Thursday, June 26, 2008

Question ONE

Okay, so yesterday I implied that the only question we need to engage is, "is the universe friendly or not" or one of its variants. And in some ways I believe that that's true.

I also think, though, that there are at least four questions we need to look at or that, at least, we find ourselves drawn to over and over again in our lives and in the recorded history of our species. So maybe we only need to answer the one, but we sure seem to want to answer the other four. Here they are:
  • Who Am I?
  • Whith Whom Am I?
  • Where Am I?
  • Whose Am I?
People often answer the first question with a list of their activities and engagements: I'm a Unitarian Universalist minister; I'm a husband and father; I'm an enthusiastic video viewer; I'm a juggler. But these are really answers to the question, "What do you do?" and we're often reminded that "you are not what you do." (You've no doubt seen the bumper sticker, "We are human beings not human doings!")

So going a bit deeper we then usually bring out our relationships: I am Erik, son of Walter, grandson of Frank; husband of Mary; father of Theo and Lester; brother of Patrick and Paul; child of God. And that gets closer, but is it as deep as we can go. Would "I" still be "me" if any of these relationships changed or ended (or never existed)?

At its deepest, I think that this first question--who am I?--really encourages us to explore human nature itself. Here are some other ways of getting at this question:
  • Am I good or evil, free or determined, some of both, or a blank slate?
  • Am I the center of the universe?
  • Does life—my life?—have a purpose? (If so, what is it?)
  • What do I value?
  • What gives me strength and solace and what depletes me?
Try answering these questions sometime. Tomorrow we'll move on to Question Two.

In Gassho,

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