If the use of profanity offends you, here’s a nice, fluffy kitty to look at instead.
I think this cool cat might be a higher power. At the very least he’s a purpose or meaning in life. Why do I think this? Recently I had an exchange with someone who informed me that I’d have to be mentally unbalanced not to descend into a life of pure hedonism without belief in a higher power, meaning, or purpose. Because I value people and am a nature-lover without belief in ultimate purpose or a higher power I’m a candidate for a straightjacket and a padded room.
Because I spoke of having an impact and leaving a footprint that ultimately speaks of a direction to which I am contributing. Because I have direction, instead of floundering about aimlessly, my life has purpose or meaning. The implication, though not explicit, was that this direction comes from something greater than myself.
This universe is greater than me. I am only a tiny ant on a small blue dot in a seemingly infinite universe. But does the universe give me direction? Does it direct my life? Only in the sense that it’s forces have an influence on my decisions – not because it was something that was instilled in me or innate from the beginning.
The only sensible reaction to a complete conviction that there is no higher power would be to place self-gratification above all else. What logical reason would there be for not doing so?…..
…..The one who utterly believes in no form of power or purpose would be mentally unbalanced not to go for self-gratification over completely purposeless self-denial. ”Doing the right thing” is an acknowledgement of purpose.
Are love, empathy, compassion, and nurture evidence of a higher power? Are they a higher power, themselves? They could be self-preservation. When we place indulgent self-gratification above all else without regard to our fellow man or the environment in which we live chances are we won’t have anything left but our right hand. Other people will cut you out of their lives if you continually behave in ways that don’t enhance their lives in some way. Our immediate environment might look like a giant refuse collection site. There are people who do live this way – even people who say they believe in a higher power.
Maybe we all live in a way that does place self-gratification above all else. Self-gratification is different for different people. For some it does mean orgies, drugs, alcohol and complete self-indulgence. It is possible that making others’ lives better, improving the environment, knowing that they left the only world they know exists a better place when they leave it than when they came into it is gratifying. Most people wouldn’t call that self-gratification but, in a way, it is.
I highly doubt any of us operates in a way that is totally selfless – ever. Even when we martyr ourselves it gives us some sort of “feel good” experience or we wouldn’t do it. Even if we don’t know that’s why we’re doing it at the time. I submit that no one “goes for completely purposeless self-denial” but not because…higher power or some belief in an ultimate purpose.
Is loving our family, our friends, our neighbors, and the environment in which we live indicative of purpose or meaning? Only if we choose for that to be our meaning and purpose. I don’t believe there is any ultimate purpose or meaning. Our lives have the purpose and meaning we give it. My meaning and purpose is not the same as yours. When we fill our lives with the things we love and do the things we love we are gratifying ourselves.
Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.
If your meaning and purpose in life is to seek a perceived higher power, call it what it is:
I go to seek a Great Perhaps.
― François Rabelais
However if you need this higher power to give you some ultimate purpose in life not to be an asshat of astronomical proportions riding the stream of life in your giant douche-canoe and to play well with others, by all means, please carry on. Just don’t be so certain you’ll find this higher power or what it is that this higher power wants. Don’t assign it characteristics, personality traits, desires, or purposes. Don’t assume it plays favorites, that it loves, or that it hates, and don’t presume to know it’s will. I have a sneaking suspicion that this concept of needing a higher power or ultimate purpose is contrived in our own minds.
In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness.
And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.” And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat, looked around, and spoke. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely.
“Everything must have a purpose?” asked God.
“Certainly,” said man.
“Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God.
And He went away.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle