I like to ask questions. I don’t care so much about the answers: the process of wondering, conjecturing, and theorizing is far more enjoyable than the act of seeking out and finding the “answers,” of “knowing the Truth.”
I’m one of those people for whom “Truth” is inconsequential. I do believe that it exists, but not as a solid unidimensional point of reality, but as a multifaceted gem: a polygonal object of infinite
planes–a brilliant-cut diamond shaped from raw reality and set into a support that displays and holds its beauty for posterity. Reality is a malleable substance, and we create our truths from that substance. This is not to say that Truth is fake. Even molded from the stuff of reality, it is still real, but it is a reality that is shaped to suit our likings and our needs. A cut diamond, for all its flaws and perfections, is still just as real as the rough stone mined out of the mountains.
Here is a sampling of some questions I have asked myself in the past year. I keep these things in my notebook, and sometimes review them, wondering about every possible facet of the gem of reality I am considering.
- As an atheist, how can art-making be a spiritual practice? Why do I feel that it is? What is it about art making–the creative process–makes it a spiritual activity? Is the spiritual aspect of creativity essential to the act for all artists, or is it a fringe benefit that not all artists necessarily receive? Is it possible to create without spirit? Perhaps, if forced to create something on demand, but is it art if it does not come from the spirit? Is it possible for any article of creation to arise without that essence of the self?
- Which comes first: freedom of body or freedom of mind? Is it possible for one to be Free when the body is bound in chains? How can I cultivate a sense of mental freedom when my body is constrained by my obligations and limitations? Or when my mind itself is constrained by emotionalism and spontaneous reactivity?
- What is freedom? Can freedom exist in our reality? In whatever way we define freedom to be, and in whatever degree it can exist in our reality, can it be said, honestly, that we as Americans, as a people and as individuals, are free?
- Why do we conjecture about an “afterlife”? Death can never really be understood because it is known only as the event in which the living cease to be living. Death is not-life, so how can we presume to conjecture about the nature and properties of death or the afterlife if we do not know what Life is as well? What is Life–what is it that makes the Living living, and the Dead not-living? Is it possible that Life, as a property of the universe, is like Energy and Matter, and can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted from one form to another? Is Life an arrangement of energy and matter, a property of a combination of both, or is it a separate “force” with its own properties and laws?
When I start these kind of Wonderings, I let “answers” come to me, but I don’t pursue them with the voracity of a scientist hunting for the truth. For me, truth can be seen in glimpses of reflection, in the flash of light, or in the shimmer of color that the Infinite Diamond of Reality holds within its molecular walls. I find myself content with the faceted view–that I may never know the entirety of the truth contained in one facet, but instead be lightly engrossed in the surface truths of the whole gem. It seems more satisfying, somehow. More beautiful.