It Is What It Is

What if the world of life on Earth is just a lucky accident brought about by a confluence of lucky coincidences: just the right distance from the Sun, just the right amount of gravitational force, just the right combination of elements to create water, just the right amount of star dust to initiate the complex molecules necessary to create life. What if all this came about because there are billions of universes, so the chance of a planet existing with all the criteria to create life is tiny, but possible.

What if, indeed.

This is what I have been reading in Accidental Universe, by Alan Lightman—who is not a science fiction author, but a physicist (and creative writer) at MIT, outlining the latest theories in quantum physics.

For all of my life, I have wondered about the meaning of our brief existence. I’ve meditated, converted to Zen Buddhism, paid attention and thought, thought, thought. But now if, as Lightman postulates, life may be not a divine occurrence fraught with baffling meaning, but is instead a random coming together of chance—well then heck, I’m off the hook. Life and its meaning, the universe and its meaning, our Earth and its meaning—the meaning part becomes optional.

I went for a walk down my dirt road after I finished the book to digest this revolutionary idea. As I looked at the familiar trees and stone wall, rather giddy thoughts were racing through my brain: Just an accident! led to Don’t have to figure it out! which became the inevitable, I can just experience it! A weight I didn’t know existed lifted and in the new freedom of just experiencing I saw the trees with clarity, as if for the first time.

And it was then that all my Buddhist beliefs and training slipped alongside this new physics: When you take away the meaning, life becomes profound.

being there

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4 thoughts on “It Is What It Is

  1. Ha! It’s actually Peter Sellers from the Movie “Being There.” One of the lines in the movie is: “Life is a state of mind.”

  2. What if, indeed!
    Out of all the possibilities, it had to be this, just this reality we perceive (or many we’re unaware of!)
    I guess I am at a point where I cannot yet take away the meaning… I am such a hard head, but I demand answers! hehe It seems to me, that inconceivable amounts of energy and time were expended which resulted in itti-bitti humans beings to recognize the reflection of their existence and consciously ask: what gives? hehehe

  3. Another book I just read that breaks down your wonderful question in a really interesting way is: THE MEANING OF HUMAN EXISTENCE by Edward O. Wilson. He’s professor emeritus at Harvard and and biologist. He brings up many good ideas about why we are the way we are. Highly recommend!

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