Why Life? Why Existence? What's the point? How come?

Perhaps we who are drawn to a Taoist point of view tend to be innately - biologically - wary of following the [chref=20]multitude[/chref]. We may also be less inclined to form habits, whether 'good or bad' (that's not to say we aren't prone to chemically addictive habits, naturally).

Being social animals, most folks easily fall behind 'leaders', be they people or cultural paradigms. They follow the tried and true trails laid down through the wilderness of experience, and in so doing tame some aspects of that wilderness. Heck, this is the norm for all social animals from ants on up.

However, natural diversity, being what it is, leaves some individuals less able to follow the tried and true. Being less able to mold ourselves to conventional ways leaves open the chance that we'll stumble upon a 'better' way. Nature needs a few 'pioneers' in the off chance that changing circumstances require a more adaptive approach. We [chref=20]drowsy and muddled[/chref] stumblers are more likely to 'find' it - if the time is ripe.

Looking at the world around me, I reckon the time is ripe! Just being the odd ball you are contributes to the whole in some [chref=21]indistinct and shadowy[/chref] way. So, take a moment and pat yourself on the back. :)


  • edited May 2007
    Surely I'm biting off more than I can chew with this topic, but what the heck. :roll:

    I was looking out over the ocean this morning and saw two birds floating on the water. One dived down and then the other. They are diving for breakfast, I thought. That led to wondering about life. These birds were born, are now eating, will procreate, and finally they'll die. That is life in a nut shell. So, what is the point? Why?

    Why? is the ultimate question, isn't it? Asking it -- embracing it -- as I watched those birds brought me no answer. Instead, the asking, as usual, only intensified the question,... why, why, why. Initially, why begins as a feeling of curiosity. This feeling then induces the mind to think, "why this or that", which naturally leads us to find our answer in words. The irony here is that the answer never truly resolves the why as long as one [chref=71]thinks that one knows[/chref] anything at all for certain. It is the certainty in our 'thinking' that is problematic. We crave a tangible, the 'word is truth', kind of certainty for our deepest questions. Not being able to answer the ultimate why?, humanity has mostly avoided it by asking and answering simpler questions of 'what, how, when, who, where'.

    Creation myths the world over address these simpler questions, but to my knowledge never venture into the most [chref=6]mysterious[/chref] question of all,... why?. Sure, folks have asked and answered why God created mankind, as well as how, when, where, what,... but never the heretical, why [chref=4]God[/chref] in the first place? Yet, I suspect that unspoken and unanswerable question lurks in the [chref=21]indistinct and shadowy[/chref] recesses of our consciousness throughout life no matter how diligently we try to distract ourselves from it. Although, personal experiences with death invariably [chref=28]returns us to the infinite[/chref] -- momentarily.

    No factual (or even mythical!) answer 'truly' works. The trick, I've found, is to find an answer in feeling alone. Experiences with death certainly provoke the question, the ultimate why? But, we tend to recover or adapt before we are pushed to find an answer in feeling. Thus, the question continues to haunt us. Taoist views lend themselves nicely to this quest. They are the most ambiguous, [chref=15]tentative[/chref] and [chref=78]paradoxical[/chref] points of view ever 'articulated' by humanity (that I've come across anyway). As such, they force awareness to draw deeply from experience and feeling to make any sense of 'it' at all.

    So, how can we find an answer in feeling? [chref=40]Something[/chref] must be [chref=36]laid aside[/chref] first. Our mind's thoughts lead us off on one wild goose chase after another by rationalizing our instinctive needs and fears. Simply put, we 'lie' to ourselves. If you peel away all the rationalizations – be they 'facts' or myths – all that will remain is [chref=5]silence[/chref], [chref=16]emptiness[/chref], and that [chref=4]darkly visible[/chref] why? Of course that is why we prefer our [chref=53]by-paths[/chref] in the first place. We cling to any detour that helps us avoid the void. But does it? Alas, reality always lurks in the shadows, haunting every moment of awareness. We can only 'escape' the void by [chref=5]holding fast to the void[/chref].

    Even if all this sounds plausible, it won't be useful until we attest to it personally. The key to getting off a by-path is first proving to ourselves that we are on one. First, just honestly watch your thought. Do you notice how it wants to do everything but let itself begin [chref=40]turning back[/chref]? It leaps ahead at 'thought speed', looking for the next tasty morsel. Tasty morsel? Sure, thought – all thought – is driven by our primal primate hunter gatherer opportunistic emotional instincts. Whew! pardon all those adjectives :oops: . We feel we need to keep moving forward to find where our next 'meal' is coming from, even when we know Safeway is just around the corner. In fact, being so well fed doesn't curtail this drive; rather, it only redirects it toward other issues which easily make us neurotic.

    Emotions 'know' [chref=2]Nothing[/chref]; they simply feel. They feel they need to keep moving to 'greener grass' to find [chref=2]Something[/chref], and they drag our mind's imagination along for the hunt. In a pre-tool pre-civilization wilderness, this emotional drive is counterbalanced by natural forces at work. The whole point of tools, technologies and civilization is to bypass as many of the unpleasant natural forces (the 'work') as possible. [chref=52]Discernment[/chref], and the thinking that elucidates it, always seems to lead forward to 'greener pastures' - the illusion of progress.

    Obviously, nothing much happens until we feel [chref=40]turning back[/chref] is actually the only [chref=41]way that leads forward[/chref]. Only in turning back, are we able to [chref=52]use the light, but give up the discernment[/chref], if only for moments at a time. But that's alright; a little of that goes a long way, it never leaves and it is always there looking over our shoulder.

    Ok, so now back to the ultimate question again, why? Simply put, the answer lies in giving up the discernment and trusting the light. Only then are we [chref=10]capable of not knowing anything[/chref]. Here, the answer becomes the question becomes the answer,... all wrapped in [chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref]. In that eternal moment we [chref=33]know contentment[/chref]. This, [chref=78]everyone in the world knows, yet no one can put this knowledge into practice[/chref] for we are not 'gods', but rather just simple animals. However, the problem may not be an inability to put this knowledge into practice, but rather in our expectations (which perhaps amount to the same thing, eh?) Consider how chapter one puts it: [chref=1]Hence always rid yourself of desires in order to observes its secrets; but always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations[/chref]. Balance is the key. Biology tips the scale toward [chref=46]having too many desires[/chref]. Thus, it is the desire and expectation side of life's equation that we must [chref=64]maintain while it is still secure[/chref]. The Tao Te Ching advices us to [chref=19]exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block, have little thought of self and as few desires as possible[/chref]; and [chref=7]is it not because he is without thought of self that he is able to accomplish his private ends? [/chref]

    However, like any journey, the initial step (the travel 'to') feels like it takes forever. That sense of delay is caused by desire. The desire to be 'there' or 'somewhere else' causes 'there' to feel further away. As we [chref=64]desire not to desire[/chref], 'there' moves 'here'. It all comes back to what we really want of life versus what we are willing to give up for it. Initially, we actually feel we can get in free. As we discover there is no escape, 'there' moves 'here',... [chref=17]It happens to us naturally[/chref].

    I have a little life motto the reflects this: The quality of our relationships hinge upon what we are willing to give up. Relationships meaning all relationships, with others, ourselves, life, death...

    [chref=58]The straightforward changes again into the crafty, and the good changes again into the monstrous.[/chref] So here I am, back in the 'darkness', or is it 'light', writing this stuff, and breaking my 'one page of bull at a time' rule. I know that writing what I write is a momentary escape into my mindscape. Thankfully, it is a by-path that leads me right back to emptiness. Likewise, this is a momentary escape for any readers, but hopefully leads them back to [chref=11]Nothing[/chref] as well. So what's the answer? The answer is the question. So also, in the end, the paths and [chref=53]by-paths[/chref] produce each other.
  • edited December 1969
    I think I am a god in this simple way; the answer to "why?" is for me to create. My creator has left the answer to this question to me to answer for myself.

    If I look for the answer to the question outside of myself, the question is unanswerable.

    If I look inside myself, I will discover the answer waiting to be expressed. I think you describe some of the processes of arriving where we can begin to answer this question. I think it takes a lifetime to answer fully, too.

    I think what stops me is fear of my own power to answer this question. I keep thinking someone else, "God" maybe, should tell me the answer so I don't get it wrong. Maybe he does tell me through my feelings. I like to think that my feelings and my impressions (that still, small voice) are a piece of god in me guiding me through life.

    My arguement against religion is that it becomes all about the institution and, in my opinion, it should be about clearing out anything (getting to that void you talk about) standing in the way of my answering this question. Many religions do have practices that I feel are an attempt to free up the mind from wordly enticements that enslave it and prevent it from the work of "why?".
  • edited December 1969
    Carl, I love trying to understand your words. You have so much to say and I really have to focus to follow the progression of your thoughts. Your thoughts grow like your garden does.

    I'm from New York and have a need to make things concise. So here goes.

    Why life? What's the point? How come?

    I think the answer is death. Isn't that poetic. Ironic?

    Well, it's certainly concise.
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