The Dog was getting thirsty. Combining the necessary with the enjoyable, the Dog took a saunter to the stream to visit the Fish. The Dog and the Fish were best of friends and enjoyed discussing philosophical perspectives on life, the universe and everything.
The Fish seeing the Dog coming, swam as close to the edge as possible. Immediately the Fish began a discussion of great relevance and importance. It involved religion and the perspective on how to deal with our never ending believe that there is something “out there” that is looking out for us.
Fish: You are thirsty and the Great Maker in the Sky provides you with a stream of fresh tasty water - what magic and wonder!
Dog: Wasn’t the stream always here? It didn’t just suddenly appear as I was walking around that tree back there.
Fish: How do you know? Did you see the stream from afar? Or did it not appear the moment you first set eyes on it?
Dog: If it just appeared, where have you been swimming all this time? Did you also just appear, and if so, how did it feel to “just appear in time”? This argument reminds me of the tree and the forest … it is an ego-centric approach to how we experience everything around us.
Fish: Quite true: we only take ourselves as being the center of what we experience that anything we don’t experience never happened. If we don’t experience the tree falling in the forest, we assume it made no noise.
Dog: And anything that interferes with that balance between ego and experiences annoys us. For example the question of whether there is a Great Maker in the Sky that somehow is above and beyond us. This upsets us because we are no longer the center of our experiences. Similar to the ….
Fish: … the church, the earth, the sun and the astronomer. This was difficult for the Catholic Church to accept since it meant that we - in form of the Earth - are not longer the focus. The Earth becomes one part that moves around something great than us. How could the Great Maker in the Sky do such a miserable thing and not place us at the center of the galaxy - what was it/he/she thinking?
Dog: Perhaps the Great Maker in the Sky was teaching humility? Being able to know our place in the big scheme of things and being humble about it.
Fish: But how can we experience something that we are but a small part of? How can be degrade ourselves to being but a small cog in a larger clockwork? Of course I can’t possibly understand the larger clockwork and therefore we invent the Great Maker in the Sky that somehow has our best interests at heart and looks after us. However …
Dog: However? Why don’t you see it? We are bits of metal traversing path between two magnets. One magnet is “it’s all about us” and the other is “there is something great than us”. We are constantly being pulled to one or the other direction, unsure of our own wisdom. Uneasiness about our own lack of understanding we attempt to escape to a simpler, more controllable experience.
Fish: Adding Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to the mix, we are now entering a phase of “it’s all about us”. The total immersion of VR makes it seem as if we can completely control our experiences, providing both a form of control of our experiences and escape from our earthly experiences.
Dog: Ironically the more one gets involved in VR the more the desire to communicate within the VR world. This, of course, causes the experience to be more depended on others thus reducing our own personal control over our own experiences … sound familiar?
Fish: Right. It seems that we are destined to continually rinse and repeat what we already have. Always assuming there is something better just around the corner. The circle is large enough and we are slow, no appearance of dizziness in our ever more worn path around the circle.
Here the conversation momentarily ceased as both reflected on their discussion. The Dog enjoyed a gulp or two of water and bathed in the midday sun. The Fish being disgusted that the Dog would drink from the Fishs toilet, refrained from pointing this out - he had done this far too often.
Then the Fish began again.
Fish: Tell me, what is your exit plan? What is your stage left?
Dog: Do hamster wheels have escape hatches? My existence is an eternal cycle of rebirth and rediscovery. There is no escaping it.
Fish: But how do you know that?
Dog: I don’t know it, I believe it. I cannot know it anymore than you can know whether the Great Maker in the Sky has a place for the good and bad. My internal belief is that I will return here in my next life. Whether this will happen or not is secondary.
Fish: Ah! Then we have some common ground: we both don’t know what will happen after death, our believes differ: you believe you will come back here and I believe I will go to greet the Great Maker in the Sky and not return here.
Dog: Precisely. Do you know what is important about predicting the future?
Fish: How do you mean?
Dog: Well predicting the future is not about being right tomorrow, it’s about convincing someone today. When I predict something will happen tomorrow, I generally don’t care whether it happens, I’m more interesting in convincing you today.
Fish: Ah, You mean similar to a stockbroker taking all my money today with the promise it’s going to be worth more tomorrow!
Dog: Exactly. Now if we take our two exit plans. Both are very pragmatic and point out the obvious: tomorrow you and me are going to die. However what are we going to do today? In your exit plan, you will try to behave as well as you can in order to get a good spot next to the Great Maker in the Sky. In my exit plan, I will try to behave as best as I can but also make this place a better place. Since I believe that I’m coming back here, I have an interest to take my garbage with me and leave this place in a better state.
Fish: Understand … the world isn’t my oyster, it is the oyster for the future me.
Dog: That’s one way of putting it. However who are your future-mes? Again we come to the ego: you believe that your future-me is you …
Dog: Yes and no! Your future-me is partly you but it’s also your children and loved ones. Those who will come after you.
Fish: Ah, but I’ve got that covered since my children have it better than I did. They can go to school and enjoy all the niceties of having a successful fish father.
Dog: And here we are again at ego: my children should have it better than me which is something that is nearly on par with what I’m trying to tell you. The only leap of faith you need to make is that if I make this place a better place, then it will be better place for my children and all other children.
Fish: I never thought of it like that …
And with that both fell into a silence of contemplation. Until:
Dog: Do you think our discussion was more important than discussing whether a blade of grass experiences pain?
Fish: Do you think Godot was here already?