Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Life We Know

Courtesy - Brian Dye

Man—in his endless search for greener pastures—has gone to great lengths to improve his existence as mere mortal on earth. While most do so honourably, many rob, cheat and even kill to gain more from life. But alas, irrespective of the life lived, its conclusion is simple, exact and irrevocable. A fleeting moment of light returned to an inevitable darkness.
Where’s the justice in this?
Why is death so cruel and merciless and why is it often accompanied with dreadful pain and suffering?
Why live at all for it to be reduced to the sorrow of dying?
The answers certainly are not clear. In an attempt to explain the inexplicable, we must be aware that we are dealing with the mysterious, but two views do emerge. The first is simple and addresses the essence of life - the survival instinct - every creatures’ inherent drive to stay alive.
The other is more complex, yet paradoxically, amazingly simple, requiring insight of the workings of the greater universe - none of which anybody really understands - and ones place in it. It demands a profound and honest understanding of oneself and one’s true purpose. It can be a painful journey to hard-to-reach accesses of ones’ inner self, requiring a lifetime of dedication to maintain.
The first view is a mystical, magical one, shrouded in the supernatural. Though not based on reality, but on the power of illusion, it has become the most active force in man’s physical development. It provides a ready consolation to a world ravaged by disease, natural disaster and the daily battle for survival. More than this, it’s been the most powerful social tool in history, instilling great levels of cohesion, discipline and most importantly, a fear of wrong-doing and consequently a primitive sense of justice.
What is this magical spell and what is its power over one as ‘knowledgeable’ as humankind?
The answer is not hard to find. From the moment man realized his mortality, it became an all-empowering force. The mere thought of death is still his worst fear. Would a second chance at life not be the ultimate gift for one destined to die?
Would the promise of a better eternal life not be the ultimate motivation needed to inspire humankind to superior heights of discipline, achievement and morality?
Consequently, the philosophy of “a life well lived will be a life well rewarded after death” predominated through the manifestation of religion. Separated by the widest oceans and the highest mountains, numerous religious doctrines developed. Despite physical barriers their essence is universal with the ultimate goal, the attainment of immortality.
What would the world be without these ideals? Surely the rules of the jungle would prevail, where only the fittest, fiercest and most cunning can survive?
For many, death would simply be the end to a pathetic life. By creating the illusion of life after death, man has found the means to lift himself from the realm of savage, to the godlike realm of the immortal. Now, instead of living only by the instinct to survive, he can now be guided by his passion to live. Convinced that contribution to society, compassion towards others, obedience and hard work will bring an eternal life, man has developed himself to an astonishing level of sophistication.
Is this not the magic and wonder of it all? Whether life after death is fact or fantasy should be of little importance, isn’t the significance the reality it has achieved?
If you believe in magic and the power of illusion, this life view is sufficient although not complete. You will be guided by your desire to achieve the ultimate, that magical life beyond the pain of death. Unfortunately though, you are not the master of the course you are taking, for it has been carefully drawn by the magician’s wand.
Like all magic though, the illusion only lasts as long as there is belief in its power. Many have doubts or lack the resolve to follow through its purest intent. For them, this magic has less meaning than their own understanding of their very existence. Even under the control of religion, man’s desires and whims exist and do get the better of him. In attempting to adhere to a doctrine, these feelings are merely suppressed, producing conflicts between these desires and the dogma rigidly forced upon him. The repercussions can be small and insignificant or can take the guise of religious fanaticism, demonism, sadism and war. What is paramount is not the mere adherence to a fancy doctrine in order to achieve a convoluted and somewhat distant goal.
What is important is that man discovers his true inner self. Deep within he should discover the real meaning of life and all that is of true significance.
But how does one find that inner being? Would man not find a wanton demon hidden in his depths, ready to devour all within its power to consume? Would he not become the savage he once was?
He need not. In his journey through life man should have grown from the helpless infant who needs nurturing guidance, past the troublesome adolescent who has to obey the house rules or face the consequences. He should have developed faculties far superior to the wantonness of primitive man. With his superior comprehension, rational thought and the wisdom of time as his guide, he should by now be able to find his own way.
For after all, is he not the same being capable of sending one of his own to outer-space? And is it not he who conquered the skyways and airwaves so that the entire planet is within his reach, while doing this, also tapping into the very atom of all existence releasing a magic genie so awesome that even to this day it is beyond his comprehension?
These are but a few of man’s uncountable ‘victories’ against the forces of the universe. But alas, with all this greatness, man’s potential greed and zest for power has given him an infinite ability to use his knowledge to destroy himself and his world.
For now, from the ashes of man obsessed with death, a new savage has arisen. One obsessed with life. His own. Cybernetic man. A narcissistic being preoccupied with what he can accumulate in his mortal lifetime.
Domination and control of all that surrounds him is an obsession of this being. Because of this, all living things are vulnerable to his exploitation. Hardly any aspect of life has escaped complete alteration or annihilation as a direct consequence of his meddling. All life forms not suiting his purpose he has killed off or fenced out to suite his convenience. The very life-form precious to all that breathes is being mowed down to satisfy his vanity. The mighty oceans are slowly dying. The skies are losing their once ever-prevalent shield against the constant bombardment of the sun. Our generous mother earth is turning to desert as she rapidly ages, having to provide for an ever growing and demanding humankind.
More destruction and decay was caused in one mere lifetime of cybernetic man compared to the entire lifetime of the earth. Another human lifetime of this insanity is all that is needed to destroy the billions of years of harmony and balance that has been ever prevalent in our world.
As man and this world face what could be their final hour, he should ask this crucial question: “If I am so wise and omnipotent, why do I willingly destroy the essence that sustains me?”
There can be no logical answer. These actions are that of a demon bent on self-destruction. Surely there is no rational thought at play with such acts of obsessive greed?
Do we not need our world to thrive for us to thrive?
Do we not need our world to be at peace for us to have peace?
Should we not give love to be loved?
Yes, the answer was always there: give that which you wish to receive; reap what you sow.
Is that not truly the essence of living the one life we really know?

Copyright © 1986 by Newton Fortuin