The Adventure – Becoming the Existential Detective
Remember the film I ♥ Huckabees?
In it, a pair of ‘existential detectives’ help their clients unravel the meaning of life. Their own lives, to be specific.
Without a doubt, it reminded me of the countless number of hours I spent in deep contemplation, trying to figure out the universe, my soul, the very purpose of my being.
Existential angst at its finest.
Of course, there was no one I could turn to who could answer my questions. And for years and years, I was repeatedly told to ‘stop thinking’ or that I ‘think too much.’
As if thinking was a bad thing.
Theology = Spirtuality?
When I was younger, I lived in a series of small towns where I found myself limited to who I could approach for information. After all, most people just automatically assumed spirituality was the same as religion, which meant, of course, that spirituality was non-existent for those who didn’t believe in religion or God.
Having a natural curious about theology, I wondered what drew people toward religion. A sense of community? Fear of what was waiting for them on the other side? The need to not feel alone in the world? They were raised that way? Because they truly believed?
I was aware that Karl Marx called religion the ‘opiate of the masses’…where people are spoon fed what to believe and do not think they have any responsibility to seek information for themselves. I also knew that countless others claimed religion to be the reason why war and genocide exist, causing millions of deaths. And looking back through the centuries, it was entirely possible. But, with the flip of a coin, there is a duality to everything, yin and yang. Can one be known without the other?
Being one who seeks to understand, I would find myself randomly walking into any church that might accidentally stray into my line of vision. It never mattered the faith – for me I was more curious to see what it was that attracted people, how it changed their lives, if at all.
One of the most influential and amazing women I have ever had the privilege of knowing was my aunty Jean. She was the kindest woman I have ever known, a gentle soul. She was also a very deeply religious woman. But she wasn’t always that way – something happened, a profound experience, that led her to this path. We would speak for hours about her faith, and I would glean all that I could.
Then on the night of her 79th birthday, she peacefully fell asleep, never to wake again.
Looking back, I realize that not only was she deeply religious, but she was intensely spiritual too. But as much as I’d like to think that the two walk hand in hand, I’ve witnessed time and time again that organized religion and spirituality don’t always coincide with one another.
Regardless of my spiritual issues with organized religion, I’ve always sought to understand all the separate religions of the world. But it came as a surprise to me to discover that with all the knowledge I had acquired from an outsider’s perspective – most religions are fundamentally the same – no matter how different they appear on the surface.
Others may beg to differ – and that’s okay.
These are my thoughts, my understandings – and they are constantly changing, evolving. Thinking freely, I allow myself the privilege to change my mind when the opportunity to have new experiences appear before me.
On a quest…
In my journeys, I discovered a group of like-minded individuals who’s main focus lies in discovering more about themselves through the study of the universe, theology, science and spirituality. The Canadian Society of Questers is a group who’s main purpose is to help its members seek their own answers to the very questions that plague them. And every month, a new topic is brought forward to examine.
They are, in fact, true existential detectives, investigating our interconnectedness to all things in the universe.
Seekers…just like me.
Since I joined, I’ve discovered that I may not agree with some of the topics discussed or the people I’ve met – this is, I suspect, due to the fact that after working in a left-brained environment for so many years, I find myself unable to easily relate to those who are on the far end of the spectrum, right-brained. But in my defense, I do try to hold myself open to learn something new, no matter the teacher. And surprisingly, I’ve learned the most amazing things from the most unlikely of sources.
There’s something to be said for keeping an open mind.
Delving further into the world of philosophy, science, spirituality and theology, I was given the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s greatest minds. John Theobald (promoter and chair of the Vancouver Chapter of Questers) and Karen Elkins (promoter – Science to Sage) allowed me the privilege of volunteering for the different events around Vancouver.
During the last year alone, I learned from the great minds of:
–Dr. Joe Dispenza, who links biology with personal change. Also in the film What the Bleep do We Know?!
–Lynne McTaggart, author of The Field, The Intention Experiment, and The Bond. Also in the film What the Bleep do We Know?!
–Jeff Volk, who discusses Cymatics, the science of sound and vibration of healing.
And a few others I can’t mention right now because they ended up becoming some of my monthly adventures!
Now perhaps the concept of linking philosophy and science and spirituality and theology is not for some, but I am reminded of a quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer:
“The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about and refuse to investigate.”
And as for thinking too much…well, I believe it’s better to think too much about life and all its intricacies and complexities and wondrous mysteries than to not think at all. I know it’s not possible, but I’m going to try to not be ignorant. Let’s face it, we can’t know everything.
As they say in I ♥ Huckabees, we may be just particles and stuff, but it is that universal interconnectivity to everything that makes Life so great. And in my eternal quest for knowledge in the realms of philosophy, science, spirituality, and theology, each experience brings an awareness of the world that I live in, and an understanding of myself that is constantly changing.
Recommendations for the budding existential detective:
- Learn about all types of theology – not just Christian, but all world religions – Judaism, Muslim, Buddhism, etc. The more I read, the more I realize they are eerily similar. The names, races, and dates may be different but the concepts, at a deeper level, are the same.
- Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds have linked ‘science’ and ‘spirituality’ together.
- Look into the different types of science out there – physics, chemistry, quantum mechanics – and learn how the world works from a scientific perspective. Discover how science can limit us.
- Determine the difference between ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’. They are not necessarily the same thing.
- Look into some of the more ‘alternative’ stuff – like conspiracy theories and whatnot. There’s always a thread of truth in there somewhere.
© Monthly Adventure, Patricia Taylor, December 2008
Baloo Cartoons, 2009, Cartoon.