174 – Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? VI

Update on my ongoing quest to answer what I believe are the most profound questions posed to the human mind. These questions are the title of one of the most beautiful and enigmatic paintings by Paul Gauguin.

Where do we come from?

Like cells in our bodies, we emerge out of a living Being; a self-organizing, self-generating, self-transforming phenomenon whose unfolding we call Evolution. But Evolution is the progression of this phenomenon amid trial and error, creation and destruction, towards higher levels of complexity and order … from clouds of ice and dust into solar systems, from cells into human beings, from stars into galaxies, from nervous systems into the wonder of the mind. And because the progression of this phenomenon is relatively measurable, its determination tangible, its power to destroy and create self-evident, yet it remains incomprehensible, some of us call it God, but we tend to call God what we cannot comprehend.

And although the unfolding of this phenomenon is the archetype of our genesis … the coming together of elements into our self-organizing organisms; the flow of ancient instincts in our blood; our primal urge to bond, to re-generate, to survive; our boundless ingenuity in adaptation, our reflective contemplation of self-reflection … what this phenomenon is, how it might have been engendered, what its purpose might be, we cannot yet comprehend – perhaps we never will.

What are we?

I do not know. But I do know that we are incredibly complex and beautiful manifestations of the living phenomenon; insignificant in the scheme of the Universe and significant in the scheme of the atomic elements; promoters of its universal mandate to Become, to Self-organize, to Bond, to Re-generate, to Adapt, to Self-perpetuate, to Transform; participants in the renewal and perpetuation of its onward movement.

And even though our actions and reactions are limited by physical laws that regulate our internal and external environments, we nonetheless have evolved the capacity to be self-conscious of our degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our world … and thus we are self-conscious sources of transformation.

Where are we going?

Limited by internal and external environments, yet pregnant with the possibilities of a degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our world, we forge ahead until we no longer can; at which point we begin the inexorable return to the environment from which we emerged.

But in equal measure to what we have imagined,

to what we have created,

to what we have destroyed,

to what we have taken,

to what we have given to the world, we may re-emerge into a more complex form of existence.

Think of Einstein – how his ideas live among us opening new visions and challenging our understanding of Reality; or Darwin – how his theory lives among us stimulating research on the origins of Life; or Mandela, or Gandhi – how their courage live among us inspiring pacifist rebellion against the destructive tyranny of unaccountable power; or Socrates – how his method of inquiry lives among us stimulating critical thinking and the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself; or Gauguin – how his profound questions live on his beautiful painting, daring us to find answers. These individuals live on in us, changing and challenging our understanding of the unfolding phenomenon from which we emerge, helping us move forward in the transcendental process of Becoming. Humanity is better because of the significance of their lives.

WHERE DO WE COME FROM? We emerge out of a self-generating, self-organizing, self-transforming Being.

WHAT ARE WE? We are self-conscious sources of transformation.

WHERE ARE WE GOING? We transcend into the Future in equal measure to the significance of our lives.

Imagine how different our world will be when these manifest Facts become the foundation of what we teach our children.


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