In my last article, I introduced the concept of a worldview and seven key questions to help you identify your worldview. We continue the discussion by examining each question in detail:
1) What is ultimate reality?
This question seeks to explore what is at the bottom of it all. What is prime reality, the really real? What is the source of everything else in existence? The answer can be God (or many gods) or maybe some other spiritual force that pervades the universe. Or perhaps the cosmos is all there was, is, and will ever be. This is the question that serves as the starting point to every other question and is the foundation to your worldview.
2) What is the nature of reality?
What is reality like? What is it made up of? Possible answers: matter, energy, spirit, information. Or maybe reality is just an illusion. We live in the Matrix. Or it must be escaped to achieve true enlightenment. Maybe this world is a computer simulation or the figment of some deity’s imagination.
3) Who (or what) are we?
Are humans special, created with a purpose by some deity, or are we just another kind of animal? Do we have a soul or are we just physical stuff? Or maybe I don’t exist and I’m just a computer simulation. (But then, who or what is typing this?! And what do I mean when I say the word I?)
4) What happens when we die?
This question is highly dependent on the one preceding it. Is there life after death or is this life all there is? Is it game over or are there continues? Maybe I become one with the universe or I’m just worm food. Will I be reincarnated into an eternal cycle of life and death? Or maybe absolutely nothing happens after I die because there never was a me to begin with.
5) How do we know reality?
How do we know things? Can we know the world around us? Are we currently experiencing reality or are we just being fooled into thinking that the world is real (i.e. The Matrix)? Are our five senses reliable? Is there a spiritual sense beyond the physical five? Or perhaps we receive divine revelation in some other sense.
6) What are good and evil?
How should we live? Is there an ultimate standard to measure right and wrong or is it all up to the individual/culture? Maybe morality is an illusion or an evolutionary survival mechanism.
7) What is the meaning of human history?
Why are we here? Is there a point to life? Is it meaningless or do we create our own meaning? Maybe we’re just here, surviving.
Now, it’s not enough to merely have an answer to each question. Your answers must makes sense and form a coherent worldview. For instance, it would be hard to believe in reincarnation while maintaining that there is no soul or other immaterial aspect to humanity. Or that this world is an illusion but there is still some kind of meaning or purpose beneath it all.
Also recall that a worldview is more than just answers to big questions. A worldview is a commitment. It will shape how you live your life. If you believe that humans are special and valuable, you should treat them as such. If you believe life is utterly meaningless, you may live a reckless, pleasure-seeking lifestyle. Or you may be completely depressed. But chances are, you will instead choose to live inconsistently with your worldview and pretend that there is true meaning, just so you don’t go crazy from hopelessness.
But what good is a worldview if you can’t live it out consistently? What is it worth if it doesn’t meet your most basic needs? These are important things that we will continue to discuss, as well as the types of worldviews that emerge from these seven questions. But in the meantime, continue to reflect on your answers to these questions and how consistently you live according to them. And feel free to join into the discussion in the comment section below!