There is a story regarding one of the generals who said to President Lincoln, “I hope God is on our side.” President Lincoln responded, “I hope we are on God’s side.”
As you peruse the philosophical systems throughout time it is a good idea to look at the actual life of each philosopher that embodied that philosophy. As you are deciding about taking up someone’s philosophy you should start by asking yourself if you would like to be like that person?
In some philosophies we find intellectuals who ended up living miserable lives. Some became very disillusioned with life and ended up with great sadness and misery. A person contemplating the following of any system should determine if they are really interested in following that pathway?
Some philosophies are very wordy, some are petty, some are extremely narrow and others have seemed to bring their adherents nothing more than a distorted perspective of everything taking place in the world. Today in most schools, the philosophy department is a survey of various philosophical systems and those of particular interest to the teacher will often receive more favor then the others.
In the teaching of philosophy today there has been more of a trend toward realism and a scholastic and materialistic approach to life. Due to this approach and the loss of the real intent and energy behind some of the more profound ancient philosophies, the old teachings may appear dull and lifeless. At times the ancient teachings appear unreal or just fanciful concepts that are not possible in today’s world.
Many systems that are prevalent today take the approach that human impulses are naturally wrong and must be scrubbed out of our lives. In the ancient philosophical approaches the belief was that impulses were not wrong but people were essentially unlearned. Many philosophies ascribe to the “Thou Shalt Not’ concept. There are those rebellious individuals that immediately become rebellious when told that they can’t do something.
There are ‘Thou Shalt Nots’ that are necessary for an organized society to exist, but more time is spent on imprinting the Nots into our minds and not enough of a positive approach. Because of the pace and pressures of today’s world, most people do things as reactions to the pressures that exist within their life.
The ancient philosophical teachings were interested in creating higher ideals and deep convictions within individuals that elevated their view and approach to life. The recognition of a higher spiritual essence that exists within an individual and creating the balance between the inner and the outer life. The true purpose of a philosophical life teaches one not to act out of frustration, not to run away or disappear or live a limited and lonely life, but to create and develop an inward strength against all outer circumstances.
Today most people are reaching the feeling that the pressures of life are too great and they must run away to the country or do what Saint Simeon Stylites did. Simeon sat on the top of a pole and had food brought up to him in a bucket. This was done so he would not be contaminated by the world. “He would not allow anyone of the female persuasion to come within ten feet of his column. If any came any closer the ‘vibberations’ got to him.”
The more profound philosophical approach is not about learning how to run, hide, segment or convince yourself that you are right and everyone else is wrong. The more profound ancient philosophers were not trying to make the world agree with them, they were trying to get their own lives in harmony with the world. Today we should really be enjoying life, enjoying learning and face problems with a good spirit. Isn’t that what your philosophy should be providing and supposed to do for you?
A philosophy should help you become more helpful and discriminating, more democratic in your overall tolerance and less autocratic. “When you become more sympathetic with other people’s problems, regardless of who they are, you are no longer anti-social, and understand what some of the great founders of the ancient philosophies meant, when they discussed the ‘brotherhood of people.’”
Happiness is within us. When we change our own internal life through a philosophical approach that is ennobling, happy, out-going, fun and peaceful, we find that we grow to become the life of the party and the life of the world. “Be wise and you will be beautiful, if not actually physically, you will be believed to be beautiful by the radiance of life pouring out from yourself.”
To inspire and empower.