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Vanity of vanities?

You may have heard this saying written in Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

“Vanity of vanities” sound excellent; “all is vanity” must be necessarily wrong.

It must be tough chewing on this adage “all is vanity”; simply because we are doomed to die?  A million generations of pain, suffering , and struggle to survive just to generate vain outcomes all the way? Not a single virtue to save and cherish?!

All is vanity means:

1. “Thinking that you have reached an advanced stage for being wise is necessarily vanity.  

2. Thinking that there exists an absolute truth is vanity.  

3. Thinking there is an absolute set of virtues is vanity.

4.  Saying “I know that God exists” is vanity.  

5. Saying “I know that God does not exist” is vanity.”

Logically, if you know for certain something about God, you should be able to transmit your knowledge and explain what is that you know:  How faith can be a matter of knowledge?

Thinking that sciences have answers to everything is vanity.

Thinking that only faith can save you is vanity.

Thinking that you are a better person than your neighbor is vanity.

Ecclesiastes goes on “There is time for crying, a time for laughing, a time to feeling sorrow, and a time to dance…”  It goes on “Praise joy: there is happiness in eating, in drinking, and pleasure in making love and loving throughout all the days of your vain life.”

How can we know we are happy if we didn’t experience pain?

How do we know we have joy if we didn’t experience suffering?

The main difference between a sad-faced and a jovial person is that the unhappy individual is still highly disappointed that his moments of happiness were cut short.  The longer the disappointment the less likely good luck will come around.

Nonetheless, you agree that living in joy, with full knowledge of our shortcomings and its vanity, is so much fulfilling to the universe surrounding us than stepping out with a dark gloomy face.

What doesn’t kill you might strengthen your desire for joy and happiness. Learning the wise saying: “believe in whatever you wish; as long as you know that it is just a belief” can save us from dogmatic tendencies. Tell us your statement, explain it to us, but don’t try to enforce it on us.

It must be tough chewing on this adage “all is vanity”.   After millions of generations of rough survival processes verging on extinction in many occasions, it must be tough on mankind specie to accept that everything he has done, desired, or dreamed of was plain vanity.  Something else must be missing or not interpreted well in that description of mankind style of living.

I contend that there are two major philosophical attitudes: One is based on subjective perceived frequency of observation and experiences in life; the other is founded on the quality of experiences.  Both categories are subjective and not necessarily reliable scientifically in appreciation of frequency or quality and also not necessarily applied behaviorally.

The first category of attitudes says: “We feel that the string of bad events and frequency of pain and suffering far outnumber the occasional moments of joys and happiness.”  Thus, religiously, it is advisable to appeasing the devils (taking for granted that the Good God is not affected by much prayer and behavior of servitude), and socially, it is advisable to embracing what life offers and stop battling with the odds (stoic attitudes).  Normally, feeling healthy for many years, especially when we are young, goes unnoticed and does not stick in our memory.  Bad occasions retain our memory and last for long time; thus this feeling that bad luck is chasing after us.

The second category says: “We all will experience inevitable humiliation, pain, and suffering, so why focus on the sad events and experiences?  Let us focus on how to increase the chances for joyful and happy instances to the hilt.  Consequently, avoid strong attitudes and getting involved in matters that do not affect your current life-style (epicurean attitudes).”

“All vanity” is mostly of the first category but of the worst kind:

Why forecast and make plans for the future and better oneself?  It also adopt the concept of the second category, and also of the worst kind: Do not attempt to plan and work for additional moments of joy and happiness: just focus on the present conditions and take full advantage of what the present is offering you.

I think forecasting is one of mankind desired abilities, no matter how we learn to live, enjoy, and appreciate the present. Mankind desires to know what causes and, lessen and tone down circumstances, of pain and suffering.

For my part I like to turn the table upside down:  If I consider the improbable odds of being “who I am” and how improbable I came to exist I should be proud to have a huge vanity for existing.

I could have been a stone, a grain of sand, a chemical element, a plant, an insect, born somewhere else, never survived birth, never survived to be 5 years old…

I was unbelievably lucky to be existing, and whoever don’t appreciate my vanity, this constipated individual can go to hell.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2020
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