30 Dec

The Existential Question; For Well-being, seek answers to existential questionsTo live a life with meaning and for well-being, seek answers to existential questions. Why am I here? Who am I? What is a good life? How do we build a good society? What is reality?  Whether we are prepared to accept this fact or not, we live in an increasingly more complex, more chaotic, more uncertain and less harmonious world. Furthermore, because of technology, we are bombarded daily with information, visual and auditory, textual and image-laden. While there is vast amount of vital and useful information out there, the reality is that there is a lot of enticing and captivating information, images or shadows as many of them should probably be aptly called, which have very little to do with reality. These images or shadows of the reality of our existence on this planet pose a huge challenge to our essence, mindfulness and true happiness. To disengage from these images and pull away from this fictional milieu, and for well-being, seek answers to existential questions.

Certainly, a blog post cannot do real justice to this huge topic. These are questions that have been pondered for thousands of years by the greatest thinkers who ever lived including philosophers, scientists, scholastic theologians, poets and great statesmen and women. So, we will only discuss a general, broad, basic framework which a person can build upon and apply to ponder one or may be several of these questions. Why should anybody worry about these questions at all? What is wrong with getting an education, securing a job, have a good career, make a lot of money, take care of your family and be happy? Of course, there is nothing wrong with these external things, but do these accomplishments and possessions produce real joy, inner peace and wellbeing?

The Dalai Lama & Archbishop Desmond Tutu Authors of: The Book of JOY; For Well-being, seek answers to existential questions
The Dalai Lama & Archbishop Desmond Tutu Authors of: The Book of JOY

My guess is that many of us, especially those who are fortunate to live long enough will probably answer, no.  Also, most likely, the vast majority of human beings do not wake up in the morning and start worrying about existential questions, and neither do they even discuss them in their leisure periods. Probably not until people are confronted with the inevitable downturns and major challenges in life do these questions occur to them. That is, when “Happiness” is disrupted, temporarily, or, unfortunately, sometimes permanently. It is at that time that the reality of the human condition and human experience becomes obvious. The realization that in life, there is something deeper than our fleeting visible natural world, no matter how glamorous it may look sometimes. So, for meaningful existence, inner peace and for well-being, seek answers to existential questions. These questions and similar ones would eventually lead us to the question: What is the purpose of life?  For now, we will condense the answer to that vast question to two elements. The pursuit of “The Good”, and the attainment of “Joy”. In order for “We”, the “Being” to be “Well”, i.e. for Well-Being, the totality of our life must produce “Joy”. Joyfulness is affirmation of a much deeper level of well-being than Happiness. We truly rejoice, and we are joyful when we do not live for ourselves alone, and when our hearts rejoice for the joy of others, especially those that are outside our immediate family or even totally unknown to us.

Socrates and Plato; For Well-being, seek answers to existential questions
Socrates and Plato

So, what is “The Good”, and why is it important to pursue it and to live our lives in consonant with the idea of ‘The Good”? This debate has been going on for over two thousand years. Socrates and Glaucon who was Plato’s brother and the other major interlocutor engaged in this dialogue in Plato’s Republic. Following a deep discussion of the metaphor of “The Sun and The Good” in Book VI of The Republic, we find the famous weighty assertion by Socrates that the Good is “Beyond Being.”

“I suppose you’ll say the sun not only provides what is seen with the power of being seen, but also with generation, growth and nourishment, although it itself isn’t generation”. “Of course”. “Therefore, say that not only being known is present in the things known as a consequence of the Good, but also existence and being are in them besides as a result of it, although the Good isn’t being but is still beyond being, exceeding it in dignity and power.” (509b)

St. Augustine of Hippo; For Well-being, seek answers to existential questions
St Augustine, detail from the Doctors of the Church Cycle, 1487-1492, fresco, Church of the Santissima Annunziata, Franciscan Monastery, Cortemaggiore, Emilia-Romagna. Italy, 15th century.

For millennia, this assertion that “The Good” is “Beyond Being” in 509b in Plato’s Republic has been a central debate in philosophy. It has also had tremendous influence on subsequent Philosophers and great thinkers including the great Church Father, Saint Augustin of Hippo. What is the message of this huge assertion for us in the 21st century? Why should we, for well-being, seek answers to existential questions? Simply put, at the core of life with meaning, essence and true wellbeing is the pursuit of “The Good”. The answers to these existential questions would be answered along the path of a life lived in pursuit of “The Good”. “The Good” is beyond being in the sense that it is outside its sphere, and completely transcends the realm of being as its antecedent source. This exposition of “The Good” as enunciated in Platonic texts has been used by theologians to espouse the view that the Good, when extended by the limited human mind, and contemplated as God, or the One is altogether beyond being and knowledge.

Even if one does not totally accept the views stated above, deep thought regarding the fundamental questions posed at the beginning of this post would lead one to those eternal basic contrasts around which a meaningful life revolves. Good and Evil; Light and Darkness; Love and Hate; Selflessness and Selfishness; The visible and the Invisible. As one powers these contrasts, it is  likely that one would consider our title: For well-being, seek answers to existential questions. The Apostle Paul reminds Christians and potential converts of the invisibility of “The Good” in his letter to the Church at Colosse : “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3: 1-2).

For meaningful life beyond material wealth and the fleeting visible, in order to peacefully weather the storm of the inescapable vicissitudes of the human condition, and for well-being, seek answers to existential questions. This is even more relevant today in our tumultuous world. For deeper understanding of this topic please consult the materials in the the links in this post. The information can also contribute to the enhancement of your effort to avoid physical and mental rust and to maintain a sharp mind. So, eat healthy, keep moving, exercise at least three times a week, 45 minutes to one hour per session, keep learning new things and you are on your way to wellness and you would avoid rust. The ads on the right side of this page deal with  physical and mental fitness, exercise equipments and tools, healthy diets, books on healthy living, wellness and wellbeing. Please feel free to check them out. Also, I look forward to your comments about this post.














Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *