23 September 2011

The Meaning of Life

I cannot stress enough how much a fundamentalist upbringing cripples a person. The damage lasts long after a person escapes the fundamentalist milieu, and it may take the rest of their lives to deal with that damage. The damage includes, but isn't limited to, self-esteem/accurate self-assessment, understanding reality, relating to other people, critical thinking skills, the ability to make and carry out plans, etc.

For years after my escape from fundamentalism, I still had no answer for what is the meaning of life. I assumed life had a meaning, because the alternative I deemed unthinkable. Untethered from the religion of my childhood, I still assumed that I would come to know the meaning of life, and that it would be revealed to me if only I kept my eyes open.

Then one day last year I realized this was never going to happen. That there was no cosmic (much less divine) ordination for the meaning of my life. Consequently, I realized that if my life was to have meaning, I must be the one to give it meaning.

I still believe that, as someone put it, "The meaning of life is to give life a meaning." I understand the truth of this. But I have found myself unequipped to give my life a meaning. Since I've spent my entire life waiting for meaning to be revealed to me, I did not develop the necessary critical and creative skills I need to conjure up that meaning on my own.

My life is absurd, and I have trouble with that. I very much want to give my life meaning, but what should that be? For now, only questions...

15 September 2011

Balance, Please!

I personally find relentlessly cheerful people to be just as annoying as the unendingly depressed. Life is not a bowl of cherries; nor is it a bowl of dog shit, either. Life is a bowl of dog shit with cherries mixed in. Our job as human beings is to dig the cherries out of the dog shit, thoroughly clean them, and then enjoy the cherries, knowing how much work we had to put in to get all the dog shit off of them. Then we take the dog shit and use it to fertilize the cherry trees.

06 September 2011

Religion is Like a Penis

Religion is like a penis. It's fine if you have one. It's okay to be proud of it.

On the other hand, it is not okay to whip it out in public, and unless the other person is a gleefully consenting legal adult, you should never shove it down someone's throat.

[Paraphrase of something I read somewhere. Apologies for not being able to give proper credit.]

02 September 2011

Favorite Quote, VII

Master Easturb inquired of Master Chuang, saying, "Where is the so-called Way present?"
"There's no place that it is not present," said Master Chuang.
"Give me an example so that I can get an idea," said Master Easturb.
"It's in ants," said Master Chuang.
"How can it be so low?"
"It's in panic grass."
"How can it be lower still?"
"It's in tiles and shards."
"How can it be lower still?"
"It's in shit and piss."

—Victor H. Mair (translator), Wandering on the Way: Early Taoist Tales and Parables of Chuang Tzu (Bantam, 1994), p. 217.