Destiny, Freedom, and the Soul: What Is the Meaning of Life? by Osho
Freedom and Destiny: Rollo May on the Constructiveness of he contemplated the relationship between happiness and despair shortly before. Freedom and Destiny (Norton Paperback) [Rollo May] on nickchinlund.info May presents “freedom” and “responsibility” and also “potentiality” and “limitation” as . as well as the relationships between freedom and anxiety and joy and despair. On that range of freedom, minute as it is, we can begin building. The sense of responsibility begins in the relation of infant to mother: as he grows older, the.
He is not responsible for his destiny, and nor, at bottom, did he decide to be a poet: He has decided nothing: He endures, suffers, rebels and finally loses heart. So much so that he wishes to remain silent for ever.
More serene and older, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke reveals the same feeling and the same demands to the young poet who wrote to him: It must be prompted and driven by a higher necessity that one does not choose. All the philosophers of the Enlightenment, from Germany to England and France, tried to solve this existential equation.
The German philosopher Leibniz tried to reconcile an overall determinism as to the principle of causality with the human ability to act within it. Voltaire caricatured his thought in Candide, but Leibniz was, basically, making an objective statement and raising the central question asked by all spiritualities, philosophies and religions: How can we reconcile these objective givens?
Where does fate end, and where does my free will begin? What am I responsible for? There can be no human responsibility without freedom. He who has no choice cannot be judged in any way or sense.
That is the question that colonized so many minds in the three monotheistic religions: The mainstream Jewish tradition distances itself from the concept of original sin, and clearly opts for the principle of free will: Jewish orthodoxy and the more mystical currents agree on one basic idea that echoes the theses of Hinduism and Buddhism. We also find it in the Christian and Muslim traditions. We will come back to this, but for the moment let us recall the sharp debates about the question of grace and free will that run through the whole of Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.
In the sixteenth century, the Jesuit Luis Molina attempted to reconcile the thesis of predestination, which was defended by Saint Augustine who had argued against the monk Pelagius and his defence of freedomand the idea of effective free will, and brought the wrath of the Dominican order down upon himself. He also rejected the theses of Luther and Calvin, who invoked the authority of the same Augustine in order to assert that predestination was the essence of the experience of faith.
We are a long way from the conclusions of the Council of Trentthe positions adopted by the Jesuits and, as it happens, the theology of Thomas Aquinas, all of whom attempted to reconcile human freedom with the power of God.
These theologians postulated that, through his will power and reason, man, unlike animals and objects, had the ability to act freely. According to Aquinas, that was in fact a precondition for religion itself. We find the same debates, probably influenced by the encounter with Christianity, in the Islamic tradition. Belief in fate an-qadr is one of the pillars of faith, but schools of thought differed over the nature and limits of the freedom bestowed upon man.
Two schools emerged from these debates, al-qadariyya, which defends the latter thesis, and al-jabariyya, which asserts that the very essence of God, who knows and understands everything about men and the future, means that men are completely predestined. Both Sunni and Shiite jurists have attempted to reconcile the two theses.
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In the fourteenth century, Ibn Taymiyya made a distinction between two realms: God knows all things and everything and established the order and laws of nature, but He granted man the freedom to make moral choices, to act and therefore to influence his destiny. What God knows, man does not know, and he must therefore not seek to go beyond the limits of his knowledge.
As we can see, the theses of Thomas Aquinas and of the Jesuit order are close to that position. The fourth circle is that of the heart and of the paradoxical union of necessity and freedom. As we have said, man is responsible to God and his own conscience only when his freedom is guaranteed.
This means resolving potential contradictions and, above all, resisting the temptation to succumb to certain illusions.
Every human being knows that he or she has the rational ability to act freely, but it is difficult to deny the constraints of the body and, for believers, the logical implications of the presence and will of God.
The paradox is profound. The degree to which personal freedom is restricted by compulsion on the part of the ruling classes in a state based on exploitation has varied historically. Freedom is a specifically human mode of existence and only that which is the realisation of freedom can be good in the human sense.
One cannot live in society and be free of society. Freedom, as understood by the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who lived in a tub to show his independence of society, denotes the breaking of all human and social ties with the world and thus implies only an abstract symbol of freedom. Such freedom indicates either a withdrawal from life or a complete opposing of oneself to social standards on the principle "everything is permissible".
However, there is no action that does not in some way affect another person, there are no completely isolated human beings. The person who alienates himself from the community does harm to that community. The individual is not free always to act as he sees fit. He must coordinate his actions with those of the people around him. It is his responsibility to correlate his behaviour with their interests and activities.
He is compelled to suppress some of his feelings and impulses and channel them in different directions from what he may have wished. These channels are determined by historically formed social standards, which in relation to the individual have objective reality. When speaking of freedom, one should not think of it as doing anything one likes. Such "freedom" simply does not exist. Human actions are restricted by various factors, legal, moral, aesthetic, and by various traits of character, natural abilities, and so on.
According to Sartre, freedom is autonomy of choice. It is realised where a person initiates his own desires, chooses on his own behalf, on behalf of his Self. A girl wishing to become a singer discovers that she lacks the necessary gifts, so she becomes a teacher instead and her choice turns out to be a good one.
Her personality, her character played a part in this choice. A person's decisions are also determined by external factors, and to an even greater degree by the whole make-up of his personality. For example, an honest person acts on principle and we say that he could not act otherwise. Remember Giordano Bruno, who stood for the truth and could not do otherwise. If circumstances condition human life, and a human being himself changes the circumstances of this life, if a person is the product of social relations, the social relations are themselves a product of the activity of living individuals.
Man's free fulfilment of goals which he, as a rational being, sets himself, can be based only on utilisation of the laws of nature and social reality, not on contempt for them.
Consequently, freedom presupposes, above all, a knowledge of laws that are not dependent on human beings, and it is this knowledge that makes people intrinsically free.
Thus free will emerges as a concept closely related to the concepts of consciousness and knowledge. Knowledge is not only power, it is also freedom.
The only path to freedom is the path to knowledge; ignorance is bondage. The degree of knowledge determines the degree of freedom. One cannot desire what one does not know. The core of freedom is conscious necessity and action, governed by the extent to which we are aware of that necessity, of the possibility of its realisation.
Knowledge in itself is not yet freedom, but there can be no freedom without it. Freedom implies not only knowledge of the conditions and laws of development in the present but also preparation of the future results of conscious activity, their prevision.
Both personal and social freedom consist not in some imagined independence of objective laws, but in the ability to actively choose and take decisions with a knowledge of the case and, above all, to think and act in conditions that make it possible to realise one's intentions. The conception of freedom as conscious necessity is an essential, but only the first, step on the road to an understanding of the nature of freedom. It allows us to distinguish freedom from arbitrariness and stresses the priority of objective conditions.
Idealism, which maintains the positions of indeterminism, regards the will as an immanent, autonomous, self-contained spiritual force, supposedly generating certain actions from its depths. For example, the existential notion of absolute freedom has no objective roots. According to Nietzsche, "the will to power" has more need of lucky errors than the truth for which we strive. Why, he asks, is falsehood, the unknown, even ignorance not better than truth? Jaspers's statement that not truth but ignorance is the guarantee of freedom strikes us as a meaningless paradox.
According to Jaspers, the freest people of all are the insane, because they have no logic. Existentialism interprets the human being as a force standing in opposition to the world and hostile to it. Its system of philosophy thus transforms will into what is, essentially, mere self-will.
This is an apology not for freedom but for arbitrariness. There is a counterblast to this notion in Feuerbach, who believed that freedom was not the right of any man to be a fool in his own way. If we think that freedom is something absolute, independent of all objective necessity, we resemble the imaginary pigeon who believed that it would have flown much faster had it not been for the resistance of the air.
It forgot one "little" thing: The framework of human freedom, its reality, is objective necessity. Freedom is a river that flows within the banks of the laws of life.
The law-governed course of historical events in which people take part is realised not despite but through the human will, through people's conscious actions. A correct understanding of determinacy rules out any one-sided dependence of human actions on external influences.
This dependence is mediated both by the nature of the person, his total experience, interests, character, value orientations, and so on. The effect of external influences on a person depends on how that person reacts to these influences, to what extent they affect the vital cords of his being. Depending on his personal beliefs and conscience, a human being is free to desire both good and evil. The content of a person's beliefs manifests itself in decisive actions.
This is what makes a person responsible for them. When he chooses one action from a number of possible actions and rules out the others, the chosen action is also determined.
But it was not predeter mined before it took place. Until the action is completed, not all the determining factors are present. To assume that it was completely determined before it took place would be to substitute predestination for determinacy and thus exclude freedom altogether. In human actions everything is deter mined but there is nothing predestined in them. Man is not ruled by the power of fate. What is more, the apparent incompatibility of freedom and necessity, in the sense of determinacy of events, arises because along with acknowledgement of the determinacy of human actions these actions themselves, and also the decisions involved, are thought of as being outside this determinacy.
A person defends his freedom not from being determined by everything that exists but from the blind irrational forces, which impose the fetters of taboo and compulsion on his thoughts, his feelings and his will. Consequently the measure of freedom is part of the concept of man. Man is free not from nature, not from society and their laws, but within the framework provided by the operation of both the laws of nature and society. When they are known, they make a person's will relatively free.
But they also determine its limits, the limits to the realisation of goals that man sets himself: Spinoza in his day thought that freedom should be understood as free necessity and not as arbitrariness. The will is the most active part of the human consciousness.
It shows itself in the desire to act, in choice of the direction of action, in the decision to act in a certain way and realise a certain goal. A human being is not a piece of driftwood on the waves of cause-effect connections. Free will manifests itself precisely in purposeful activity.
To sum up, freedom is the ability, based on knowledge of necessity, to choose and to act in accordance with this necessity. It consists not only in knowledge of natural and social laws but also in the practical realisation of this knowledge. Realisation of freedom presupposes the overcoming of certain obstacles, and the more difficult the obstacles, the stronger and more freedom-loving the will must be.
Destiny, Freedom, and the Soul: What Is the Meaning of Life?
Freedom is not a reward or a badge of distinction that is celebrated with champagne. It is not some nice present, such as a box of chocolates. Quite the contrary, it is an imposition, a gruelling race that one must run alone.
No champagne, no friends to raise a toast and give you their friendly encouraging glances. You are alone in a dim hall, alone in the dock before your judges, and alone you must answer to yourself and to the court of humanity. At the end of every freedom there awaits retribution, and that is why freedom is too hard to bear Consequently, the whole history of material and spiritual culture emerges as the external existence of man's inner world.
Every choice means ruling out what is not chosen and emphasises the vital significance of what is. Thus in its very essence action presupposes a relative freedom of will, the possibility of choice. Some people believe that choice is made not so much by the individual as by circumstances, which choose for him. But it is not characteristic of strong-willed people. Freedom lies not only in the choice of a certain aim from a number of possibilities, but also in creativity, in the setting of new goals.
Freedom is not only conscious necessity, but also the existence created by human beings themselves, the social relations, the world of material and. Historical necessity arises as the natural outcome of the subjective orientation of human actions and their objective result, which takes shape independently of will and consciousness.
In this case dialectics means that the freedom of the individual acting in history becomes through the results of his actions his necessity. The idea of freedom is wholly human and social. It differs in every concrete historical set of circumstances. In itself freedom is an abstraction. As a reality it is always full of concrete historical meaning.
Freedom is a historically developing thing, a process of development that is never fully realised. Nature knows no freedom. By no means everything in human life and relations is the result of the realisation of freedom. They also contain much that is irrational and inevitable, they are bound by a framework that sets the limits of the permissible for every historical epoch.
The degree to which the individual's personal freedom is curtailed by his duty to the state varies greatly, and is both concrete and historical. All nations, the best minds of humanity have from time immemorial longed passionately for a just social system, for democracy, for freedom. When voiced by the people, this word makes dictators and tyrants shudder. Under the banner of freedom the rising people have toppled the thrones of monarchs and the power of capital.
The whole history of mankind may be pictured as a stubborn ascent to the cherished peaks of liberty. The call for freedom has always had popular appeal. Despite all contradictions, freedom has blazed a road for itself even in the face of antagonistically contradictory social development. The feudal lord possessed great freedom and arbitrary power because his subjects were deprived of freedom.
In slave society this contradiction was even more striking. Through contradictions, including antagonistic ones, the history of mankind moves along the path of development of freedom for the individual, both in relation to the spontaneous forces of nature and to social conditions.
To achieve social freedom one must first "kill the slave in one's own self". When can one do that? When one has a million. Does freedom give everyone a million? What then is a person without a million? A person without a million is not one who does anything he likes but one who has everything that other people like done to him.
Into the bosom's holy, silent cells, Thou needs must fly from life's tumultuous throng! Freedom but in the realm of vision dwells, And beauty bears no blossoms but in song. The desire for freedom is an essential feature of the revolutionary character.
The objective conditions for true freedom come about only with the abolition of the society based on relations of domination and obedience, on various forms of oppression. Marx and Engels defined personal freedom as the positive strength to manifest true individuality, they believed that to secure freedom "each man must be given social scope for the vital manifestation of his being".
Human behaviour is regulated by many factors, including moral standards, the sense of shame, of conscience, of duty, and so on. The basic manifestations of the ethical life are the sense of social and personal responsibility and the awareness of guilt that this implies.
Responsibility is not only a moral category, but also a psychological, legal and socio-political one. Great controversy has raged around this problem for centuries. The idealists believe the sources of responsibility to be in the immanent principles of the human personality, even in the depths of its psychophysiology. For example, according to one conception of psychoanalysis, an individual is essentially helpless in the face of the forces that influence him from within.
The responsibility placed upon him by society is merely an illusion. According to this conception, a person has got to realise that he is not the master of his own fate. Officially he is conscious. But although he himself is not aware of the forces that are at work within him, his choice is determined for him—his conscious will is only an instrument, a slave in the hands of the deep subconscious urge which determines his action.
The existentialists absolutise the individual's responsibility to society, believing that every person is responsible for everything that happens in the world. This thesis is based on the premise that the individual will is independent of the flow of historical events, and that these events are the product of the individual will.
Every separate person is responsible for everything because this "everything" is consciously created by him. But this is subjective idealism. It is vividly expressed, for example, in Sartre, who maintains that man, being condemned to freedom, assumes the weight of the whole world on his shoulders; he is responsible for the world and for himself.
There is no point in complaining because nothing external has determined what we feel, how we live or what we are. This absolute responsibility, however, is not mere submission. It is simply the logically necessary condition for awareness of our freedom. Such is the position taken by Sartre. But would it not be more correct to assume that the objective foundation for the individual's responsibility to society and himself is the real relation between society and the individual, which is always contradictory.
Responsibility expresses society's specific demand on the individual in the form of duty. There are certain social standards, but there is also freedom of choice, including the possibility of violating these standards.
So in all societies a certain responsibility is laid down for such violations. Where there is no choice, there is no responsibility. It is impossible to discuss morality and law without touching upon the question of free will, of liability, of the relationship between freedom and necessity.
The individual becomes aware of his personal responsibility when he knows what other people expect of him. Responsibility may appear in two forms: Responsibility is a state of consciousness, a feeling of duty towards society and oneself, an awareness of the purpose of the actions performed, their consequences for a certain social group, class, party, collective and oneself. Responsibility is society's necessary means of controlling the behaviour of the individual through his consciousness.
As an integral attribute of the socially developed personality, responsibility takes the form of the spiritual aspect of all forms of the individual's activity in the moral, political, civic, legal and other spheres.
There are no forms of non-responsible activity inasmuch as there is no activity whose consequences do not affect the interests of the individual himself, the social group or society as a whole. Historically, individual responsibility to society shows a tendency to increase in the wake of social progress. In contemporary society the importance of every individual's civil, political and moral responsibility to society, his responsibility for the fate of nations and of all humanity has sharply increased.
The individual is responsible to the extent that he is free in his actions. The individual is generally free only in doing or achieving something that is the realisation of his own intention. It is for this kind of action and achievement that the individual is responsible. He is not responsible and cannot be held responsible for what is done by others against his will.
The blame for such actions cannot be laid at his door. Responsibility and liability have meaning only in so far as they induce positive change in the individual in relation to his future behaviour. Responsibility means much more than accountability. Inward responsibility for one's behaviour and intentions, that is to say, self-control, self-appraisal, and the general regulation of one's life, is also of great importance.
An important form of responsibility is responsibility for the future, both near and distant, which is built on the sense of responsibility for the present and the past. The character of responsibility and its forms have changed in the course of history. The tribal system knew no personal responsibility. There was responsibility only to the community, which imposed a certain course of action on its members and controlled these actions.
The slave society revealed the beginnings of a tendency towards individuality. While the commune fettered the actions of the individual, the slave society allowed him to act at his own risk, with a certain degree of independence. During the slave-owning period the individual was responsible not to the community, nor yet to himself, but to the polity and to the gods.
With the rise of the state the concept of individual responsibility to the state, the monarch and to God began to take shape. As the idea of state developed and with it culture, there arose the idea of personal responsibility, which was to be further developed in feudal society. On the historical philosophical plane the idea of responsibility to oneself begins with Socrates, with his persistent listening to his own inner voice, the voice of conscience.
It was Socrates who sought in the individual certain eternal standards that could not be violated. The Middle Ages saw a deepening of the subjective world and the formation of a complex hierarchy of personalities— the divinity, the tsar or king as god's deputy on earth, the servant of god, the feudal lord, the steward and so on.
The whole gigantic pyramid took possession of man's consciousness and dictated certain modes of action. Under capitalism the degree of individual responsibility to society further increases.
The working class, all working people of both hand and brain, led by parties that truly represent their interests, take responsibility for the future of society as the general crisis of capitalism develops. Individuals in large numbers, the masses strive to judge whether their actions are correct or not.
This inner judge is what we call conscience. Historically, the prick of conscience was most vividly expressed in the immortal image of Hamlet, in whom this dawning self-consciousness became tremendously important as a spiritual motivator and controller of all his actions.
Evidently it was at that time that the idea of conscience was making its way into social consciousness. Today the role of conscience is greatly enhanced by, among other things, the manufacture of the means of mass extermination.
When atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing monstrous destruction and suffering, many scientists, technologists who took part in the making of these deadly weapons, and the men who had used them, experienced agonising pangs of conscience and one of the pilots went mad. The usual argument is that they were only executors of the will of the politicians and the military, who in their turn excuse themselves on the ground of historical necessity, the interests of the nation, and so on.
The argument thus becomes a vicious circle. How are we to regard the idea of personal and social responsibility, the inner judge of socially significant human actions, the social conscience of the individual? Any scientific solution of this problem rests on the practical solution of the problem of the individual's right to real freedom.
The idea of man's responsibility for his actions has with great difficulty and suffering penetrated the consciousness of society. It has made its way as the individual has won the right to independent decision-making and freedom of personal behaviour.
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The early capitalist period placed a gigantic responsibility on the individual and helped to develop individuality. Individuals made discoveries and inventions, travelled to new lands, created masterpieces of literature, painting, sculpture, and so on.
To say that a person is responsible is to say that he is capable of correctly answering the question of what is right in the moral, legal, political and other respects. Any responsibility is based on knowledge of what is necessary in the interests of the group and society as a whole. A human being cannot be regarded as a cybernetic machine processing information fed into it.
It is responsibility that expresses the individual's appraisal of his ability to be a personality, to control his actions, to combine word and deed, to be able to use his freedom rationally.