This instalment of Star Trek introspects the whole ‘enterprise’ of space exploration when Captain Kirk reflected thus – ‘Things have started to feel a little episodic. The farther out we go, the more I find myself wondering what it is we’re trying to accomplish. If the universe is truly endless, then are we not striving for something forever out of reach?‘ As with many Trek flicks, there is indeed a sense of the familiar, yet mixed with the less familiar. Well, existentially, given much space apart, there is still some form of rebirth, of timeless issues. Yet with fresh perspectives, exploration is still worthwhile?
Every voyage is perhaps more of a spiritual pilgrimage to inner space than a physical journey through outer space, being a quest to realise as many lessons as possible before life runs out. Kirk echoed the mystery of the actual vision of his mission, like a parallel question on the purpose of life. What is life’s end goal? Surely, not merely to travel to its end. Even finding a possible endpoint of the universe brings no true satisfaction if its spiritual significance is not comprehended. And if there is no physical endpoint, may the universe’s essential meaning be discovered before this life ends!
As heard and hereby rephrased, there was a deva (god) who could fly extremely fast. Burning with curiosity on whether the universe was finite, he flew forth in one direction. Encountering the Buddha, he enquired on his question. The Buddha replied with a question – ‘If you had not met me, and if the universe is infinite, you would have flown on till you died. If you find an end, what will you do next, for you will still die?’ The deva was thus illuminated on the foolishness of his quest. Some aspects of knowledge, though interesting, do offer little or no bearings on how best to live this finite life!
As Commodore Paris remarked, ‘There is no relative direction in the vastness of space. There is only yourself, your ship, your crew. It’s easier than you think, to get lost.’ Likewise is it easy to be existentially lost in musings and theories of the unknown, which might or might not be consequential for our actual quest for True Happiness, that is enlightenment itself. As Kirk uttered, ‘As we’ve come to understand, there is no such thing as the unknown, only the temporarily hidden.’ Offering priority, the Buddha taught that once we attain Buddhahood, nothing remains unknown to its omniscience!
Kirk encounters Krall, who claimed that the Federation’s idealistic stance that conflict should not exist meant no struggle, with them never knowing who they truly are. Being war hungry, he did not believe in making peace, seeing its quest as a weakness that deprived humanity of strength. Ironically, to self-destructive effect while trying to destroy, Krall needlessly became the enemy of the Federation he deemed it needed. (But if all died, what would be the point of his struggle?) Kirk reasoned that if universal peace is not sought, all would spend the rest of their lives fighting the same battles.
Yes indeed. Talk about episodic reruns across galactic world systems spanning astronomical space and time! As the Buddha put it, ‘Hatred cannot be ceased by hatred. Hatred can only be ceased by loving-kindness. This is an eternal law.‘ Sadly, humans on Planet Earth have yet to fully realise this simple truth! Unity for peace is true strength, while divisive war is the true weakness – as the first saves us all, while the latter destroys all. In bodhisattvic spirit, as Kirk proclaimed while risking his life in a showdown to save many other lives – ‘Better to die saving lives than to live taking them!’