Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Which terrifying option is your choice?
Only Two Possible Answers
Either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. These two possibilities give rise to fear based on their philosophical and logical implications. It makes sense to probe these two possibilities. This will help us understand how our personality and instinctual stack relate to this type of dilemma. Investigating these possibilities forces us to delve into the fabric of our fears.
Only two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying ― Arthur C. Clarke
Existential thought, contemplating our existence comes early in life. Many children ask questions about their existence at an early age. It’s an inborn curiosity. Nature is often a catalyst. How do we fit into the scheme of life on this planet? This quest leads people to answers. It draws some into organized religion for this reason.
Since there are only two possible answers, many people ignore the implications of this situation.
Are We Alone in the Universe?
Being alone in the Universe is fearful because it means we are either an insignificant occurrence or the object of celestial preference. This latter possibility is the reason so many people cling to mythologies of the Gods. These stories of a make-believe being or beings make mankind a unique life form in the Universe. In fact, many mythologies teach the Universe was made just for us. This provides a comforting substitute rather than contemplating the implications of the only two possible answers posed by Mr. Clarke.
Whether you believe in a God, being alone in the Universe, brings into focus the fear of our existential dread (1). This is the philosophical position beginning with the existential attitude, or a sense of disorientation, confusion, or dread in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world (2).
We are Not Alone in the Universe?
If you lean toward the more scientifically supported a position that because of the sheer number of planets in the Universe that could support life, we are probably not alone. There is more evidence to support the premise that we are not alone in the Universe. There is more evidence to support the existence of other life. Therefore, there is more proof to support the existence of alien visitation than there is to support the existence of a Supreme Being.
This brings us back to the original dilemma, there are only two possible answers. For this reason, contemplating this dilemma is a profound source of inner work.
The Third Possibility?
Is there a third possibility? Can we decide not to choose either way but hold both possibilities as potential realities? This position leaves us open to the realities of each of these two possibilities, without committing to either. Does this third position enable us to contemplate the two possibilities with less fear and dread?
This is food for thought and contemplation. It makes a good exercise for use when studying your personality through the Enneagram Personality Profile. If you use this tool, you’ll find that many of the fears we face are social programming, and some are products of the mechanism of our personality.
The personality is a necessary element that connects us to consciousness. But, social programming is something we can change if we apply ourselves to the task. This question of two possibilities is one that shows how our social programming affects certain personality types more than others.
Altered or higher states of consciousness also present us with other options for investigation. Shamanic traditions have long told us that non-ordinary realms are as real as this ordinary state.
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(1) Existential Dread, Wikipedia
(2) Absurd World, Wikipedia
(3) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia