It seems that the ultimate starting point for any philosophy is the realization that life is inherently futile. It’s the basic existential ground, more basic than accepting even our own death, (because it includes death) but also the lack of purpose, meaning and the impossibility of progress or accomplishment. When you can fully embrace the understanding that there is nothing about your life or living that will survive, that there is nothing of supposed human accomplishment that shall survive either, and that the destiny of everything is to be dissolved as a sand castle at high tide — then you have a good beginning point for building a philosophy.
Consider the possibility that we are “dead already” and everything about our life is already lost – then, if this was so, we would have nothing to lose by our living. There would be no need to hold back or play safe, because we have already let go of our attachment to life. So to act as if we were “free and dead” could also result in being so very much alive! Every sentient being at birth must live with death as an essential aspect of Life. Death is the inseparable companion of life, whether it’s acknowledged or not. However, when that awareness is finally accepted, you could be on your way to a truly full living of life. However, you must be willing to accompany the reaper at a moments notice, look forward with anticipation and delight to that prospect, and be ready to “go” with open heart and arms, without resistance or pretense. At that point you might really and completely live!
That “you” who is so resistant to dying, desperately holding on to a fading life, will not even be there or even care a bit the moment after “you” are finally gone. That “you” will evaporate as a cloud, with any remaining precipitation falling back into the ocean. But don’t worry, you won’t be there. So enjoy the ride, while it lasts, and then… back into the pool.
We have often heard the silly plaint that humans unfortunately do not arrive with an instruction manual. That being the case, I propose the following as a basic primer: you are here. You didn’t ask to be here and you’re not sure how you got here. You will not get out of this alive. Your life has no larger purpose other than possibly to reproduce (and it doesn’t matter much if you don’t, because there are plenty of others who will). Life doesn’t care whether you are happy, are in pain or live a long or a short life. All achievement, success or failure perceived in life is a complete bare-assed illusion. You will be forgotten soon after you are dead. Soon thereafter, almost all indication that you ever existed will disappear. You do have a part, however minor, in the larger play of life. If you’re lucky and persistent, you might be able to discover something of what it is.
That moment of elegant departure, when you know it’s the perfect time to leave the party. It’s never when the party is over or even when other guests are leaving. It’s your moment of personal knowing when it’s just the right time to leave with a gracious smile, a thank you and then a quiet exit. No time to linger, though there are still friends to speak with and things left unsaid. For it’s the time now to move on; to leave this party, knowing you may never return. The sirens of Eternity are beckoning and you must follow their call.
What’s It All About, Alfie?
We may, from time to time, experience what seems to be authentic transcendence, but what could that be? In other words, where could we actually transcend, where could we go? Of course, “no Where” is the hard answer, even as we may wish it otherwise. We humans are simply stuck in our little, separate and often desperate, incarnate lives with effectively no place to go. We can shuffle around a bit on this planet but we can never escape our personal little encapsulated mind-body bag. Life, then, is essentially about just doing our time, waiting to die; but is this outcome really so depressing? First, everybody does it — and not just humans. Every living being shares a similar experience: dogs, dolphins, and even bacteria; we all go through it. Think of the thousands of generations of humans who preceded us, people who, for the most part, had a much harsher experience. All of your ancestors, thousands of them, who have lived their average, simple and plodding lives. Why? Because that was the life available and offered to them, and they played the parts given. Usually they did it without too much complaint, and why? Because that was all there was; and it somehow seemed more worthwhile to live even a hard life than to be dead. So they lived and fucked and we are here now thanks to their persistence and ability to carry on. So now we do the same, and continue to wonder “why?” What is it all about, Alfie?