I came across an interesting phrase while reading an article about Koenigsegg, the maker of gorgeous, insanely fast $3 million supercars. The author, Edward Ludlow, noted that Koenigsegg calls itself “propulsion agnostic,” meaning they were not stuck on traditional combustion technology for power output. They mix and match whatever technologies make sense at the time and for the model. Lately, for example, the company has been experimenting with ultra-high-voltage battery packs and biofuels using emissions from volcanos as a means of producing powerful engines with a small, if not neutral environmental impact.
This term stuck with me through the day, not so much in the context of this article (though it was admittedly quite interesting!), but in terms of the way society is moving these days. It seems to me that many, if not most people have become “propulsion agnostic” in terms of what propels them through life.
What is life?
It’s a good question, isn’t it? Many have wrestled with the topic, but few have come up with compelling or definitive answers. Some argue that there is an “end of life,” for example, when a living organism casts off its mortal coil. But does life really end? Will your life end someday?
Not in my book.
Life is eternal. It may pick up forms here and there, but. life itself, that invisible quality that refracts out into the visible spectrum when it takes form, is eternal. It has no beginning and no end. Simply put, life is.
Since the beginning of time, man has conceived of a God or gods, and of an animating quality called “life.” the Bible, for instance, makes many references to eternal life, noting that the knowledge and experience of it is at hand, that is, available to each and every one who dares to enter into an understand of the reality of the patterns of being. We marvel at the new life, the emergence of some new form, be it a newborn child or a playful puppy.
A person full of life is often described as having a “spark” or “twinkle” in his eye. These words are also used to describe stars, aren’t they? Life and light are often spoken of in the same breath: “…the life was the light of men.” Stars reveal light; so too do people whom we describe now as being “plugged in.” Life has a radiant quality.
I’ve always found it to be strange when people wonder if there is life somewhere else in the universe. The universe is life, ever-changing, ever present. Life is. There is nothing else but life in the universe.
Before I stray too far, let’s circle back to the topic at hand, that of “propulsion agnosticism.” Human history moved through a phase called “The Enlightenment.” This period followed a period of time called “The Dark Ages,” which came on the heels of the rejection of what could arguably be seen as the manifestation of the ideal man among men. Put the other way around we see: revelation of the ideal>rejection of the ideal>descent into darkness>ascension toward the light.
If this sounds grandiose or inapplicable to your life, think about it this way. Have you ever had a particular moment of personal glory (i.e. where you were really on your game) that was rejected by others, that resulted in you falling into a personal darkness of despair, despondency, depression, and that took some time before you saw light at the end of the tunnel and got your feet back under you again? In the dark times, we hide from the light. When we bring our “A” game, we are brilliant. This story, whether you believe it happened or not, I the story of man, both individually and collectively.
The Enlightenment offered man a way forward out of the darkness of his own willfulness. We come now to a time where the basic tenets of the Enlightenment are being questioned if not cancelled. That which rekindled the light is being thrown out with the bathwater that washed off of those who revealed the light during that watershed period. We owe what we have now to the courage and persistence of our forefathers, but there are wolves clothed as shepherds who are keen on guiding humanity into a way of living that is predicated essentially on rejecting virtually everything we have learned to date.
These wolves posit that there is no absolute truth, that reality is simply what we think it is or want it to be, and that the hierarchical structures that life manifests through and is composed of are simply a figment of our imagination. The Enlightenment seems like a distant, increasingly irrelevant artifact to us in the so-called “modern era,” the Information Age, where everything is now at everyone’s fingertips.
We see ourselves as gods while we increasingly reject the notion of a God. The Book of Revelation puts this succinctly, “…for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow…” The postmodernists would certainly take umbrage to this passage and decry it as yet another instance of the paternalistic view of life and living, but when it is seen that the “she” being referenced is the city of “Babylon the great,” which “…is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”
Cities in the Bible symbolize states of consciousness. Wouldn’t you say that this describes the way thing feel right now, what seems to be moving through far too many people’s hearts and minds? “Foul spirits, “unclean and hateful birds” (i.e. “thoughts”) abound!
My point relative to “propulsion agnosticism” is this: the more we let the idea that nothing really matters, that there is no truth beyond “your truth” and “my truth,” that here is no focalization of being or unifying force in the universe, that we have to “make something of ourselves,” and that we have to somehow “get a life,” the more we will find ourselves slipping into the darkness of ignorance, into an existential depression.
Liberty does not derive from license. We will not feel more free, more fulfilled, if we choose to ignore the limitations, the framework, the patterns of design, of being and of life itself. They are there for a reason. If we let go of them without thinking critically, without understanding the risks of turning our backs, minds, and hearts on the principles of truth that still ring within the chambers of our hearts, we will find ourselves in a profound darkness, a darkness from which we may never emerge.
What propels you and gives you meaning is not of your own imagination or device, neither is it found in the commonalities of your group identity, your tribe, whatever that may be. What propels you is intrinsic to the life the cones to focus in you. What propels you is larger than that, beyond human tinkering, opinion, or imagination.
What propels us is life itself, but we must let it be made manifest in our expression. This is most easily achieved through our selfless service to others and not through our self-centered, self-construction.
It’s been my observation and experience that you ignore life’s inherent propulsion at your peril. The good news is that you don’t need to wait to afford a $3 million supercar to learn that lesson. 🙂