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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Meaning of Life

I dreamed of ships in rough seas making it safely to harbor.

It’s my birthday. I can’t claim to be at the halfway point anymore. Considering how I lived my life so far, how I’m living it right now and how I plan to live the rest of it, I have serious doubts that I’ll make it to 98. If you’re searching for regrets between the lines you won’t find any. You won’t descry any deep sense of contentment either. I’ve missed numerous chances and grabbed a few improbable ones out of the blue. I’ve stumbled and stood up, many times. I’ve loved and failed, yet I’m in love again, forever. This post, however, will follow a twist early on. It is about me, about my relationship with the rest of the universe and my true meaning.



A dear friend of mine, very close to my age, often repeats when under the influence: “Only if I knew then what I know now.” I always answer jokingly, more under the influence than he is: “Don’t get drippy on me. If I really knew then half of what I know now I would’ve changed the world in the blink of an eye.” But it was never meant to be that way.

In my quest to understand the meaning of life, and hey I’m claiming to have found the real answer here, I went through the gamut of faith, belief, doubt, skepticism, agnosticism and atheism. As a member of various social groups at subsequent stages in my development I interacted with and absorbed the prevalent social psychology. I befriended the deeply religious and hypnotically canting. I escorted them for a while then abandoned their convoy. I shared much more than bread and salt with their heathen nemeses and accompanied them to unattainable summits and unfathomable abysses. It was when I walked alone that I felt most comfortable, however. Somehow, somewhere the elusive answer existed in between doctrine and anarchy. I think the fatal fallacy of religion, every single one of them, is its claim to hold the absolute truth, to be the quintessence of the word of God. I differed with the nihilists also because of their arrogance, their cocksure mirrored rationale or lack of any to be more precise.

I owe it myself and to no one else to write down my syllogism since it’s my guiding light on the way to the inevitable end. I can’t maintain a gray opinion on certain subjects that are truly contradictory to my own sense of truth in a futile effort to not offend someone. The answer, as far as I’m concerned, is so elegantly simple. It might be difficult to put into words but that doesn’t detract from its inherent simplicity. For instance I need to affirm that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) not only makes more sense than the monotheist (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) story but actually negates any grain of truth in this agnate account. I can’t reduce my raison d’être to accept that I am a server, a worshiper or a propagator of the species at best.

I am because I am inevitable. There would be no notion of creation if it were not for me. There would be no perception. There would be no religion, there would be no science, there would be no arts, no philosophy, no poetry, not even a word. I have always existed and will forever prevail. In different forms of matter and energy, I am immortal. So is the universe, the timeless and ageless Cosmos, of which I am but an infinitesimal part. The rise of consciousness is ineluctable due to the grace of infinity. Anything can happen in an infinite timeframe, anything, even the emergence of sentient matter. It is very unlikely that the human race is a unique or solitary manifestation of cognizant beings. The cosmos must be teaming with consciousness everywhere and it is. Even the words Live, Alive and Life are too chauvinistic and provincial since biology is one known form to host consciousness but is not necessarily the only one.

When my energy is exhausted, when I physically die it will be difficult for the inert body left behind to regain awareness anytime soon. But as it breaks apart and joins the colossal pool of substance on this planet and the endless affluence of matter in the universe, parts of what was me will regain realization in some form out of the interminable variety on this same planet and eventually beyond. I might never love again as much as I do now but given a few years or a couple of millions I might very well do. With the luxury of infinity on my side, we will meet my sweetheart and me and fall in love all over again.

The three monotheist religions have already exhausted their purpose in the service of the human race. At their respective times they were revolutionary in their far reaching results and evolutionary in their old tried and tested approach to reason. But they have also caused agony and mayhem. They have raped liberties and further deepened the schism between the sexes. Humans, fauna and flora have been sacrificed in the name of an unforgiving god who only created us to worship him. Religion can’t replace science anymore as the notion is plainly absurd. It cannot befriend the accumulated and evolving knowledge of the human race either unless it admits that alongside its good nature it had always fostered the seeds of hypocrisy as well. Its only chance at credibility is to admit its human pedigree. For over forty years, ever since I received my early indoctrination of Islam, through the period I learned everything I needed to learn about Judaism and Christianity followed by my curiosity about all the better known human religions, their bodies of knowledge did not change. They have remained stagnant. I have been hearing the same sermons every week. I have been reading the same arguments over and over again; religion has completely lost its capacity to enchant me, to stir me, to scare me or to make me feel safe. I wake up in the morning and switch the TV on and discover a much more interesting feat of science. Everyday! Every single day… religion tries to fit in, to find a place, to make its absurd claim that it had told us so before. It had told us many stories most of which had been proven wrong. It certainly contains some truth hidden within the folds of its wide robes but not the absolute truth.

The birds’ song outside my window is inevitable, the rain drops, the smile of my beloved, the awaited sunshine, fear and comfort, sickness and health, the rich and poor, right and wrong, life and death. I am inevitable and I am celebrating my birthday in this shape, in this place, in this time. I've had billions and billions of birthdays before and I shall continue my celebration... forever.

50 comments:

[ j i m m y ] said...

it's been a while i haven't read a brief text that puts so well the whole of one's universe into perspective.

happy birthday.

Allie said...

Happy birthday, Abu Fares. :)

JGM said...

Happy Birthday Abufares. I hope your day was full of beautiful surprises...

Having read another one of your notable posts tonight: I pause to contemplate...my silent thoughts veer and they were silent no more as I was summoned by a waking voice in the distance...In the distance Richard Burton was reciting Dylan Thomas:

...It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and- rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.
Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cocklewomen and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrogered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wet-nosed yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.
You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing.
Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded town fast, and slow, asleep...
From Under Milk Wood

I sent you an email on the 22nd, please let me know if you’ve received it.

Diana said...

Happy birthday Abu Fares! :)

(I'll comment on some of the specifics of this post soon.)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Abu Fares.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjF1bG5LUcs

AN

mariyahsblog said...

Happy Birthday, dear Abu Fares! What a lot to contemplate today! Your thoughts are thoroughly astounding. I hope one day I might reach such clarity in my own life. All the best to you! Mariyah

Lujayn said...

Happy Birthday Abu Fares, may you enjoy many more, physical ones at least on this earth, and then, God knows ;))) Seriously, great post!

KJ said...

Happy birthday my friend :) I too feel part of the Cosmos, an organic Spirit where we are all one with :)

Enjoy your birthday buddy; it's a beautiful world.

abufares said...

@Jimmy
The longer the text the more the possibility of going astray and a simple answer is always more valid than a complex one.
Reality couldn't be but straight forward. I truly don't see any mystery and this is exactly what fascinates me.
Simple unadulterated Beauty.
Thanks for your BD wishes.

abufares said...

@Allie
Thank you Allie. My best wishes to you and yours.

abufares said...

@JGM
Thank you for your dapper comment and your birthday wishes.
I've received your email indeed. My BD was very ordinary. I spent most of it at home sitting by my solitary window and contemplating the birds' song, the rain drops and the rest of the beautiful universe.

abufares said...

@Diana
Thank you and I'm waiting eagerly for your upcoming comment.

abufares said...

@An
Thanks so much.

abufares said...

@Mariyah
You know what you really need!
You and I should consider sitting down somewhere quiet where I can show you how clear everything is:-)
Thank you so much for your BD wishes.

abufares said...

@Lujayn
There will be plenty to celebrate and as much to lament, at least during this current "physical" phase. Let's always keep track of the good times.
Thank you for your BD wishes.

abufares said...

@KJ
You are part of thee cosmos and over the eons we would keep meeting indefinitely.
Thanks for you BD wishes.

Jabi said...

hey happy birthday.. truth is out there for those who seek it.. its amazing where we find it though..:)

abufares said...

@Jabi
Thank you for your BD wishes and the "truth" is indeed out there and I've found it everywhere around me and more importantly, within me.

Anonymous said...

Abufares, i will not say happy birth day,
as you know i´ve been living alono for a long long time, usually i dont remember my birthday some of my friends call and say (( happybirthday ))thank you i answer, and with surprise they ask, arn´t you happy ? yes i am, just like any ordinary day,

in fact at home when i was a child i never remember of an aniversay feast,but I remember every real emportant day of my life, I learned that with my father, i´ll just mention some important days, the fist (feri hunting)of the season, the fist (jebne/chesse) of the season , the firt (tute)of the season the firt (meshemshe) of the season, the first(boni/fish) of the season, the first snow,
this is the endless sercle of the happening, so I have a birthday everyday,

Abufares happy everyday

The Syrian Brit said...

Many Happy Returns, Abu Fares..
Power stuff, as usual...
May God/Nature/Heavens/Good Luck or whatever/whoever is running this show, give you health, happiness, and contentment...

Abu Kareem said...

Happy birthday my friend. Your honesty is disarming as is your willingness to bare your soul. For someone still struggling, you gave me food for thought.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” Douglas Adams.

Powerful stuff and admirable valor.

Happy birthday Abu Fares. ;)

Karin said...

WOWOWOW ... philosophy of life, religion and eternal existence at it's BEST!!

As always Abufares - BRILLIANT post!!

I hope you had a GREAT DAY wrapping up the old and welcoming the new year of life with open arms! I wish you only the best of everything - ALWAYS, dear friend!!

abufares said...

@lê
You and I my friend have been celebrating life for a long long time. May you continue full steam ahead with joy and happiness.

abufares said...

@Syrian Brit

May the force be with you my friend and thanks for you kind words.

abufares said...

@DJ
I always look forward your comments. There's an element of being pleasantly surprised.
Thank you for your BD wishes.

Anonymous said...

you make me want to puke

abufares said...

@Abu Kareem
I'm glad you liked what you read. Disarming it is indeed, even to myself. Although it was therapeutic in a way to write this post down.
Thanks for your BD wishes.

abufares said...

@Karin
No post of mine is ever complete without your comments Karin.
I miss you around here and thank you for your support and caring.

abufares said...

@anonymous
Please do... may be you'll feel better.

suffonsifisms said...

Bravo, Abu Fares! This is simply an arresting post. Your truth and clarity is so compelling. Clearly, from the above comments and my own thoughts, giving us all pause to think about our own existence. Thank you and a belated Happy Birthday. Isobel

abufares said...

@Isobel
It's so nice to read your words wishing me a happy birthday. Even if it was just another day, you just made it so special.
Thank you for coming here, please do so... always.

Karin said...

Of course I care ... that's what friends are for!
I'll come over more often from now on ... PROMISE! :-)

Az3ar's Fan said...

Happy B.D. to our great Abu Fares.

All the best.

abufares said...

@Az3ar's Fan
Thank you so much for your BD wishes.

Lujayn said...

Good response to anonymous, Abu Fares, I like it :))

Katia said...

A very (belated) happy birthday, Abufares!

I read your post way too late, and even then, I couldn't really comment right away. I had to take it all in and pauze for a while. I definitely don't have your kind of wisdom, but your proze made feel like I might be on the right track to be able to say one day "if I knew then...". It's not a disaster for me to "not know" at this very moment but it would be if I end up never finding out a tidbit of it all.

Thanks for sharing these personal thoughts and again, I wish you many happy returns.

abufares said...

@Katia
Better late than never.
Thanks for your BD wishes.
The way I see it you are already possess more than your average share of wisdom.
I daresay that when I was younger I never bothered to contemplate the future much.
Still, no regrets, no overwhelming contentment.
I guess this is life to most of us.

Diana said...

"god who only created us to worship him. "

Please explain your views on this.

Enlightened said...

Abu Fares I dont know you, but after reading your post it seems i have known you a lifetime.

Many happy returns.

abufares said...

@Diana
I'm glad you came back although you've paused a very difficult question. Difficult in the sense that the answer is entangled in details, in this case, Islamic theology.
However,Judaism, Christianity and Islam's main premise is that there is a purpose behind the "creation" of humans (in God's image).
Listen to this:
GOD CREATED US FOR HIS GLORY - (Isaiah 43:1-7)
At one moment in the infinite stream of time the creation of humans took place[because these 3 religions insist that there was a Zero Point when the act of creating Adam and (later, as if she were an afterthought) Eve took place].
Did God existed infinitely before us without his GLORY then all of a sudden had the urge to be GLORIFIED?
This is much deeper than I intended to address in this post but I don't mind discussing it privately with you.
Thanks again.

abufares said...

@Enlightened
Thanks for enlightening all of us with your presence and for your BD wishes.

Rime said...

Hoping for many more birthdays, and many more occasions to reflect on everything around you, and everything you.

Sorry I'm late on everything these days, but I'm catching up and enjoying, even if not always commenting.

Gabriela said...

I come both from Mariyah's blog and from Global Voices Online. I'll start taking a look into your blog, as I guess I can consider myself invited to doing so.
By the way, happy (belated) birthday.
All the best from Lima, Perú.

Camille said...

Abufares,

What a wonderful post.

Khajjaltna ya zalameh! ... In comparison, the only thing I think about on my birthdays is how to make sure no one buys me gifts I never needed.

Happy Birthday! ... I was not planning to say it, being few days late, but then again I remembered the infinity part ... what's few days late.

Camille-Alexandre

abufares said...

@Rime
Whenever you come over you just make this blog a nicer and cozier place.
Thanks for your BD wishes.

abufares said...

@Gabriela
My heart goes out to Lima, Peru and says hi to you.
Since you came from Mariyah's blog then mi casa es su casa.
Feel free to wander around my blog as you please.
I have always dreamed of traveling to South America and if someday while walking in the streets of Lima you hear someone calling your name out loud... it might be me :-)

abufares said...

@Camille
You can never be late in wishing me a happy BD, you're right. According to me, I've been celebrating a perpetual one.
It's wonderful to see you here on my blog and you're welcome anytime.

Gabriela said...

I really hope, Abufares, that it may soon arrive the day when I hear my name called out loud.
Thanks for this warm welcome.

abufares said...

@Gabriela
You're always welcome.