So, a quick explanation of why I haven’t written much. I realized the key to happiness. I tried to fight the realization. I tried to find holes in it. I tried to disprove it. But the more I thought about it the more I knew it was right.
Happiness is feeling powerful.
We are happiest when feeling powerful, and most miserable when feeling powerless.
We have shallow friendships because having people around that we feel better than makes us feel powerful. Shallow friendships (which will be the balance of most of the people we are friends with in this life) are like knick-knacks. They give something to do while you putter around, and make the place more interesting.
We have meaningful friendships because those are the few people who by their commitment to us enhance our power.
People form into groups to get access to power.
Religion is all about power. The question every religion answers is what must I do to have access to divine power?
Religious groups complain about the state of society because they look back to a time when they had more power, and feel the lose keenly.
I have very little power over the world.
I thought before I wanted to change the world. I can’t. It doesn’t mater what I think about abortion or murder or government. I don’t have the power to write policy so my beliefs about these things change nothing on the whole.
I’m not rich, I’m not famous, I’m not powerful. Thus no one cares what I think, particularly if I disagree with rich, famous people in positions of power.
The only things I have power over are not system wide, they effect mostly just me. I have some control over my attitudes, and much control over my actions. That’s it. There is no point in knowing a ton of stuff that I can’t do anything with.
Tonight, it is about 40 degrees F. (3 to 5 deg Celsius). I guess I am cold blooded, because I adore this weather. I took a walk tonight. Feeling the wind on my face makes me feel so alive. It’s so great to be free…
I read the story of of John Sperling sometime ago. In case you don’t know, he’s a billionaire who made is money starting the University of Phoenix, and then wrote the story in an autobiography. He mentioned how he began to struggle with thoughts of suicide, and, concerned for himself, went to speak with psychologist. The psychologist listened for several sessions then said, “John, there is nothing wrong with you psychologically. What you need is some philosophy.” So, Dr. Sperling sat down and studied philosophy. As he came to understand philosophy and apply it to his life, he found a slow peace building within him.
For a long time, I didn’t think I needed philosophy. Philosophy is “…the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, justice, validity, mind, and language.” Philosophy is differed from more stereotypically religious ways of studying those issues in the fact that philosophy seeks to be rational, systematic, and have each point open to debate.
The Church presented me with a prepackaged world view, which I sincerely believed to be systematic (though it wasn’t). When I no longer placed faith in the Church to help me understand God, I didn’t trust them to help me understand the world that I believed God had created. This left me suddenly rudderless.
I then came to doubt the existence of a personal God. [My usual note here: this doesn’t mean that I think there is no God. It means I see no evidence that if God exists, he relates to folks in away that most people would consider “personal”.] I’d gone from rudderless, to boatless!
I had so many questions and so few answers. Bit by bit, I was able to reason out a world view. I made some false steps along the way, but I was bothered mostly by questions of my past. What had the purpose of this past event been, that past event been? Why had this happened to me? Why did this person say this thing? Perhaps the most bothersome was, “If relationship X was never meant to go anywhere, what was it for?”
Recently, I began studying existentialism. I’d read about it before, but only in the context of which parts were congruent with the Bible (and therefore “right”) and which parts were in-congruent with the Bible (and therefore “wrong”). [Wikipedia has an excellent article on the subject, here.]
It’s so beautiful! Elegance is “…is the attribute of being unusually effective and simple.” Existentialism, when well explained, is one of the most elegant philosophies I’ve ever read. I think I have been accidentally sneaking up on existentialism since I finished reading through the Bible last February.
I think it’s my newly discovered embrace of existentialism that has helped me find so much peace over the last few months. It helps me get a grip on my place in the world. As I walked along tonight, I enjoyed the cool air as much as the complete absence of guilt. I’m just so glad to be me, here, now.
Einstein believed that there was one single guiding principal that allows all of the fundamental forces between elementary particles to be written in terms of a single field. He called the rationalization of this belief Unified Field Theory. Its not much of step to link the theory to the idea that there is single theory which could explain how all of physics functions, from the tiniest sub-particle to mass of whole galaxy, from gravity and magnetism, to quantum glue and particle spin. In effect it would explain all matter and energy. The first mention of this theory was by a Polish science fiction writer who called it “Ogólna Teoria Wszystkiego” or the Theory of Everything (ToE).
Everything that exists in this universe has name, its called reality. Philosophers have been searching for one single guiding principal of reality as long as there have been philosophers. The search for the Theory of everything is the search for Truth. Truth with a capital t (capital t truth or CTT). Plain old run of the mill truth is defined as that which conforms to reality, but reality is specific to the context of the reality which is being examined. That which is true about pie is not necessarily true about pi which explains why there is some truth in relativism, but ultimately relativism isn’t true.
What the philosophers and quantum physicists seem to be searching for is some truth which transcends context, some truth that just keeps enlarging to encircle everything that exists. Ultimately, everyone who wants Truth is looking for that One Thing. The thing whose sum is greater than its parts. All of our highest ideals represent that which is greater than the sum of its parts. Is not a great man made of the same amino acids as a merely adequate man? Thousands of men have played billions of notes over the centuries, yet there is only one Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Some philosophers believed that Art would die when cameras and mass production made realism cheap and reproducible, yet Art remained as any deep thinking artist could have said would happen. Why? Because greatness in an artist has little to do with reality. Photo-realism is a mere technical skill; the mark of great master is knowing how to make people feel what he intends, which involves weaving reality and un-reality together. Though man cannot agree on what parts of reality are great, we all seem to intuitively agree on what the idea of greatness is.
Greatness is the quality of being more than the sum of constituent parts. When we search for Truth, we are seeking greatness. The Unified Theory of Everything is the search for something so great, that it doesn’t change with shifting face of the reality it describes. That is Truth.
I believe in Truth. I know thats not fashionable anymore. Thankfully, Truth does not change with fashion or whim. It is not because we wish it so or not so. Truth is. By definition Truth is much bigger than I am. I want to hug Truth in one day, I want to wrap my arms around it right now, but I can’t because anything that I can wrap my arms around in a single moment is most likely not even close enough to be Truth. So I seek Truth the only way I can.
I think Truth is not a destination, but journey. I think it is a cobblestone road and I think that every cobble is little contextual truth. The truth that light is light and dark is not is not less or more true than the truth of God’s existence, nor more or less important. I think that real satisfaction with life comes from Truth. The closer one places his life inline with Truth the happier and simpler his life becomes, and one aligns with Truth by accepting truth.
I love truths. I’ve sought them my whole life. I want to live true to Truth. This has always made me different than most people I meet, but because I never accepted it at my very core it never had the chance to change me as fully as it might. I loved truth outside of my religion and politics, but within religion and politics, I had to accept various hypocrisies. Hypocrisy is the act of condemning another person for an act of which the critic is guilty. Hypocrisy is flagrant departure from truth.
Since, truth is that which conforms to reality and there is only one reality, holding people to one standard of how to act on reality while holding yourself to another is based on a lie. Namely, that you are special. The fact which conforms to reality is that you are not special. The universe will not give you different rules that it gives everyone. You will obey the laws of physics whether you are aware of them or not. You are not special.
But I had to believe that I was so special that I was infallible. To honestly assess the systems of faith I held would result in clearly seeing the failures inherent to those systems, so I had to carefully not asses them. Similtaneously, I believed that unexamined life was valueless. Resulting in the further lie of not only being infallible, but having special insight into truth and knowing without examination with truths were worthy of examination. Honestly, I think most hypocrisy is an attempt to “legislate” away another hypocrisy.
Eventually this can only lead you to believe in magic. The special exemptions pile on top of one another creating an identity founded on the idea that you are totally exempt even from anything that you haven’t personally defined. Logically, the only direction this can go is that your thoughts make reality, you can make what is real inside without physical work, merely by the power of belief.
But of course, I couldn’t really change reality by wanting too. Eventually, truth lead me to truth. I sat down with the systems of faith I had, and analyzed them. Of course, they fell apart. Gradually, I met God in all this, and I began to see scripture. It was funny. So much of what had seemed so contradictory in the way of God was not His hypocrisy, but mine. God was consistent within His own definition of Himself, he simply disagreed with the way I preferred to define Him.
Its been a great blessing addressing those last to prime holdouts of lies in my life: my faith in God (religion) and my faith in man (politics). When I let go of what I wanted to be true and accepted what is true, the great storm of my life quited. Like a graphic Renaissance fresco, hidden by blue-nosed Victorian under plaster, as the chunks of hypocrisy and self made lies fell of, my world view becomes more beautiful. The deeper I lived in truth, the less odious God became to me. I’ve even begun to want to love God, this Master Craftsmen who built the reality that dwell in, which is exciting.
The unexpected side effect of all this is growing sense of alienation from those around me. When the pursuit of life’s truths, even the simple ones, is more important to you than which group you belong to, no group fits anymore. There is no handle to grab a hold of my identity with anymore.
I’m started to want to know Christ, but I am not a Christian. I love the stars and the moon and the trees, I believe they are important and spiritual, but I am not a Pagan, or even a hippie. I’ve read the Koran, but I am not Muslim. The truths in the religions I study are far more important to me than the opinions their adherents. So I don’t fit in anywhere anymore.
That’s OK with me, its just a weird feeling. Tonight we celebrated New Year’s Eve with a lovely Catholic couple we know. I looked at the crucifixes on their throats, on their walls, and on their refrigerator door and I wished I could have one simple thing that could tell the world who I am, and attract people who share my path to me, a simple symbol that represented a whole code, a people, a way of life, and a single purpose. Sometimes I when I look at a menorah, or a crucifix, and even, once in a great while, an ichthus (the “Jesus Fish”) I feel this deep, aching longing to be part of.
But, I sigh, I will not belong to them for all the wishing, because wishing does not make reality, even when I wish it does. Truth remains, and hopefully always will remain, more important to me than belonging to a group who claims to have it.