There are creation legends in the hallowed scriptures of every religion and in the gentle songs of every culture. As beautiful or awe-inspiring as they may be, they are but desperate attempts to inject some sense into something which refuses to yield any answers. The good Lord did not create this in seven days, nor does the universe reside on the shell of a giant, cosmic tortoise. We do not understand what is here, yet we pretend to, because meaninglessness is often scary.
The old religions have failed us. We have seen what it has brought us. We are waiting for a salvation which will not come. We are waiting for a new age which will not arrive. Every generation believes that the end is imminent because somehow the fact that we are born in these times, makes us the chosen ones to welcome the promised renewal! It is not coming. Not now, not tomorrow. Call off the search!
Yes, call off the search, bury your stories, and open your eyes and look around. You are not a Muslim or Christian or Hindu or Jew. These are things that have been added on to what is you. If we cannot examine ourselves critically, to peel off every accumulated layer, to abandon all beliefs, stories and traditions, we are not ready to perceive life as it is. If it is not religion, we have eagerly grasped for other identities. Socialist, Capitalist, Feminist, Atheist, Vegetarian, Vegan, Nationalist, Activist, Democrat, Libertarian, Australian, American, Indian.
Our belief systems, our religions, our –isms, -ians and –ists have called on us to understand the world through a prism. If every encounter that you have with the world and its people is filtered through the prism of your belief and identity, what you experience is a monochromatic world, devoid of the colour, the depth, the beauty and the horror of what is here. If you are always in righteous indignation or smug belief or eager hope, we are not encountering life, you are encountering a shadow of it, shaped by those who came before you.
We are on a rock flying through cosmic space, on a spiralling arm of the Milky Way, composed of 200 billion other stars like ours. This is what we know.
I remember my first encounter with the Milky Way far away from the city lights. A million stars illuminating the night sky into a luminescent band of light, dotted with stars as far and as deep as the eyes could see. This is what is true. Our rock is not special. It is what it is.
Our beliefs, philosophies, identities, allegiances, indignations – our isms, ians, and ists – were born on this rock and will die on this rock. For now, we have this earth. What will we make of it?