Written by: Mohamed El-Masri
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“On The Path To The Good Life”
Eudaimonia (the “good life”), how do we achieve it? Is it possible to make people happy? Not temporarily, but eternal happiness. We spend all our time, we spend all our money, we spend all our energy, we spend all our “temporary life” being taught to know what we know we will never know, instead of being taught on preserving and practicing justice under a divine law that promotes, supports, and educates divine wisdom, in order to guide our souls to the “good life”. We are taught to learn and work on how to make a living (to earn and spend) in a consumer society, instead of learning how to live in a utopian society (through our perception), without being tempted to spend. In order to reach the ultimate reality and experience heaven on earth through our state of mind, we must try to escape from where our realities are based, to avoid being trapped in a Cave. The Cave (according to The Republic of Plato, by Allan Bloom) is an image where Man is chained to the ground facing the wall, while an oppressor is on a podium behind the oppressed projecting light towards the wall to reflect the shadows of the statues behind the chained men, in order to provide a TV-like experience.
While behind the oppressor, before the exit of the cave, lays a flame of hot fire that is intended to prevent any escape from the “reality” of the Cave. Now, the majority of us will never escape or even see what is behind them. Those of us who try to escape will not even make it to see the light of day, and even if we do get out of the cave, we will be blinded by the light, we will never escape the memories or the ways of that Cave (where our realities are based). All due to the reason that we have not been taught how to think, act, or even speak the way we should in order to survive if ever we get to the exit and reach the ground. If we can make it out and get to see daylight, and see moonlight, how will we survive if we have not been taught or been prepared for the Ultimate reality? How will a house cat in the jungle of lions and tigers survive? So, since there is no physical escape from the Cave (where our realities are based), what about a mental escape? A spiritual one, where we perceive our life as a mission and a journey for a divine purpose, on a righteous path, towards a “promised paradise”, or, “heaven on earth”. Such a purpose consists of finding and knowing our passion in order to walk on a path of the righteously happy, in order to enjoy the mundane pleasures of life without feeling attacked, in order to live in a just society where people enjoy life and do not feel regulated by it (even though it still would be regulated), but let us allow the mind to stay on that path and allow Man to enjoy the temporary journey of wonder, surprise and admiration.
“Wonder, Surprise and Admiration, these are, sentiments that are indeed allied, but that are in some respect different also, and distinct from one another. What is new and singular excites that sentiment which in strict propriety is called Wonder; what is unexpected, Surprise; and what is beautiful, Admiration” (Smith, 33). So when we have a system that has metaphorically chained us to the ground, in other words it has got us caught up with so called “priorities” such as, school, paying bills and taxes, making sure we make enough money to have food and shelter, paying off the amortization mortgage on a house. According to a dictionary definition, to amortize, is to pay off (as a mortgage) gradually usually by periodic payments of principal and interest or by payments to a sinking fund. It is a debt that charges us interest for fifteen to thirty years before we start paying off the principal amount of our purchase. In other words, we are ensalved to a banking system for a certain amount of time before we can buy our way out of debt, towards happiness, through luxuries, material wishes, and physical pleasures (even though, as we stated earlier, that we can not “physically” escape where our realities are based, we still tend to want material and physical things that will enslave us, or put us in debt for temporary “happiness” that we may not realize is temporary).
When we are caught up with making money, since money, in our system, is the main tool for survival, for material pleasures, and for power, we forget that nothing in this world is real as long as death exists, as long as death is present, as long as death is the end of our road, whether we accept it, believe it or not. The conclusion of our life is that, we will all die one day, we will all surrender our souls to the universe at a certain point in our life, we will all “Rest in Peace”, as we say. Nevertheless, our children will live on, our work will be passed on, our stories will be told, we will one day be the ancestors of generations to come, and if we fail to guide them to the whereabouts of Eudaimonia, they will be trapped under the same system in the same Cave. Our children, our younger brothers and sisters, our friends, family members and all our loved ones will suffer from our mistakes, unless they learn that they must be dedicated and motivated to live better than their ancestors, and do it better than their parents, for they will have children as well! According to Mandeville, as Kaye explains, that we should always thrive until we are suddenly honest and virtuous. In Kaye’s words, it is “when a man is perfectly content with the state he is in – which is when he is perfectly without any uneasiness – what industry, what action, what will is there left, but to continue in it? (Mandeville, 34). Furthermore, when this message is continued to be preached and reflected on to the world, in order to allow the world to reflect back on to it, as a mirror effect, it will be a step closer to reconstructing a society that was once taken away from us. “When you have convinced the world, that an established system ought to be corrected, it is not very difficult to persuade them that it should be destroyed” (Smith, 71).
“Some people are subject to a certain delicacy of passion, which makes them extremely sensible to all the accidents of life, and gives them a lively joy upon every prosperous event, as well as a piercing grief when they meet with misfortunes and adversity” (Humes, p.3-4). Several personal experiences prove that this quote is just and that this type of character is laid upon us unconsciously, only because the Keirentic experience; the optimal opportunity that allowed us to experience a perfect moment, where the opportunity to change the direction of our life was present at a time where our reason was detached and our rational being was absent. This may take us off track (Telos), (ID: Smith). It is according to Humes that whomever has no control or weak control over what he/she may be passionate about, an individual becomes easily and badly affected (whether towards happy or sad moments) by all that he/she will experience. “People of this character have no doubt, more lively enjoyments as well as more pungent sorrows, than men of cool and sedate tempers: But, I believe, when everything is balanced there is no one who would not rather be of the latter character, were he entirely master of his own disposition” (Humes, 4). When there is a break in the track that we did not cause, what we do, is that, we tend to engage in the feeling of wonder, surprise and admiration. The consequences of getting off track, is that, we loose the feeling of Wonder, Surprise and Admiration, because we are no longer men of cool and sedate tempers. “When a man is possesed by that talent he is more happy by what pleases his taste, than by what gratifies his appetites, and receives more enjoyment from a poem or a piece of reasoning than the most expensive luxuries can afford” (Humes, 5). This literature by Humes never seizes to amaze this research on aesthetics, since it is a subject that seems to be filled with Wonder, Surprise and Admiration. If this research continues, if the awareness of our research reaches to a larger network and if the message prevails, we will forever be happy, for Wonder, Surprise and Admiration will govern the mind at all levels. It (the message) taps into the curiosity of Man and seems to provide euphoria to the mind. Continue on that path to reflect oneself on the world the way each one desires the world to reflect upon him/her. As long as the chronological and organized practice of this action mentioned is just, the reflection is reflected upon the world. In other words, smile to the world and it will smile back, but you must be true to yourself in order for the world to be true to you.
To continue this essay (to persuade you that we are masters of our own actions, and that happiness is all in our hands, depending on if we master our actions according to the way our mind perceives this life) we must cite this from Humes, “the good or ill accidents of life are very little at our disposal, but we are pretty much masters of what books we shall read, what diversions we shall partake of, and what company we shall keep… philosophers have endeavored to render happiness entirely independent of everything external” (Humes, 5). “Entirely independent of everything external”, therefore, it must be internal, an energy or frequency connecting us with eternal power that is present “in” the space. Through our imagination, we can definitely connect our souls to a divine consciousness in order to feed the mind with divine wisdom (positive thinking). It may be a complicated system for many, but, “the first systems , in the same manner are always complex, and a particular connecting chain, or principle, is generally thought necessary to unite every two seemingly disjointed appearances: but it often happens that one great connecting principle is afterwards found to be sufficient to bind together all the discordant phaenomena that occur in a whole species of things” (Smith, Astronomy, 66).
If we are able to understand, accept and live by the idea that we are spiritual beings encountering a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience, we will be able to relate to the stars in the sky and govern our minds the way the heavens govern the universe. “How many wheels are necessary to carry on the movements of this imaginary machine, the system of Eccentric Spheres! The westward diurnal revolution of the Firmament, whose rapidity carries all the other heavenly bodies along with it, requires one (Smith, Astronomy, 66). In our case, the mind must be in sync with the soul, since the soul is independent and the happiness of the mind depends on the level of spirituality our souls practice. This, in turn, will give our thoughts the power to affect our physical life, let the mind be the “other body” of the soul in the human’s biological machine. “The periodical eastward revolutions of the Sun, Moon, and Five Planets, require, for each of those bodies, another. Their differently accelerated and retarded motions require, that those wheels or circles should neither be concentric with the Fermament, nor with one another, which more than anything seems to disturb the harmony of the universe” (Smith, Astronomy, 66). In our case, if we do not practice on purifying our souls, we will disturb the harmony of our mind, which in turn, negatively affects our happiness.
Speculative sciences do, indeed, improve the mind; but this advantage reaches only to a few persons, who have leisure to apply themselves to them. And as to practical arts, which encrease the commodities and enjoyments of life, it is well known, that men’s happiness consists not so much in an abundance of these, as in the peace and security with which they possess them; and those blessings can only be derived from good government (Humes, 55). Not to mention, that general virtue and good morals in a state, which are so requisite to happiness, can never arise from the most refined precepts of philosophy, or even the severest injunctions of religion; but must proceed entirely from the virtous education of youth, the effect of wise laws and institutions (Humes, 55).
If this is to be true, which it is believed to be, then, we are on the right path and our government has allowed the people to build the education of the youth, the effect of wise laws and institutions, but, it is all under the control of the state and more precisely the government in power. The problem only arises within and not without. Nevertheless, one of the many obstacles we face that may get us off the track to eudainomia or the “good life” is that the government has already monetized this system with the ascent of money and the purchasing power the people gave to money, due to the way the government and the capital systems portray money, to be perceived as the highest form of life, and the only way out of poverty, struggles and pain. So, our system or our way of reaching happiness is through the mind with the help of the divine, and the only way to monetize it is to allow ourselves to continue on the same path, without drifting off of the path that our ancestors, our government, and our institutions have set for us, in order to guide us to the truth. There is no teacher or philosopher that could tell us where the truth (“good life”) is, but they can definitely guide us, since they have more life experience and they are the past, while the children are the future. We must allow ourselves to travel to the past in the minds of our teachers, parents and grandparents in order to be guided towards the light and avoid being blinded by it. As we stated earlier, only a selected few, only a chosen few will be picked to live the “good life” for it is impossible to save the souls of every human being alive. Nevertheless, we will conclude that according to reason, the one who is most positive and the one who carries on to reflect positive progress in the body of this universe, he/she will find himself/herself blessed (rewarded, with a peace of mind, whether with money or with health).
Adam Smith, Essays on Philosophical Subjects, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 5-33.
Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), 17-22.
Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976), 13-223.
David Humes, Essays, Moral, Political and Literary, (Liberty Fund, Inc., 1985), 3-9