All around us are men and women with an undeviating will to pleasure. Their objective in life is the satisfaction of meager desires, propelled by an uncreative submission to the ideals of a corrupt and aimless society. It requires little effort to see all around us the living examples of these words. Yet, we are not here to blame them. What makes us suppose we have the correct view to human life, the right solution when dealing with the difficulty of desire and satisfaction?
The first quarter of a century in life is, perhaps more so than those subsequent, an utter experiment. We come into this world in blind ignorance and we are shown the world as viewed by those before us. The great majority of mankind treats life quite naturally and naively. We hardly suspect any flaws in the outlook of our elders and accept without any resistance the narrowly circumscribed rules and laws of human conduct and the petty and mediocre aspirations of the average Homo Sapiens. Driven by an unbearable fear of uncertainty and insecurity, tossed to and fro by the oppressive instinct of self-preservation and procreation – our kin is in many regards cowardly and selfish. So how can we blame ourselves if we simply follow the command of our inner nature? We cannot without persistent effort modify the channel prescribed for us by the aeons of evolution of numberless generations that came to this planet and left, most of which lie in the impenetrable darkness of prehistory.
When we raise our heads over the insipid realm of tradition and conventionality our eyes become aware of much more than what was initially revealed to us. When we come of age and start discovering our own individual truths the entire meaning of being alive is transformed and molded by the lessons of our experiences. Reverence and idolatry to the prevailing systems are abandoned. If this is achieved all our past knowledge is held in doubt and the exciting adventure of existential discovery begins.
Our eyes awaken from a long slumber and diffidently we make our first steps on the path that leads us away from norm and habit. We begin unraveling the wondrous secrets of consciousness. Our body, language, plants, clouds, stars, galaxies, worms, butterflies, religions, oceans, history, electricity, sound, science, food, air, sleep; all become subjects of our interest. They are no longer the common elements of reality; they become mysterious, inexplicable yet familiar things that were always so close to us. We had forgotten to silently observe them, to try to grasp them as they play their role in the majestic theater of life. The conformity that was inherited from our elders is no longer viable in this world of endless surprises and immense dimensions. Our ears open their gates to the wisdom of all the ages, the army of knowledge conquers our passivity, and we engage in the ceaseless hunt for objects of curiosity and awe.
We are no longer:
“Oblivious of the fact that the earth wanders in a void like a mote of dust in invisible air.”
But far from separating ourselves from the concreteness of human experience, we still share in the gaiety of human relationships, in the familiarity of eating, sleeping, working and loving. These things are in themselves equally amazing as the wonders we find in the natural world.
This vision is not too far from our current lives. It is in fact as plainly human as the animosity and tragedy we find in our news. The terror that strikes our senses every day as we open a newspaper is not something that should discourage us. For any living organism life is an ongoing battle. To be alive means to be menacing, brutal, ruthless, aggressive, for life is the activity of survival. Everything in this universe tends to dissipate and destroy complex structures such as ours. The ability for us to stay alive in such a threatening world is not only proof of the cleverness of organic cells but also of our conscious ability to overcome the hostile forces that obliterate us.
“To be alive is to be in a perpetual state of war.”
With so much aggression in us we should not expect to be a thoroughly kind and benevolent race. Every organism in the animal kingdom has won its place by displacing those that could not endure the challenges imposed by the destructive forces of nature. The necessity of war is a fact of nature. But as humans, we can read this differently and we should pronounce it loud and clear, to the belligerent leaders of this world: “Let there be war only if this means let there be LIFE!”
The meaning of war would radically change if we start seeing it from this point of view. Each day survived is a victory celebrated! It’s an accomplishment we should be celebrating every day, rejoicing in the subtlety of being, the fascinating oddity of breathing and dying.
Finally, if pleasure is all that we seek; it is what gives us pleasure that makes all the difference. If our insatiable craving strives only for the material comforts of modern day life I’m afraid so many people will fade away without ever turning their heads and discovering the radiant fountain of wonder that the universe delivers to whoever becomes its beholder.