An infinite number of hopeless souls fill our world. And many more fight tirelessly for a sign, symbol, or sense of change that will fuel their aching hearts. Some days I appear to be the only one that can see the damage being done; my peers are weak from meaninglessness, but fight daily and hourly for a reason to overcome themselves, and struggling to have faith in a world that cares more about the dollar than a happiness only achieved from living internally. People are unable to stand by morals, giving in to the ideals of corporations, and struggle with deciphering the messages from the Elohim, due to our dwindling faith in the potential of mankind, which is nothing more than a reflection of our lack of faith in our individual journey.
Unable to disconnect from the images we project people live through online myths and personas continually distancing themselves from reality. Many of us are destitute financially, morally, and spiritually, but we must fight against the sudden bouts of loneliness, despair, and fear. Our age will survive by finding something to live for; Yuval Noah Harari details, throughout Homo Deus, his belief in the inherent lack of meaning in the world. However, I believe that living a joyful life requires a sense of belief in the potential in spontaneity:
Life has no meaning, and people don’t need to create any meaning. They just need to realize that there is no meaning, and thus be liberated from the suffering caused by our attachments and our identification with empty phenomena. As far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose.
Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion. However, A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship, whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.
Our zeitgeist demands new responsibilities to the problems plaguing the world–our rediscovery of love, our ability to transform traumatic experience into creative experience. This world demands a feeling of significance, a faith in the potential of life, and believing our lives have purpose beyond companies that steal our time. In order to become one must find a reason to pray, smile, and continue fighting for a sense of self. We must be in a constant pursuit of the soul to achieve freedom, but one must remember freedom is the pursuit of itself.
We achieve freedom through pursuing the beauty and breathe contained within us. The famines have been nearly eradicated, we’ve reduced the amount of wars, and extended the amount of breathes we take, but man must deal with the battle very few, the artists, have been willing to face–the battle that happens internally. The battle that determines whom we shall become. Yuval Noah Harari speaks about the Buddhist perspective of the root of our suffering saying:
According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings. Which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify.
People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure. Rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body. Witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realize how pointless it is to pursue them.
When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust. Once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasizing about what might have been.
The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it. It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!”
Homo Deus is audacious, speculative and thought-provoking. And for Brand Genetics, an agency that believes that the future is human, Homo Deus is a direct challenge to our faith in human strengths, human values and human experience.
As Harari concludes, are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing? Is intelligence more valuable that consciousness (our subjective experience of sensations, emotions and thoughts)? Can non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms really know us better than we know ourselves? These are open questions that will be decided as a matter of fact, rather than as a matter of opinion.
Perhaps most significantly, Homo Deus helps solve the crisis of credibility in qualitative research today. In a data-driven and data-fetishized world where numbers rule and words walk, what is the purpose of qualitative research? (apart from informing, illustrating, and interpreting quantitative research).
Homo Deus provides qualitative researchers with an answer, and a powerful new raison-d’être. Leave quantitative data to the ‘quants’ in quantitative research. Instead, we ‘qualis’ can focus on decoding what’s really important – the underlying algorithms that describe, pattern and predict human behavior. Now you know. Continue reading with James Baldwin on the necessity of creating a new world.
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