Basically, we are individuals with distinct differences. Each of us custom builds the real world by our personal thinking. But our personal thoughts must be full ones. They must be the consequence of our mental capacity. They must not be the stereotyped, thoughtlessly accepted notions of others. If our thoughts do not spring from our own reason and judgment, we are eventually frustrated. We become slaves to inadequate explanations of the mysteries of life. We fail to draw deeply from the well of happiness and personal peace within.
It is necessary to draw into ourselves, into our thought processes and the experiences of life for personal mental digestion. We must subject all our experiences to an intimate understanding. We must analyse and question the conventional explanations that are offered for our experiences. It is not so important what the opinions and dictum of this or that celebrated person may be. Rather, what do you think? After all, you live, you act, by your own thoughts. You stand or fall because of them. Uniform mass thought is ineffective, for we are a world of individuals. If we want to live as part of a mental herd, we then forfeit what ever advantages our individuality could provide.
There is much reference today to the conclusions of so-called experts. For many persons, these experts and their statements have become mere hitching-posts for their personal perplexities. In other words, they become substitutes for the mental effort which the individual should make in arriving at a personal answer. In fact, the individual’s own answer would in many instances be more satisfactory than the conclusions of certain experts.
The organization of one’s thoughts into a personal philosophy does not require a uniform and formal beginning. There are no specific ideas or notions with which the chain of personal thought must begin. To use a homely analogy, every home has one window that reveals a better view of the surroundings than others. But the favourite window is not on the same side of every home. So too, the best outlook on your experiences does not start with the same mental viewpoint that others have.
Find within yourself the most convincing explanation of that which engages your attention. These personal thoughts will then gradually assume an order of usefulness to you. This personally satisfying arrangement of your intimate knowledge and comprehension constitutes your philosophy. Take a few random thoughts and consider them. Accept them only if they find response in you. At least these thoughts may be a stimulus that arouses more gratifying personal notions.
In considering the subject of life, we find that there are two ways we can look upon it. One is the biological, which asserts that we are physio-chemical organisms. We are impregnated with a mysterious energy for which science still searches. Religion, philosophy, and metaphysics have given many conflicting names to this same mysterious element. In the physical sense, we human beings are not unique. In the fact of living, we share a state common to all animate things. We compete in the essence of life with all else that lives. Humans have no particular distinction in the fact of earthly living.
The other way to look upon life is in terms of experience. But what is experience? It is a circle of existence. We do not exist until we know, and know that we know. It matters not that we may exist to some other intelligent beings who realize us. Until we have self-realization, we do not exist to ourselves. Further, until we are to ourselves, nothing else exists to us. Only by making comparison between our self and that which is not self do we realize the world and the cosmos. True life, then is not just a matter of survival. Rather, it is an extension of our consciousness, of reflection upon as much of reality as possible. It is not that you live, but what life can mean to you that is important.
Almost all religions advocate that this life is a mere preparation for immortality. They consider this life as a test of our qualifications for an eventual intimate relationship with God, or the deity. Actually, as living self-conscious beings, we are always looking out upon eternity. Here and now you are constantly experiencing examples of the First Cause – call it God, if you will. Every form of nature, every object, is of the universal spectrum of energies. Everything has an affinity with the fundamental structure of all else in the cosmos. If, therefore, all particles are of the universal causative Mind, then each conscious moment you look upon them, you are viewing God in this life.
What is Happiness?
Let us now consider happiness. For most people, happiness is the mad pursuit of their existence. Yet they are not certain as to its nature. All happiness is pleasure. But as the ancient Greek philosophers knew, pleasure is of two kinds. One is negative, the other positive. Negative pleasures only follow the cessation of aggravation, annoyance, or pain. Negative pleasure is like scratching an itch. One must first have the itch before he can experience the pleasure that comes from scratching. When the itch disappears, so does the pleasure. Many people think of happiness in just this negative sense. Pleasure to them is nothing more than a diminishing of responsibility and duties which invites a state of ultimate idleness.
Positive pleasures do not require the removal of some condition before they can be enjoyed. Rather, the positive pleasure is sought in itself. Consequently, such pleasures are more enduring and bring a true happiness. A positive pleasure is the search for beauty – the harmony of our senses, all that is beautiful to see, hear, or feel in nature. This beauty is not found in accumulation of things. The accumulation of things, as we all come to know, brings in its wake responsibility, anxiety, and confusion. The beauty that brings happiness may be sought within ourselves. It is the act of giving expression to our moral impulses and our creative urges, as well as trying to fashion a personal world that will conform with our feelings of spiritual righteousness. That is why some simple and humble lives, in terms of worldly living, have been the happiest.
Wealth should not be the thing that is sought in itself. No one ever becomes wealthy by seeking wealth. One must first distinguish himself in some service, some art, before he can demand a material reward. Wealth is the abundance of some possession. However, you cannot find abundance. Abundance is not a thing. First we must excel in something, which in turn brings abundance. Furthermore, abundance has no value except as it is applied to some end. Thus wealth is only potential power. It is neither good nor evil except in the manner in which it is applied.
Fame also is a secondary state, not a primary one. Fame cannot be pursued in itself. Figuratively, fame is the laurel wreath that crowns a distinction which precedes it. To be famous, one must first attain merit in some activity. Likewise, a person cannot first strive to be successful. He can only work toward the satisfying culmination of some enterprise. If he realizes his goal, success comes to him. We never find success – we only attract it by what we do.
Now let us give thought to another subject. We frequently speak of our relation to the Cosmic. How much certainty have we within ourselves about that to which we refer? In other words, just what do we mean by the word, Cosmic, both metaphysically and mystically? We must realize that the Cosmic has no determinative qualities nor does it exist in time and space. The Cosmic has no beginning and can have no end. The universe is infinite, for the finite has an extremity which can only be observed against something else, which is impossible in the case of the universe.
We contend, then, that the Cosmic is not a thing, nor is it a place. There are two ways in which we can conceive the Cosmic. One way is to think of it as the sum total of all phenomena, the totality of what we call natural law. It is immaterial whether that law manifests in distant galaxies millions of light-years away, or within the particle of an atom or within man. This point of view may be termed the naturalistic or scientific.
We may also think of the Cosmic as Supreme Mind. This mind functions as universal energy, creative source of all reality. We know that human thought is energy, yet human thought is composed of various ideas which have different realities to the consciousness. So, too, the ideas – if we wish to use that term – of the Universal Mind would manifest as all the particulars, all of the objects of which the Cosmic consists. Thus every creation, no matter what it is, is a conscious part of the universal intelligence. This notion is consistent with the God idea, that is, with the belief that a teleological cause is inherent in the Cosmic. It is also consistent with the scientific theory of an unified field of forces which are isotropic, that is, existing everywhere in the universe and accounting for all phenomena.
This second conception of Cosmic Mind may be termed mystical pantheism. It places God, the Universal Intelligence, within all things. We look to no one place for the Divine. It exists everywhere about us as the spirit or power by which each thing exists. Whatever we do is cosmic in part.
We, too, are of this Cosmic Essence and we are closer in perception and apperception to ourselves, to this Cosmic Essence, than to anything else. Consequently, cosmic union is best attained by turning to realizing the depths of our own consciousness. This introversion of consciousness, this turning within to experience an intimate relation with the Absolute, is pure mysticism. The Cosmic, therefore, is a synthesis of all that we call order, law, or manifestation. The more that we understand ourselves, the more insight we have into the Cosmic. The more we study other manifestations of the Cosmic through philosophy and science, the more we come to appreciate our own nature and existence.
Philosophy is a painting of our personal picture of reality. It is one in which we will find intimate satisfaction. Like abstract art, our picture may mean nothing to the outside spectator, but it will have an inner expression and conviction to the artist himself.
- Source Unknown