Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Everybody Wants to Rule the World, But Nobody Ever Will

"Christianity carries in its innermost heart the truth that suffering (the Cross) is the true aim of life: that is why it repudiates suicide, which is opposed to this aim, while antiquity from a lower viewpoint approved of and indeed honored it. This argument against suicide is however an ascetic one, and is therefore valid from a far higher ethical standpoint than any which  European moral philosophers have ever assumed. If we descend from this very high standpoint there no longer remains any tenable moral reason for damning suicide." Arthur Schopenhauer, from his essay 'On Suicide'

Later in the same essay quoted above, Schopenhauer says, "It will generally be found that where the terrors of life come to outweigh the terrors of death, a man will put an end to his life."

So the will to live increases the suffering of man, which will lead him on a path either to suicide, or to redemption. You have a choice, I suppose, in the face of suffering: double down again and again until the only solution is to destroy yourself, or move more and more into non-volition. It is strange that the only way it seems possible to preserve life is to reject it.

But I always have to remind myself, that  life is ultimately about struggle. Schopenhauer only missed the boat by an inch, because suffering is is the spiritual and physiological response to struggle. By putting the emphasis on suffering, he made the response to struggle the end unto itself. To struggle is to move towards something and away from something else. To suffer is to experience a pulling away from something one has become accustomed to, or to move deeper into something that is unhealthy. You suffer until the surface area that suffering rains upon becomes porous enough to allow the pain to pass through, or resilient enough to allow it to roll right off. Eventually, you move away from that which makes you suffer, and towards that which redeems you. Suffering will always be a part of life, because struggle is the key to life; struggle towards, and struggle away.

Life is exhausting. It is not obvious. Today I talked to someone who believes in reincarnation. I have great respect for this person, but I could never tolerate the thought of going through life again. The intensity of this bout of life is enough; and I say this as a White Male American, born and raised in the suburbs. I shiver to consider the existential pangs of the sea slug, with its violent method of reproduction and constant sexual identity issues.

To live in this world again would be horrid. To live on in another world after this one would grow tiresome. Let me die! let me stay dead. I will be chewed up by this life as I move from point A to not quite point B. May it make me sinewy. Let me learn how to walk through fire. Let me learn how to leave myself in the fire, and walk away from it. May it make me crisp.

The ego is a beast. Someone once told me that there are two wolves inside of each of us: one is good, and one is evil. They're always doing battle. The one that wins is the one you feed.

So maybe the best course of action is to starve both beasts.  Maybe once they're dead we'll be able to finally think clearly, and finally be able to say, 'this is what is the case, and that is enough for me'.

1 comment:

Lodo Grdzak said...

Sometimes a long intermission is the fastest way to get where you're going.