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    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Justifying Your Existence

    This is a thought that's been pestering my mind like a fly, and I can't quite swat it away.

    I've been giving it some thought, and I strongly believe you absolutely do have to justify your existence on a daily basis.

    It's the type of cold, hard analysis that makes us all uncomfortable. It immediately makes us defensive. While I was having the inner dialogue, there was a part of myself that resisted it strongly, even felt offended by it. That was mostly an ego reaction; my sense of entitlement was challenged, and it was unsettling. Check how you're feeling now; the idea tends to make one feel a little unbalanced. There's a natural reaction there, one that's saying, I don't have to justify anything to anyone; I don't have to prove anything to anyone etc etc etc

    After some honest introspection, I concluded it was a juvenile ego reaction - a petty rebellion - one that was utilizing disingenuous indignation as a means of skirting personal responsibility and my obligation to the planet and the people around me.

    There might even be some new-agey inner dialogue in there (there was with me), telling you that cozy, comforting lie that you're perfect just the way you are. That's more ego massage masquerading as "self love". The ego is quite clever, I'm finding out. But I'm onto it's tricks. Here's the thing: you're not perfect the way you are - you're an utter mess.

    This realization isn't meant to make you brood or feel sorry for yourself; in fact, pat yourself on the back if you acknowledge it's truth. it might be the most honest thought you've ever had.. and having had it, you might just be on your way to remedying it.

    This started while I was at work a couple weeks ago, and I began thinking of all the sacrifices that have been made and still have to be made day to day to keep me alive on this planet.

    - I thought first of my mother - God bless her - who had to carry me for 10 months during her pregnancy. Then there was the trauma of giving birth..something we men tend to take for granted but is no doubt utter hell. I thought of all the care and love she'd extended to me and continues to extend to me, and all the physical and mental and emotional toil that must have been involved in raising me.

    - ..and my Dad. he confessed to me recently that there's a 10 year period that he has almost no memory of...the period when my siblings and I were all teens. He had an extremely stressful job at a nuclear power plant; he'd come home, and you could practically see the anxiety pouring out of him. He was always just ready to burst, and he frequently did. I was terrified of him. The moment he walked in the door, my mother would give him sh!t about this or that (she's very OCD, and was an emotional disaster during those years). I love my mother more than anyone, but if i were my Dad i would have left her long ago. I have no idea how he dealt with it all. He made enormous sacrifices to provide for our family.

    - I thought of all the plants and animals that have to die every day just so i can be here. Just stop and really consider that for a moment. animals are being killed and plants are being ripped from the earth daily so you can exist. Why? Why is it arranged like that? A human being who honestly and truly considers this is forced to acknowledge their privilege..or maybe just their sheer luck. You likely did nothing to deserve it, but here you are, on top of the food chain! The world is at your service, and things are dying daily so you can ...do what? What are you doing? That must be your next question - if it isn't then you've become very casual and profoundly ungrateful for all the sacrifice that must occur to keep you alive.

    - I thought of all the piss and sh!t I've contaminated rivers and lakes with. On May 24th it will be 42 years worth of piss and sh!t. that's a lot of piss and sh!t.

    - I thought of all the trash i'm responsible for. 42 years worth. As a pile, it must represent a formidable mountain.


    ...and I thought of many other things...too many to list here.

    If one is thinking clearly and honestly, one has to acknowledge that there is an enormous responsibility that comes with being a human being. the responsibility derives from justifying all those enormous sacrifices that are made from everything around you that make your life possible.

    make no mistake - you owe. you owe everything around you everything you've got.

    And i got to thinking that things like depression and anxiety and suicidal tendencies might all stem in some way from not quite having the courage to meet that responsibility (or even acknowledge it!)

    the moral obligation we all have to do what's meaningful all stems from these sacrifices that are made for us. to not embrace this responsibility and to not live one's life to the absolute fullest is an enormous insult to the earth, all it's inhabitants, yourself, the universe, and God himself.

    Mike the philosopher has spoken.
    Last edited by Mike; 5th May 2019 at 08:03.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    "all the piss and sh!t I've contaminated rivers and lakes with"

    It's the first time I hear someone say this.

    You are a very serious, sensitive and conscientious person and I wish there were more people like you in this world. However, I think "guilt" is the issue you really have to work on. A lot of things you're talking about above are not due to your fault.

    I don't know if your religious background is Protestant or Catholic, but the Church has really done a number on people by imposing guilt on them.

    Please never go to a shrink. They are a bunch of phonies and eventually drug you good.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Thank you, Mike. I am grateful you shared this with us.

    Every day is another opportunity to add our unique value to the world - and the rent is due every day - or so the landlord says

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Mike, I have gone through the same mental processes that you explain so beautifully many, many times. One of the things that I do is to have deep gratitude to all things living that have been sacrificed for my survival. Living on this planet is a huge lesson in transmutation. All matter, including those things that we perceive as living are constantly transforming and transmuting into other things. There will come a time when we are the ingredients for the creation of something else. It give a tangible meaning to the phrase "we are all one". It gives me a small glimmer of understanding that most likely we are all here as an individual vantage point of the one that created this. We are always in the process of becoming ourselves.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Mike,

    Wow! You’ve pretty much summed up the angst of the human condition.

    you are indeed “Mike the Philosopher”. Your thought process reminds me of Jordan Peterson whose recurrent mantra seems to be “don’t make it worse” and it is clear that you are dedicated here on this planet, to make things better.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Nice one, there. But justifying your existence on a daily basis doesn't seem right to me at all. It's a duality position, a position of having to propitiate someone or something "out there".

    I've felt the same gratitude (though your version sounds more like guilt) towards my parents as you have. But was it your decision for your dad to work such a high stress job? For your mom to peck at him when he did come home? I'd say love and appreciation are more in order here.

    *Edit - It's telling to me that this realization of yours came to you "at work." I'm going to venture to say that your job is not something you love (or even like much). Do you think such a burdensome concept would have come to you while fishing (can I say fishing?), hiking, walking a beautiful beach? These jobs we get entangled in lead us to surmise that we are here on earth to assume a great burden and endless sacrifice. *

    Having to "justify" your being here is just the shackles we have to throw off. That doesn't negate a reverent attitude toward the earth, becoming a vegan if you choose, and the like. Walt Whitman would say you're just as pivotal as the flower, the lion, the rainbow and the star.
    Last edited by Caliban; 5th May 2019 at 15:18.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    This is a thought that's been pestering my mind like a fly, and I can't quite swat it away.
    Thus the term -- Sh!t for brains.

    Sorry. I just couldn't resist

    This thread is about the same as your other thread, although I've forgotten the title. But it was also about "owing", and "responsibility" and such. I think it's important to be truly thankful for, and to, life. But I still don't believe that I'm "obligated" to justify my existence. For one thing, "living one's life to the absolute fullest" is going to mean different things to different people.

    Is it being a rock-n-roll star? Parties, sex, and drugs until you die? Base jumping, surfing the biggest waves, or climbing a vertical cliff with no safety ropes? Is it our moral obligation to defy death (and sometimes lose) to live life to the fullest?

    Are we to bow our heads in shame and ask the universe for forgiveness every time we take a crap? (Actually, I find it rather enjoyable to be able to take a healthy crap. Maybe I should do a joyful "dance around the toilet" every time I flush). As I mentioned, I do believe we need to be truly thankful. I just don't feel we are "obligated".

    I didn't make up the rules here, nor did I didn't create this universe. I'm just living in it.
    I am enlightened, ............ Oh wait. That's just the police shining their spotlights on me.

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    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Didgevillage (here)
    "all the piss and sh!t I've contaminated rivers and lakes with"

    It's the first time I hear someone say this.

    You are a very serious, sensitive and conscientious person and I wish there were more people like you in this world. However, I think "guilt" is the issue you really have to work on. A lot of things you're talking about above are not due to your fault.

    I don't know if your religious background is Protestant or Catholic, but the Church has really done a number on people by imposing guilt on them.

    Please never go to a shrink. They are a bunch of phonies and eventually drug you good.

    Catholic.

    But their version of guilt never really reached me. Back in those days I was mostly just confused by what was being taught. My time in religious ed. was mostly spent gawking at whatever cute girl happened to be in my class at the time (guilt-free by the way)

    What I am feeling lately is a sense of obligation and responsibility, not guilt. It's my own invention, for better or worse (with a firm push by Jordan Peterson - AriG called it perfectly)

    It's not a matter of fault, or assigning blame for anything; I've just realized that i can no longer coast along and take up space on this planet without giving a supreme effort in honor of everyone and everything that has sacrificed in order to give me this opportunity.

    But look, I'm not always successful I'm mostly unsuccessful. I can very easily fall into apathy and hopelessness and whatever. The obligation I speak of mostly involves never giving up and succumbing to nihilism, and always getting off the canvas during your lowest moments by remembering and honoring your obligations and responsibilities to everyone and everything around you. A supreme effort from one person might be grandiose and colorful, while a supreme effort from another might just be finding the will power to get up at 10am instead of noon. Both are equally as valid. As long as you're trying!
    Last edited by Mike; 5th May 2019 at 16:44.

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    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by peterpam (here)
    Mike, I have gone through the same mental processes that you explain so beautifully many, many times. One of the things that I do is to have deep gratitude to all things living that have been sacrificed for my survival. Living on this planet is a huge lesson in transmutation. All matter, including those things that we perceive as living are constantly transforming and transmuting into other things. There will come a time when we are the ingredients for the creation of something else. It give a tangible meaning to the phrase "we are all one". It gives me a small glimmer of understanding that most likely we are all here as an individual vantage point of the one that created this. We are always in the process of becoming ourselves.

    Beautifully put Peterpam, and thank you for that!

    AriG, thanks for the kind words. And you are totally right - my thoughts are heavily influenced by Peterson lately..for better or worse LOL.

    "Don't make things worse" - that seems like a good place to start. It's not what most people want to hear; we all want the instant remedy. But the slow and methodical approach, along with smart decisions and micro decisions, is really the way to go, in my view.

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    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Variant (here)
    Thank you, Mike. I am grateful you shared this with us.

    Every day is another opportunity to add our unique value to the world - and the rent is due every day - or so the landlord says



    you said it better than me, without all the droning on. thanks

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    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Caliban (here)
    Nice one, there. But justifying your existence on a daily basis doesn't seem right to me at all. It's a duality position, a position of having to propitiate someone or something "out there".

    I've felt the same gratitude (though your version sounds more like guilt) towards my parents as you have. But was it your decision for your dad to work such a high stress job? For your mom to peck at him when he did come home? I'd say love and appreciation are more in order here.

    *Edit - It's telling to me that this realization of yours came to you "at work." I'm going to venture to say that your job is not something you love (or even like much). Do you think such a burdensome concept would have come to you while fishing (can I say fishing?), hiking, walking a beautiful beach? These jobs we get entangled in lead us to surmise that we are here on earth to assume a great burden and endless sacrifice. *

    Having to "justify" your being here is just the shackles we have to throw off. That doesn't negate a reverent attitude toward the earth, becoming a vegan if you choose, and the like. Walt Whitman would say you're just as pivotal as the flower, the lion, the rainbow and the star.

    Hey Caliban, i appreciate your take. and your observation about my having had these thoughts at work (correct - a job i do not like) is perhaps a telling one. well said there.

    When I say "justify" i don't mean that one must become a world beater necessarily. And the "obligation" i speak of isn't intended to weigh on you like a backpack full of sand or anything; it's meant to motivate.

    Like i said earlier, i don't feel guilty - i mostly feel unfulfilled. Feeling fulfilled is a result of finding meaning on one's life, and finding meaning usually involves taking on responsibility of some sort. The responsibility i feel now towards the earth and the people that have made my life possible is the result of that thought process.

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    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Orph (here)
    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    This is a thought that's been pestering my mind like a fly, and I can't quite swat it away.
    Thus the term -- Sh!t for brains.

    Sorry. I just couldn't resist

    This thread is about the same as your other thread, although I've forgotten the title. But it was also about "owing", and "responsibility" and such. I think it's important to be truly thankful for, and to, life. But I still don't believe that I'm "obligated" to justify my existence. For one thing, "living one's life to the absolute fullest" is going to mean different things to different people.

    Is it being a rock-n-roll star? Parties, sex, and drugs until you die? Base jumping, surfing the biggest waves, or climbing a vertical cliff with no safety ropes? Is it our moral obligation to defy death (and sometimes lose) to live life to the fullest?

    Are we to bow our heads in shame and ask the universe for forgiveness every time we take a crap? (Actually, I find it rather enjoyable to be able to take a healthy crap. Maybe I should do a joyful "dance around the toilet" every time I flush). As I mentioned, I do believe we need to be truly thankful. I just don't feel we are "obligated".

    I didn't make up the rules here, nor did I didn't create this universe. I'm just living in it.



    this whole thread started with the question, why do anything? that was the thought that was plaguing me.

    that was my sort of existential question. For a while i could not answer it.

    living one's life to the fullest does indeed mean different things to different people. another way of saying that is that one should be giving the strongest possible effort. as i said earlier, one persons' supreme effort might be something grandiose, like becoming president or something..while anothers' might just be getting out of bed in the morning a little earlier than normal and making breakfast. relative to the emotional and mental situations of the hypothetical people involved, the victories may just be equal.

    oh, and you may have had more of a hand in creating the universe and making up her rules than you think
    Last edited by Mike; 5th May 2019 at 17:31.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Yes, one of the tenets of the thought reform used on us to varying degrees in various mind control institutions that have been perfected since the Korean War and earlier is Dispensing of Existence (Source: Lifton's "Thought Reform and The Psychology of Totalism")

    Therefore, if we consider our existence to be determined at random, or at worst to be determined or decided by another human being, we can't possibly reach our full potential. We must "believe in ourselves". A lower version of this is the common ego, where you want to exist because you think you are so wonderful and perhaps better than others. A higher version is the one that Mike the OP mentions: You embrace yourself with your flaws and claim your right and responsibility to exist and contribute to this Earth at this time and place. It's powerful.

    I can remember as a young radical Earth First! environmentalist, trying my best to have as close to zero impact on the Earth. I spent a great deal of time riding my bike everywhere, doing everything with no electricity, washing my clothes by hand, pushing around my manual cutting blade lawn mower, etc. Not that those things never are valuable tasks, but eventually I realized that I was spending most of my energy just trying to achieve the same result that would occur if I didn't exist at all. I thought that I should accomplish more than just having the equivalent impact of a dead person. Then I started to think more along the lines Mike mentioned, that the resources I was using could be dedicated to a greater purpose.

    Great post. Thanks, Mike, for the food for thought on this beautiful Sunday! We finally have some sunshine here in Michigan!
    There's no time like the present.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    [

    oh, and you may have had more of a hand in creating the universe and making up her rules than you think
    Naaahhhhhh. I would never have felt the obligation nor had the fortitude to create a universe as beautiful as this one.
    I am enlightened, ............ Oh wait. That's just the police shining their spotlights on me.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    Catholic.

    But their version of guilt never really reached me. Back in those days I was mostly just confused by what was being taught. My time in religious ed. was mostly spent gawking at whatever cute girl happened to be in my class at the time (guilt-free by the way)
    It is more difficult than meets the eye to escape from and grow out of the subconscious brainwashing religion has done. Churchianity (The term was coined by late Sir Laurence Gardner https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Gardner) thrives on guilt.

    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    But look, I'm not always successful I'm mostly unsuccessful. I can very easily fall into apathy and hopelessness and whatever. The obligation I speak of mostly involves never giving up and succumbing to nihilism, and always getting off the canvas during your lowest moments by remembering and honoring your obligations and responsibilities to everyone and everything around you. A supreme effort from one person might be grandiose and colorful, while a supreme effort from another might just be finding the will power to get up at 10am instead of noon. Both are equally as valid. As long as you're trying!
    Don't judge that you are unsuccessful, please! You're one of the most beautiful human-beings I've seen.
    You know, the term "trying" implies failure. The fact that you can speak of human dilemma so honestly means you're succeeding

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Merry Mom (here)
    You embrace yourself with your flaws and claim your right and responsibility to exist and contribute to this Earth at this time and place. It's powerful.
    It's a little embarrassing when you write on and on and someone else comes along and sums it all up in 30 words or less well said there.

    and i'm glad you said that, because i didn't mean to imply one must be perfect. and often we wait till we think we are "ready" or "good enough" to take our rightful place in the world. but that time is now. the path to wisdom involves playing the fool at first; we cannot be afraid to play the fool.

    and wow! hey, nothing but respect in your efforts to protect the earth. that type of dedication is impressive! tho i do of course totally understand your revelation having lived that way for some time; balance is the prudent approach in the long run, otherwise we might just burn ourselves out.

    pleased to hear to you're finally getting some sun up in Michigan! i'm in florida these days, but i spent most of my life in upstate NY, so i can appreciate the weather situation up there

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Thanks, Mike, for your reply. I forgot to mention that on my way home yesterday morning, before reading your post, I witnessed a near fatal accident. An elderly lady was stopped in front of me on a state highway, preparing to turn left. I was stopped right behind her waiting to turn left. She decided to turn left directly in the path of an oncoming car that was traveling at least 55 miles per hour. There was only a few feet of clearance. I am shocked that she survived, and she probably would have been pushed right into my car at a high rate of speed. The oncoming car slammed on its brakes and then swerved. It all slowed down. I remember thinking "She's not really going to turn now is she?" After miraculously clearing her, the car slammed on its horn, and I could see the look of terror in the swerving driver's eyes as she passed. Then the people who were at the stop sign waiting to turn right were also exclaiming in shock and gesturing. Everyone realized that they almost witnessed a horrific accident, except perhaps the elderly lady who caused it all.

    All of this is to say that right before I read your post, I was extremely grateful for being alive and conscious of the fact that I really want to live! This hasn't always been the case, so the whole feeling was a bit exhilarating!

    So, yes, I think we have a responsibility in the world. I guess from reading the other replies, that's controversial? Fortunately, we don't all view things the same way, and even more enlightenment is found through that process.
    Last edited by Merry Mom; 6th May 2019 at 12:23. Reason: Fixing verb tense
    There's no time like the present.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Mike, anybody who would sing 'ring of fire' with an old dude in a hospital has more than justified his existence in this world. That duet has to be enshrined in the Akashic hall of fame!

    I feel we are all sent here for a purpose if only to expand our ability to empathize and feel compassion.

    Religious guilt with the purpose of shaming us into prescribed behavior doesn't work. It backfires through suppression and then eruption into extreme neurosis. But the sense of deep responsibility to those close to you should expand into a deeper realization of our role as citizens of a planet.

    If we do feel a a bit of shame and a little guilt, it's appropriate, particularly if it is a motivating force for changing the way we live. New Age pop philosophy is a mile wide and an inch deep and does a huge disservice to the shaping of our characters by encouraging us to think we are great just the way we are and that all shame is destructive.

    That idea misses the point and deforms character. You can't possibly approach the question of self justification if the emotions of guilt and shame are completely obliterated. They go hand in hand. The best way of dealing with guilt and shame is to allow it to feature in as part of our general personality complex as an aid, a guide, without feeling mortified. Extreme feelings of shame and guilt guarantee fight or flight away from the source of shame. It isn't dealt with properly.
    Last edited by AutumnW; 6th May 2019 at 14:51.

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    ...
    What I am feeling lately is a sense of obligation and responsibility, not guilt. It's my own invention, for better or worse (with a firm push by Jordan Peterson - AriG called it perfectly)

    It's not a matter of fault, or assigning blame for anything; I've just realized that i can no longer coast along and take up space on this planet without giving a supreme effort in honor of everyone and everything that has sacrificed in order to give me this opportunity.

    But look, I'm not always successful I'm mostly unsuccessful. I can very easily fall into apathy and hopelessness and whatever. The obligation I speak of mostly involves never giving up and succumbing to nihilism, and always getting off the canvas during your lowest moments by remembering and honoring your obligations and responsibilities to everyone and everything around you. A supreme effort from one person might be grandiose and colorful, while a supreme effort from another might just be finding the will power to get up at 10am instead of noon. Both are equally as valid. As long as you're trying!
    The timing of your posting is coinciding with my self talk
    You'll never guess what I've been doing....
    I'm not Justifying MY Existence... I'm trying to JUSTIFY the WORD "exists"!!!
    As far as I'm concerned, that word should not exist ;-)

    Joking aside, I have the same kind of feelings come and go, but I'm going in the complete opposite direction as Mike. I see myself as an observer, and so as long as I am observing, my existence feels "justified". If I don't have to reincarnate back here again.... I'll consider this existence justified at that point...

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    Default Re: Justifying Your Existence

    Thanks for the thread. You referenced Catholicism and not thinking you were deeply affected... I cannot help but wonder why so many raised in church feel guilt about just existing and for being "who we are" versus "who we pretend to be"?

    I recall in the Episcopal (catholic light) church that we repeated this prayer of humble access every communion



    I just cannot agree that we have reason to acknowledge an "original sin". That deep embedded shame IMO is the original hook that keeps us on the line feeling we don't really deserve liberty.

    We create our character (which seems like the greatest gift) so IMO is a responsibility for choosing the highest ideal and living it. IMO that means construction, life affirmation and the golden rule. It feels really good IMO to aspire and that uplifts!

    As they say, it may take a whole day to create a beautiful sand castle and one single kick will knock it down. IMO being the one to stand FOR what I love feels worth living. I read this article and maybe it fits?

    Quote Liberty as a Life Philosophy
    Much more than an idea, liberty is a guiding principle for our lives and interactions in the world.

    ...............................
    (A life philosophy)
    It ought to be something so lofty and universal that you’re proud to live it and delighted when others choose to do so too.

    A life philosophy is neither superficial nor fleeting. You don’t embrace it because it’s convenient or fashionable or even profitable. It’s deeper, more holistic and lasting than that. It ought to be rooted in ideas and conduct that are right, relevant, and uplifting. It should cause you to be remembered someday as a man or woman whose consistency and example gave the world a model worth emulating.
    Last edited by Delight; 6th May 2019 at 18:49.

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