What is it all about anyway?
One of the biggest questions we can ever ask ourselves is this one. What is it all about? Why are we alive? What is the meaning and purpose of existence?
This is a question central to all human enquiry. We attempt to answer this through the use of whatever tools and knowledge we have at our disposal. Many streams of study have formed historically due to our obsession with this fundamental question – what is the meaning of life, and why do we exist at all?
But can this question actually be answered?
The movie “The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” illuminated this question through the depiction of a super-computer built to answer it. The computer, known as deep thought, was asked for the answer to “life, the universe and everything”. Deep thought asked for a time period of seven and a half million years to come up with the answer and started the computation.
If you have not watched the movie, have a look at this short clip of the scene in reference. If you have watched the movie, why not watch the clip anyway for pure entertainment value?
After seven and a half million years elapsed, the people approached Deep Thought and asked for the result of the computation – the long awaited and much anticipated answer to the ultimate question. Deep Thought says “I have the answer, but you’re not going to like it”.
The answer was 42.
More significantly, after this, Deep thought states that it is an impossible question to answer, because the question itself is not clear. And in order to come up with the ultimate question, a new super computer would need to be built; One with humans as part of the operating system.
This would mean that Existence itself is the Computer; which is us, and here we are still asking the same questions.
The fundamental problem that comes to light is that we can only ask a question that is limited in its very nature.
To ask the question we need frame it in a communicable manner – which means we need to use language. Language forms a description of what we observe as a “concept”. We use language to describe reality as concepts so that we can discuss, analyse and communicate about the object of our questioning.
The answer we will receive will also be a description; hence it will be a conceptual representation of the actual answer.
In order for the answer to make “sense” to us, it has to fall within our logical framework. We need to understand the reason for why this answer is correct.
This means that we can only really ask questions in a very limited way, about things which can be described accurately using language, and fall within a logical conceptual framework.
Language and concepts allow us to describe the World around us through representing the World within this limitation. The logical mind allows us to put this representation into a coherent framework, which shows an amount of dependability and repeatability.
What this means is that if we observe that the Sun rises in a particular direction (the East), then we logically conclude that we can depend on the rule that the Sun rises in the East, and will continue to do so. We can depend on this, and it will repeat.
We are then able to turn this into a law that is described in a language and falls within a logical framework; “the Sun rises in the East”.
Now this is a very simplified example to show why language and logic cannot really answer the question that is the subject of this chapter.
I’m reminded of the story of a musician who played his new composition for the King. The King thoroughly enjoyed the music and at the end of the performance, asked the musician what the meaning of the composition was. The musician pondered the question for a second, and then, picked up his instrument and played the entire score again.
When we ask a question about the “answer to life, the universe and everything”, we expect “life, the universe and everything” to be logical, and to fall within the descriptive realms of language. We are much like the King asking the musician for the meaning of the composition.
The question cannot be answered within the confines of logic, through the use of a limited vocabulary such as language.
Thus, as Deep thought correctly observes, the question itself does not make sense. The answer “42” is as good as any.
A more appropriate question is to ask why we ask this kind of question in the first place?
Why is it that we need to know what the “answer” to life the Universe and everything is?
And this is why I started to write. I feel that living this life without asking the fundamental questions, and understanding our individual and collective purpose, means living a life devoid of meaning.
However, we need to understand, as we explore such questions, that the basis within which questions can be asked and the answers expressed is, in itself, limited. At best what we will find from our exploration is pointers towards the reality in which we exist, and these pointers, when collated into a whole, have a pattern.
In observing and understanding these patterns we will be able to establish certain “parameters of reality”, and I believe these will be both surprising and profound.
In order to begin, we shall ask questions one “post” at a time and gain an understanding into “life, the universe and everything”. Through this exploration, we shall not avoid the difficult questions, or even the inflammatory ones.
My hope is that a discernment will occur whereby readers can gain a level of clarity about who we are, what we are doing on this Earth and how we can live lives of our own fullest potential.
So what really is the correct answer to “what is the answer to life, the Universe and everything?”. Well, it’s whatever you choose it to be.
After all, we could just be some invisible dude called “God” doodling.