Here is a slightly random collection of other questions about life and the universe. Some of which are easy to answer and others are more difficult.
What happens when we die? Is there life after death? Refer back to the mind-body problem. If there is a non-corporeal spiritual essence pervading the universe, then yes: it continues after death of the physical body it was associated with. What dies with the body are the memories and experiences of the ego, which was attached to the physical body. The personality, little “me“, doesn’t survive death. It doesn’t matter, because that is not who you are. Whether the sum of all your individual memories are stored away in akashic records for eternity is harder to ascertain. It is possible that these could be held in the collective consciousness of the species or the planet. There is a good deal about the collective consciousness (or collective unconsciousness) that we have yet to discover.
Is there such a thing as a soul? See above; it is another question that will be solved with an answer to the mind-body problem. We have talked about spiritual or soul qualities. The soul is not physical. If there is a non-corporeal spiritual essence pervading the universe, then the soul exists, but as per above, the soul is quite separate from the ego.
Does my soul repeatedly reincarnate? If so, why can’t I remember past lives? Assuming that there is a non-corporeal spiritual essence pervading the universe, the model Paramahansa Yogananda gave is individual human births being like a droplet of water being flung from the ocean with a breaking wave. It has a brief period of individual existence before merging back into the ocean. Once back in the ocean there is no notion of an individual droplet again but the water still exists. The “I” and remembering past lives refer to an “ego”. The soul is not the ego.
Is there such a thing as Karma? If I wrong somebody during this life and pay no penalty, do I suffer the consequences in some future life? This is an interesting teaching from the eastern traditions, and it has been used as a means to scare and control the population. It carries the underlying assumption that we have a soul, and the soul carries baggage from its past from one life to the next. Yet if the ego and memories die with the body (as I hinted to above) and the spiritual essence merges back into the ocean, the slate is effectively wiped clean. Morally it doesn’t seem right that one person could live a life helping and serving others, and another could rape and steal and murder, and in the end this makes no difference. If there is a soul then it doesn’t seem fair that the soul shouldn’t be tainted or rewarded for its efforts in one life. But perhaps this is the result of wrong thinking from a human perspective. It is certainly better for other members of the human race that you do not rape and steal from and murder others, and as there does appear to be some form of collective unconscious for the human race as a whole, bad deeds would end up in the collective unconscious and either re-manifest or need to be balanced out by somebody or something in the future. My recommendation is to play it safe and live the best life you can being kind and good to others.
See also Samskara.
Would 100 monkeys with typewriters randomly hitting keys eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare. (Called the Infinite Monkey theorum). No. Whilst the probability is in theory not zero, the time required is very long. Much longer than the species of monkeys will exist and much longer than typewriters will last. In fact, hundreds of thousands of orders of magnitude longer than the projected age of the universe. So the short answer is no, it won’t happen. The works of Shakespeare were created by a deliberate and intelligent act. They are not going to happen by chance.
If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This simple question has amused philosophers for years. The dilemma arises out of perception and observation – if there is nobody there to observe it, does it even exist. The issue the philosophers are struggling with is the ego believing that human beings are the only creatures capable of intelligent perception in the universe. I say that there is universal consciousness and that yes, the falling tree does make a sound (sound waves will be created in accordance with the laws of physics) and the universe is aware of it even if there aren’t any human beings around to observe it. Modern human beings are probably locked away inside a warm lounge playing computer games instead of enjoying the beauty of the forest.
Now that medical technology can grow replacement body parts from my own stem cells, am I going to be able to live for 1,000 years? This is a great question. This looks increasingly likely from a physical standpoint, and serious money is being invested to cure the disease of ageing. Medical advances such as the ability to regrow essential body parts from your own stem cells, is making great progress. Nobody has yet tested how the brain will cope with this, and if we are going to live for 1,000 years we had better start taking better care of our bodies or the ongoing maintenance is going to be very expensive.
If I was cryogenically frozen just before death, could I be revived in a few hundred years at which time the technology exists to repair or cure or rejuvenate my body? Would my consciousness survive such a long state of suspended animation? Whether this is possible is not currently known. The freezing process works quite quickly, but thawing out is more of an issue and currently cannot be done without causing cellular damage (but we may indeed find ways of doing this in the future). If consciousness is indeed separate from the body, it is likely that it would get “bored” and drift off on its journey rather than stick around a lifeless corpse for hundreds of years, but then again, the perception of time is inside the brain and that may be meaningless to pure consciousness.
Why can’t we talk to dolphins (or any other animal)? A really good question. There isn’t much likelihood of us talking with aliens from another planet if we can’t even communicate with our closest relatives on planet Earth. Despite some serious research with dolphins, which have a rich language, we have yet to make a breakthrough. Other candidates might be whales, dogs, cats, apes, etc. A two-way translator is still some way off.
What is the Holy Grail? The quest for the Holy Grail has become synonymous with a search for something that will never be found. In the King Arthur legends they seem to have been looking for the cup that was used by Jesus at the last supper. Recent authors have suggested that in fact it is a mistranslation of sangreal meaning royal blood, and that Mary Magdalene was the Holy Grail, the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ. Then it was pointed out that the holy grail quests never originated until around the 13th century at the time of King Arthur, and that the word was sankgreall or royal platter. So the Knights of the Round Table were looking for a dish, not a cup. Whatever the truth, nobody seems to have found it yet and perhaps the quest is similar to the search for enlightenment.
Who built the pyramids? How many books have been written about this? How many theories? There is still a great deal about the construction techniques that are not understood. It isn’t likely that they had assistance from UFO’s, but the claimed construction logistics of 180 x 2.5 tonne blocks set in place every hour for 10 hours a day to complete the 2 million+ block Great Pyramid is clearly flawed. Even 180 blocks a day would be a remarkable achievement. Anyone who has undertaken any sort of project management work will understand the difficulties involved. The pyramids are likely to have taken much longer than 20 years to build, probably several hundred years. They truly deserve their status as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Exactly how they were built remains a mystery – perhaps wooden rollers were used (there were forests in the region at the time, not desert as it is currently). The knowledge of the pyramid builders and the Temple of Solomon was continued through the teachings of the Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Hermeticism, Sufis and other western mystery schools. There is a great deal we can learn from these teachings other than how to create stone monuments.
Did mankind land on the moon or was it all a conspiracy? Yes, we did land on the moon. Plenty of moon rock has been brought back to Earth as proof. Whether all the video footage we were shown was actually filmed on the moon is another question. Plenty of conspiracy theories abound, but perhaps in the next 5 – 10 years we will be back to the moon and can check and see if the rubbish we left behind in the early 1970’s is still there.