To really live you must have faith. You must trust yourself to the totally unknown, to a Nature which doesn’t have a boss because a boss is a system of mistrust.
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- Some of the things we perceive to be truly fundamental today may actually be just accidental.
- In the West we have made the truth our highest value but this is weak compared to the actual power of belief.
- Anxiety is the green light to seek your true purpose
- Here is the choice. Are you going to trust Nature or not?
About William O'Connor
William (Billy) T. O’Connor is Foundation Professor and Director of Teaching and Research in Physiology at the University of Limerick School of Medicine, Ireland. He also holds a position as Visiting Research Scholar at Flinders Medical School, Adelaide, South Australia.
Contacting William O'Connor
By William O’Connor
The key to a happy life is the ability to transcend personal suffering, find a balance, and recognise that the world has problems. This requires purpose (mental effort) and those of us who strive to better understand ourselves in the world come out the other side as a new person, with some peace of mind and a purposeful way to live.
A limit to finding true purpose is the fact that we do not know that some of the things we perceive to be truly fundamental today may actually be just accidental. For instance, the brain uses systematic patterns of thought to produce philosophy including science, mathematics, literature, ideas and beliefs including a belief in a deity to guide us towards new insights. What we need to understand is that none of these may be fundamental in themselves. They are just tools that our ancestors used to probe the unknown and to see what is possible – knowing that what is common for us is just a tiny sliver of what actually exists.
In the West we have made the truth our highest value. This motivation while important is weak compared to the actual power of belief. We are born into a culture which often insists on a particular religious or ideological philosophy as fact and the only way to understand ourselves in the world, but adhering to this belief may cause personal suffering by impeding insights necessary to achieve your true purpose.
Especially nowadays, anxiety is often seen as something wrong and negative – a weakness or an illness. But anxiety is a fundamental ingredient of being alive. To feel and to think is to be anxious. How can you not be anxious when it is a natural response to a confusing and uncertain existence that you did not ask to be a part of? Yet, anxiety is the green light to seek true purpose. The trick is to try living with-and-through it as you move forward into the unknown, and as you take the leaps of faith into what you truly believe makes it all worth living and dying for.
The Chinese believe Nature to be purposeless. However, in the West when we say purposeless, it is a put down and there is no future in it. When the Chinese say Nature is purposeless they mean it as a compliment. It is like the waves washing against the shore going on and on forever with no meaning. Haven’t you ever gone on a walk with no particular purpose in mind? Well, it is at that moment that you are a perfectly rational human being because you have learned purposelessness. All music is purposeless. If the aim of music were to get to the final bar then the best musician would be the one who got there fastest. It’s the same with dancing. The aim of dancing is to dance and it’s exactly the same with your life.
The problem is that many of us believe that life has a purpose. Priests insist that we must each follow God’s purpose but when asked what that is they are silent. Here is the choice. Are you going to trust Nature or not? If you decide not to trust the purposelessness of Nature then you will need to fence yourself around with rules and regulations and laws and obligations. To really live you must have faith. You must trust yourself to the totally unknown, to a Nature which doesn’t have a boss because a boss is a system of mistrust. There is a wisdom in insecurity. A wisdom that is hard earned. Let this wisdom be your true purpose.