Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rest and Repose

The other day I read some lines which resonated with me, “Every being that acts, acts for the sake of its end, that in its end it may find rest and repose.” Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) a German born philosopher quotes the words.

If you think about those words they are true. We study to learn, we learn so that we can work to earn money to do what? To end up in a position where we “may find rest and repose” – i.e. leisure time, holidays or retirement, either at the end of each day, each week or each year or at the end of our working life. This is what life is for. Anything that gets in the way of this is not only conducive to stress and unhappiness but is really unethical. We are all ‘acting for the sake of our end’, and it is not only us humans. The quote say ‘every being that acts’ – animals, birds – every being, and every being acts for the same end, ‘that it may find rest and repose’. A cow ruminatively chewing the cud, dolphins, a pet dog at the end of a long day playing with children, birds flying home as the evening draws in, all head home from their ‘work’, as do we.

Now this is not to say that we do not find pleasure and fulfilment in helping or giving pleasure to others, doctors, nurses, carers and social workers immediately come to mind as do artists and sportsmen and women. But ultimately we will all find rest and repose at the end of our day.

Anything that gets in the way of this must then be questionable. This is why ethics is so important. Ethics teaches us that anything which is not based on the principle of treating others the way we would like to be treated is not a good idea. Any exploitative action by others which affects the well-being of any life form needs to be questioned and reviewed. All unethical conduct will have the effect of upsetting or preventing a person’s or other being’s rest and repose. Why should we wish to do this? It will only ever be for the purpose of some perceived personal gain – financial or power. But what is generally overlooked in the immediate ‘excitement’ of the perceived gain is that this will immediately trigger the law of cause and effect, the law of consequences, the law that states there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’. Someone has to pay and ultimately it is always the person who perpetrates the unethical conduct who will pay in some way or another. This law is not codified in that any breach of Sect 4 (b) sub sect 22, para 8 will mean a penalty of X, Y or Z. But the Fates in the guise of Nemesis always work their will in some form or other. It has to be that way – I did not invent it – it just is. It must be so, life being common to all beings ( and we do not know what the Life ‘essence’ actually is). Our genes – many of which we share with all life forms – also tell us of our shared heritage.

Therefore let us so order our lives that we interfere as little as possible and bear as lightly as we can on the lives of all other beings so allowing them to reach their rightful state of ‘rest and repose’ at the end each day.

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