In Part I, I shared how I started to rethink how to approach the concept of our human responsibilities from a spiritual perspective. In Part II, I examine this process in more detail.
Why or Why Not?
Newton’s third law explains the ‘cause and effect’ theory, which states that when we let go of the apple from a high place (cause), the apple falls to the ground (effect). When the apple hits the road (cause), it breaks up into many pieces (effect). So dropping an apple is a ‘cause’. The apple falling is an ‘effect’, caused by my dropping it. The apple breaking is an ‘effect’ of the ‘cause’ of the apple hitting the ground. However, have you ever questioned WHY the apple should fall? Why doesn’t it turn into a bird and fly off? After all, the apple changing into a bird could also be an ‘effect’ of the ‘cause’ of dropping the apple. Thus there is a ‘link’ between a cause and a specific effect. This link explains the ‘why’. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche states that we cannot explain how or why this ‘link’ works the way it does, or what links each cause with each effect.
So the third step in recognizing our challenge is that there is a link between what has happened (effect) and what has been done (cause).
Messing with the Mind
Here is an interesting conundrum. Let us say you and two friends go out for dinner. After dinner, your bill comes up to £25. Since there were 3 people, you each pay £10 to the waiter. The waiter returns with your change of £5. You decide to give the waiter a £2 tip for his wonderful service and each of you took back £1. So the question is: How much did you pay for the dinner?
The answer is simple, since you gave £10 each and you took back £1, you paid £9 each (£10-£1). Simple, right?
But wait a minute, there is a problem. If each person paid £9, therefore, the total paid by the 3 people is £27 (£9×3). And since you gave the waiter a tip of £2, therefore the total amount paid is £27 + 2 = £29. But you paid a total of £30. Where did the extra £1 go? Did the waiter steal it? Can you answer this supposed illogicality? Or is your mind just playing tricks with you?
So the fourth step in recognizing our challenge is that things are not as they seem, and sometimes we see the world differently to how it appears.
A New Thinking
So what does this mean? Just like the world we observe, which has to be viewed with a clear vision, we will need clarity and a proper framework when we think or reflect on matters. We have to be aware of other opinions before developing our own, since all ideas are relative to a base and viewpoint from which they are all built and there are many bases available to us. We need to know how our idea is different from those of others and we need to know how to connect them with those others. We should also be aware of the time and the space in which our ideas were developed, and the relevance of our ideas to the present and the future, since it is the future we are most concerned about. We should be humble enough to acknowledge that for every cause there is an effect and sometimes we make mistakes and our thinking process can sometime deceive us, i.e. there are times when we lie to ourselves!
This ultimately has a link to spirituality and realizing our obligations. Spirituality is best defined by Victor Frankl when he said “There is also purpose in life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behaviour: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.” Spirituality has to be this catalyst to allow us to realize this.
Photo to symbolise Earth Day by Alice Popkorn; attribution via Flickr Commons.