Our perceptions of life are based on our experiences, both primary and secondary.

Our sense of reality is shaped around those perceptions. Oliver Holmes said “Once the mind is stretched by a new idea, it never returns to its original size,” hence our perceptions of reality are always changing. And everyone’s reality is different because we all have different perceptions. The less we know, the more we think we know, and the more we know, the less we think we know. Therefore, only the ignorant will say their version of reality is right, and all the other different realities are inferior. Aristotle said “All humans in nature desire to know,” we search the answer to the same questions and around the world some have found those answers, some are still searching and some accept there is no answer. There are some people, who just cannot see the fact that there can be an alternate solution to looking at life. The Christian missionaries in Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe wiped out the entire Igbo culture, because they felt their reality to be far more superior. Of all things, I find it ridiculous when one tries to impose faith; faith is the concept of believing in something you can’t prove. How do you force someone to do that? The Igbo people were different because, they believed in worshipping the nature and their ancestors. The Christian goal of life is to live a righteous life, worship their one god Jesus, and refrain from committing sins. Metaphysically they view life as a line, at the end of the line, lies judgment day where you either turn to heaven or get thrown to hell. Siddhartha Gautama once scoured the earth, looking for those answers. He felt accomplished by the three things he can do, think, fast and wait. Once he realized that the answer was, that there is no answer he became enlightened. But that didn’t just happen in a day, starting from a Brahman, he went with the sammana, then with the Buddha himself, little by little his journey led him to find his answer. Siddhartha also explains that you can’t teach someone how to become enlightened, rather can only guide them towards the right path. The essence of Buddhism is to become one with the universe, which is remarkably similar to Sufism. AT first one might laugh when Islam and Buddhism are juxtaposed, but once we focus on the Sufi branch of Islam, we become amazed. Both religions, being so different have the same essential goal of becoming one, whether it’s with Allah or the universe. It seems to be that at some point or another all the religions and philosophies in the world has crossed paths. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all start from the same roots, grow into different trees, yet in the end becomes part of the same earth. (All three start with Adam and Eve and ends with Judgment day) In china the rival philosophies Confucianism and Taoism are also similar. They both focus on making ourselves better, whether it be through education or meditation. Taoists believe, just like the Sufis and Buddhists that in order to achieve salvation, we must first immerse ourselves in nature. This is apparent in the good Earth, by pearl buck. When Wang Lung leaves the Earth his life falls apart, yet when he comes back to it, it comes back together. To the typical western, Wang Lung’s fortune and his tie with the land probably has no relationship, but it would make sense to a Taoist. Similarly, Siddhartha’s search for knowledge would seem ridiculous to a Muslim and Christian. Even within religions, there are disputes, for example In Islam the Sunnis

cannot understand why the Shi’ites hurt themselves in order to feel Prophet Ali’s pain and the Shi’ites don’t understand why the Sufis indulge in alcohol, when its Haram. In Christianity we have the protestants and Catholics. “Wonder is unknowing, experienced as a pleasure," according to Duncan, perhaps that is why man always asks “Why, Why, Why.” There is not a concrete, definite answer to that question. Albert Camus says “there isn’t a truth, but many truths.” Reality is an optical illusion that can be interpreted in many different ways, similar to the three-dimensional cube. A Buddhist and a Muslim will not see it coming to life from the same side, but they are essentially looking at the same cube, the only difference is the angle they look at it from. The way they look at it, is based on their perception of reality. Out of all the philosophies/religions, existentialism seems the most frightening. Imagine having no purpose in life, no goal. It can go either of two ways, you can see it as being trapped, not knowing what to do, because there isn’t a guide or it can make you feel free, because there are no limitations. An Existentialist will look at the cube and say “what is that but a mere shape composed of a few lines scratched on a piece of paper,”; “what is life, but a journey, that we make up as we go.” He’ll look at the many other interpretations of how you’re “supposed” to look at it, and say “O! someone should start laughing, someone start laughing now.”

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