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Cool story bro

By marcus   2012 Feb 25, 12:20am   3,033 views   12 comments   watch (1)   quote      

I like this a lot. But it isn't because I think it's true or because I wish it were true.

The Egg
By: Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.
It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.
And that’s when you met me.
“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”
“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.
“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”
“Yup,” I said.
“I… I died?”
“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.
You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”
“More or less,” I said.
“Are you god?” You asked.
“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”
“My kids… my wife,” you said.
“What about them?”
“Will they be all right?”
“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”
You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”
“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”
“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”
“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”
“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”
You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”
“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”
“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”
“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”
I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.
“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”
“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”
“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”
“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”
“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”
“Where you come from?” You said.
“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”
“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”
“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”
“So what’s the point of it all?”
“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”
“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.
I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”
“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”
“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”
“Just me? What about everyone else?”
“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”
You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”
“All you. Different incarnations of you.”
“Wait. I’m everyone!?”
“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.
“I’m every human being who ever lived?”
“Or who will ever live, yes.”
“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”
“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.
“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.
“And you’re the millions he killed.”
“I’m Jesus?”
“And you’re everyone who followed him.”
You fell silent.
“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”
You thought for a long time.
“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”
“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”
“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”
“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”
“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”
“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”
And I sent you on your way.

Comments 1-12 of 12     Last »

1   marcus   668/672 = 99% civil   2012 Feb 25, 12:33am  ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

I know, I know. Not a proper use of "cool story bro."

I meant it. I really like this. But I'll spare you the analysis of why. I think it might even be appealing to some atheists (and not in a way that would change their mind). Then again, it might not be possible for them to suspend disbelief long enough to get it. Or to get something like what I get from it.

I was asked by TL or perhaps by uomo_senza "what is spirituality,"... something that I can not easily answer. MY guess is that most of us are at least sometimes spiritual in some ways. I believe that "The Egg" appeals to the spiritual in me. And again, it has nothing to do with believing that it could be true.

2   Travis Bickle     2012 Feb 25, 8:57pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    

Nice. A profound short story indeed. Made me think. Kinda similar in theme as a talk about "Nirvana, the waterfall", given by the late Shunryu Suzuki, a zen buddhist instructor. (excerpt below):

I went to Yosemite National Park, and I saw some huge waterfalls. The highest one there is 1,340 feet high, and from it the water comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It does not seem to come down swiftly, as you might expect; it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And the water does not come down as one stream, but is separated into many tiny streams. From a distance it looks like a curtain. And I thought it must be a very difficult experience for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, you know, a long time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall. And it seems to me that our human life may be like this. We have many difficult experiences in our life. But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling. It is as if the water does not have any feeling when it is one whole river. Only when separated into many drops can it begin to have or to express some feeling. When we see one whole river we do not feel the living activity of the water, but when we dip a part of the water into a dipper, we experience some feeling of the water, and we also feel the value of the person who uses the water. Feeling ourselves and the water in this way, we cannot use it in just a material way. It is a living thing.
Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called "mind-only," or "essence of mind," or "big mind." After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.
When the water returns to its original oneness with the river, it no longer has any individual feeling to it; it resumes its own nature, and finds composure. HOW VERY GLAD THE WATER MUST BE TO COME BACK TO THE ORIGINAL RIVER! If this is so, what feeling will we have when we die? I think we are like the water in the dipper. We will have composure then, perfect composure. It may be too perfect for us, just now, because we are so much attached to our own feeling, to our individual existence. For us, just now, we have some fear of death, but after we resume our true original nature, there is Nirvana. That is why we say, "To attain Nirvana is to pass away." "To pass away" is not a very adequate expression. Perhaps "to pass on", or "to go on", or "to join" would be better. Will you try to find some better expression for death?? When you find it, you will have quite a new interpretation of your life. It will be like my experience when I saw the water in the big waterfall. Imagine! It was 1,340 feet high!!
We say, "everything comes out of emptiness". One whole river or one whole mind is emptiness. When we reach this understanding we find the true meaning of our life. When we reach this understanding we can see the beauty of human life. Before we realize this fact, everything that we see is just delusion. Sometimes we overestimate the beauty; sometimes we underestimate or ignore the beauty because our small mind is not in accord with reality.
To talk about it this way is quite easy, but to have the actual feeling is not so easy. But by your practice of zazen (meditation) you can cultivate this feeling. When you can sit with your whole body and mind, and with the oneness of your mind and body under the control of the UNIVERSAL MIND, you can easily attain this kind of right understanding. Your everyday life will be renewed without being attached to an old erroneous interpretation of life. When you realize this fact, you will discover how meaningless your old interpretation was, and how much useless effort you had been making. Your will find the true meaning of life, and even though you have difficulty falling upright from the top of the waterfall to the bottom of the mountain, you will enjoy your life....

3   marcus   668/672 = 99% civil   2012 Feb 26, 3:52am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike (2)   quote    

I don't practice zazen much these days, but I would like to get back to it.

I like the Suziki exceprt, although sometimes when sharing such experiences as his insight about the droplets of water and the waterfall, I think something is lost in the translation in to words.

You've reminded me to revisit "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind."

4   Kevin     2012 Feb 26, 7:15am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    

Why does god always speak English?

5   RentingForHalfTheCost     2012 Feb 26, 8:22am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    

Can anyone find out if God typed this from an iPad or an Android tablet? Just curious from an investment side. ;)

6   marcus   668/672 = 99% civil   2012 Feb 26, 9:58am  ↑ like   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    

Kevin says

Why does god always speak English?

7   freak80     2012 Feb 26, 11:58pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    

That story isn't right. It isn't even wrong.

8   Nomograph     2012 Feb 27, 10:53pm  ↑ like (4)   ↓ dislike   quote    

Kevin says

Why does god always speak English?

Duh. Don't you ever watch Star Trek? Everyone speaks English, even on different planets.

9   Bap33     2012 Feb 29, 1:42pm  ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

marcus I enjoyed that. Thanks.

10   freak80     2012 Mar 1, 5:25am  ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

The story is very similar to Hinduism, correct? A vicious cycle of death and rebirth until reaching enlightentment or "Nirvana"?

Except Hinduism isn't limited to being reborn into other humans. You could be reborn into a rat or earthworm too, right?

11   freak80     2012 Mar 12, 11:21pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Bap33 says

marcus I enjoyed that. Thanks.

Bap, I thought you were Christian...why would you want to mess around with eastern religion?

12   Bap33     2012 Mar 13, 12:55pm  ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

I don't see your point, or the connection. I can like a painting and not be an artist.

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