All this travel in a religious country with 30 million gods has made me more of an atheist than usual. Mind, I do actually believe in the superlative infinite, in the deep mysteries of existence. How can I not given the universe is so immeasurably huge and old (13 odd billion years) and that in the centre of the milky way, just one of millions of galaxies, there’s a black hole which slowly consumes entire solar systems? That’s way cooler than anything I’ve read in various creation myths.
Looking up into the night sky and knowing that the stars I see is a small fraction of the stars in existence and that each of those stars have a lifecycle of its own is pretty mind-blowing. And then there’s actual other planets out there, countless numbers of them. What need is there for anything more? The infinite is around us, we live in it, we are part of it (even if we are an absolutely minuscule part). In comparison to the majestic complexity of the universe, human concepts of god end up looking very much like projections of human fears and hopes.
As for the afterlife, everybody goes to theravada buddhist heaven as far as i’m concerned. It doesn’t really matter how well or how poorly you’ve behaved, we all end up liberated into permanent non-existence: identity, memory, consciousness, everything that it the “I” dispersed into nothingness. With enough meditation, it becomes pretty clear that self-concept and consciousness are quite rickety post-facto gaffa-taped jobs anyway.
Still, I am attracted to the rapture of the nerds, the idea that perhaps one day we will be able to create such perfect computer simulations of our consciousness and memories that a sort of second-hand immortality becomes possible. It would be grand to have a machine that thinks it is me travel the stars, spawn copies of itself to attempt inter-galactic travel and maybe even encounter other life. The machine would probably have a great time.
Until the heat death of the universe that is. And strangely enough, I find it comforting that there is a possibility that this beautiful mandala will one day flatten out into complete entropy.
All things end. It is enough.