by Ryszard Cichy

We have achieved a great deal in learning about the mechanisms of the world surrounding us. As we get to know them, they turn out to be simple, constant and logical. On the basis of this, we presume that all the other as yet undiscovered mysteries of the Universe will be disclosed. Our, human way of thinking turns out to be very effective in describing a world made up of matter. Three phenomena remain entirely unknown. Faced with them, our mind is helpless. Intuition prompts that in order to understand the Universe we ought to discover what is time, space and awareness (soul).

Each of us (both you and I) has been “crammed” into a defined time and place (space), where their awareness (soul) flashes for an instant. Each of us has come to exist precisely here and now. Why not in the Middle Ages? Why not on the other side of the ocean?

The time and place we have come to exist sets the quality of our lives which are created along with other people who surround us (aggressive or compliant, wise or not so wise). People living in Europe today do not suffer from hunger and their medical care is assured. Those living on other continents or in other ages did not always enjoy the benefits of such blessings.

Each of us has been “crammed” into conditions and systems over which we have no influence just like animals shut up in cages. They can rebel and show discontent but they have no other choice.

Why has this happened?

I am not going to be very inventive when I use the example of a chicken in front of which we spread a newspaper with the latest news. It will never understand what this object is or what the letters are. We could take forever teaching the chicken to read but our effort will always end with its pecking away at the paper. Its mind is limited.

We are proud of our intelligence and ability to think in the abstract, and we emphasise the fact that these are qualities which distinguish us from other living beings. Many of us look down with indulgence at animals executing what we think to be senseless (silly) tasks which will never achieve the desired effect.

Speaking about human achievements and intelligence, every one of us proudly identifies with the things which we use on a daily basis like a car, television or telephone. As if we had had invented them ourselves. I suspect, however, that if the combustive engine had not been constructed to date, out of the billions of people living today barely a handful would come across the idea; and many of us would not even suspect that the wheel could be used as a means of transport - if it had not yet been discovered.

There are also a large number of examples of aimless human behaviour. The society of ancient Egypt was engaged for many years in the construction of pyramids and mummification of corpses so as to secure eternity for their rulers. Today, archaeologists dig up their remains. It turns out that the entire effort put in by the Egyptians was futile. They put in an enormous amount of work into an undertaking which did not have the desired effect – immortality.

Among living beings it is only humans who endeavour to guess how the surrounding Universe is built, slowly discovering the laws which govern it. No other creatures do so. For millions of years they have lived as they do, only eating and reproducing with no interest in why they are doing so and why they are they way they are.

Why does the process of discovering the World by us, human beings take so long? Why is so much effort needed to discover its mysteries little by little? Could it be that originally these mysteries were never to be discovered and that only some accident (evolution?) caused human beings to appear and try to fathom them?

Are there limits to what can be learnt?

Are we, human beings (or other beings which during the process of evolution might surpass us) in a position to learn the whole truth about the world which surrounds us, to know all the laws according to which it is built?

If this were so, it would mean that we could become equal to the Builders of the Universe since we would know as much as they. Could we, therefore, be equal to God?

Is that possible?

There are several billions of us. Would there then be several billion beings equal to the Creator?

Or maybe we, human beings, are also limited in some way just like animals and the chicken pecking the newspaper to which I referred?

Maybe there are phenomena and processes which our mind, because of the way it is constructed, is not capable of understanding?

Are we, human beings, in a position to discover and comprehend everything, to understand the entire Universe?

Are there, perhaps, some limitations as to our cognitive capabilities?

Is there another kind of understanding, inaccessible to us, human beings, which is entirely different from abstract thought?

Each of us lives in the “real” world, which boils down to thinking about daily matters, about breakfast, shopping, sleep, our next meeting, about a clean shirt, or the hairdresser. It is hardly surprising. We react only to that which affects us directly; the temperature of the room we are in, therefore, and not to the temperature several years ago or many kilometres away. We react to what our eyes are seeing and our ears hearing right now and not to sights and sounds which resonated hundreds of years ago. We are occupied with our daily lives like players on a field who, engrossed in the rules of the game, are occupied with nothing but the ball on the pitch and see nothing apart from it.

It is like that with us as, occupied with our daily lives, we fix on one moment after another without paying attention to the passing days and not noticing as time and souls go by.

Magic is a frequent subject of children’s fairy tales.

It is based on beings transformed into something else, on sudden changes of place or time travel.

These themes were not just imagined; they were drawn from an observation of life. The transformation of an ugly insect into a butterfly which takes place in great numbers every season is, indeed, a kind of magic. The transformation of grass into meat (a good-looking cow) has an element of magic. The transformation of a little child into an adult equipped with the “power” to create other beings (with the participation of a partner of the opposite sex) and the subsequent withering of that person which ends in death, also has something magical about it.

We have grown used to the world in which we live and do not notice that there is something in it of the fairy tales read to us in childhood. I believe that if any one of us were brought up in seclusion, with no television or books, right up to adulthood, and then one day saw reality surrounding us, we would suffer a shock on seeing that we were surrounded by a swarm of monsters, hairy and hungry spiders, writhing snakes, merciless crocodiles, greedy insects. Throughout our entire childhood we grow accustomed to them. They grow accustomed to us.

Does the surrounding world and we, ourselves, really exist?

Scientists claim that the World is material. But, after all, all our emotions – that which is most important to us – belong to the immaterial. Pain and hunger are experiences. It is the same with thoughts which appear in our brains. They exist in only the one person experiencing them at that moment. They are, therefore, subjective although their occurrence can be registered by observing the brain. Observation is something entirely different from the real experience of pain or awareness of a thought.

I look at the cover of a magazine. I see on it the face of a man and a woman. They are not, however, real faces. The bit of the world which I am looking at in the photograph is, in reality, a flat piece of paper covered with paint, little points of colour. It is only an illusion created by patches of colour. My mind creates human faces and landscapes from these patches. Is the reality in which we live not merely an illusion?

Or maybe it is a form of sleep?

Maybe each of us will wake up soon and hear somebody’s voice say, amused – you let yourself be taken in! You didn’t have to worry! Of course, there is nothing like death and disease.

Nobody dies!

How could you believe such nonsense! Of course, we all live eternally. Did you take it seriously that you’re made up of some cells and that there’s some sort of programme in them (DNA)?

Did you believe the table was made up of atoms and people depart forever?

QUESTIONS by Ryszard Cichy, Wrocław 2008 Retro-Art, Warszawa 2008, ISBN 978-83-87992-56-9 translated by Danusia Stok