It would be safe to say that for all sentient beings there is no escape from Plato’s Ghost. We, the members of the Homosapien species and the newest entrants to the class of sentient beings, are subject to no exemption. Well, maybe a few amongst us are lucky enough to let their daily lives be dedicated to attending to our needs as living beings, but let them be in peace for the moment and focus on the dilemma the rest of us face everyday if not every waking moment of our lives: What’s next?
Leaving the long list of usual suspects that typically result in the dilemma aside, i.e. food, money, sex, entertainment, and so on and so forth, we arrive at the one aspect of our existence that is the hardest to address: The very purpose of existence!
The reason that this is the biggest contributor to the “What’s next?” dilemma is actually very easy to state and understand: It has been addressed by everyone with a full stomach and a shelter over their heads since the begining of civilization itself! Just as the old saying goes: All roads lead to Rome; so do all the choices for the purpose of existence point to one goal: spiritual enlightenment. And to top it all, the plethora of proposed solutions to achieve spiritual enlightenment are all easy to adopt for even the most food and shelter challenged members of our species, since the only requirement to adopt any solution is the magical five lettered word: faith.
Even though it is a noun, the Oxford dictionary has multiple meanings for faith. No wonder then that the dilemma is the hardest to address. For the sake of brevity we shall not digress in to a discussion regarding the meaning of faith itself and instead let us simply reaffirm that faith is the primary means of achieving spiritual enlightenment. Let us then look at the nature of the journey to be undertaken to achieve the said goal.
This is where we can make an interesting observation: all proposed roads to spiritual enlightenment are for an individual to walk alone! Even the route via religion requires you to rationalize the existence of the corresponding rendition of the concept of God through a personal experience that inherently cannot be shared with anyone else. It is best explained in a manner similar to figuring out whether your experience of Love is the same as someone else around you. In the end all you can settle for is that you just “know” that you are in Love and that life from that point on is all downhill… but that is for another post.
The route via science brings you face to face with concepts such as Quintessence which is apparently how even Einstein re-discovered religion as a quick search on Google will reveal. One of the best book that addresses the parallels between modern science and eastern mysticism is The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav and eventually we end up with spiritual enlightenment via his next book The Seat of the Soul. Mr Zukav’s own life journey as described in this Wikipedia article had its lonely moments spent in a cabin in Mount Shasta along the lines of the time spent by Thoreau at the Walden Pond. Thus again you are likely to find yourself all alone in the quest for spiritual enlightenment via Science.
And finally of course we have the new age spiritual leaders such as Dr Deepak Chopra whose latest book The Future of God proposes a route via God without the unwanted baggage of religion. Again the proposed path is undeniably lonely and evokes mixed responses from the believers and non-believers alike!
Might it be the case that we actually have now reached a point in time wherein we are afforded the luxury of turning the question on its head? Thus instead of proposing yet another route to spiritual enlightenment we can instead frame a new question: In this world of Social Media do we really need to undertake the pilgrimage to the promised land in the first place? Does spiritual enlightenment even matter today? This article on Wikipedia which talks about the meaning of Enlightenment in the context of spirituality offers an amazing time and world view on the matter. Consequently, today we can instead look at a simpler option: eliminate the conflict between the body and the mind but without the rigors of religion or science.
In order to do so we can start by borrowing the three basic axioms from yet another school of philosophy, Objectivism which are as follows:
Life exists – There is no denying the difference between a living being and an inanimate object.
Life requires Life to survive – Any living being has to consume other living beings in order to survive. Even the nutrients in the soil that trees need to survive are derived from other living beings.
The sole purpose of Life is to propagate itself – In fact the very definition of life is “matter that can reproduce itself and evolve as survival dictates”.
Without getting in to a debate about Objectivism it is worth noting that within our social circles we can apply these three axioms to achieve a seamless union between the body and the soul and in doing so achieve an higher form of enlightenment than the impossible to reach spiritual enlightenment preached by so many. And the best part: We do not have to bear the burden of our failures all alone and neither do we have to settle for enjoying the fruits of our success by ourselves! Thank God for Social Media!