It seems to be a fact these days that the older I get the less I understand about the world. It’s like the old adage says…
The more you learn, the less you know.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out the world I live in, as I’m sure most people have. At certain points in my life, I actually thought—arrogantly, stupidly, naively—that I had things figured out, or had at least come close to it.
But then I would come across some new information that would decimate the old paradigm, and I would be back to square one again. Back to thinking and wondering…
What the fuck is this all about? What am I even doing here? What am I supposed to be doing?
But are we really here to discover those things? Do those things even exist? Is it possible to truly attain any of it?
Come to think of it, do we even know anyone who has truly found such a thing as spiritual perfection, or anyone who has even found true meaning in their lives?
I suppose such questions would have to be put to someone on their death bed, but such questions never are, so we never know what people really feel about the life they led.
Instead, we rely on the word of others who tell us that meaning exists in the world, who tell us that there are people who have attained great spiritual heights, or who have found some form of deeply powerful meaning in their lives. We are given saints, religious leaders, spiritual guides, experts in everything under the sun, celebrities, TV, the internet…all these so-called credible sources that purport to give us truth, when in fact, they don’t, and more often than not spout outrageous nonsense instead.
These people, the supposed leaders and role models of the world, are no more clued in about the ways of the world or the meaning behind it than a rat in a sewer is.
Have A Little Faith Then They Say
Faith is no more than a comfort blanket at best, and at worst, a mechanism of extreme self-delusion that can and often does lead to much suffering and needless violence.
Either way, I have no use for it.
Faith is not truth. Faith is the lies you tell yourself so you can sleep better at night.
If something happens in my life, it’s because I made it happen in some way. Faith has nothing to do with it.
And when it comes to larger matters of meaning and my place in the world, having faith in some imaginary entity isn’t going to bring me to any greater heights of understanding. The opposite, in fact, is true.
The more faith you have in some belief, the less inclined you are to accept or even look at other beliefs. If there really is such a thing as true meaning out there, you’ve just closed yourself off from it by allowing faith to wall you in, both intellectually and spiritually, for people of faith cling to it for all they are worth. As Thomas Ligotti puts it in The Conspiracy Against The Human Race:
They trust in the deity of the Old Testament, an incontinent dotard who soiled Himself and the universe with his corruption, a low-budget divinity passing itself off as the genuine article. (Ask the Gnostics.) They trust in Jesus Christ, a historical cipher stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster out of parts robbed from the graves of messiahs dead and buried – a savior on a stick. They trust in the virgin-pimping Allah and his Drum Major Mohammed, a prophet-come-lately who pioneered a new genus of humbuggery for an emerging market of believers that was not being adequately served by existing religious products. They trust in anything that authenticates their importance as persons, tribes, societies, and particularly as a species that will endure in this world and perhaps in an afterworld that may be uncertain in its reality and unclear in its layout, but which states their craving for values “not of this earth” – that depressing, meaningless place their consciousness must sidestep every day.
We think because we are alive that there must be some meaning to our existence. Consciousness has cursed us by making us aware of ourselves and the fact that we will one day die. No other form of life on this planet is cursed with such knowledge.
We think that because we exist in this natural habitat called earth that we must be natural ourselves, but we aren’t. If we all died tomorrow, no other organism on this planet would miss us. Nature would not miss us because it never needed us in the first place.
The fact of the matter is, we don’t know shit about anything.
The Flat Earthers
You may have heard of these people as they are all over the internet these days. Basically, Flat Earthers believe that the earth is, you guessed it, flat. Ridiculous, right?
Why is it ridiculous, though?
Because it goes against everything we know about science and the universe, right? We know for a fact that the earth is round, right?
Let me say that I don’t believe the earth is flat.
I also don’t hold any great conviction that the earth is round either.
As contradictory as that sounds, I am not prepared to take it on faith that either of these beliefs are true or untrue.
I simply don’t know if either are true because I have no way of testing either belief. When I see for myself firsthand, which will likely be never, that’s when I will believe one way or the other.
Why do you believe that the earth is round? I’ll tell you why…
Because other people told you so.
You also saw it on TV.
Just like everything else you know and hold to be true.
99% of what you believe has never been proved to you firsthand. Everything is secondhand information.
Scientists tell us stuff all the time, but scientists are just as untrustworthy as religious and political leaders.
Everyone has an agenda that ends up distorting the truth, if there ever was a truth to begin with.
History is a lie. A distortion of the facts. A cover-up of the facts.
When you step back from your screen and look at the bigger picture, nothing about this world makes any sense at all.
Which is why I say to you, if we don’t live in the Matrix—if the whole world isn’t just some computer simulation and we aren’t all just ones and zeros—then…
We might as well be.
Living In The Matrix
So if we can’t prove that anything is true, and since we can’t be certain about anything under the sun, how then are we supposed to live?
The short answer?
However the fuck you want, because it ultimately doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do.
The slightly longer answer?
You make connections wherever you can, with people you love, with people you share an affinity with. With nature.
And with yourself.
You do whatever you need to do to get through the day.
Just don’t kid yourself that there is any great meaning to any of it. There simply isn’t.
I think its arrogant to assume that you know the world well enough and how it works to attach meaning to it.
As I said, we don’t know shit, and you can’t attach meaning to something that you don’t know shit about.
So Where Does This Leave Us?
Stranded, I suppose. Trapped, in a way.
What do you do when you find yourself stranded on a desert island?
You survive. You make the most of things.
You do what you think is right for you.
That’s all anyone can do in the end.
I’ll give the last words to Ligotti:
To salve the pains of consciousness, some people anesthetize themselves with sunny thoughts. But not everyone can follow their lead, above all not those who sneer at the sun and everything upon which it beats down. Their only respite is in the balm of bleakness. Disdainful of the solicitations of hope, they look for sanctuary in desolate places – a scattering of ruins in a barren locale or a rubble of words in a book where someone whispers in a dry voice, “I too am here.”