Monday, November 24, 2008

The Way of Life

Once you have understood the purpose of education, you want to be able to live a meaningful life.

Meaning comes from the things you do and the way you do things. You choose your way of life. You choose your habits.

Meaning comes from the relationship you have established between you and another person or an object. Things in life exist by themselves - not because of you - and therefore they are inherently meaningless. But you want meaning, so you try to establish a relationship with those things (money, music, books) or people (parents, siblings, countrymen, enemies).

Relationships are not inborn but are established out of historical accidents or preferences. To be ourselves, we have to be aware of historical influences on us and the forces of desire on our preferences. Only then can we make rational decisions as to what we want to do.

If you dichotomise your life, you are setting yourself up for unhappiness. You cannot divide your life up into (a) the working life and (b) the leisure hours.

Leisure is created because working life is dreary. You go to a job you do not like, but you like the money. With the money, you indulge yourself to get rid of the stress you suffered earning the money. When you have earned enough money, you say good riddance to the work. Then you fall straight into a hell.

That hell is called the mid-life crisis. After you have worked hard all your life for the sole purpose of earning money, where you have established a great meaningful relationship with money, once you have achieved your goal with money and you have enough of the job, you find your life meaningless. You start asking the question of what is life and usually at a very late stage in life.

Those who pass their midlife crisis successfully will have a happy life. Those who do not will become miserable. Some may end their lives abruptly when all the major parameters of their lives disappear - such as parents, friends.

In life, the most meaningful things have nothing to do with money (although without money, life can be meaningless).

It is therefore important to establish early the way of life that you want. You must first integrate your life so that work is life and life is leisure. When you have a job, you work for the money; when you retire, you work not for the money. It is a sad employee who thinks that leisure is not having to do anything; he or she is in a job he or she doesn't like and prefers idling to activity.

It is good to be successful at work in the conventional sense, for it gives you the opportunity to do good. If you do not like to work under a lousy boss, then you should strive to be a good boss - which implies you have to work hard to be a boss first before you can be a good one.

All work relationships are ostensibly for the purpose of making money - which is the economic game, and the measure of the success of the economic game. If you have an entire economic system that is losing money, you know the whole society is falling into disarray.

There is nothing wrong with money or making money per se. But if the activities that make money leads to human misery, then it is time to abandon those activities and look for other activities that can make money and promote human welfare. The fault lies in the technology - in the type of "know-how" - which means not all knowledge is good.

In a rat race, we are all trying to run after the fastest rat. We should just take things at our own profitable pace, and let the fastest rat die of a heart attack.

In our modern globalised world, the fastest rat has died - Japan - who has caused the world untold misery by the way they work. Their children are now protesting and finding a new way of life. The other fastest rat that cheated is now dying - the US - which is now drowning in its own excessive liquidity.

While slow and steady may win the race, it would be good to work ourselves up to some decent momentum so that we may begin to arrive at a destination apart from the starting point. We have to move a bit, if at all just to check there is no moss under our backsides.

We need to move so that we can see whether we can work as a closely-knit social structure, rather than disconnected pieces rooted to the ground by our old traditions and cultures.

Education can be a revoluntionary force and this could why politicians have an inherent tendency to ruin it for our children (and not their children) so that the whole society can remain docile. The revolution comes from the ability to think and create new ideas and reinvent ourselves.

Our "know-how" has changed. Instead of saving labour, new technology is now used for entertainment - for the un-boring of our monotonous lives.

Virtual excitement shows us very clearly that our existence is the mere conjoining of our senses which gives the appearance of an entity - as sensed by the entity. We give a whole sense of meaning to the figments of our own imagination.

Choose a way of life that you feel is the best form of self-expression for yourself. You have something inside you that is dying to be expressed - be it in the form of art, or music, or writing, or making objects, or collecting paper money - it is fine, so long as you recognise it as such.

Don't do it for others; for you are at risk of losing the whole purpose of life. Nobody knows what is right or wrong; so suffer your own errors - but leave death to the last, for then the game is over.


Jed Yoong said...

Hi, Nice inspiring post. =) Tks, cheered me up a bit more. Keep writing.

de minimis said...


You have connected the art of living and its values to the way in which our working lives are connected to the workings of the general economy. This is a rare insight that everyone should understand. You have provided a context and a value guide for living our lives. Very enlightening.