“Religion, Society, and Nature—these are the three struggles of man.” ~ Victor Hugo
If all the human activity undertaken in the course of a day, month or year were put in a pot still and reduced to its fractions, there would be but three fundamental components: religion, society and nature. Every man who has ever lived has wrestled with these matters. Every book written, every movie produced, every opera composed deals with one or more of these three topics.
They present themselves to the mind and heart of man at every turn, begging understanding and attention. Some try to cultivate their understanding from the bottom up, building layer upon layer of the bricks of understanding in an effort to reach the highest levels of knowing. Others espouse a top-down approach, believing that comprehension comes not from mental strain, but from yielding heart and mind to a less tangible fountain of wisdom and inspiration. Most fall somewhere in between.
Living is, in a word, the process of dealing with these struggles. Great scientific thinkers, spiritual leaders, prophets and the like offer occasional and intriguing glimpses beyond the veil of usual human understanding, yet most spend their lives bouncing from pillar to post without ever really overcoming the struggles which guard the gates of understanding in religion, society and nature.
Henry David Thoreau once declared: “I have no designs on society, or nature, or God. I am simply what I am, or I begin to be that. I live in the present. I only remember the past, and anticipate the future. I love to live.” In a way you must relinquish your designs to be able to see the true design clearly, just as you would see a friend more accurately if you were to release all prejudices and judgments about him.
I see this as one of the greatest challenges that face our educators, leaders, and parents today: how to provide sufficient starting points in truth so that all truth can be known in these areas. Too few starting points and the individual will be lost at sea, adrift in wave after wave of mixed information and likely to be swayed by the strongest influence coming along – true or not. Too many starting points and the person’s heart and mind are no longer an alembic of creative thought, instead, they become megaphones for a dogmatic if not fanatic perspective. This imbalance occurs in religion, society and the study of science and when it does, it is devastating to the individual and a terrible loss to the whole of which he is a part.
The way you handle these struggles in your life define you. Acquiesce and accept another’s view on these components and the unique perspective you bring on the eternal truth of the matter is lost. See life as being strictly a mental exercise, a matter of mind of matter, and you will fail. Simply follow your heart, after swallowing the foolish notion that your heart alone can guide you into all knowing, and your life will likewise come to naught.
Your heart and your mind must cooperate in the process. A pure heart, a keen, supple and well-trained mind capable of original and rational thought are the means by which the wisdom which seems to sit so elusively on the other side of the veil of human understanding is made available to you.
The truth of these matters is at hand. To know the truth, you must share the truth and this, my friends, is not a laborious chore but a profound pleasure.
“Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare The truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare.” ~ Voltaire