The concept of existence is a difficult one to get your head around. It probably seems clear to you that you exist. It probably seems clear to you that your friends and family exist. You’ve never had any reason to question existence in general, and it can be uncomfortable to do so, I assure you.
First, let’s take a look at the people around you, people you share experiences with. Can you really be sure that they shared those experiences with you? You are undoubtedly conscious of the first time you kissed someone, or at least conscious of a time you’ve kissed someone, you remember it. But it is impossible to discern whether anyone else’s consciousness is anything but an illusion; you may, essentially, have been kissing an organic robot that is incapable of experience – it simply follows scripting in a similar fashion to computer software.
Of course, if you ask anyone if they feel, if they experience life, they are going to say “yes” and perhaps add “you idiot”, of course they are, but that would be part of their scripting. Accepting one’s non-existence could provoke a feeling of worthlessness, subsequent suicide and ultimately halt the production-line of new ‘intelligent’ beings. If you are particularly good at grasping this concept, then you may be able to consider the possibility that you, yourself, could be one of these fleshy robots – in which case, you have a greater mind than mine.
Anyway, coming back to the memory of that kiss, or any memory for that matter if this one disturbs you. You could, I’m sure, tell me with conviction that you underwent this experience, that it happened. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m about to tell you that this isn’t necessarily the case. You can only ever be certain that a given point in time exists by experiencing it in that moment, and even then it can be of your own mind’s invention and/or deception. Here are a couple of simple examples that will hopefully illustrate things a little better:
- Your existence could be as little as a few seconds old. Regardless of how old you are, your memories, principles, likes and dislikes could be programmed into your mind, and it would feel like you had lived an entire life that never existed.
- Your existence is a lie contrived by your own mind in order to protect you from traumatic experience – your whole family could have died in a horrific accident leaving you as the only survivor and your mind generated a false reality so you could cope. Or similarly, you could have gone crazy and brutally murdered the person closest to you and, in the same way, your mind is trying to protect you from the padded-cell reality your life has become.
Or perhaps your life is just one massive experiment, and everyone else exists for the sole purpose of manipulating your experience to make observations about the human condition. There’s an excellent film that develops this concept further entitled The Truman Show and some of the other concepts I have explored are brought to life in The Matrix. I’d recommend both to someone intrigued by this post.
The purpose of this post was not to instill a new paranoia upon those who read it but to, once again, evaluate the importance of faith in our lives. It makes little sense to become hung up on these ideas and question our very being, although many do just that. Instead, we must take our perception of life as truth and base all of our decisions on this faith. You’ve done it throughout your life, and you’ll never stop. Your life has always been governed by faith.