Monday, September 22, 2008

What is it all for?

What is it all for? Life I mean. What makes us happy? What brings contentment or joy? Money? – I don’t think so. Possessions? – again I don’t think so. Position of eminence in the world? – not necessarily. You may have all those and good on you. You have worked hard and saved hard. But without good personal relationships and at least some vague idea that there is more to Life than is presented to us on a daily basis, then I believe that happiness will prove to be elusive.

My personal belief is that there is a great deal more to life than I currently understand, or perhaps more accurately, than I am prepared to admit in my heart of hearts. The other day I heard from a man who, to take advantage of the worlds demands for ‘bio-fuels’ has a large recently cleared area, now a palm oil plantation, on the island of Sarawak. What appalled me was his blasé comment that he, and his family, has employed hunters to ‘cull’ elephants that used to graze in the area, now his plantation.

This gave me pause for thought. At the end of the day, of our allotted span of life, can any of us look back with pride at our achievements? Can I? If there is more to life than making money how do I find it – what should I do? I need to rely on my own resources. This must be my own journey of discovery.

If relationships are so important to our well being is it just relationships with other humans or does nature feature as well? “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy” (Shakespeare – Hamlet).

In this secular age I am reluctant to deviate from the ‘norm’ and introduce anything other than secular topics. But I feel sure there is more to Life than secularism.

All the ancient devotional writings, known to us as scriptures, and all the philosophical writings from ancient India, Persia, Egypt, Palestine and China, all great literature and poetry, and all great art, all start with the premise that the basis of life is spiritual. They all attempt to inspire the reader or viewer to look beyond the immediate, apparent existence, to something more. That man has a soul. That love is the driving force. This was never questioned.

Plato in his dialogue, ‘Phaedo’ (Jowett translation), expresses this very eloquently when, discussing the soul and its continued existence, Socrates said, “If death had only been the end of all, the wicked would have had a good bargain in dying, for they would have been happily quit not only of their body, but of their evil together with their souls.”

I have my beliefs and they influence what I write. I know it cannot be just love for another human – it must be love for all sentient beings. This is a hard lesson to learn.

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