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Amidst the turmoil and complications the human condition brings about in nearly everyone – there are always those privileged few that are unaffected – but at what expense? It must be easy (for those that can bear it) to live a life where day-in, day-out one fully engages in the necessary actions to carry out a full day’s work. These actions are denoted by the following verbs: awake, eat, work, eat, love, play, work, eat, pray, sleep…and a couple other verbs (mix and match at will) but no more. I forgot an important verb though: age. As life goes on – the different “life stages” come and go, and before we know it, all we have become are older versions of ourselves and all we have done was lived. A meaning is what one needs to live – without meaning; there is no purpose, with no purpose – no drive. The level of satisfaction derived from a particular meaning depends on the person – there is one quick answer though: religion. Most religious people I know are comfortable with how they lead their lives – they have no outlandish moral (or run of the mill) questions roaming about in their heads, and they leave anything that even resembles a query on life, to be automatically resolved by pure faith (or is it dogmatic faith?). Seems like an easy way to live: Acknowledge what you know, practice it, and leave all uncertainty to be answered by a devotion to a set of beliefs (most based on faith). Is there room for questions anymore? Are all questions left solely for the intelligentsia and academia in the world – or can everyone take part in this search for truth? Are questions ‘evil’? Why are the people that question any set belief condemned as the unfaithful, the dubious - the non-believers? Questions aren’t evil. They are in fact what have developed religion, as well as what shaped the structure our modern societies is based on. Questions have laid the foundation for all belief, and are transforming what is now certain into a more developed certainty – yet most of the civilized world fails to recognize the importance of questions – and worse, some detractors even demonize them. Only a small group of contemporary philosophers, thinkers and spiritual leaders are willing to really question life – and thus change most people’s minds in the long run – but seldom do they achieve such a transformation in the short run. Ask a question – change a thought, form a reasoning, develop a logic – and you’ve got a philosophy on your hands. Then – have the generations ahead of you tinker with your
thoughts and build on them, changing your thoughts to theirs, to others’ and shaping how we live and the meaning that we give to life. But this progression needs to begin with a step – and condemning those that take the first step is arresting human development. Even our relationship with God is hanging by a thread – as we “follow” God through rules set by humans – for the adoration of a human-like God – not God. The striving to make the meaning of life clearer, more attainable and to “erase” further doubt is manifested through the historic efforts of great minds – who themselves posed questions, answered them, and used others’ questions and answers to complement theirs. And so it has been for centuries. Greek Philosophy (Aristotle and Plato, primarily) laid the foundation for Western Philosophy, and was wisely assimilated into Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Saint Paul, Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas were all heavily influenced by Greek Philosophy, in their search for “divine truth” and such influences are heavily reflected in their Christian-based philosophical work. In the times of these men – the fusion between Christian and Greek philosophy was a huge step towards a new age – and such an accomplishment broke the mold that had long been set in place. A great mind, known as Benedict Spinoza, was also the subject of controversy – in the 17th century - during the time of Descartes’ revolutionary Rationalist philosophical movement, which set the pace for a philosophy based on reason – and not solely on religious matters. Baruch (his real name) Spinoza’s pantheist beliefs, which are detailed in his great work “The Ethics”, caused him to be excommunicated from the Jewish faith in his own community. He was unjustly regarded as an atheist the rest of his life, when in fact, he was not. A great mind – a great questioner of life – died a poor lens maker, and is now revered as one of the most influential of all philosophers. Albert Einstein himself once said he believed in “Spinoza’s God”: I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings. Einstein did not believe in a personal God. He believed that God was beyond our understanding. To humanize God is to bring him down to our level – which is something Einstein never did.
Einstein was one for questions. With his heavy inquiries he was able to shape science as we know it today. His penchant for query was highly characteristic of his personality, and made him who he was – a likeable, simple (yes, simple) man. Einstein defined the meaning of life to be: Satisfaction of the desires and needs of all, as far as this can be achieved, and achievement of harmony and beauty in the human relationships. This presupposes a good deal of conscious thought and of self-education. It is undeniable that the enlightened Greeks and the old Oriental sages had achieved a higher level in this all-important field than what is alive in our schools and universities. It seems like there’s two types of lives: 1) The life that accepts all truths divulged by religions/belief systems (therein truths and certainties accepted by loved ones as well) and relies on all doubts that arise by calming them with faith. These people are characterized by never questioning a thing – always accepting. They are submissive to the point where the heads of the religious institutions/belief-based organizations dictate all admissible change. 2) The inquisitive soul whom is unsatisfied with faith alone and seeks a higher realm of reality – detached from the set of rules man-made institutions have set forth as “truth”. This group is comprised of extremely religious people (with no slave morality attached) and non-religious people. So, in essence, one could be a member of the first type of life and still fail to adhere to it. What’s ironic is that the heads of the main religions are the prime factors in change. Just this year – the Pope set forth the idea that maybe Limbo wasn’t a verifiable concept (he “hoped” it wasn’t – to be more accurate). Millions of Catholics would have sworn in their mother’s name that Limbo was in fact a truth – all because the Church said so. Now that the Institution is slowly willing to take back that belief – those Millions have changed their once-set minds in a second, as if the Limbo concept had never been “that real anyways”. The last time I saw such admiration for a leader’s whim-like statements was when Mao established his own cult of personality. So, before having your “life all figured out” – don’t. Question life. Question everything. It shouldn’t cause so much fear, pain and anguish to do so. It should be a joy to ask why things are the way they are, why we are the way we are…why “why” is why – and more…
Don’t end the race before you’ve really started running. Give yourself the chance to observe what makes the race and not just the all-too-uncertain finish line.
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