Sunday, January 16, 2011

Labyrinth of the World (excerpt)

To the Reader:

1. Every creature, even an irrational one, is naturally inclined to indulge in and desire comfortable and pleasurable things. The human being, of course, endowed with innate rational power, aspires all teh more to the good and the comfortable. Indeed, reason not only awakens him but also provikes him more heartily to seek and enjoy what is more pleasant and comfortable. Long ago a question arose among the wise concerning the source and nature of the highest good (summum bonum), which is the goal of all human desire. Once that good has been obtained, one could and should put one's mind at rest, for there would be no more to desire.

2. Should we direct our attention to the matter, we would find not only that this problem has been and still is examined among philosophers who attempt to solve it, but that the very thought of every human being turns to the question of where and how to attain complete happiness. We find that almost all people look outside themselves, seeking the means to calm and quiet their minds in the world and it's possessions: this one in property and riches, that one in delights and pleasure, one in glory and status, another in wisdom and learning, yet another in merry companionship.

3. But the wisest of men, Solomon, is a witness that the highest good is not found in these attainments. After travelling through the whole world in search of rest for his mind, he finally concluded: "I hate this life. There is nothing under the sun that pleases me, for all is only vanity and misery." Having found true peace of mind, he declared that it consists in leaving the world such as it is, looking only to the Lord God, fearing him, and keeping his commmandments. For, he said, everything depends on this one precept. Likewise, David discovered that the happiest person is the one who dismisses the world from sight and mind, holds to God alone, has God as his portion, and dwells with God in his heart.

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