I checked Ajay Varma’s blog on a whim today – a few days after I restarted this blog here – and found this intimate and honest post. I’m going to respond to a particular part of his post:
“It is easy to be a fount of rationality and say these things, of course – but beyond the chatter, we actually have to come to terms with it. It eats me up, knowing that I am just a speck of dust in the larger scheme of things, and that soon I’ll be gone, poof, just like that. What good is my existence if I won’t be around after the fact to reflect on it? As loved ones die and I grow older, I can’t help but envy those around me for their false consolations, their anesthesia: they cope, they thrive, they manufacture meaning in their lives. Our job is harder.”
I appreciate his honesty here. I can’t say I disagree with much of his post. I can’t say life has made me more of an expert on it than him. And I quite possibly fit the definition of an atheist that he’s laid out.
None of it gives me any comfort. I understand deeply Ajay’s “envy”. And yet, I cling to it. A belief. A hope. I have nothing much else to go on.
To be gifted with the power of reasoning is as inadequate description of a human capability as it goes. We are to appreciate this imagination that deals both happiness and sadness.
It is said when Buddha was confronted with human mortality, he abandoned his worldly duties in search of enlightenment. And the answer he discovered lay in the removal of attachment, the source of desire and the suffering that came from it.
So does enlightenment lie on the path of the removal of attachment? The removal of manufactured meaning (quite possibly redundant unless there is such a thing as natural meaning)?
But where are we left without manufactured meaning? That which is and just that, which seems so inadequate.
Without the answer to this question, I am left with this:
It is ironic that Yann Martel’s ambiguity is unsettling for many on the religious right, because it gives them an out. A hint of a battlefield where there is no level playing field. But maybe I should not be so surprised. The religious right was never about a search for truth or value. It has always been about power, as with so many other human organizations. I digress.
Certainly, it is easier to create meaning than to search for the truth. But there is another way to achieve immortality and overcome mortality. And that too is an act of letting go.
When I pass, I hope that those lucky enough to outlive me or come after me resemble me in some meaningful way. When I share 99% of my DNA with everyone else, it seems ridiculous to desire some unique trait or memory of mine lives on through someone else. So I must be content that I have already left a thumbprint that will outlive me and any meaning I manufacture.