It Is Not All Doom and Gloom

I have been an existentialist for many, many years.

When we are honest with ourselves, contemplating our existence, we find oursleves isolated, alone with the uncertainty and apparent lack of meaning.  But it is not neccessarily true that there is no meaning, it is that everything is overshadowed by uncertainty, doubt.

So we look out into the darkness, the abyss, aware of only our own awareness, alone.  This is the human condition.

So what then shall we do?

Some might say that in the context of this uncertainty, and perhaps only in the context of this uncertainty, true freedom arises.  expressions of your self, your authentic nature, when nothing can be known, you still have to choose, commit.

Through this commitment your authentic self expresses and creates meaning.  Meaning does not exist outside of you, it exists within you, through the expression of will.

There is also the issue of Epistemology (knowing).  Through science or other empirical methods, through our senses, perceptions, by mathematical equations, by the study of language, history, etc.

But what about knowing through "direct experience"?  An awareness, insight, not describable by words, not transferable from one to another.  Beyond the comprehension of our ordinary awareness. 


IamIam IamIam
46-50, M
20 Responses Nov 26, 2007

Yes, I must define the meaning of my life; I must decide what is most important for me in this life. I am responsible for doing this, and I can't fail to do this, for in refusing to do it, I do it. <br />
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I am always in situation, an historical context. I am responsible for helping to bring it about, for I am a part of it. Sartre writes, "We each get the war we deserve." This means, if you find yourself at war, it is because you have chosen to be at war. But there are other possibilities for you as well. You can refuse to participate in the war, become a refugee, or actively work for peace. <br />
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Personally, I want to work for peace, in my life, and in the world's history. This is a choice. Values are chosen, taken on. Nothing sad or gloomy about this. I want to believe in a world where we can all live together in peace. What has happened to our world? We all want to be millionaires, but we can't be.

That is a very nice way to put it. When ever a person is faced with vast emptiness physical or not it always seems to create feelings of isolation and the thoughts of no matter what you do in your life it'll have very little effect on any thing in the long run. I've always detested that view and have thought to my self if what we know so far about the origin of the universe and matter is correct then very atoms that make up your body had to go through many seemingly insignificant steps to create you as you are now. Every stars birth and explosion, every tidal wave of gravity, every little step has led to the matter that is you. If just one small thing had been different you or me or any one ells for that matter might not be here. If any thin g history has to teach us is that if mere atoms held such importance then so do humans and all of are actions. Every life and action seemingly insignificant or not has its role in history and will lead to something ells.

it was good to see someone (except some dead authors) who has been through the same curse of conscience. I feel as if ive been born an existentialist and no matter how hard i try to explain my simplest of realities to my nearest and dearest their facial ex<x>pressions betray much more than id like to see.<br />
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last week i 'lost it' and i am now very much positive that i no longer know anything about nothing. all my efforts, all my work and to what end...? with each thought i lost one more bit of knowledge until i became empty. so your story gave me some hope that i might actually be on the right way. who knows, i'll take it as it comes, with all the suffering and the ecstasy, and all the Camus and Sartres of the world wont be able to help us. nice to meet you btw and many thanks

Nice exchange Iam and Invisible! Well thought out points for both of you... Much to ponder.~ too much for my lazy mind this morning ~

I like your points. I still think there are the two seperate beings, physical and mental selves. If anything the being aware without thought could simply suggest that you've suppress or excluded your mental being and are experiencing your physical being, but I don't know as I've never really tried. Any pointers on how to go about being aware without thought so I can decide for myself? Apparently Buddists chant, but that would take too much time to get used to...

I certainly understand your points, however, read Eckhart Tolle, for example. One can be in a state of "awareness" that is without thought. I have experienced it before. To say that you only "are" when you have thoughts implies that one ceases to exist in these brief moments. <br />
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Your own example...<br />
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"I'm pretty sure I've managed to hang myself out into Nothing, and I did it by trying to clear my mind of all thoughts, detaching myself from all other beings including my physical self"<br />
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Even in your example, you are referring to moments when you were without thought..still you are, you experience, you have awareness.<br />
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I know several people personally who are able to be in a state of awareness for extended periods of time. They claim that by freeing themselves of "thought" the have the awareness of the whole without the distinctions, judgements, etc. that thought imposes and experience their source, or true nature, free of the constructs of the ego. This true nature, essence, whatever, is the nonmental deciferer, experiencer, the essential awareness.<br />
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I agree that "hanging out in nothing" allows you to be in a unique state of awareness that allows you to sense essence, but doesn't it imply the opposite of "two beings...physical and soul (or whatever)? That your body is seperate in the important sense that it isn't the core awareness of who we are?

"I am even if I don't think..." -IamIam<br />
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I have to disagree with that. One of my favorite quotes from an existentialist book is "I don't think, therefore I am a moustache" Jean-Paul Sartre "Nausea". In that part of the book the character is realizing that a person is two beings, his body and his thoughts. A moustache, for instance, has a physical being, but no thoughts. I think therefore I am, and I am therefore I think. I agree with him, there is definately a seperation in your physical being and your mental being or soul or whatever. Heidegger speaks of being suspended in Nothing, the same Nothing Sartre talks about in "Nausea". He thought that when your hanging out in nothing, you're detached from all other beings, and that's when you know yourself the best. Since our physical beings obviously are never suspended in nothing, there must be a seperation between the two. I'm pretty sure I've managed to hang myself out into Nothing, and I did it by trying to clear my mind of all thoughts, detaching myself from all other beings including my physical self. I'm pretty sure you aren't without your thoughts.

Well said Krypton.<br />
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No one can control all the circumstances of life, but what we can control is how we react when 'life happens'.

Accepting responsibility for our life can be overwhelming, but it is also the greatest feeling of freedom. Life is truly what we make it. Enjoyed your story

ex·is·ten·tial·ism (<br />
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A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts. <br />
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~ That's how I see it too ~

Lol, Puck...<br />
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And that is great, Iam2...

I am even if I don't think...

I think therefore I am........................I think.<br />
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is that putting Descartes before the horse?

Wow, that really sounds amazing!

I am working hard on creating clarity for myself by being able to seperate my self from my thoughts, recognizing my fears and hopefully not letting them color my reality.

I'll drink to that cindy

Definately IamIam. I keep telling this to a friend, to embrace the moment and have fun, instead of always wanting to know how long the fun will last, what will we do afterwards, etc. But some people find it easier to live in the moment than others... This was an interesting read, again. :)

I think that what you say is true, that is "fear of too real...won't be able to handle it."<br />
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But we all want to get beyond that somehow, so I guess that mean we have to embrace life, accept it for what it is instead of mourning that it isn't what we thought.<br />
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A great challenge, I must say.

Thank you...really just thinking out loud....

I have stared into it for years. It takes courage to say "Yes!" to life. Easier said than done, I agree. <br />
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Check out Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Paul Tillich, and Camus, Sartre.