Friday, September 14, 2012


What can we say about life that is demonstrably and self-evidently true?

Well, a fair bit. Let's see ... .

For starters, life just is. I think that is, or must be taken to be, axiomatic. However, in a very profound philosophical sense there is no such thing as ‘life,’ just as there is no such thing as the ‘universe’ or a ‘totality of things’. Yes, no such thing. You see, words like 'universe' and ‘totality’ are just that---words. They simply refer to the sum 'total' of all there is (that is, A + B + C + D + … ad infinitum). A, B, C and D are all very ‘real’, but the totality of all those things is not in itself a thing.

So, what we call ‘life’ is just this---the sum total (sorry) of all living things living out their livingness in spacetime. I sometimes refer to this as the ‘self-livingness of life.’ That’s just a shorthand expression. Do you disagree? Well, come, look and see, as the Buddha would say. Now, what do we see? Lots and lots of living things doing something. Doing what? Well, living out their respective states of livingness from one moment to the next. Trees, flowers, birds, animals of all kinds, as well as the human animal---they are all living out their livingness from moment to moment, constantly entering into complex 'relations' with other things. Yes, waxing and waning, too. Things appear for a time and then disappear and vanish from view. They change form, they disappear, but in a very profound sense they never cease to be---not for a moment. The self-livingness, or be-ness, of life. It’s simply awe-inspiring.

Can we say anything more? Well, come, look and see. Now, what do we see? The ‘life’---for want of a better word---flowing through each living thing would appear to be the same ‘life’ flowing through every other living thing. Expressed a little better, the livingness of life is the same, irrespective of the life species. As the Scottish-born Australian philosopher John Anderson (pictured right) would say, a single ‘logic’---note, logic is about things, not words---applies to all things and how they are related to all other things. No, not all things are one, for clearly they are not. However, a single principle----call it the life principle, if you wish---applies to all things and their respective relations with all other things. Here’s something else we can say, after looking and seeing. All things exist on the same order or level of reality---and on the same plane of observability. All things exists in the eternal now, the latter being the only ‘time.’ What we call ‘life’---albeit in a rather misleading sense---is nothing other than a timeless renewal or re-creation of all things in the present moment.

So, we have the livingness---or, rather, the self-livingness of life---and the oneness of life, in the sense that a single logic applies to all things, and all things exist on the same order or level of reality. Is there anything else we can say about life from looking and seeing? Well, come, look and see. Now, what do we see? Life---that is, living things---are constantly giving of themselves to themselves (including their respective offspring) so as to perpetuate themselves or the particular species. Yes, life tends to give of itself to itself in order to perpetuate itself. (That may or may not be a good thing! Only kidding.)

These three things---the self-livingness of life, the oneness of life, and the self-givingness of life---are, I submit, demonstrably obvious. So what, you may say. Well, I think we can derive a number of important ethical values from these objective facts. For example, cooperation and altruism are ‘natural,’ for they are life-affirming, life-promoting and life-enhancing. So are qualities that work for unity as opposed to division, for if a single logic applies to all things then no forms of discrimination or human distinction are ever justifiable. Life is ‘sacred’ or ‘holy’ because it is all there is, and it is common to all things. I could go on, but that’s enough for the time being.

Life---the very livingness, or self-livingness, of life. Truth---the very oneness (that is, common life principle) of life. Love---the very givingness, or self-givingness, of life. It’s a ‘holy trinity’ of sorts. Well, it makes much more sense to me than that other supposed Holy Trinity.


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