“This is a fuckin’… Immanent transcendence!”
That’s what I exclaimed last night, and it made me feel very clever. As I felt my companions’ mistrustful gaze drift over my person in the awkward silence that followed, I felt some insecurities boil up in the back of my brain. As always when slightly inebriated, enlightened brainwaves might turn out to be mere drunken silliness.
But I felt I was on to something.
The conversation started off innocently enough. After the usual philosophical gibberish about my vegetarianism and every living creature’s right-to-life that comes with slight inebriation, a girl there took me at face value and asked the hard question: what do you believe in? I replied, as any conceited philosopher might, that “I don’t necessarily believe in stuff, I merely take the most logical explanation as truth of the day — until a more sophisticated explanation is presented.” Awesome argument, I thought to myself. “No,” she replied, “you just regurgitate a mosaic of theories that you’ve heard along the years. But what do you, yourself, believe in?”
Silence in the crowd, all eyes on me. I had to bring the fucking thunder on this one. Yet there I stood, silently, with no Plato, commonsense or fatherly wisdom in my rhetorical tommygun. Did I believe that we don’t end in a last whimper, once our final heartbeat had worked its way down our tired veins, nothingness awaiting? Did I believe in a hereafter, or even reincarnation? The girl had me by the balls.
Now I am certainly no atheist. I might be a somethingist; I believe there’s something out there. But the ‘something’ argument never won me any Pulitzers, so I delved deeper into my beliefs. The thing that bothers me about life after death in general is the radical divide between spirit and matter. If there is something more, it would probably be more ancient and primordial than the plane we inhabit now, since we would return there. Yet how does the soul simply fly up to its place of origin after the demise of the flesh? As a man of Reason, I refuse to simply accept such a concept without ever having seen the slightest proof of its existence. Yet we seem to need just that in order for reincarnation to work.
And then, Kris, esteemed cover artist and argumentative secondant, came to my rescue. What I understood from his equally inebriated rant, was that by splitting ourselves at the cellular level as we continually do, we are reincarnated in our future generations. More or less.
(Hang in there, I’m almost finished)
Returning to the criterium of experiencability-by-myself, I prefer thinking in a concept like self-awareness instead of a soul. Self-awareness is, in short, the watchfulness you have over your own stream of consciousness. You are reading this, and you know you are reading this. The thing that experiences everything you experience. The Watcher, who is not your thoughts, your emotions or convictions, but the reading light under which these episodes come to pass. The Watcher persists through your waking, your dreams, hallucinations and unconsciousness. Unlike a vague definition of a soul, this is a thing that can be experienced through mindgames, meditation or some occasional heavy drug use. It is, to a certain extent, ‘experiencable’.
Let this Self-Aware Watcher be the thing that reincarnates.
This Watcher emerged from blind matter, as we have emerged (evolved) from non-sentient amino acids. Suppose that organic life evolves to a point where this watchful quality can emerge. Then splitting your cells until you die, creating an offspring along the way, merely serves the purpose of continuing that watchfulness into eternity — creating a cycle of life, death and rebirth of mortal vessels in which we can Watch eternally! And even when the last organic being dies, its experience and seeds of new Watching have merely receded into matter and energy — even the end of the universe in a Big Crunch, would simply be the reintegration of all Watchers, all those fucking buddhist souls, who are merely the same living essences in different material vessels! And all of this shit is now explained without a separated imfuckingpenetrable transcendent plane. This is a fuckin’… Immanent transcendence!
My companions’ remained silent for a long time, their relentless gaze now crowned with a worried frown.
I apologized humbly for my drunken ravings, and we talked some innocent politics.