Currently, I'm reading "The Universe in a Single Atom" by the venerable Dalai Lama, and while I think a lot of it is over my head (my knowledge of science these days pales in comparison to my political mindset), I'm enjoying it mostly. While discussing the impossibility of the concept that the Universe (specifically the Big Bang) was initiated by any sort of "god," my mind quickly slipped away to thoughts of the dense word "eternity" and how paradoxically final and infinite it is. No matter WHAT the final ending is, none of us can escape and we're all stuck in this loop forever or until it ends and everything ceases to exist for all time. Either possibility to me is somewhat terrifying.
Growing up Catholic, I am most familiar with the idea of Eternity as "heaven." Yanno, blissful white clouds, lots of sun, people hanging out in togas with an occasional wingspan, and some incredibly massive dude (maybe with a beard!) hanging out in his jolly way. That seems all well and good, but what the FUCK is there to do in that state for THE ENTIRE REST OF EXISTENCE? I mean, it sounds pretty great and I know it's what many people look forward to, but don't you think that just hanging out for literally billions and trillions of years on some cloud with some douche in the room next to you playing a trumpet would get fairly boring? All the daily challenges we face that make life interesting would be gone. We'd know every answer to every question ever asked and all we would have left to do pretty much is exist. Forever. And ever. At least now, we know we're going to die at some point, so that keeps us on our toes for a bit. I think if I ever got to heaven, I'd be scrambling for the reset button after six months or so.
My current beliefs are more grounded in science and logic, which thusly gravitate me more towards the concept of reincarnation because it simply makes more sense. It is a basic truth that nothing can be created or destroyed because the Universe is the consummate recycler, and I think this applies to the soul. It certainly holds true for the body, or at least it should. Getting buried in an air-tight coffin like most people do these days defeats the entire PURPOSE of your body: to be recycled into worm food or a meal for some grass or a tree. I'm planning on being buried in a wooden box with no chemicals added to me or it because I see far more worth in becoming a part of the planet in a new way than turning into a pile of super gross mush inside some plastic box. Anyway, I've side-tracked myself, as usual.
So, to me, there are two possibilities to reincarnation. The first is that we are stuck in an endless machine that's constantly sucking souls in and spitting them out to be used elsewhere in the Universe, basically like a vacuum with one end tied to another vacuum.. or something. I'm sure there's a better mechanical analogy for this, but that's the best I can think of at the moment. This process would have no end, and we apparently have no control over it. This terrifies me, as well. Think about how long time-wise your life has been. Some may say that theirs has gone by so quickly, and I'd agree, but twenty five years is a long fucking time! Imagine twenty five thousand!! I really couldn't see repeating this kind of stuff over and over and OVER forever. With no true "end game" in sight, what the hell is the point of all of this, really? It's incredibly frightening to think that this will just go on indefinitely, no matter how far I may come in each lifetime.
The other possibility, to which I subscribe, is that reincarnation isn't endless. Everyone is sent to each specific life and situation by their own choice, and is here to accomplish a certain few lessons. Once you die, you have the choice to stay in the next plane or come back to learn more, and once you've learned everything you'd like to, you become a part of what most would consider "god." This option, I feel, is the least frightening because at least things change and there's opportunity to switch things up a bit. It also leaves things open-ended nicely so that it's not just an eternity of one thing. Still, though, it's an eternity of the same process, no matter how many little segments there are, and at one point, it either stops or will have to start all over again. So, basically, we're back to the previous point with this idea of reincarnation: it never stops. Even if all souls become a part of "god" at some point, they will eventually have to break off again, out of sheer boredom if anything. To the Kabbalists and in a few other texts I've read, the reason why we exist and are momentarily "separate" from god is so that god can know himself through us. We are all "god" really, just in separate pieces experiencing separate but similar things simultaneously.
Even if you are a complete and total atheist, the idea that post-kicking-the-bucket, you just cease to be completely has to be ridiculously unsettling. You'll just be blacked out and will never ever feel, experience, or do anything again. Ever. FOR ETERNITY, MAN!
So sit back and think about all of this for second: either you will exist forever, or will be nothing for the entire rest of time. I don't know why this all of a sudden struck me as odd today, maybe because I just can't process large numbers in reference to time. I know that Jesus existed two thousand years ago, but I choose not to think about how fucking long ago that was simply because it makes my head hurt. Let your mind space out for a bit and just contemplate the idea of forever and how ridiculously huge that idea is. I definitely feel something that dwarves me in a weird way and makes me feel helpless in an odd way, like I'm stuck in some sort of prank I can't escape no matter how hard I try.
Of course, all of these points are essentially moot because I really don't know what happens next. None of us do. Heaven could be a giant never-ending party with iridescent streamers and a great DJ that has the magical powers to never get old or boring. Or my points on reincarnation are totally true and we are pretty much just gods hanging out in material forms for a little bit due to the Large God's senses of boredom and curioisty. I'm sure this massive plan will make complete sense once I'm dead, so I'm actually looking forward to dying so I can say, "oohhh!! NOW I get it!" instead of going, "well I think I understand and it all seems fun regardless!"
Now let's go back to the idea of the Big Bang for a second...
If you are Christian and believe that the Big Bang is true, then heaven becomes an impossibility. Every single atom in the entire Universe was contained in a super-condensed, hottest-thing-ever little dot. Now, this was just matter, so essentially the stuff of the physical realm, like our bodies. Because our "souls" are immaterial, they could not have existed within this little dot and must've surrounded it within whatever space surrounded it, and thus we must've been one giant piece of each other. Maybe that's really how heaven is, but many people believe each person has their own individual space in heaven, and I just don't think that's logical. Then again, how many religious belief-systems are based in logic?
Now, if you are Buddhist, the Big Bang throws the concept of karma into question, as well. If all matter emanates from one point, then we are all essentially in debt karmically to the first action (whatever it was) and are merely spending the rest of eternity trying to repay it until everything collapses upon itself randomly.
It boggles my mind to think about what surrounded the Big Bang's dot because obviously there's something on the outside of what we consider "The Universe." It literally goes on PAST forever. Scientists have no idea as to what lies outside of our Universe and our Dot, so I'm not about to try theorizing until I better inform myself. Although, I have the feeling that the outside of our Universe is the residue of the previously destroyed Universe and the space in which our Universe existed will at some point give space to the next incarnation, much like our bodies house our souls and our souls move from body to body. Anything that's broken or destroyed is capable of being completely reassembled in one way or another.
Within one of my recent blogs, I briefly touched upon the potential infinity of space. I think the idea of Eternity and infinity in terms of time is even harder to grasp. Anyway, I could go on forever, and this is one of those topics that help to point out how truly insignificant and yet crucial I am. If I continue, I'm likely to lapse into a meditation-induced coma, so I'll just go back to thinking about my truly trivial life. I think things like wonderful friends, guys that make my heart skip a beat, the goal of grad school, and Indian food exist so that I don't lose myself in these expansive thoughts. HA! Wouldn't it be hilarious if the entire point of existence was to distract us from existing so that we didn't lose ourselves in the contemplation of it all? Oh my, that would be deliciously ironic and almost Simpsons-esque. Truly my kind of Universe!