I'm glad for your clarity. It's one thing I don't think any of us are alone in seeking.
Apologies in advance for such a long post. I'm sharing with you what I wish someone had told me when I was graduating high school.
Originally Posted by Canderis
I don't face death as an immediate threat but it could come at anytime without warning. It's unpredictable and inevitable.
Since starting this thread a lot has changed in my life. *brevity* things have kept me so busy and so drained that I have not been able to really think much about anything. This is what has really been the best fix for my problem, being too busy to care.
Actually, being busy is a healthy thing to stave off depression and other things that tend to continue to bother us but linger annoyingly out of reach. The important thing is to keep yourself going. However, don't let it be an excuse to keep running away from problems you *can* solve.
I guess the shaolin would say "use momentum to move onward instead of just moving around". Something like that.
Second, I have a reply for what was mentioned a few times before in this thread, that a way to conquer the fear of dying is to appreciate what I have. A lot of great and wonderful people have become very prominent in my life lately and I am so lucky for the life I had, I'm terrified to lose it.
I once thought that way, fearful of loss. Ultimately almost everything slipped away from me anyway in spite of my best efforts. Slow and agonizing. If I can share anything I wish I had known 14-15 years ago is that while it's good to be conscientious (as you are), don't become paralyzed with that fear.
You will undoubtedly hit bumps and face setbacks. How you respond to them is what's important. Attitude is everything--this from a guy who scoffed and never believed I would be saying it. Ever. How you see yourself is just as important, if not more so, than how others view you.
Lastly I have cut off any kind of faith(I was agnostic before) from what I believe. I am studying to become a computer scientist, a completely logic based profession, and in a way this has led me to my current mind-set of seeing is believing. I need to see proof to believe anything. What I want is something I know I won't get from a thread on the Internet. What I want is the truth. I am lately finding it pointless to speculate on the concept of "nothing" because there is no truth. Religion is the answer science can't provide, but I believe science is the only answer. If truth can't be found in science, there is no truth I can find. I won't know the truth while I am alive, and if true nothingness follows death then there was never any truth in life to begin with. I also feel like if a God, as shown in religions in Christianity existed, why would he give us the ability to think logically and not give us clear evidence of his existence. I'm not trying to start a debate, I'm really not up for one right now, that's just one major flaw I find in most religions. That just seems like a curse to me, giving us the freedom to believe God doesn't exist and not giving us clear, indisputable from every prospective, evidence.
Though I failed in becoming a Laser/Electro-Optical Engineer, I am not entirely clueless in these matters. We're not machines, though, and even if you don't believe it to be a strength, we can still do things that fundamentally binary logic cannot. Save reproducing, we have otherwise been unable to replicate this. As in AI. Computers (currently) must have data which is decide-able. Humans can handle illogical things, AI can't; illogical things do terrible things to code because it is not decide-able. (1)
Becoming educated is one thing; using that education to dismiss everything else because it "doesn't fit" is quite another. I find the latter amusing when those same kind of people should talk down on others for being "ignorant".
How you see the 'big picture' is up to you. Entirely. You already realize there's something more to life than just what science has established. I would simply ask you to keep an open mind as to the possibilities beyond that and to not use your education to dismiss something, or to snuff it out simply because it "doesn't fit". Tempting as it is to criticize, correct, argue with, and browbeat other people, don't
. I'll elaborate why.
I've actually met Nils J. Nilsson in person. Nilsson is the author of The Quest For Artificial Intelligence
(2), which you will undoubtedly come across in your studies. Probably an apex figure of the sort of professional you wish to become.
What I observed about his personal character: He, despite all his greatness in his field, is an unassuming man. Humble. Much like yourself, he doesn't desire to debate or correct people in these matters. He simply cares for "what is". He has nothing to prove.
I was amazed that for as accomplished as he is in academics, he didn't feel any need to belittle other people, and he wasn't pompous. He was sharp and bright, even as old as he is. I think part of the reason his work is so widely accepted is because of the kind of man he is. Social adeptness is key to being attractive in many ways. Welcome and invite gains the recognition that "qualifications" alone never will.
Beyond your chosen field there is your truth, personally, and nobody else can live, quantify, or explain it for you. I'm not talking about becoming a believer in anything. I'm talking about being unassuming when it comes to things you don't know or cannot know, which can't be explained.
Which brings me to my next point: Spiritual enlightenment doesn't necessarily need to be "superstitious nonsense". One such way of it is the art of Zen. Zen concerns itself with "what is", and with balance. Very much so about truth. You don't need to get off into every aspect of it to understand this is its main goal.
An indirect example of Zen:
My mentor, an Electronics Engineer, once told me "I may be a terrible Jew. Hell I disobey the dietary laws all the time because, well, who doesn't love bacon and prosciutto? You might even argue I'm a deist and see the concept of God as I would a vendor on the corner. But there has to be a point at which you are creative to allow yourself to not be bound by the rules and what you've learned. For me this is to balance myself out from designing circuits and searching patents all the time with something else. Something that doesn't always have to make sense."
He isn't sure what he believes. He's a scientific sort uninterested in superstition. At the end of the day, he accepts things simply for what they are.
TL;DR: Don't be surprised to learn that you're human. So be patient and take your time to learn and grow into yourself.
I feel like I have grown up a lot these last 6 months and I'm realizing now what I truly fear is change. What is death but the final change on earth? I am afraid change won't be better than where I came from and I can never go back.
I don't think I can change my mindset on faith, but what do I know? I'm just a kid.
-There's things you can learn as soon as you wish, then there's things you can only learn with age.
-Courage is not the absence of fear. It is continuing on in spite of that fear.
-The easiest way to lose your power, is to believe you don't have it.
-The word "just" is terrible. You know why? Because it trivializes. Don't trivialize.
You are the only truth you know, so believe in yourself. Also Self almighty will eventually fail, so do not forsake others who live among you. Even that odd janitor with the glasses who gets on your nerves when he kicks you out of your study hall because it's 10:30 at night.
Uncertainty will turn you into a recluse if you let it. It doesn't always need to be feared. In these situations, sometimes knowing the worst that can happen *is* what causes you to lose out. Like a self fulfilling prophecy. When Han Solo told Threepio "never tell me the odds", this is the very thing he meant.
(1) Partial credit to fellow megaman fan Daniel Page on youtube for his layman explanation of these things. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGRhqXN9ul4