The first three questions I offered before were these:
- Why do I exist?
- Why does anything exist?
- Does anything really exist at all?
Staring with the third of these is necessary. Removing the doubt from this most basic inquiry allows progress to be made on the more – interesting subjects.
The answer to the third question is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If the answer is ‘maybe’, it isn’t an answer at all. If the answer is yes, something exists, then there is no problem. The real problem seems to be when the second question ‘how do I know that anything exists?’ follows from the first. This is because it takes us into the world of what ‘know’ might mean.
But it is, really, a false dilemma. For the sake of argument, let it be assumed that what we think of as ‘existence’ does not, actually, ‘really’ exist. What is it that we think is going on then? If not ‘actual’, then it must be imagined – perhaps the dream of a butterfly, or of a divine figure, of a ‘cosmic mind’ – who knows? Perhaps all that we imagine exists is our own fevered dream, and we are trapped in ‘the Matrix’, some kind of dream-state, as in the film of that name.
There are two responses to this; first, if it is imagined, then it must be being imagined by a consciousness of some kind, a ‘mind’ must exist to do the imagining. And if a mind must exist, then something exists, there must be something, in or outside the Universe, which actually does exist. Ah, you say, but what if that mind’s existence is also imagined? Then the step goes one stage farther back. It doesn’t make any difference how far back you take it, at some point, infinitely far down the line, perhaps, at bottom, there must be an existence.
‘Ah,’ you say, ‘but all it might be is radio waves, or electromagnetic forces, or the accidental collision of particles of energy.’ it makes no difference; whatever the cause is of imagined existence, it in itself must exist. So, it is not possible for nothing to exist.
Do you see where this takes us?
The second response (roughly) is this: It makes no difference to us and our lives whether what we think existence is is real or imagined; in terms of how it effects us, both the real and the imaginary have equal power; the imagined may only ‘seem’ real, but that seeming has the force of reality; it is immanent and experienced (or perceived). The status does not change what happens in our lives one jot, permits no escape from some kind of real. It is simpler, then, to accept that what appears to be real actually is real, rather than worry about how real it might not be. In the end, the question is not worth asking: it makes no difference to us, to you.
So, this is the first axiom, or principle, of the meaning of life: Life is real; the world is real, we are real; everything actually exists as it appears to, by and large. To speculate otherwise is pointless. Accept this first: existence is.
And be loved.