by Michael Maciel
Our bodies are hundreds of millions of years old. We’re like walking repositories of the history of the evolution of life on this planet. Wouldn’t it make sense that many, if not all, of our deepest most ingrained beliefs are the products of that evolution?
Take the belief in karma, for example. What is it that makes us believe that if we do something wrong that we will have to pay for it at some point in the future? And I don’t mean believe it cognitively, but believe it in our bones, believe it precognitively as an existential fact. This goes beyond words and concepts.
The feeling comes from deep in our brain, from the part that predates our prefrontal cortex, back before we could even think. Or perhaps it stems from early tribal taboos, or maybe it’s part of the fabric of Being itself, woven into us when we were first created. Wherever it comes from, it seems to be an integral part of the way we relate to each other. Because if we see ourselves as products of our past deeds, we will certainly see others in the same way.
If we believe (and by “believe,” I mean hold as a precognitive presupposition) that the universe somehow judges us according to how well or how poorly we have lived our lives, we will surely think that of others. If we’re doing well, we will feel like we deserve it, but if we’re doing badly, we will see it as the universe’s way of punishing us for our sins. Then, when we see others who are suffering, we will believe that they deserve it, too.
But what happens when we don’t believe in karma? What happens when we believe that the universe is random and that whether we’re doing well or poorly, it’s only by chance? If we think like this, then we have no choice but to believe that no matter what we do, our actions will have no effect on how our lives turn out. We will have neither the incentive nor the desire to do good. And if, God forbid, we suffer a life-changing malady, how could we not fall into the deepest depression? How could we not believe that our disability was for nothing? And how could we not grow resentful, not only because of our condition but towards life itself?
But this kind of nihilistic attitude towards life is one that we have to talk ourselves into. We have to override the millions of years of genetic programming we carry with us in our body. We have to deliberately ignore our feelings and proceed with life as though they didn’t exist. And if they are, in fact, part of reality itself woven into us from the beginning, then denying them separates us from our very nature and from the world. By deadening one part of our being, we corrupt all of it, and those parts we still love, such as our intelligence, our intuition, and our ability to love, begin to fail, and life for us turns into a living hell.
It makes perfect sense that whatever connects us with the whole, whatever prompts us to cooperate with life, to further its evolutionary explorations, that this would constitute the Good, and that whatever separates us from ourselves also separates us from each other and from nature, taking us out of step with life, which is what causes us to suffer.
So don’t get suckered into believing that life is meaningless and that there are no universal truths. There is absolutely no evidence that that’s the case. In fact, everything that we have observed about life shows us that the universe is filled with intelligence and is motivated by love.