“I believe if we are honest with ourselves, the most fascinating problem in the world is Who I am?” Alan Watts said in the Myth of Myself lecture (Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4Sa295WlgE )
I listened to Watts’s lecture as a class assignment; the class is called Self-Awareness taught by. Dr. Couchman at Albright College. Today, Dr. Couchman described 4 major myths or thoughts that influence humans’ search for meaning of life. By myth, none of the models he described is necessarily taken as truth or facts, but rather profound and influential thoughts in reflecting our human existence and consciousness. I therefore thought it would be great to write these ideas down in the article before such profound thoughts fade away after days. I also thought that it would be great for my readers on the blog to read and think a little bit about our existence.
Here are 4 models I think Dr. Couchman described in the class.
This is the widespread belief, especially in Judo-Christian societies. The main idea is that we humans are shaped or molded into this existence by the supreme God. We are made, just like ceramics. Everything in this world is made. That’s how we come into existence.
Level of Seriousness– High. For example, you could be assigned to hell after death.
Issue– Well, if things are created by God? How did God come into existence? If God is always there, why can’t there be Universe with non-supreme creator? Universe is always there, just like God.
-Modern science, physics, chemistry, and even human thoughts are explained by physical world, and patterns without necessarily considering the existence of supreme deity.
- Physical World
This is the foundation of modern day science. Things are physical, patterns and are in orders. Human consciousness is probably just the by-product of physical world. It just accidently arose in us. Darwinian evolutionary theories generally fall under this category because of the focus on the orderly physical world, whether the focus is either genes or the environment. In psychology, both Skinner, behaviorist, who believes behaviors and consciousness are primarily explained by conditionings or Sigmund Freud, who believed human consciousness is primarily driven by this life unconscious force called libido, all believe in Determinism.
Level of Seriousness– High. For example, life is just physical and tough. There is no meaning.
Issue- How did intelligent organisms come out from the unintelligent and cruel universe? It’s so strange to think about consciousness and everything. To cite Matthew in the Bible, Grapes do not grow from thorns or figs, from thistles.
- Chinese and Taoism Model
The main idea is that we are everything. In Watts’s words, “we are just symptoms of the universe.“ We are made of atoms, just like everything in the world. You are not special. We always exist. The past and future is only in your mind. Humans and the consciousness are just the rearrangements of different atoms that already exist. It’s true that we come from our parents. Our parents breathe, eat and rely on fundamental things in the world. Yet we are just new arrangements of different patterns. The existence is dynamics and we are not different from rocks. For example, our bodies have skins that protect and separate us from external environment. Yet, our bodies also connect us to the environment at the same time. Another metaphor is the wave in the ocean; we are the ripples of each wave and if you think about it, the wave in the ocean is the illusion. We are not in the ocean. We, the waves, are the ocean itself.
Level of Seriousness– Low because we are everything. Death is another form of rearrangement of our existence.
Issue– how do we come to feel special about existence and consciousness if we were all ripples that connect and were the ocean itself.
- Dramatic Model
The main idea is based on Hinduism beliefs that we are just actors. The world is the role-playing stage. The Brahman acts in the world with many different dramatic roles. He started to play drams because he is bored. Duality of Good and Bad are just role-playing, just like a thriller movie we watch. All the acts are not necessarily true. They are just acting, just like people who fall in love in the movie are not necessarily couple in real life. Life is just a stage.
Level of Seriousness– Very low. Everything is an act.
Issue– Even though Dr. Couchman did not mention it, I think the issue here is that we still feel so real about the existence do not feel that we are the Brahman.
These models and descriptions are somewhat strange and atypical but do not necessarily represent truth. Yet I believe they are personally meaningful to me in reflecting my own existence. I hope you also enjoy reading the article. Thank you Dr. Couchman for instilling some deep-seated thoughts into the students’ cognitive boxes.
I am just rewriting what I think Dr. Couchman had covered in today lecture. Yet, these thoughts have become part of me. Thank you for everything.