Last Thursday, my professor gave us a reflective exercise. Basically, you have to envision yourself going to your own funeral as a guest. We were to present a eulogy to all the people who visited your wake. At the end of the exercise, we were tasked to write what we saw and what we felt. The exercise was actually geared towards establishing our life’s mission statement in the future. This is what I wrote down:
First of all, I don’t intend nor do I expect to be brooded over by anyone upon my death. In this exercise, I honestly felt almost nothing. It felt like my final act of making people understand how finite life is. In this boundless reality that we speak of, we are not really that special. We all exist in a spur, as a knot on the endless thread of infinity. I am very well aware that my life is no more than important as anyone else’s. Sooner or later, people are forgotten. You probably will even forget your own if you do lose your consciousness upon your death. Wisdom on the other hand, is eternal. It is the crudest soul of all memories. It surpasses time and the capability of every living being to remember existence itself. My goal in my life is to discover as much of these raw truths as I can. I intend to imprint these on paper, on the minds of everyone I meet, and hopefully, on to the very core of mankind’s existence. That done, I’ll be contributing on our continuous quest on understanding ourselves and the reality that we all perceive. People may never know my name. They may even forget that I existed. Nevertheless, I will definitely be relieved if I leave something that will surpass the nature of death and the answer has always been under our eyelids, in the air that we breathe, at the very core of our nature as humans. That said, I believe that I can rest in peace knowing that the whole “reality” of which we speak of was better off having me in it rather than not at all.I didn’t really liked how this professor handled our class since he often contradicts himself. Nevertheless, it was a very interesting activity.
I stumbled across this video the other day and I find it truly agreeable.
Just like what my friend and I were discussing the other day, I do believe that there is very little room for the existence of altruism. By definition, it is the unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. Now, taking into account the concept of Causality, every act therefore corresponds to an effect. It is unacceptable to say that one is doing something “for no reason” or ” purely out of selflessness and righteousness”. By saying so, the person’s ability for reasoning becomes questionable (note Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum). Considering all these, I do believe that we do things not necessarily because it is what is considered as right (note that rightness is also subjective). It is quite evident that our actions can easily be traced back to personal interests.
For example, I would converse with a friend (cause) and in turn he shares his thoughts. Even though the situation seems quite indifferent, and I’m probably unable to realize it immediately, I was actually expecting to benefit from her thoughts (whether I agree to them or not) by starting the conversation in the first place.
By saying this, one can infer that we are all just acting based on our personal interests. However, I do believe that what matters most is how the act is reciprocated. For example, going back to the example I’ve given, I can share more of my thoughts to her (which also has the possibility of being beneficial for her) and do this in order to once again open up the possibility of her sharing more of her thoughts which I might also benefit from. Thus, it becomes a cycle of overlapping personal intentions. Some other examples are helping out a friend and in turn achieving happiness and self-fulfillment; and doing favors to achieve recognition and acceptance.
By saying so, altruism indeed seems to be simply another hypocrisy. However, what delineates the justification of all these actions are the means. I give something in return for what I have gained, and I gain something because I gave something in return for it. This reminds me once again of the Golden Rule “Do not do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” Other factors like claiming that one is acting based on altruism or perhaps the benefits of the action on both the sender and receiver is unbalanced (e.g. exploitation) can affect the morality (which is also subjective) of an action.
Thus, I would infer that Altruism can only exist in a dimension devoid of the concept of Causality. In such a dimension, your actions won’t produce any effects so therefore, self-interest is cancelled. Thus, actions based purely on altruism will be possible.
Now, of course I won’t say that I wrote this down out of sheer altruism. I’m quite aware that I’m doing this in order to open up the possibility of benefiting and learning from your thoughts as well. Now, don’t you think by responding to this, you are also opening up possibilities of benefiting from me too?
I can’t help but wonder. Have I really been happy? I’ve always thought that helping others achieve their own happiness will help me find mine. I’ve always been that kind of person who seems to enjoy helping out whoever’s in need, perhaps even to the point of giving up my own. However, I’m pretty aware that I haven’t found mine. Each time I would help out someone, maybe a friend of mine or maybe a stranger, I can’t help but feel envious of them afterwards. I mean, how do they know what makes them really happy? How come they’re so sure that they are indeed happy and that I’ve helped them find theirs? I know it seems greedy of me to ask but I really wish that each time I help someone out, I also experience at least a nib of the happiness they claim to have. Each laugh I try to purge out is always an attempt, and often in vain, to have a share of that bliss. Perhaps I simply cannot afford to be happy, or at least find its full realization in my life because it’ll always be at the expense of others. Nevertheless, I still believe in sharing what I have in pursuing the greater good even if I often lose the fruits I reap.
I sit alone somewhere isolated, far from noisy eyes, thinking. Existence. Yes. I exist. Or at least that’s what I think, and I was made to believe so. I wonder. How, of all the infinite possibilities of basically everything else, that I actually came to this so-called existence? Why? Why am I here? Just thinking about the microscopic chance that there is such a sentient being as me makes me restless. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll believe any claims on this subject at the moment. Such matters are still unresolved and are probably going to remain like so. The world right now seems like a tiny knot where all ends seem to meet, and each string of infinite length going outwards into oblivion. The concept of infinity is just too broad to grasp. This is the cause of my skepticism. Moreover, people right now overuse this magnificent word without realizing its elusiveness to mere human understanding. If infinity has an extent, what is beyond it? If it doesn’t, does it simply go around? If so, on what plane does it go around on? There are countless questions and speculations to go around with. Thinking about this can really make you feel small and insignificant. You may be the most powerful man in the world, but coming to a realization that the earth, is nothing more than a speck on the solar system, the solar system a mere spot in the milky way, the list stretching into infinity, reduces you into something closer to nothing. Then again, what exactly is nothingness? It seems so familiar and yet so indefinite once again.
I respect the diversity of people’s religious systems. I’ve been contemplating a lot on my religious views lately and asking myself the same question I’ve been trying to solve for months. How did I become an agnostic? Is it merely an inclination or a choice? After days of reflecting on this matter, I have come to a better understanding. Being agnostic is a decision I am truly accountable for. I’ve considered countless factors in understanding the sides of the presence and absence of divine intervention. It is impossible to either prove or disprove the existence of an omnipotent being. Given this thing which we call existence and guided both by reason and instinct, I am merely given uncertainty accompanied with an understanding of my diverse, multipolar potentials. I choose to think that I wasn’t promised another life beyond what I currently have, but I do not disregard its possibility. My reason is simple. The now is the only reality I am able to perceive, that I am willing to accept. Seeking life beyond the realm I am in disregards the existence that I believe I already have at the moment. It is more reasonable for me to work within this realm, striving to imprint as many positive footprints in it, so that at the time I depart this existence, it is conclusive that it is more beneficial for it to have my existence than not at all.