At some point in our lives we will inevitably be faced with a question that can scare many of us more than anything:
What if there is no God/Great Spirit/greater meaning?
What if there really is no rhyme or reason to the Universe, to life, and that everything is really just random coincidences?
What if there is no spirit, no bigger picture, nothing?
What if we live, we die, and that’s it?
I consider myself to be a spiritual person, but I’m also not in denial of the fact that it is possible that everything I said above is true. In fact the non-existence of something is just as probable as the existence of something.
And as logical, rational beings we would be kidding ourselves not to accept the possibility that there may not be anything at all.
So…take a moment, if you will, to entertain this thought, this possibility. What if there really is nothing?
I went through this in late 2011 when I completely lost all faith and hope. All of a sudden, everything I’d ever believed in just fell away, and I was left with the possibility that there is nothing, and that all the “signs” were just random coincidences. After all, it is possible that humans search for meanings and patterns in random happenings to make us feel as though there is a greater meaning, and that we aren’t alone.
I watched this show last night called Fear & Faith part 2 (you can watch on SBS on demand for one more day before it’s taken down) by a guy called Derren Brown. The doco type show was based around getting non-believers/atheists to act in a way that suggests that subconsciously they do believe in something.
Derren- who conducts social experiments on human behaviour, among other things- suggested that humans have been hard-wired, for evolutionary purposes, to subconsciously believe in the possibility of a greater being and a greater purpose. But how would that work evolutionarily? Apparently the idea of a greater being “looking down on us” is enough to make us act in a way that is morally acceptable.
Some of the experiments he did showed us that even though many people may not believe in anything, they still accepted the idea that there might be a greater being, and that this acceptance comes from somewhere far below the conscious mind. But having said that, we still need to consider the non-existence of something greater.
When I went through this it was seriously earth-shattering and heart-breaking. I felt as though I’d lost a huge piece of myself and all that was left was this giant gaping hole. But being the questioning person I am, I had to ask myself a series of questions: Why is it so scary and painful to think that we may be alone and that everything is random? And this being the case, what would I do with my life?
The first question made me think hard. Why do we need to feel as though there is something bigger, something looking out for us, and a meaning to everything? Why is the idea of being alone so friggen scary??? I don’t know about you, but for me it gave me hope that no matter how bad things are in the world, or in my life, that there was a point to it. There was a reason for all the suffering. Because without some kind of suffering we can’t really grow.
So the next thing to consider was if there really is no reason to anything, what then?
That was a hard one to swallow.
Considering that up to this point I’d spent a lot of my life working with crystals, meditating, and energy work, and a belief in a Great Spirit, all of a sudden all of this seemed stupid, and I was now faced with finding more substantial meaning in my life. So I asked myself: what would I do with my life if this were the case?
Well, it was pretty simple in the end. I would still do what makes me happy, but for no other reason than because it makes me happy. This meant spending time with my family and friends, studying, trying to help people, yoga, having a veggie garden, becoming self-sufficient and living sustainably, and simply being.
It took me a good few weeks to come to a point of true acceptance that it’s possible there is nothing else. It was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever been through. But it helped me realise how much of my time and energy is spent on just believing there is something else, and constantly searching for signs and meanings in otherwise meaningless, random occurrences. That takes up a lot of energy, you know! I would do something in the hopes that it would lead to some kind of divine experience, but living that way stopping me from being present with the things that truly made me happy.
Now, of course, I’m back to the belief that there is something greater. Once I’d come to the above realisation, I seemed to just slowly slip back into my old beliefs. It was almost like I was meant to go through that in order to have a higher understanding of my beliefs and what purpose they had in my life. And from that experience, and what i saw on this show last night, and what I’ve seen in many people, it seems that finding meaning and purpose where there might not be any, and finding meaning in random occurences seems to help us improve the parts of ourselves that may be holding us back from growing, evolving, and being happy.
And last night, when I was going through this whole thought process again, I again realised how trying to find a greater meaning in everything was taking me away from what is. And that in itself is a wonderfully useful realisation to have.
So even though I do feel there is a greater purpose, this feeling, or belief, doesn’t prevent me from accepting that perhaps there really is nothing more than what is, that maybe there really is no greater meaning, greater purpose. And you know what? I’m perfectly ok with that.