Learning philosophy

The learning of philosophy is to see things as they are. To possess no internal judgement over external things. In Buddhism, there is a saying “无明是苦”, which can be translated to “suffering comes from the lack of clarity”. Incidentally, 明, or clarity, is part of my Chinese name, so I am constantly reminded that things can be a bit clearer than they are.

Learning philosphy has no destination. One question that has bothered me for a while is why we are constantly searching answers for the same questions. Since the beginning of time, we have been asking ourselves what is happiness and how to make meaning of all the sufferings in the world. For me, I always thought that I reached somewhat a higher state at the end of one suffering, until I am struck by another one. I seek consolation in philosophy, but I cannot help asking myself what is the point of all these, if I am just in a perpetual cycle of suffering and delusional enlightenment.

The answer is probably two-fold. On one hand, I cannot deny that we do live through cycles. It is important to acknowledge that. Just like the Tai Chi illustration in Taoism, the negative breeds positive and vice versa. We cannot have one without having the other. The meaning can be derived through observing our progress through these cycles. Hopefully, we can better cope with the ups and downs in life, realizing they are having less and less impact on our internal stability. This process is going to continue, until we achieve a state of non-identity.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

I will borrow the second perspective from Karl Marx. It may not be right to treat any philosophy as the solution to the suffering. Like religions, they are just opium. We cannot reduce future pain by taking more opium this time. I also like to think them as vaccination. It is not sufficient to learn what a philosphy is about; it is important to take boosters and to be constantly reminded of them.


Personalizing medicine