Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My perspective on life.

I can't believe the way that some people view life's events, their philosophies on how life works itself out. It is so alien to the way I view the world.

The other day my friend Lisa said two things to me that a lot of people would agree with, and which I have always considered pretty ridiculous. 1) "I believe in karma" 2) "Everything in life happens for some reason". Let's look at both comments in turn.

Comment #1: Karma: The general principle of karma is that people are rewarded or punished later in life for their previous actions or conduct. This may be seen immediately or it may be delayed. In colloquial terms it is the idea that "what goes around comes around". (In Hinduism and Buddhism the idea is that the reward or punishment occurs in the next incarnation. I'm not even going to consider that. I'm sure reincarnation could be fun but that idea to me is also fatally flawed). Anyway, I just can't conceive of how karma might occur. A religious person might suggest that God is watching everyone's every move and rewards them or punishes them later in life for their actions. But isn't the whole principle of God that he rewards or punishes upon death by sending people to heaven, hell or in some people's conceptions, purgatory? And isn't he supposed to not interfere with life? - he gave everyone free will remember. Perhaps then karma is an inherent principle of the universe without the intervention of any supernatural Being. Perhaps it is as fundamental as Newton's 3 laws of physics?? Or perhaps not. The trouble is that anything can be interpreted in terms of Karma, when in fact what happens in life is merely random. Merely the totality of science. Does science decide who gets a heart attack by assessing the fact that it is time they had some bad karma, or is it perhaps a result of that person eating too much cholesterol throughout their life? Just as an aside - I'd like to see someone explain this news article in terms of karma! And speaking of karma - does that mean that all Leeds Utd fans are sinners and the last 5 years or so is their punishment??? And why is it that as Billy Joel sings "only the good die young" - which anecdotally for me has a ring of truth.

2) Hmmm, everything happens for some reason? What reason could there be for someone having two friends die of suicide in the same year, a friend dying of cancer, your child becoming disabled etc? Some might say that it is a test for the person, a means of making you stronger. But what of the actual person who has directly suffered: did they deserve this? For what reason have they experienced these woes? The answer of course to all this is that nothing happens for a reason - things just happen randomly, as a result of decision making, or science or whatever. I just can't get my head around people thinking like this.

Then there is my ex-girlfriend who contends that "if something is going to happen it's going to happen". In other words she thinks that had she not met her ex-boyfriend who she was engaged to when she did, she would have met him at some other time. She also thinks that if she hadn't met me when she did, she would have done at some point. In other words it's the idea that if something is meant to be it's meant to be. Of course her examples are possible. But these people may for example have met under completely different scenarios yielding completely different results. Or quite easily they may never have met at all. In my opinion everything is random. There is lucky random, and unlucky random - for example asking someone for a job a week before they fill a vacancy, or a week after. Hmmm, does unlucky random = karma for having done something bad? lol.

I also heard some interesting view from my friend Kate. She thinks that heaven is a place where all the good souls come together. My question: is there actually such a thing as souls? Souls are supposedly the inner essence of each living being, to her they are immaterial substances although some consider them to have a material component. People say that our soul determines our decisions. I say it is simply the totality of our genetics and our environment. I've never seen any proof of a soul. It seems to me a very wooly concept.

She also put to me the question: if our lives are pointless, and there is no God, why don't you just kill yourself now? My simple answer is that I enjoy life. Once I die that is it - nothing ever to experience again...why not enjoy myself while I'm here. I want to enjoy the taste of an Indian curry, I want to indulge in a Chiraz on the palette, I want to enjoy the experience each time Leeds United win, I want to enjoy my relationships with my family and friends, and I want to continue enjoying the pleasures of sex. In short there are a lot of things to enjoy about life. Despite the fact that I don't enjoy growing older. That I want to bottle up each good memory - such as finally getting to kiss my first love Rebecca Shaw when I was about 10 (in a game of kiss catch!) - and revisit it whenever I feel like it. I can't do that, but I can continue to try and enjoy the future. Despite many tearful or bitter moments I wouldn't want to end my experience of - and association with - life. Not for anything.

For many people I think, all these ideas I've discussed, are a crux for them. Some way of explaining life, so that they don't get depressed. This isn't their conscious perspective - this is their subconscious speaking. It's nice to believe in these ideas. Believe me, I'd like to share them. If I could imagine the people who have died in my life, up in heaven...if I could believe that every bad or good action were rewarded appropriately...if I could believe that everything happens for some reason, or that what is meant to be will would certainly help me to feel better about this random universe we live in. But my mind is too grounded in the principle that "science is everything". And how could science possibly explain karma? Perhaps karma helps the human race evolve?

I'm not completely close-minded to any of these concepts. But I am very sceptical. Can anyone out there put forward any good arguments for me to alter any of my views???? Please comment if there are any arguments out there which are potentially persuasive!

I may have a very cynical view of life. I may not believe in god, I may not believe in the concept of souls, or the presence of karma. My view may well be that science explains everything, and everything is random. But that just means I have to make the most of our short time in the mortal realm!

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