Back in my true believing days, I figured that I knew both the questions to ask and what the answers were. For example:
A. Get initiated by a perfect living guru, and follow his teachings about meditation and other matters.
A Christian, on the other hand, would think along these lines:
A. By accepting Jesus as his or her personal savior.
Of course, the questions presume quite a bit.
In my case, that there is a God. And it is possible (plus desirable) to return to God. In the Christian case, that there is sin. And one needs to be saved from it.
How do we know that we're even capable of asking meaningful cosmic questions? (By "cosmic," I'm referring to ultimate, metaphysical, and deeply existential sorts of queries.)
Asking a good question means that we know quite a bit about something. At the least, that it exists as some thing. Having come to this conclusion, we can inquire about its thingness.
If God exists, then it makes sense to wonder what God is like. If salvation is possible, then it makes sense to seek a way to be saved. If human beings have (or are) an immaterial soul, then it makes sense to try to experience this state of being.
If. If. If.
A lot of theological and metaphysical discussions, on this blog and elsewhere, assume that a good question has been asked. Much or most of the time, this assumption presumes the existence of something for which there is no convincing evidence.
It took me quite a while to begin to realize this. Once I did, I started down a churchless path.
At first I came to a mental signpost that said, "I know the Big Questions of Life. But I don't know the answers." Continuing onward, I reached another milestone: "I'm clueless about what questions to ask of the cosmos."
Let's take the oft-cited biggie: Why is there something rather than nothing?
Answers to this ultimate cosmic question can be put forth, but they're unsatisfying, whether religious, scientific, or philosophical. That Why in the query... why is it there?
I mean, why not take that word out, and switch the next two words around? Leaving: There is something rather than nothing.
We can all agree with that.
Making a question out of existence's existence could be the ultimate cosmic joke. Understand, I don't know that it is. But it seems more likely to me that we humans have no idea what to ask about existence, then that we know enough to ask a meaningful question.
As noted earlier, something has to exist before we can ask a good question about it. Existence exists -- that seems pretty damn clear.
But is it some thing? That's a great question. Or, an incredibly lousy one. Who knows?
In my wisest moments of mystic intuition, which could also arguably be described as my most vivid delusions, I grok:
The cosmos just is. Religions and philosophies come up with a freaking large load of conceptual crap about ultimate origins. What is, is. That's it. A-fucking-men.
That isn't a question. Or an answer either. Just an embrace of cosmic mystery.