On one hand appears the Literalist tradition within the major religions--the folks who have all the answers and often kill those who disagree with them. On the other hand emerges the Gnostic path of seeking to know, but not getting lost in the literal acceptance of written words that came from people and not God. The Gnostics follow the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad. Love your enemy. It doesn’t mean you have to like your enemy. But it means that we are all one, and we are torn apart if we hate part of ourselves. The Literalists remain exclusive, the Gnostics inclusive. One separates. The other brings together. The mystery of life becomes the mystery of the individual within the collective.
When you look at one individual life, it is amazing that any one specific person is here. Consider all the right decisions, luck, successful reproduction that has been required for that one person to be alive. One ancestor eaten by a saber tooth tiger and the chain would have been broken. One ancestor who decided not to enter into a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. One decision that would have led to premature death in a car accident. It’s incredible that all these links happened for one specific individual to exist. Yet, we see all these people around us. The individual can be buried in the morass of humanity or be overlooked in the teaching that the individual doesn’t matter and that you can achieve paradise by giving up your life to reach an afterlife of supposed rewards. The danger becomes turning one’s back on the mystery of life and abdicating the moment for a promise of paradise that has been invented by human imagination.
So at the micro-level of one individual, life is a mystery of how any one person got here. What were the odds over ten thousand years ago that the circumstances would lead to me being here today?
At the macro-level an easy answer to the mystery exists. Someone had to survive. Look at all the ants, cockroaches, rabbits. It’s just a matter of numbers. Some get stepped on and eaten, and others survived to reproduce. No big deal. Just the law of averages that some get killed and some make it. But what a mystery that we are here to begin with. The grass, the flowers, the trees, the animals, the variety of people.
When I was twenty I wrote a brief philosophy. After another fifty years, I can’t come up with a better summation.
Each moment is unique as is each individual.
Yet moments unite through time and individuals through love.
What more is happiness than living and loving each moment.
What a mystery!