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Profound Experiences

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I wanted to create this thread as a means for people to share their profound experiences, especially those relating to/influenced by Objectivism. It's hard to put into words exactly what a 'profound experience' is- I think it's best described as an experience that affects you deeply and helps to reaffirm (or makes you question and reevaluate) your outlook on your own life or on life in general. Oftentimes these are personal moments and may not make sense when they're articulated to others, but it would be interesting to read about anyway. 

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I like this topic, and I was waiting to see other replies first, because I wasn't sure exactly what kinds of examples you were looking for.

 

I feel as though daily I have profound experiences that corroborate objectivism. Or I read examples of them in the news. But I guess it would cease being "profound" if it happens daily. I'll try to think of an experience that stands out and offer it. Give me some time to think.

 

I could offer some profound ideas that have affected me, which have translated into experiences.

 

For example, I realized, shortly after becoming an objectivist, that there is no morally neutral action or moment of time. Every action and moment of time has a moral component to it. Every action you take is either morally positive or morally negative. Even vacation time lying on the beach drinking a Miami Vice with an umbrella in it is morally good or bad depending on certain factors.

 

As a corollary to this truth, I realized that as a human I am always doing something. I never actually pause life or pause the action of life. Even when it comes to sleeping.

 

I used to think of sleeping as taking a break from the action of living. But I have realized that sleeping is not neutral, and it is not taking a break from life. Sleeping is doing something. Sleeping is recharging your body, and there's an optimal amount to get for your health.

 

I used to think of sleeping as either neutral, or even as negative. I used to wish that I didn't need to sleep, so that I could keep doing things. It seemed like such a wasted amount of time. But objectivism helped me to see that I am human qua human, and part of being human means that I biologically need a certain amount of sleep. It is a part of reality, and a part of the reality of being a human, so it shouldn't be viewed as a negative in and of itself.

 

From this, I realized that when I sleep, I am not taking a break from life. Rather, I am doing something -- getting the sleep that I need. This realization helped me to correct my previously horrid sleeping patterns. Now I willingly and gladly go to sleep, knowing that I am doing a good thing by getting my seven or so hours, so that I can be well rested and ready to go on to my other activities. And I realized that getting too much or too little sleep becomes a moral negative.

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Relating to Objectivism, like secondhander, I have continued "profound" experiences every year as the principles of this philosophy are made more real with my ever-expanding life experience and observation. But, they aren't as jarring as my first read through Atlas Shrugged.

 

Growing up Christian, the closest I came to anything like Rand's ideas was the relentless demand from my father to never lie, and a very strong work ethic early on, setting high standards for myself. There was a two-year period where I painfully transitioned from a full Believer to a guesser, to finally an atheist just beginning to read Rand's work. It was during this time I was affected by a set of profound experiences.

 

First came my desperate belief that nobody seemed to know why they were doing anything. I was pretty sure that religion was completely false, and so I began to view the world as a purposeless nothing. I questioned many people whom I thought must know why they existed, and I was sorely disappointed with their answers. I started to really become terrified that everything was for nothing!

 

Second came a basic Religion Studies 101 class, which I enrolled in as a last-ditch effort to make some sense out of the religious belief that had essentially defined my life. It took about two weeks for that class to tip me over the edge. It was so obvious and so simple to find out how religions have copied each other over and over again throughout history. Even seeing the class plainly frame religion in a historical context instead of a mystical one made me feel very foolish for ever having believed. That class ended religious belief for me, but it would be a long time before I would be able to de-habitualize some of its worse effects.

 

But, both of these experiences did set the stage for my final big Objectivism-related "profound experience."

 

Completely by chance, I began reading Atlas Shrugged. It was purchased for a scholarship, but I quickly realized there was no possible way to finish it before the deadline, so I put it down. Much later, I picked it up again, ironically out of guilt to not waste the money I'd spent to purchase it. With further irony, I almost couldn't get through more than 60 pages because I found it so boring! What finally went down was by far the most intellectual "mind blown" experience of my life. It quickly became apparent that I had something so huge in my hands, and I became obsessed with figuring it out. I went from the novel to Rand's non-fiction back again to the novel, trying to make sense of everything I read as fast as I could manage. In under a year, I'd had the novel and 90% of her non-fiction read.

 

And that was that! I was a philosophy super genius now! Just ask me at the time! Seriously, though, I haven't stopped since, thanks to Rand, though obviously the intensity and speed is less now in regards to philosophy. I no longer have a philosophical life crisis to avert!

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