By Basil Gala, Ph.D.
In Search of Meaning
After living for nearly eighty years, bumbling about most of the time trying to find my bearings, I’ve come to the conclusion that to live a satisfying and successful life it’s vital to gain a thorough understanding of tactics, strategies, goals, and values, and how they relate to each other. (The other conclusion I’ve come to with the end in sight is that life is altogether too short, though it appeared very long when I was young.) What is satisfying and successful in life emerges from such an understanding, if you live long enough.
Tactics and strategies originated in the military, but they are often used in other arenas, such as business and sports, even the professions of law, medicine, and especially politics. Goals and values are more abstract than tactics and strategies. We all tend to go for the quick response and payoff, the clever tactic (from the Greek taktikos, arranger) to gain an immediate advantage—it’s our heredity for survival, the animal instinct. When facing a superior force, run. If your opponent is weak, attack. When somebody hits you, you hit back—eye for eye, tooth for tooth. We resort to such tactics without thinking, because they work in the short run, usually enough for us to survive, having become wired in our brains, instinctive. It takes more thought to hold back and provide a better response to the attack, turn the other cheek perhaps. Tactics served us well in the past, becoming habits, but now sometimes deadly addictions, like overeating to store fat reserves when food is plentiful. We need to use plans, strategies, to properly orchestrate our moves. We move up from tactics when we employ strategies, because strategies are superior to tactics for success—or failure.
Tactics are important too; we need to execute strategies in tactics, or they’re of no use. At the time of the American Revolution the British redcoats stood in line and fired on command. The rank behind them moved up and those who had fired knelt down to reload their muskets. The rank closed in front of those who had fallen to enemy fire. That was an effective tactic for the times. The volleys of bullets were devastating. Also, a soldier could not easily turn coat and run, especially with the captain behind him pistol in hand. The American militia used the tactic of hiding behind trees and rocks as they fired, showing only their coon caps and gun barrels to the enemy; but they were more likely to turn coon tail and run when the British troops attacked.
Tactics often work well. In science and mathematics tactics are like heuristics: a bag of tools for solving problems, because we can’t come up with an overall plan of attack. Much of medicine and engineering are heuristic. Your doctor tries different medicines and therapies to heal because the human body is too complex to comprehend. The aerospace engineer has theories and mathematical models to design a plane, but the plane flies because the engineer succeeded in finding by trial and wind tunnel those contours that work best. That’s expediency, but we don’t get to the root of the matter that way. Certainly, if we do have a plan, a strategy, it’s best to discard tactics which don’t contribute to the plan, and by pruning our tactics, save time, energy and money.
When you have fixed on some tactics that fit your strategies, it’s time to focus on them to carry out your plans. Ultimately, success over competitors depends on attention to detail; as they say in Buddhist meditation: pay attention, pay attention, pay attention. Make your mind like a laser beam cutting through anything obstructing your way. Tactics is the art of using all available means to accomplish an end.
Strategies in conflict are few, tactics innumerable: bluffing, camouflage, ambush, cover, obstacles and defenses, reconnaissance, muddling the waters, seeking high ground, fainting attack, etc. Bobby Fischer, the chess grandmaster, was famous for his sharp tactics on and off the board. Yet tactics seldom win a conflict without plans or strategies that organize them into an effective form–and that Fischer did too. Relying too much on tactics you may miss the ladder for the steps, getting bogged down in irrelevant or trivial details, becoming overwhelmed by details. Being exacting on details and execution is productive; nit-picking is not.
Yet, any manager will tell you the devil is in the details, executing them faithfully, accurately, precisely, rather than haphazardly, under the guidance of good strategies. The Chinese scholar Sun Tzu laid it all out in “The Art of War,” several centuries before Christ. Good tactics follow from better plans or strategies, strategies winning the game, war, or business venture in proper balance with effective tactics.
Strategies may take one, two, three or more forms depending on the possible scenarios in a conflict. Don’t go to any endeavor without Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, if three scenarios are likely at the time you plan your campaign.
You may test the intelligence of a chimpanzee by hanging a banana from the ceiling and placing various implements on the floor: a stick, a chair, a rope. The chimp may jump up to reach the banana, but it’s too high. He may use the stick to knock it down, but it’s tied too firmly. That’s tactics. Eventually the chimp places the chair below the banana, ropes the banana and pools it down. That’s planning and strategy, indicating a more advanced mental functioning, the kind that propelled mankind to prominence on the planet among other clever animals.
Strategic planners are far more valuable in organizations than clever tacticians, though tacticians are valuable too. You may be a one-person organization seeking success in your private ventures; even so, give proper weight to planning, organizing, and laying out strategies well before launching your execution with clever tactics.
But what is the worth of strategies worth if strategies are not tied to goals? Plans and their execution, make no sense without specific goals. Strategy is the art of using various capabilities to achieve goals or promote policies. Success is unlikely without a plan for achieving it; it’s like sailing the seas like Ulysses, without maps and GPS. Goals are superior to strategies, because without goals, strategies are loose robots.
You can use a tactic without a strategy or plan, but you cannot have a strategy without a goal, an objective to achieve in coping with an enemy or business competitor. If you want any major success in the world, you have to contend with competition. You set up a desired result and put together plans to use your resources for its accomplishment. In business this is called goal-oriented management, usually involving measurable sub-goals with deadlines in time for their achievement. Sub-goals need to be realistic and attainable as well as measurable–the stress induced in you and your team bearable.
How are goals selected? Rationally, goals should serve our values, principles, or ideals. We need to consider, however, our unique capabilities, our talents, and our abilities to pursue goals we can achieve. It’s common sense to avoid tasks and purposes which you’re poorly equipped to accomplish but rather to work from your strengths, despite “Man From La Mancha,” dreaming the impossible dream. Alia, my first daughter, wanted to work in astrophysics, but her quantitative ability was not high; she had good verbal and artistic abilities, so I advised her to pursue artistic and teaching goals, maybe in describing astrophysical objects. Elizabeth, my second daughter, had an aptitude in math but was not interested in this discipline. She liked practical and profitable tasks, so to her I suggested a business education and career, which she has followed. As for myself, what I’ve wanted most since I was a child was to think, seeking wisdom, learning fundamental truths, leading a virtuous life, and writing down my meditations. After a lifetime of pursuing necessary goals, I do now what I always wanted to do. Do what you enjoy and what you’re good at doing.
A good general, strategos in Greek, is able to conceive grand strategies for the success of the campaign. Is the campaign to defeat the enemy, to demolish the opposition, to weaken it, to enslave it, or to turn the other party into a friend? The Americans and British turned their German and Japanese enemies into friends after WWII, while the Soviets did otherwise. Political leaders, set their sights higher than strategies, limiting the goals of generals, like President Harry S. Truman over-ruling General Douglas MacArthur in 1951 Korea.
MacArthur’s goal was to defeat communism in Asia, thus relieving pressure on Europe from the Soviets. He would knock out North Korea and if necessary bomb China with nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union, however, had such weapons, including the hydrogen bomb, and they could have intervened. Truman wanted peace on the peninsula and avoidance of WWIII. In MacArthur’s mind: “There is no substitute for victory.” As a soldier, victory was his highest value. Truman, as a statesman, valued peace. Values are more important than goals, but we don’t know who was right. North Korea is still poking our side: communistic, militaristic, authoritarian, under a hereditary dictator—armed with nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight, breaking up into its component nations. A nationalistic, capitalistic, authoritarian regime has ruled Russia in recent years under Putin, after a brief flowering of democracy with Yeltsin. China is in similar circumstances, dominant in the world as a manufacturing nation, largely capitalistic, partly communistic, challenging the U.S. with nuclear weapons, technology, and a rapidly growing economic and military prowess.
Goals, leading to strategies and tactics, are vital for victory or other kinds of successes. But values, such as world peace, give rise to goals that are meaningful. Goals, strong purposes, motivate people to organize their efforts and achieve want they want. For example, a person may come to realize the importance of money and work hard, sacrifice, save, invest, achieving the goal of getting rich and powerful, then find out that’s not enough for happiness and a sense of self worth. Fortune, fame, power, influence, popularity, possessions are all hollow, vanities as the Bible says in Ecclesiastes. Start by setting up a sound system of values, because values are superior to goals.
Values give rise to goals, goals to strategies, and strategies to tactics in their execution. How do we rationally or intuitively come to our values? Can we derive values from an upstream idea? If not, how do we select our own values from all those available to us? Values, ideals, axioms, postulates, or premises are the mountain springs of human motivation. We have come up from tactics–maybe even up from habits, instincts, and addictions–to values, most important and vital guides to our actions.
Most people absorb their values from their family, society, and religion, good values usually, based on tradition. Others, such as I, search for their values, looking for meaning within themselves and in the writings of freely thinking philosophers.
Values, emerging from our core self, once fixed are not changed, or are changed rarely; they are pole stars. Goals have to change to promote our established values or ideals given a world in flux and the randomness in lives; strategies or plans we need to adjust or change more often than goals, and in action tactics most often.
Up from tactics, I come to the fixing or selection of life’s values or guiding principles. You’ve heard of family values: The family that prays together stays together. That’s fine if you have an unshakable faith in your religion and the doctrines handed down to you from parents, teachers, and political leaders. If not, we’re together facing this problem of choosing values.
As a first step, I need to choose values that preserve my life as long as possible, and the lives of family, community, humanity, and the biosphere. If I don’t live I can’t do anything about all else that I admire and want, and without the lives of others, all living things, there is no future for anything else I find valuable in the world, such as beauty, truth, and justice, because my end is near as it’s near for you. Even if you’re young you’re a little candle burning. The end is nigh for all of us; let us prepare for the Kingdom, or whatever we visualize for the world beyond the grave. If we can survive on earth for five billion years, we have a chance to find out something eternally good. Having done what I can do for survival, what then do I with the life I have earned and I have been granted by Providence or Luck?
Survival motivates me strongly as it does most people. People also seek and value joy, fun, pleasure, or happiness. To them something fun is something worth doing, if they can afford it. To these same people pain, even discomfort is anathema, and they avoid it with all their means. They do no better than a donkey you can lead with a carrot and a stick. Let it be known, to paraphrase Jack Kennedy, that from this day forward I will bear any burden, suffer any hardship, bear any cost, in defense of my ideals. I want joy, pleasure, and happiness only in the course of doing my duty by my highest values.
What motivates humans–what motivates me? Motivation is a need or driving force in us that causes us to achieve goals or desired states, both inside of us and outside. Abraham Maslow made it known there is a hierarchy of needs in humans. We begin with the physiological needs of food, sex, sleep, excretion, etc. Then we seek safety, health, and property. Having achieved these, we want esteem among our fellows and success. Finally, we aim for self-actualization with morality and creativity, if we can reach that high. Actually, many humans are motivated by gluttony, greed, envy, pride, sloth, lust, and the seventh, most deadly sin: wrath or hatred, leading to violence and the shedding of sweat, blood and tears. Following Maslow and the prophets, should we not aim for self-actualization and go for high ideals?
We can find ideal values and doctrines in the best of religion. Worship and adoration of deities is really the worship of various ideals: that of wisdom, compassion, knowledge, beauty, power, creativity, and inner peace. Keep in mind, however, where religions agree, they’re all correct or all false; where religions disagree, some, perhaps your own, are false. Very often, obedience to gods is obedience to priests. Avoid doctrines, unless they lead to good things: “By their fruits, ye shall know them,” Jesus said referring to false prophets. What are good fruits from right doctrines?
A doctrine, axiom, premise, or postulate (in logic) is a truth we accept as obvious, not needing proof, self evident. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” If only truths were that easy! What is clearly true to some thinkers may be false to others. Matters of fact are true, false, or doubtful, like cold fusion. Statements of opinion are subject to debate. Jefferson, a slave owner and the lover of a slave, should have known this, but it was fashionable in 1776, as it is today, to declare as true what was convenient.
Convenience may not be such a bad gauge for truth. We can call that the utility criterion for judging validity. The axioms (deemed worthy) of logic, from which all mathematics follows, offer such utility. For example, given that A and B are true statements, it must follow that A is true, B is true, or both A and B are true. Another axiom from logic: Statement A cannot be both true and untrue. Euclid’s geometry axioms are all obviously true: any two points can be connected with a straight line, for example, or you can extend a line segment continuously in a straight line, etc. Yet, people have invented new geometries with different axioms that describe phenomena Euclidean geometry cannot touch. We can use the axioms or truths that lead to useful results, tools that work to solve problems. What works is likely to have a close relationship to reality; what reality is we don’t really know. Besides, usefulness in an axiom is fine, but useful to what purpose, to promote what value? Here we end up with a circular argument for choosing values. Logic, reason, as powerful as they are, sometimes leave us in the dark.
In the dark we can turn to an inner light for guidance, call it God if you like. Meditation has led to the discovery of religions. I can attest to the power of meditation and to its dangers. Mental institutions are crowded with people that went off the deep end of mysticism and religion, though even more numerous lunatics walk the streets.
Insanity is the belief that something imagined is real, leading to loss of function. (What we imagine can become real only through effective action). We all suffer from some delusions, those who we believe in astrology or those who trust in the essential goodness of men, priests, doctors, attorneys, businessmen, journalists, and politicians. (I’d rather trust women, not amazons, who evolved as mothers, gently to care for the precious few fruits of their wombs). I often get the feeling that insanity rules in the world of men when rapacious business leaders cause economic disasters, ambitious politicians launch wars against other nations for reasons other than self defense or tyrants slaughter their own people to hold on to power. What inner god pushes certain persons to seize power and hold on to it causing agony and destruction? How could such ridiculous men like Mussolini, Hitler, and Gaddafi come to lead whole nations and plunge them to disaster? Do such men succeed in their work because the rest of us have delusions about them?
Is God an illusion (Freud) or delusion (Dawkins)? Is God what we imagine or define God to be?
I don’t know the answers to these and many other questions with certainty. Let me resume my focus. I know beauty is better than ugliness, knowledge better than ignorance, power better than helplessness, kindness better than cruelty, happiness better than misery, order better than chaos, cleanliness better than filth, and life better than death. I want to take up goals that promote beauty, knowledge, kindness, happiness, order and cleanliness, life–and work against their opposites. Once I have survival under control for a while, these are the goals for me to pursue which I need to put in the form of a lifetime career, a ladder of projects upwards. That career for me is in thinking and writing down, as well as I am able, ideas and strategies that will achieve these goals for me and others. I want to solve problems doing thought experiments and inventions, one statement after another logically, creatively, simply. I will execute the most promising strategies with the best tactics I can muster and leave the rest of the execution to those that follow me.
As in mathematics, I move up from tactics to stating my axioms, first principles, fundamental tenets, doctrines, or values; then I rework my goals, strategies, and tactics to bring these in line with my core values.
Let me begin with the ideal of beauty, because what’s living worth without beauty? As the unorthodox teacher, John Keating, in the film “Dead Poets Society”, said to his preparatory school students: “The Law, Business, Medicine, all these are worthy and necessary pursuits, but Art, Romance, Poetry, Music, that’s what we live for…Carpe diem, seize the day: Make your lives something extraordinary.” Nature is overflowing with beauty on our planet in rocks, streams, skies, and in living things of flowers, animals, and people. The Hubble telescope has revealed wonders in stars and galaxies and dust clouds. We capture beauty when we create melodies, poems, dances, perfumes, dishes, paintings, sculptures and jewelry. I want to be surrounded by and to quietly enjoy art, not to own it, and to create artworks free to the world as a wordsmith. Those who create art usually don’t care to own artworks; they sell or give away their creations if they’re true artists. Artists get much of their inspiration from Nature’s wonders, free to all of us: flowers and plants, skies, animals, waters and lands. True art is honest, without pretensions, integral, innovative, unique, and passionate.
I have not mentioned artworks in the form of drama, tragedy and comedy, the cousins of drama, sports and games. Players in these fields build great and profitable careers and transfer from one field to another as entertainers. All dramatic arts arise from our natural tendency, so important in childhood, to play and learn from play. Tragedy ends in death or mayhem, while all ends well in comedy (our side wins), or we look at mishaps with laughter. Sports are a source of great photographs and films. These days I don’t often follow drama on stage or paper with novels and stories. I find actual events in the world sufficiently interesting and entertaining sometimes, such as local wars and disasters. I do play a fascinating card game called Biriba with relish, and I wrote a manual for that. I’m not a sports fan, although I realize sports (golf, football, baseball, basketball) are important to many men, almost like a religion for some of them. The Olympic Games in ancient Greek were dedicated to the gods and all men stopped what they were doing, including wars, to follow them.
Of all the beauties in the universe that I have seen, the view of our blue-white earth from space is the most excellent. Gaia–living things, air, water, and land on a harmonious sphere–stirs the emotions of love and longing in me like few things, even among the greatest artworks of humans. From the icy polar landscapes to hot deserts or jungles of near the equator, every place on earth is beautiful if untouched by human power and rapacity.
As to power, I seek power only over myself to control my vices, my addictions, and failings, not power over others. I don’t want ever to feel or be helpless; there’s always something I can do about a problem, no matter how tough. I want the power to ban all fears and all hatreds from my heart and look at every untoward event calmly, relying on reasoned action for all emergencies and threats to my existence and the existence of loved ones. I desire the power to learn and remember what works and is beneficial to me and others. I want the ability to know deeply and well what matters.
When I look at knowledge, the truth of things, witnessed by reliable observers, it seems truth is different from beauty: truth is cold, crystalline, and dispassionate; but truth is elegant and attractive too, such as a fine mathematical structure, for example, the exponential (and its other face, the natural logarithm, used to express information and entropy). When I studied James Clerk Maxwell’s differential equations in vector form describing electromagnetism, I found these cold equations beautiful as well as true, showing that magnetism, electricity and light were together one phenomenon, the electromagnetic field. John Keats ends his “Ode to a Grecian Urn thus: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Beauty in great art is eternal, as the truth of rigorous science is eternal.
Knowledge, such as pure science and mathematics, is valuable for its own sake, without regard to utility. I was trained as an engineer in electronics and computer design, but I have been mostly attracted by the search for pure knowledge of an abstract nature in every discipline known to man, and I’d like to continue acquiring more such knowledge, much like Aristotle in his time. I passionately love history of all times and places, which I find attractive in that history is perfectly frozen and unchanging as far as we can see and many lessons are to be learned from it. Knowledge is not wisdom. I admire brilliant art and fiery passion, but I’m more inclined towards calm reason and intellect. The fire that burns slowly lasts longer. I think of myself as an abstract entity, pure intellect, floating free over my body, its sense impressions, joys, pleasures, pains, loves, hates and other passions.
I admire the ideal of justice, which includes freedom for all living things, allowing people and other beings to live and prosper, because they are the salt of the earth. I find kindness to all beings worthwhile, especially to animals. I think “I could turn and live with animals;” as Walt Whitman declared, “they’re so placid and self contained.” I abhor mistreatment and cruelty to animals, our close relatives, who feel the same pains and sufferings as we do, and love their kids and relatives as we do. Having become a vegetarian during the last stretch of my life, I can say with some satisfaction, I’m not causing the death and suffering of our animal fellows in order to eat.
A big thick steak on my plate might make me happy, but not at the expense of my health or the killing of a sentient being like an animal. I’d rather be happy than miserable, if that does no harm to anyone. The pursuit of happiness, my right as a human being, is not my goal, although I like to focus on pleasure and joy in whatever I must do. For me happiness is much more than feeling good, more than hedonism, and the absence of pain. Happiness is doing the right thing for me and for others, knowing that all things within my power are in good order.
Bertrand Russell writes in his little book, “The Conquest of Happiness,” that as a youth he was miserably gloomy being raised by strict religious grandparents, depressed to the point of suicide, which he avoided because he wanted to learn more mathematics. I think he was suffering from youthful angst and lack of direction in his life. Most unhappy people make themselves that way by dwelling too much on what’s wrong with their lives, the lives of family and friends, the nation, and the world with wars, financial crises, and planetary warming, even the universe ending in total entropy and stillness. Of these worries the prospect of another world war with nuclear weapons is the most horrific; yet, inner peace for me is more important than world peace. I prefer to live in the moment enjoying what I can and being as happy as I can. Who’s likely to do good works, one who moans or one who laughs?
Finally, my devotion to order and to life (an orderly arrangement of matter) is dedicated to a very special God who said “Let there be light.” I am part of life (the highest ideal), a product of the fifth force ruling the universe after gravitation, electromagnetism, and the two nuclear forces. I seek to preserve my life and the lives close or far from me. All who are sane seek self preservation and security, never achieved by anyone for long, and lost eventually to death and destruction. Yet, life keeps organizing random elements into meaningful, orderly, and stable forms, very much like great art, holding back chaos for a while.
I hate war, greatly entertaining drama as it may be from a distance, because it’s disorderly, dirty, and destructive, as I knew it in my childhood during WWII. There is much chaos in the universe, not everything is well ordered, and this is as it should be, for things need to change, and no new and higher order can come into being without an older order being destroyed.
I don’t know this is so but it may be so, that we need to die in order to be born again perhaps into a higher form—death and transfiguration. A star explodes into a supernova, scattering all the heavier elements that produce a new generation of stars and planets, where beings may emerge and grow and diversify into a new tree of life such as our own biosphere. A certain special ordering exists in every thing which captures beauty in its making. Beauty is not in the sense impressions but in the patterns or structure of sense impressions, forms showing symmetry, sometimes broken symmetry, periodicity, centricity, variety, and other qualities. I can run my own life in an orderly fashion, creating order out of chaos, in my garden and house, and in my word compositions to infuse a beautiful ordering to my family as far as they will allow me and to my other relatives and friends, including you the same.
I have explained my values and ideals, but not how I have come by them, how I have selected them. I did so by looking inward in meditation and finding a connection with the Cosmic Mind, the first principle, first cause of everything. After Maslow, I came to my self realization. I asked myself, as in meditation training: “Who am I? What am I?” My values are who I am and what I am in my essential nature. The Cosmic Mind chose and formed my essential, spiritual nature. If I’m honest in my nature, I value honesty; if I’m artistic, I appreciate art. I didn’t choose my ideals; they chose me. I didn’t pick my mission in life; my mission has selected me. My ideals inevitably led me to my life’s purposes, strategies, and tactics. Like numberless apostles and martyrs past and present, I follow my faith.
The Cosmic Mind believes in us and chooses us, not us the Cosmic Mind. St. Paul taught Christians: “God is love.”
I don’t use the word God because it has been much abused by the faithful and atheistic alike. The Cosmic Mind is called Higher Power in AA meetings, where people pray together to get help in controlling their addiction to alcoholism, also called Universal Consciousness by those who don’t want to offend any religious prejudices. After Reneé Descartes, I cannot derive the truth of my axioms from anything else; hence, their source must be outside my own mind, in the Cosmic Mind.
Values, ideals, and creative works are inspired, enthused, meaning that the spirit of the Cosmic Mind has entered the artist. We are passively receiving, actively retransmitting. Evidence for the existence of a Cosmic Mind may exist in such phenomena as the achievements of great creative geniuses: Democritus (the laughing philosopher), Archimedes (an arch scientist), Galileo, da Vinci (a peak Renaissance spirit), Mozart, Shakespeare, Newton, Gauss, and Einstein. Goethe said Mozart proved the existence of God with his extraordinary musical compositions. Ah, talent, so rare yet vital to culture and progress in the arts, sciences, business, government, the military is a gift from above. When you have found talent in yourself or in others, protect it, nurture it; allow it to flourish, for it has a tendency to die early, as with Mozart, Chopin, Shelley, and so many other brilliant lights. It’s as if the Cosmic Mind misses these spirits and calls them back—or they burn up quickly channeling the divine energy.
Such a God as the Cosmic Mind may be quite different from the God of ministers, priests, mullahs, or shamans. The Cosmic Mind hypothesis may explain how we get our concept of perfection for which great artists have such a passion.
The Cosmic Mind is not a controlling force, but like the wind steadily swelling our sails: We can move on the waters or stand still by taking our sails down. We learn by quieting our incessantly chattering mind and listening. Leonardo da Vinci worked for many years on his portrait of the Mona Lisa seeking perfection in this painting. Paul Gauguin abandoned his family and position as a stock broker in Paris and Copenhagen to wander as far as Tahiti in search of artistic perfection, a life beautifully told in novel form by Somerset Maugham in “The Moon and Sixpence.” In the 2010 film of Darren Oronofsky, “The Black Swan,” the psychotic ballerina and the artistic director are obsessed with perfection in performing Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. Perfection is amazing when it flows out spontaneously as in the works of Mozart, but even more astounding when it’s formed with much sweat, blood and tears. The source of artistic or scientific perfection is not to be found in the rarest genes or the finest education; perfection is a gift form the Cosmic Mind guiding us on to a higher level of consciousness. I give you then my best thoughts the same way, gifts to use as you will to achieve such a consciousness.
Meditate, if you will, pray and devote yourself to a deity, the embodiment of an ideal such as the wisdom of Athena, the beauty of Venus, the knowledge of Apollo, the power of Zeus, the industry of Hephaestus, the compassion of Hera or all the ideals in one God, Jehovah-Krishna-Allah-Great Spirit. Submitting to the will of God, Islam, means that you dutifully obey your ideals in everything you do, actively pursuing your values to perfection.
Praying you may wander into a world of fantasy, Alice’s Wonderland, fighting for a nonsensical cause, a la James Thurber, a little cartoon man charging up a hill with his “Excelsior” flag, which is better than having no cause–you will not lead a drab existence. The spiritual ground is a psychic minefield, but there’s gold in them there mountains. Find a calling, like Ray Chambers, founder of “Malaria No More,” saving one million lives, or Aung San Suu Kyi (Nobelist), two decades in detention, advocating democracy in Burma (Myanmar), or Mayor Cory Booker, servant-leader, reforming schools in the inner city of Newark, N.J., or Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, standing up against dictators and fighting for democracy, social equality, and the rights of women, or Azim Premji, Wipro Chairman, setting up the AP Foundation in India for universal primary education for 25 million children, or Joseph Stiglitz (Nobelist) for his research on information asymmetries), foreseeing the 2008 financial havoc.
If there is no God, to who’s will are these people submitting (“Thy will be done, not mine”) and to what are they submitting? They submit to a postulate, an established principle, assumed to be true. Even empiricism, induction, requires many assumptions about the nature of reality. Nothing can be deduced if nothing is assumed.