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Dancing my way around the Abyss

This is a depressing video about the psychological effects of nihilism.  I would like to thank Millennium Woes for being so honest and open about such a tough subject, especially his own grappling with depression and the Abyss.

I want to give this guy a big, long hug.

Long hugs release oxytocin goodness.


This is my response to the above video,  “What is the Abyss?”.   In high school I think I was near that place, not fully in, because I got myself out before I fell all the way in.  I don’t remember it that well, I have a terrible memory and it’s actually quite biased and remembers the good, lucky me!  But I read about it in my high school journals recently and I had some really disturbing dark poetry and stories and thoughts and feelings back then.  It was when I lost my faith in God.  I realized that it was probably all just made up to control people and probably not real.  Could some truth be behind these ideas in the various world faiths?  Maybe, but heaven and God just seemed too convenient of a people-control mechanism to be necessarily true.

The terror of death without heaven and a life without any meaning hit me like a ton of bricks.  At the same time I was a nerdy teenager, socially awkward, weird, never felt like I fit in anywhere.  I felt a severe lack of love.  I felt like I was in the darkness.  The world seemed so incredibly fucked up, suffering and misery and murder and war and hate everywhere and it made me so sad to have to live in this sick world without faith in God, in something better than this.

I figured that all I had for sure was this life, whatever else was out there, I couldn’t really say anything about, I’d just be believing and I can’t do that.  I was never an atheist, just skeptical and agnostic.  I figured why should human beings have access to higher truth or why should my brains’ conception of what is behind the material world we see be accurate when our brains are so limited?  But I had this life and I’m a trooper (my grandma was a natural stoic, I should write about that sometime, I’m so lucky to have her genes!), I had to figure out how to do something with it, to instill my own meaning so I would be able to enjoy the one thing I had.  Since I had no basis to form a rational decision, I just picked it for myself, why not?  It’s my life to make what I want of it.  I still wanted to be a good person as defined by most religions just in case there was truth to them.  I never knew for sure they were wrong so why take that risk?  I like the Golden Rule.  Also because it’s a natural human response due to evolution in tribes so it feels right, to act with compassion towards others.

Since I felt a lack of love in my childhood, I wanted to make sure that everyone I love in my life knew how loved they are.  That’s my mission.  I try my best to understand people, support them, help them, give to them, let them know how special they are to me.  I wanted that for myself, so I figured if I did it for others, that would spread it and would help make the world a better place in a small but tangible way.  Someday I’m going to model this and write a paper, as I think this is what happens at burning man.  So many of the problems of modern life are the removal of tribal communities and then, more recently, the breakdown of families, and the removal of religion without a replacement except for nihilism, hedonism, and materialism, instead of focussing on higher meaning.  Or those that want a higher meaning end up clinging to false religions of various kinds to find their hero projects.

Besides, everyone IS special, technically, as a biological organism with unique DNA, epigenetics, hormones, brain structure, etc.  Maybe soul too, who knows?  I think there’s something to loving, something very holy, not just pair bonding love, but expressing yourself (Radical self expression) and accepting others’ expressions of their selves, trying your best to understand and love them as they are, while encouraging their growth and working on your own as well.  Letting others know they are cared for.  Love is my thing!  I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a loving god, because I feel that by loving others, along the way I learned to love myself.  It feels truly amazing to love myself.

My other mission was to seek the truth about the universe and the only answers I could know with some certainty would be in science, so I become a scientist.

I still wasn’t happy about the whole death could just be the end thing, but I at least had a reason for living and it was so helpful for making my life feel meaningful to me and actually enjoy the one thing I have.   But I didn’t know what comes next and death was still very terrifying.  I just focussed on my mission and tried not to think about it.

At some point in late 2014 I watched this video:

 

Whether or not all the science he discusses holds out in 100 years, it still really touches me.  We are each a special part of this universe with our own consciousness.  I suspect there’s something to this consciousness thing beyond what we can see and measure, but who knows?  This next story happened after I read this Einstein quote:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experience himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind

I visited Felton, California and I danced under the stars while listening to music on my headphones.  I was in a cemetery in the middle of a beautiful redwood forest on this lovely planet earth dancing where dead people lay and I accepted my place as part of this universe and that my death would come and I would accept what the universe had for me after, accept the mystery.  I don’t know what it’s all about, I don’t know what will happen, but I’m just going to do my best to enjoy this one thing I have, my life, and do my best to do some good for humanity while I’m here and keep on loving those I meet in my daily life.  I live my life fully.  Then my matter will go on, I’m a part of this beautiful thing and I accept whatever fate it gives me and am ok with the uncertainty!  At that point I accepted my death.  Do I want it?  NO!  Do I hope there’s something after this?  Yes!!!!!  Do I live my life as if this is it and this is my one shot to make it happen, YES!

I like to hypothesize that this universe is like Mario Brothers.  We go through levels of harder lives on this world, evolve to be more wise (not intelligent, wise, those are two different things) and loving, cuz this is my made up religion and those are my values.  Then when you pass the final level, you get to go to another world as a different form of life there, which starts above our highest level, humans.  Or is it dolphins?  (So long and thanks for all the fish!)  There could be many of these worlds with life in the universe that we may get to go to in our next lives!  Maybe we get cool X-men super powers, wouldn’t that be AMAZING?  Maybe after that, we get to reach a state of consciousness like the Ascended in the TV Show Stargate SG1?

I wanted to write this post before I finish the book I’m reading, “Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics“, a book a friend said helped him get his faith back.  I’ve already decided that having no source of Being or Creator doesn’t really make sense, but then again, my mind is limited, argh, I’m an EXTREME SKEPTIC.  I’m starting to think of God as infinity, mostly so I can consider myself praying whenever I do calculus 😛

If I get my faith back, I will be glad to have it.  Like Millennial Woes, I find the arrogant atheists who think they know that there is nothing to be harmful, not helpful.  You can’t base a religion on atheism, it doesn’t provide meaning for people!  Also, atheists don’t reproduce faster than the religious, so it won’t grow organically.   Some particular weirdos are attracted to this cult because it gives them a sense of superiority to feel better than those who believe faith systems (we all know THOSE atheists).  But who is really superior?

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2 Comments

  1. I was once pretty heavily into nihilism.

    Ironically, it was my layman’s study of certain aspects of physics and its relationship to consciousness that caused me to question existential nihilism. It strikes me as unlikely that the only thing that could possibly matter—consciousness—just so happens to exist.

    It’s more likely to me that consciousness is central to what the universe is rather than just a rare artifact, to my mind. That brings up the possibility of purpose.

    This doesn’t mean any particular book written by some desert tribe is true (it may, in part, be a good faith effort to understand things, and other religions and traditions may be even a more serious effort such as, say, Buddhism with its inquiries into conscious experience, although really all or most religions, with their attempts to alter consciousness and so forth) , but to my mind it leaves open the possibility, even likelihood, of more meaning than just nothing.

    Do we live in a universe with nothing? No, no we do not. Not only that, we live in one where we can think, feel, and experience! To call that a mere artifact of matter is an outright religious assertion.

  2. yoshi s island yoshi s island

    “When you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you,”
    someone wrote.

    “I don’t remember it that well, I have a terrible memory and it’s actually quite biased and remembers the good, lucky me!”

    Being aware of the neurotypical optimistic bias is already not… that typical.
    All sensitive people tend to have weaker memory. (On the contrary, memory is positively correlated with general intelligence.)

    ” I felt a severe lack of love.”
    I just can’t believe there’s a woman physics PhD out there like you.
    How come you didn’t prefer humanities and arts?
    What a one-timer, and a cute one at that.
    However, sensitivity is a load on the psyche.
    Philosophy (the real one, nothing to do with the dead-cool analyticitism or social nihilism sold as egualitarism that have triumphed in the last century in the USA academia) has a lot to offer you, I think. A lot of questions, and hopefully some answers as well.

    “The terror of death without heaven and a life without any meaning hit me like a ton of bricks.”

    Baumann has a very good book on that: “Mortality, Immortality and Other Life Strategies.”

    “Since I felt a lack of love in my childhood, I wanted to make sure that everyone I love in my life knew how loved they are. That’s my mission. ”

    The mission’s head is going to bang its head against a thick wall.

    ” Or those that want a higher meaning end up clinging to false religions of various kinds to find their hero projects.”

    You are not in the position to establish climate change’s falsity. It’s also contradictory with your reasoning in many other settings.
    Probably the “leftism” of climate change advocates is behind this attitude of yours.
    They can be on the right side, once in a while, I am afraid.

    “My other mission was to seek the truth about the universe and the only answers I could know with some certainty would be in science, so I become a scientist.”

    That “become” assures as you became a scientist. A scientist who became a scientist for only science provides us with somehow certain answers, at that.
    🙂

    ” (not intelligent, wise, those are two different things) ”
    Indeed. Very much indeed.

    “I wanted to write this post before I finish the book I’m reading, “Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics“, a book a friend said helped him get his faith back. I’ve already decided that having no source of Being or Creator doesn’t really make sense, but then again, my mind is limited, argh, I’m an EXTREME SKEPTIC. I’m starting to think of God as infinity, mostly so I can consider myself praying whenever I do calculus”

    Calculus has everything to do with our finiteness, and nothing with “infinity.” (And I know you know that.)

    “Some particular weirdos are attracted to this cult because it gives them a sense of superiority to feel better than those who believe faith systems (we all know THOSE atheists). But who is really superior?”

    Someone, if any are there, who sees the silliness in the concept of superiority per se.

    Cheers

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