order. I embodied the angry punk ethos of an absurdly stupid world.

Now I prefer faith to anger.

Now I prefer hope to despair.

Now I prefer humility to hubris.

I don't know where those moments I mentioned at the top of this post come from, or why. I don't know if they are offering some truth I cannot yet fathom. I don't know if I am seeing through some kind of illusion or simply experiencing some form of existential angst.

At this point in my life, I know so little.

And it has to be enough.
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