Suspension : What Now?

There is a full page in ‘Invincible: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1’ (by Robert Kirkman) which seems to accidentally portray the nature of an existential crisis. The young and new superhero ‘Invincible’ was told to fight an alien in Earth’s orbit. He takes a deep breath and flies up up and away… Yes, the superheroes super-hold their super-breath in the vacuum of space, at least, according to this comic.

When he reaches empty space, he looks around for a while, unable to locate the alien in question. He doesn’t know how he looks like, how powerful he is… He has absolutely no idea what to expect. He looks around, levitating in space, and asks – ‘What now?’

In a way, this reflects the human condition. We are ‘suspended’ in the eternal here and now, wherever and whenever we may be. We are uncertain of what to expect, though death is always impending – as long as we do not attain the deathless which is Nirvana. As the saying goes, ‘Life in uncertain; death is certain.’

And there is the question that arises from time to time – ‘What now?’ What do we do about our mortality? What do we do with it? How do we make the most of this eternal here and now, that is smack in the middle of all space and time? While us normal folks might have average existential crises, do superheroes have super existential crises? As the famous Uncle Ben Parker said, ‘With great power comes great responsibilities.’

The tricky part is that many of us have the power to achieve great power to help oneself and others… if we do not already wield it to some extent. Why are we not acquiring or deepening the power of compassion and wisdom faster? Are we afraid of the worldly ‘monsters’ who might come challenging along the way? The truth is, we are more open to attack by the inner monsters of our defilements if we do not build up our defenses with the right virtues. The one way towards the ending of our recurring existential crises is to work towards enlightenment.

(Incidentally, Invincible meets, fights and befriends Allen the alien. Allen’s arrival was due to a misunderstanding. The befriending was possible because of Invincible’s compassion and wisdom. There is subtle or outright ‘alienation’ of others only when we are deluded of the way things truly are, of the way things should be.)


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