THREE PHILOSOPHIES OF LIFE

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In our day and age, philosophy is not considered a very practical science. The philosophical faculties are the shortfall. It happens because people have lost philosophy in its original fundamental form and deal mostly with its western and eastern surrogates, which sooner or later disappoint us.

Once, if we come across counterfeit money, it does not mean that all money is fake. Therefore, along with the philosophical speculations there is also a true philosophy. In this article we’ll look at the main ways in which the worldview develops, and the consequences of different philosophies. The methodological key in this issue for us will be the ancient Vedas.

In the Vedas the philosophy is denoted by the term ” darshan “, which literally means “vision” or “outlook”. This immediately translates the philosophy from an abstract ” love of wisdom ” into a practical sphere, because a particular worldview virtually compels us to act in a certain way. A vision determines an action. One needs to see adequately to act properly. People perceive this world differently, and therefore they behave differently in life.

Despite the apparent diversity of philosophical schools, they all fall into three broad categories according to the goals that they pursue:

1. Philosophy of enjoyment;
2. Philosophy of renunciation;
3. Philosophy of spiritual perfection.

In today’s world the first two types dominate. We’ll briefly discuss their origins and consequences.

Material life fascinates and disappoints us. These two states of mind cause two basic approaches to life – philosophy of enjoyment and philosophy of renunciation.

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The first and most popular type is a philosophy of enjoyment. In a spectrum of this philosophy there are distinctive trends from mindless hedonism like – ” we live only once, and you have to take everything out of life ” or ” after us, the deluge ” to a more responsible and mature attitude to life, even taking to account God, reincarnation (or resurrection ) and returning to this world in a new body.

These more mature admirers of material enjoyment philosophy are concerned about the future of the earth, the environment and future generations. They call for the balance and a more rational use of material resources. But despite a more sober approach, the point remains the same: we want to enjoy matter.

In the Vedas, this type of philosophy is called “bhoga” ( material enjoyment ) which leads to karma ( constructive or destructive activity ). In the West, these views are called the philosophy of modernism, which places emphasis on material development. Modernism in its most cultural form generates an external economic progress, the exploitation of nature, and a proactive life stance of a fighter and hero.

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The grosser forms of this philosophy are expressed in a mindless fast life without any thought for the morrow. There are even materialists (not to be confused with atheists, who do not tolerate the idea of God existence), who sincerely turn to God, but for material benefit. They fall into the category of materialists (though refined and cultured) because the purpose of their lives is material happiness.

Their attempts to make materialism more balanced ( everything in moderation ) does not fundamentally change anything; it’s just frustration will come later, but it certainly will come. Relentless time will devalue all our external achievements or simply destroy our bodies and deprive us of the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Eternal soul will never be satisfied with temporary material forms, therefore the transition to a different philosophy, sooner or later dialectically inevitable.

So, those who are disappointed in the material life, take refuge in the opposite philosophy, which in the Vedas is called ” tyaga ” ( renunciation) .

In the West it is called postmodernism. A sense of emptiness and frustration due to abuse of material enjoyment or severe suffering is now taking mental forms and turning into the philosophy of renunciation or postmodernism.

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In the East it is a classic Buddhism and in the West it is its various mutations and vulgar variety. The most consistent adherents of this philosophy renounce this world and lead a secluded life or live in small communities of like-minded people.

The more mundane version of this philosophy is manifested in the total nihilism or the rejection of all religious and moral principles. Hippies, punks and rebels of all stripes that challenge the establishment of a consumer society represent the grosser forms of postmodernism.

The peculiarity of this philosophy of renunciation is the inability of the majority of adherents to be consistent to the end.

There is a certain artificiality and theatricality in it that cause people to either return to the world of material values ( many former hippies turned into a prosperous bourgeoisie, whom they criticized earlier ) or doom them to eternal inner struggle with the desire to taste the ” forbidden fruit” .

Often it pushes people to the path of secret vice and double standards, which cause an inferiority complex. Indeed, it is difficult to find a taste in dry renunciation of the world, without having a positive spiritual happiness.

The Vedas explain that these two philosophies ( enjoyment and renunciation ) compel us to rush to extremes like the movement of the pendulum. When we prosperity-wise are fine, a philosophy of enjoyment is prevalent.  But when everything is falling apart, and we stumble upon insurmountable obstacles, then we find solace in renunciation. In this case, we value the idea of impermanence and the illusory nature of all material.

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So, both of these philosophies are untenable, because the first one pushes a person deeper into matter, which binds a soul by karma and the other encourages one to reject this matter for the sake of abstract emptiness or nirvana.

Modernism in most cases is the philosophy of a “single life”: “Enjoy it now, because you live only once”. It deprives the soul of eternal life and of a positive future. Postmodernism is essentially a life-rejecting philosophy: “All that you have now is either suffering or illusion, and then comes the emptiness, eternal nothingness or, at best, merging into the impersonal Absolute”. It is a kind of spiritual suicide.

All the philosophies of the world are generated by these two tendencies, associated either with enjoying the material energy, or rejecting it, and do not give a higher taste to the soul and therefore are imperfect.

But there is a third type – the philosophy of spiritual perfection, which is not based on the imperfect dualistic human mind that is capable only of accepting the sensual pleasure and rejecting the suffering. This philosophy comes down to this world as a divine revelation. It reflects the eternal personal nature of the soul and God and their infinite variety of loving relationship.

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The elements of this philosophy one may find in many spiritual traditions, but in the Vedas it is given in the most holistic and pure form which is called “bhakti ” or loving devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

This belief system is the culmination of philosophy, because it amazingly combines the first two philosophies.

But how does pleasure and renunciation get along with each other? This impossible combination is made possible by the fact that the object of this philosophy is God, and not matter (as in the first two cases ). The soul experiences satisfaction in relationships with God, and at the same time he develops a spirit of renunciation towards matter. One perceives matter as the energy of God, and therefore uses it to serve God and not for personal enjoyment. Therefore, he feels a profound inner joy in the heart, which comes as a reward from God for selfless love.

So, the first two philosophies are a manifestation of the duality inherent in this world, but a spiritual philosophy takes us out of this duality and connects with God. This is the spiritual value of this philosophy.

In these three major philosophical approaches the enjoyment of the material life is a thesis or the first instinct in this world. When the power of time and circumstances robs us of this opportunity, we accept the antithesis – “if you can not enjoy it, renounce it”. But the soul can not live without enjoyment and will return to it sooner or later. Such is a vicious circle. Therefore the real way out of this duality is the transition to the spiritual plane. And there in relationship with God, the synthesis of these two trends take place. So the traditional model of development (“thesis – antithesis – synthesis” ) shows us the way to God, where enjoyment and renunciation are in harmony.

One may understand the superiority of the philosophy of devotion to God either logically or practically. This means that the consequence of the philosophy is a lifestyle that shapes up the appropriate personal qualities that are the criterion of a genuine philosophy.

The ancient Greeks had three ways to convince people of the correctness of the idea: pathos, logos and ethos.

Pathos, according to the Vedas, is the quality of passion. When someone says something with conviction, it can make a strong impression on the audience, even if the message is not logical. However, when emotions settle, the logical inconsistencies of the external pathos are apparent. Therefore pathos is little provable. Logos is higher because it is the quality of goodness.

The attempts to convey one’s ideas through logos can be less emotional, but more logical and therefore more convincing. But despite the logical ideas, the audience may remain doubtful if they see a discrepancy between words and behaviour. Therefore, the strongest evidence is the ethos, that is a human behaviour.

If one walks the talk he inspires maximum confidence. So by ethics, we can assess the quality of philosophy, as a tree can be estimated according to the fruit.

Objectively the best philosophy is the one which makes one the most harmonious and ethical person. Philosophy of enjoyment makes one a selfish materialist and spiritually blind. It leads to a destructive behaviour. This is evident in example of many disappointed people who embarked on the path of self-destruction through alcohol and drugs.

Others are trying to interfere in the social and natural processes, disturbing the ecological balance and provoking social conflicts. These are the direct consequences of a philosophy of uncontrolled sense gratification.

On the other hand, the philosophy of renunciation makes one a pseudo-spiritual, selfish, socially useless and indifferent personality.

But the philosophy of love and devotion to God makes one spiritually mature and compassionate. Due to the spiritual knowledge and a deep satisfaction in the heart such an individual perceives material energy soberly and of its three qualities – goodness, passion and ignorance – he consciously chooses goodness. Thus one achieves a balance between material and spiritual.

The real human values are manifest in ethics, and the purpose of philosophy is to change one’s behaviour for the better. Therefore, the true philosophy is a very practical and applied science.

 

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