“In life we will die over and over again, until the day that we can walk the earth with only our immortality left.” ~ Teal Swan
In these times, religions continue their advocacy for “good”, viewing “evil” as that which consistently attempts to thwart it. Life is an enthymeme whose warrant we fulfill with words like ‘humanity’, ‘godliness’ and ‘reason’. We look to the archaic texts for what is good and bad, which is protected behind the boundaries of man’s punish and reward system of common thought. With these mistaken axioms in tow, we reward or punish our children and our fellow man based on the physically accessible, general truths of planet Earth, despite what our heart and soul tell us is best.
The philosophical man contemplates modern society’s mythological worldviews with a four dimensional awareness of what lies beneath, attempting to scribble in the missing components of the puzzle. If one looks one finds that the warrant itself (anything that goes against man’s conglomerate idea of goodness is bad) is a limited view of the bigger picture. That bigger picture, to me, looks like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ working together for a common cause.
“Truth is found neither in the thesis nor antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.” said Hegel. I find this to be the basis of my personal philosophy. On both cosmic and molecular levels, what may seem like death or destruction is, in fact, re~creation and incarnation. The process of change towards progression may look elementally different than one might imagine.
For instance, a supernova causes a star to explode. Yet, new worlds are formed from its death, new life created with the components of the blast. Proteins die in the synapses of the brain so that others can form, based on new information gathered. In that same sense, man can improve himself by questioning old information and incorporating new data which draws him ever closer to the most complete understanding he can attain for his current level of comprehension.
Humans tend to consider things as ‘wholly good’ or ‘wholly bad’. Consider this: which is worse, anger or sorrow? Both may be considered to be bad, but on the emotional scale anger might result in a brighter outcome. If one gets angry at the world to keep from ending one’s own life, anger might be a step up from annihilation. If one gets depressed and does not act on their desire to kill another person, sorrow is the step up.
A serial killer kills because he/she perceives that it will satisfy an urge or ease suffering. Does that make killing good? No, but it helps us to see that man’s action is defined by that which he perceives will make him feel better. That’s not to say that there should be no repercussions for the actions of man. Were there no laws against it, even those who might not have been murderers may do so, in moments of extreme emotion.
What if the only good were the advancement of the soul? It would certainly simplify things. In our self~importance we believe that human life is of utmost value. We turn up our noses at abortion and call it ‘murder’ even as we overpopulate the Earth. We remove wolves from state parks to keep them from killing the very deer and elk that, when overpopulated, decimate plant life. We find new ways to ease pain, wipe out illness and deny death, as nature creates super-viruses and natural disasters to maintain balance.
Pain is ‘bad’ because it causes us to want to be without it. Mankind has taken great leaps to avoid ever being in physical pain, but he largely ignores treatments to help himself stop hurting inside. Somehow society has tabooed the art of self~awareness and advancement, though there has been a recent movement of ‘mindfulness’ which has even made the cover of Time Magazine. Any fad is better than none. Whatever causes mankind to return to the innate wonder of self that he has lost is good.
We presume to call something ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because all we have is our perspective from this little point in the universe. We draw conclusions based on limited experience. There are as many perspectives as there are perceivers in this world. If ‘good’ were advancement of the pneuma, amalgamated from the unnatural state of its segmentation, then ‘good’ would be anything that advances the splintered self towards wholeness.
“One must know oneself before knowing anything else.” said Kirkegaard. What would the world look like had we taken his advice long ago? We might answer that by considering what is ‘bad’ about the miscellany image of all we’ve worked towards to create.
“Love of money is the mother of all evils.” said Diogenes. A common societal warrant is the lack of joy in the world. People work five to seven days a week to make money they don’t have time to spend. They choose jobs based on the amount of money they can make instead of what talents they possess and the joy of the work. We spend entire lifetimes gathering material things only to find ourselves giving them away in our old age. After a while we believe that this is all there is to life. It’s because we’ve idolized the gaining of property and riches and devalued personal satisfaction and spiritual gain. Had we, as a race, moved towards our aspirations and that which made us truly happy, work days would be shorter and fewer and pay better. People would be less stressed, which would lead to fewer sickness, disease and mental illness. Many parts of Europe have employed this technique with much success. We have very little understanding of how connected one aspect of society is to another. Who knows how many things might change if we were able to take steps to reshape society with a positive self-image?
Another typical warrant of man is that fear and worry are integral components of life. Because of fear, countries bomb each other, entire generations of peoples wiped out or grossly mistreated. In ‘civilized societies’, much of the health concerns are attributed to worrying about things that may never happen. We judge each other based on fears of what actions may lead to unwanted outcomes. We fear what we do not understand, and categorize people based on assumptions.
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” said Mandela. If we were all to see fear as that which promotes growth, the world would see much less violence and discord. Due to our inability to see struggle as a challenge we’ve come to see any obstacle and something that is ‘wrong’. Gone are the days of olde when man did not cry out in his defiance of hardship. We run to the doctor for every little ache, and chew medicinal pills like candy.
“One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.” said Schweitzer. There are more and more youth suffering from mental issues than ever before, a phenomenon unheard of in years past. Sunlight, for one, has been proven to be mentally and physically beneficial, and nowadays many children lack contact with the sun and nature as a whole. In this ‘screen-submerged’ society, today’s children miss out on the physical and emotional contact that comes with family interaction.
In a past age children worked as hard as adults did for the farmer’s harvest. Hard work was a matter of survival, the way of things. Thought it is nice that ‘civilized’ children of today are allowed to enjoy their childhoods without hard labour, they have gone too far in the opposite direction. For the most part, they have no clue what it means to truly suffer, causing them to have a concerning lack of compassion for others. They learn about life from watching television rife with unrealistic scenarios and expectations. They don’t exercise, and so physical pain becomes a ‘bad’ thing, and they are overly upset by the smallest offense against their physical person, be it a bug bite or a stumped toe. Simply wading through tall grass or going on a camping trip suddenly becomes a frightening endeavor.
We’ve forgotten how to know what is good and bad for us by being sensitive to the emotions actions cause. We are numb to the indicators of unhappiness, no longer fine~tuned to our own, true basic needs. We know something is not right, deep inside us, but no longer have the skill sets to follow the trails back to where we’ve gone wrong. Excessive hours of video game play or television watching is perceived to bring pleasure because we’ve forgotten what real pleasure feels like. In an instant~gratification society, we’ve lost the ability to spend the necessary time on ourselves and our personal growth. We’re too often on Facebook or sitcom reruns to meditate or exercise, or to pursue any disciplines of value.
“The undisciplined mind is a wild elephant.” Says Dalai Lama.
And yet, in my own claims of ‘good’ as counterpart to ‘bad’, I can be sure that all this is leading us somewhere. If that somewhere were to be man’s ultimate demise, the Earth might know release from that which is worst for it. Evolution is moving along, for whatever cause. Technological advance, as well as advances in medicine and science, are progressing way beyond our ability to keep moral check on them. On the whole man, if anything, is regressing as a spiritual being…isn’t it? Nine out of ten people would tell you so, but that is not true at all. Each one of us is progressing at the exact rate we choose to progress. Even back~tracking is progress if it’s what we came here to learn. We must all reconsider the very foundations of what we believe to be true. Whatever direction we are going as a species, it’s been chosen by us for us, for a reason.
“The survival of the fittest…” as Herbert Spencer saw it. And yet it seems unlikely that every part of the macro and micro is progressing but us. Perhaps we are not yet able to see where this progression will take us. Perhaps that which prevails is that which is the fittest to do so. What is weak will be weeded out and what is strong will flourish.
“…if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” said Thoreau on the subject. He proved this himself with his experiment on Walden Pond.
The miscellany ‘dream’ of all we’ve worked towards to create has not succeeded in causing us to be happy nor beneficial to the world, and so it lies to each man and woman to move in the direction of personal peace. When each looks to him/herself for an answer that answer progresses the whole. We each need to re~evaluate our current state of affairs and focus on the real good, that one act which causes a ripple effect along every single other aspect of humanity: advancement of the self. In the end, self-advancement is the advancement of all things that are good in the universe, and it’s amazing what difference one person can make.