Sunday, June 2, 2019

Eat to live, or live to eat?

The title implies a priority, not only for food but work, particularly spiritual work. As a child, I was always asking the question, “Why?” Why does anyone do anything? Priorities and choices are important since they reflect motives. “What floats your boat,” is a contemporary expression implying such motives, and more times than not, beneath all else lies the issue of material prosperity, and the more the better.

Sadly in today’s world, words of wisdom and spiritual guidance are very profitable businesses, just as in politics. Both are huge sources of “living to eat, well” and not just eating to live but gluttony. Evidence, regardless of religious affiliation, all began with renunciation of material craving, or if you like “excessive desire.” And there was a universal reason for avoiding craving. The reason? Because craving leads to attachment and attachment to anything material eventually leads to suffering. Anything and everything of, a material nature, will come to an end and when it does, if we are attached the loss can be profound suffering. In some cases that suffering arises out of addiction—whether to wealth, power, people, drugs or even fixed ideas.

The latter may seem odd. How, you may ask, can fixed ideas produce suffering? If you think about it, fixed ideas are ideas in opposition to flexible ideas. The former is what we call dogma, whereas the latter is known as adaptation or adjusting to change. And what changes? Everything! Ordinarily, when we refer to dogma it is done within a religious context—My way or the highway.” But dogma can, and is, what has presently produced a world-wide movement toward the abyss when hardly anyone is even slightly interested in compromise. We are ignoring significant, life-altering changes that will surely kill us all. Instead, we are clinging to a notion of certain invincibility. When anyone is firmly rooted in just one way it is because they have arrived at an opinion of “truth” vs. “fake news.”

I don’t think anyone gets out of bed and says to themselves, “today I will conduct my life following principles of ‘fake news’.” Quite to the contrary, everyone believes they are pursuing truth. The problem is one person’s food is another person’s poison. Science and faith appear to oppose one another, yet there is uncertainty in both directions. One of my favorite perspectives on this comes from Ashley Montagu: “Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.” Proof is the bird in hand. The two in the bush are speculations. None of us have any choice except to take life as it is—the one in hand. Reminiscence is to live in the past that no longer exists and speculation is to dwell in the future that will never come. Serenity is to accept things as they are, right now, in each fleeting moment, regardless of how we got here, or where it may lead.

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