SATURDAY, 14 AUGUST 1999
Life is a struggle – a struggle for a higher existence. Your daily life is a series of actions and choices that result in you either advancing to an improved existence, or where you increasingly go backwards. Every position in which you find yourself at any given period of your life is either better or worse, or the same as before (in terms of what you experience with your senses, not necessarily in philosophical terms or even physiological terms). The concrete meaning of this higher existence varies from person to person. The process of defining your specific Higher Existence is part of your struggle.
The meaning of life lies in this pursuit, this struggle to do better, to attain a higher level of existence.
To learn anything regarding universal truth, start by searching within yourself. Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself questions. Get to know yourself and you will begin to understand the truths of life.
Is it not true that a person, without necessarily thinking about it, is constantly changing things and trying to do things better once he or she discovers a particular way of doing things is causing them harm, or fails to bring them fulfilment, or is simply not good enough to bring an endeavour to successful completion? Of course, you get people who continually make the same mistakes. Their struggle will inevitably be much longer and much more difficult.
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A man sits on his porch smoking a cigarette. He’s contemplating life and asks himself The Question. He has long since abandoned the doctrines of his youth, and now looks at his own life experiences and all the knowledge he has gained so far to see if that can offer him any answers. He will find it: in his own experience, the knowledge he has acquired, in himself, and in other people. For just as he searches, from the essence of his nature and driven by his instincts, so others are searching, as well.
Perhaps no one has perfect knowledge, but listen to a hundred people, and you will receive a hundred pieces of information that form part of the whole. Many pieces of knowledge will overlap, and there are many people who simply recite what they have been taught. Then there are libraries filled with books written by people generations or centuries ago, who had some degree of knowledge of the Truth, even though this knowledge has become obscure or has even been lost and forgotten over many generations.
Sometimes you’ll find someone – through a personal encounter, or by reading a story or an article or a news bulletin, or by watching a movie or listening to someone’s music – who has contemplated his or her own experiences for long enough to have obtained what can be called More Profound Knowledge. In the same way, if he is sincere in his search, the man on the porch will also find peace about the meaning of his particular life.
I do not know about “God”. This does not mean I do not believe in “God”. All I’m saying is that everything I thought I knew about “God” has been given to me by people. At one stage in my life, it became clear that many of these people were either not worthy of my trust in what they had to say, or that they had simply told me what had been told to them, which they had decided to believe for their own personal reasons.
Fact is, I have never seen “God” – if “God” can be seen in the conventional understanding of the word – so I have to settle for other people’s opinions or doctrines about “God”. The problem? These people have also never seen “God”! They simply believe what they have been taught to believe. Or they base their belief on a combination of what they’ve been taught and their own personal experiences – which still means this person’s truth is subjective.
Another thing: knowledge – or “truth” – that is carried over from one generation to the next does not even always remain the same! Cultural practices change; the world in which we live sometimes undergoes profound change; when these things happen, subtle alterations are made to doctrines and personal beliefs.
So I’m not saying I do not believe in “God”, I’m just saying I do not know about “God”. I know what others think they know, but I cannot believe in something just because others believe in it. I must seek the truth on my own time and in my own way.