May 10, 2016

Why Our Existence Matters: How to Beat the Existential Blues.

hugo still

Sometimes I get in a nihilistic mood and think it doesn’t really matter that I’m alive. Sure, the people in my life would be sad if I was gone, but does my existence itself really mean anything?

In the grand scheme of things, I’m a speck, a peon, a flash in the pan of existence. Furthermore, I think of myself as expendable and exchangeable in the sense that if I wasn’t here, someone else would accomplish what is required of me; that the universe would work through someone else.

I read something recently that had me rethink my perspective and help with the existential blues. In his book, Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas posits two ways of grappling with the universe and uses the analogy of two suitors to explain them. In the first approach, the suitor treats the universe as if it has no intelligence and is something to be exploited for his own gain. In the second, the suitor seeks to know you (the universe):

“[N]ot that he might better exploit you, but rather to unite with you and thereby bring forth something new, a creative synthesis emerging from both of your depths. He desires to liberate that which has been hidden by the separation between knower and known. His ultimate goal of knowledge is not increased mastery, prediction, and control, but rather a more richly responsive and empowered participation in a co-creative unfolding of new realities. He seeks an intellectual fulfillment that is intimately linked with imaginative vision, moral transformation, empathic understanding, aesthetic delight. His act of knowledge is essentially an act of love and intelligence combined, of wonder as well as discernment, of opening to a process of mutual discovery.”

Wow. That paragraph. Reading it I came to the realization it does matter that I’m here, that I’m alive at this moment in time. Not because I exist and therefore I matter—I can’t get behind that just yet—but rather because me being here, now, I am able to co-create something with the universe that otherwise would not have been birthed. Posted on my bathroom mirror are the questions: “What does higher power want to work through me? And what part of self needs to step aside in order for that to happen?” God, higher power, the universe—whatever term you want to use—is working through me in a mutually fulfilling way whereby we both benefit. I, you, we, have special gifts and talents that are not expendable, not exchangeable, and not unimportant.

I forget that sometimes (most times). Instead I fall into the trap of comparing myself with others, especially others who have the sort of life I think I want for myself. It’s easy to believe other people are more special, more blessed, more gifted. That they have something I don’t which explains their success. When I remember the above quote from Tarnas, it reminds me I, too, am special, blessed, and gifted. Not more so, not less than—equally. I’m reminded to keep the focus on myself, on my own dance with the divine. I am not any of the people I compare myself with; I am me, and “me” has her own path to walk, her own life to experience, and it’s anything but insignificant.

My spiritual teacher Shrii Shrii Anandamurti said, “If one ant meets a premature death, it will disturb the balance of the entire cosmos. Therefore, nothing here is unimportant, not even an ant.”

Nothing here is unimportant. I matter, you matter, we matter. We are here for a reason. If I remain stuck in an inferiority complex of sorts, I miss the opportunity for higher power to work through me and I miss out on the creative synthesis Tarnas mentions. Part of that synthesis means valuing my part and not giving more significance to higher power’s because we are in a co-creative dance with the divine and as they say: It takes two to tango.

For the time being, let’s enjoy the dance.



Author: Rebekah Moan

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Movie Still

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