Life is so strange, it is here, it is now, it is all that we know, all that we have ever known, and then it is gone…It consumes us with it’s passion, a gamut ranging from the highest highs to the lowest lows…Life’s emotions, it’s depth and scope of complexity, it’s internal machinations and external representations are all so real, so very tangible and malleable and changeable…We can dream the deepest, most complex dreams, harbor the most lofty of ambitions, imagine the most bizarre scenarios…
We can devote our life to making money, to achieve all of our material goals, or we can choose to dwell on the religious or philosophical side of life…But where does life really go to? What happens after we die?…Nobody really knows, although many have belief systems that support their personal viewpoints and feelings…Members of organized religions are maybe the most secure in their beliefs with a pre arranged structured mindset that includes their versions of heaven and hell, eternal rewards for the pious and eternal damnation for the sinners….
It is all tied up in a neat bundle for these people, so maybe they have the best grip on life from their perspective, but of course that does not work for everybody…Free thinkers, skeptics and doubters always have assailed traditional religions, both Western and Eastern for their obvious flaws, inconsistencies, and incomprehensible, to the logical mind, required “leap of faith” to accept this or that particular belief set of principles and dogma…But if it works for you, what’s wrong with that!
I guess nobody said it would be easy, a common American folk saying perhaps sums it up best: “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” It has been the province of philosophers and scholars for millennia, and nobody has yet come up with any sort of definitive answer… No mind blowing, life altering moment of clarity that makes it all so easy to see and explain….There is nothing new about this….
According to my Google sources, deep thinkers wrestled with this problem as far back as in ancient Greece, when the famous philosopher Socrates in approximately 400 B.C. announced in no uncertain terms that:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates believed that the purpose of human life was personal and spiritual growth. We are unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature unless we take the time to examine and reflect upon our life….
As another philosopher, Santayana, observed,
“He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it.”
Examining our life reveals patterns of behavior. Deeper contemplation yields understanding of the subconscious programming, the powerful mental software that runs our life. Unless we become aware of these patterns, much of our life is unconscious repetition.”
The French philosopher Rene Descartes, in the 1600’s boldly stated: “I think, therefore I am”…The 17th century English philosopher John Locke once said “The mind is a blank slate,” in his “An Essay Considering Human Understanding.” His meaning was that each human being is born with a clean slate, or frame of mind, and that their unique and individual experiences formed and forced, bent and forged their ultimate personality….
In more modern times, the famous German/American Albert Einstein had several notable quotes, including:
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Also, “Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving”….
Or “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
“I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.”
My all time favorite philosopher though has to be the 15th century Bard himself, William Shakespeare, who has contributed so many quotes from medieval times that still ring true in our hectic, fast paced modern world:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”. – Hamlet from Hamlet
To be or not to be, –that is the question:–
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?” -Hamlet from Hamlet
“All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts” – Rosalind from As You Like It
Or my all time favorite:
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – Macbeth from Macbeth
I guess when it is all said and done, there is no easy answer, no rhyme or reason to life except what we make out of it…We alone have the capacity to live a good, true,moral life and be kind to people we love, to children and helpless animals, we alone have the ability to right wrongs and choose to live the good life over the bad…
It all comes down to a matter of moral responsibility…..Whatever comes after this life, comes after this life….We can only live this life to the fullest, and hope for the best….
One thing I firmly believe in, is that this life is just one of many on the karmic wheel of reincarnation...