To Study Philosophy Is To Attain The Highest Good
Where am I going? Has human life any purpose? Where is the world going? What is the good life? What is a cause? What is reality? What is truth?
We search for answers to these and other big questions. Our definite answers to them reflect the truth.
We are curious to know-and know more- about the universe and life.
Our tools to know are our five senses and our rational inquiry.
We speculate on universal subjects like the origin of the universe, the origin of life, mind, spirit, truth, reality, cause, good, good life, evil, consciousness, art, god, natural law, and so on. The whole of such topics as these is the area of philosophy.
The study of philosophy expands our view of the universe and all life and broadens our approach to them.
The Buddha lays down the correct method to attain indisputable knowledge.
Test and trial, the way to philosophize
1. In the words of the Buddha: “Believe not because an old book is produced as an authority. Believe not because your father said (you should) believe the same. Believe not because other people like you believe it. Test everything, try everything, and then believe it, and if you find it for the good of many, give it to all.” With these words, the Buddha passed away.
This is the right and wise approach to the study of philosophy. Philosophy has no holy book of knowledge. It has no final authority for itself. Philosophy is an open book. Philosophy is not theology.
It questions everything until it gets an evidence-based answer to its question.
You philosophize when you think for yourself without reference to the scripture or a prophet and his utterances.
The more we contemplate subjects larger than ourselves and our own country, the more we go nearer to becoming world citizens.
Small hopes and desires give place to universal hopes and larger aspirations expanding our vistas of the universe and all life.
The philosophic mind shares the infinity of the universe and world citizenry and stands philosophic.
Being in wonder and awe
2. As Bertrand Russell puts it: “ Philosophy, like all other studies, aims primarily at knowledge.” Our inability to acquire complete and certain knowledge of some things is an accepted fact.
But this uncertainty is valuable since it keeps alive our sense of wonder at the universe and life. Uncertainty of knowledge breeds humility in us.
Philosophy undertakes to discover answers to big questions of the universe and all life. To some questions it offers answers and to some, it doesn’t and keeps alive our interest in and wonder about the universe and life and our hope for the future. This is an antidote to the feeling of dogmatic finality of our knowledge about the universe and all life.
Philosophic doubt about anything is questioning it which is enlightening, liberating, and strengthening our beliefs.
Philosophical study energizes and fertilizes our minds.
It teaches us to think rationally and to try to arrive at definite knowledge.
Love to live with courage and optimism
3. The remark of Anne Lamott in her book Bird By Bird on the reading of literature and writing is equally true of the study of philosophy in its substantial effect:
“Writing and reading deepens and widens and expands our sense of life: they feed the soul.”
Anne Lamott further expresses words of philosophic wisdom: “It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and the spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
In times of life’s tortuous journey, we don’t lose mental balance and optimism if we practice philosophic contemplation of the universe and human life. A larger view of the universe and life contributes to curbing and humbling one’s unjustifiable ego and ennobles our minds.
Philosophic contemplation of the big questions fills us with irrepressible hope for certain knowledge.
At a deeper level, the philosophical study enables your mind to achieve spiritual union with the universe, “the highest good” the human being can attain.
Philosophical ….“questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation….” -Bertrand Russell
Such a mind….. “becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.”-Bertrand Russell.
The human being’s spiritual union with the cosmos proffers peace, tranquillity, and bliss to him even in times of gloom and sorrowful situations in life.