Sunday, March 4, 2012
Just as in books, there are themes in life we gravitate toward, answers we look for or that sneak up on us unexpectedly, when we are questioning our “purpose”. Both arguments can be made that we are born to serve, or that we spend a lifetime wandering, wishing forever, and to understand. And sometimes it takes but one crucial moment, one lapse in judgment, or some small epiphany to alter one’s entire course completely.
A couple weeks ago, I was introduced to the concept of Śūnyatā, which in Buddhist doctrines and Sanskrit translates to, “zero, nothing,” or “no-thingness”. The non-existence of self is an age-long concept which the likes of Descartes, Berkeley, and Kant spent their entire philosophical careers theorizing and debating. But for me, my interest came from the realization that sometimes what we perceive to be truth and understanding, the things we take most for granted, the people we surround ourselves with, is nothing more than our way of comforting ourselves from fear- the fear of recognizing we are and will until we die, feel alone.
In the movie Pierrot le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard (1965), two lovers and loners cling to one another like life rafts, thinking that by running away from society and their creature comforts and past lives, they can rediscover their purpose, and what truly makes them “happy”. Instead, what they find is chaos and hate, and a false sense of “love”, and as put by Ferdinand (Pierrot) to Marianne, “That is the basic problem... you're waiting for me... I'm not there... I arrive... I enter the room... that's when I really start to exist for you... But I existed before that... I had thoughts... I may have been suffering... So the problem is to show you alive, thinking of me, and at the same time, to see me alive by virtue of that very fact."
And that is the basic problem you see, to know that I am alive, and that all of this is a matter of my perception. After all, “…we are all made again of dust,” so what’s this really mean?