“The amount of life we truly live is small. For our existence on Earth is not Life but merely time“
We won’t let a stranger walk into our home but we welcome all kinds of thoughts to enter our mind and rob us of our true nature. We let our eyes and ears go wherever they please or wherever they are directed by online recommendation algorithms.
Examining one’s own life is not about the external world, it’s about introspection. Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Questions often dismissed as time-wasters because they sound daunting, they require thinking, experimenting, learning, failing, falling, getting up and trying again. We don’t want to go through that strenuous process, sleepwalking through life aimlessly is simpler and easier, it’s the path of least resistance.
Socrates says that an unexamined life – life devoid of love of wisdom – is not worth living. He believed that logically questioning and experimenting in the pursuit of wisdom is the sole purpose of Life.
Some might say, seeking wisdom is for the elite. Is it elitist to seek wisdom? Isn’t seeking wisdom an inherent human quality? Isn’t it true that children ask hard questions? Would you consider children elite? No. They are being human, curious, empathetic, innocent and self-examining. Why is it that we lose that child-like curiosity?. Wisdom is not just about exploring life’s hard questions, it is learning about yourself.
I believe it’s best to think from first principles and not rely on “common” knowledge. There are exceptions. Common knowledge is usually wrong. Earth is round, gravity pulls things towards the earth, fire burns, these are first principles and it’s beneficial to leverage them.
What is our (your) true nature? To burn is fire’s inherent nature, whether you believe it or not. One may say I don’t believe in fire, I am going to jump into it, you know what, fire doesn’t care whether you believe in it or not, it will still burn.
Every element in this universe has an inherent quality, for humans, it’s the Dharma, pursuit of right living. So, unexamined life is not just some exotic stoic concept, it’s about living a good life, life that you are satisfied with, life that you created for yourself, not dictated by others. Life where animal qualities – lust, greed, anger, attachment, arrogance, pride – take the backseat and reasoning, compassion, kindness, love and joy take the driver’s seat.
“A life that is in service of others. A life that recognizes and lives by the principle of oneness in everything. Bulbs are many but the electric current that lights them up is one. Cows are many but the milk is one, sweets are many but sugar is one. Humans are many but the consciousness is one, it is the same consciousness in the microcosm and in the macrocosm.”Sathya Sai Baba
Well that’s my thinking, these are not first principles, so I urge you to not accept my take but instead examine life for yourself, question and experiment. Live a life you consider worth living, not according to someone else sitting on a pedestal and pontificating how you should live your life.