On Understanding Our Subjective And Objective Reality

In Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life. The sense of self as the most distinctive and defining aspect of human life.

Do you believe that we are always constant with a specific pattern in life? We change rhythmically but our roots cling to the same soil? The same source of life — water?

To meditate on such an existential and personal thought forms the basis of one of the most influential and philosophical essays of Arthur Schopenhauer. Today, I contemplate on The Wisdom of Life’s subject of a person’s objective and subjective reality.

The following passages, which can be found at the beginning of The Wisdom of Life, are confounding and comforting to the mind. It brings to light the fact that no changes in any circumstances can align one’s internal perception, emotions, and thoughts to another. And no change in one’s internal world can influence that of another. Assuming that we are fellow passengers on the same train.

…all of which rests upon the fact that every event, in order to be realized and appreciated, requires the co-operation of two factors, namely, a subject and an object, although these are as closely and necessarily connected as oxygen and hydrogen in water. When therefore the objective or external factor in an experience is actually the same, but the subjective or personal appreciation of it varies, the event is just as much a different one in the eyes of different persons as if the objective factors had not been alike.”

We revise our internal world to fit the scale of the external. And in doing so, or trying to, we irrevocably develop our individual and original identities. This is what makes any two persons different in their own ways.

Can you imagine two people, cooped up in the same room from childhood to maturity, being unanimously at odds with each other?

Arthur Schopenhauer has. He has, so eloquently, explained this fact in what constitutes to the ultimate distinction of human life. And this exactly what he wishes to enlighten us with. Consider the following passage:

In plain language, every man is pent up within the limits of his own consciousness, and cannot directly get beyond those limits any more than he can get beyond his own skin; so external aid is not of much use to him.”

We hope to transcend major life lessons such as pain, heartbreak, guilt, and loss. We hope to understand them, mold them, and nurture them. Not for the world that constitutes them. But in order to understand ourselves.

To solidify our nature as the only way to react to what happens outside of us. Throughout this journey, we cling to what guides us forward and we cut loose those strings that hold us back.

Is this, Schopenhauer suggests, the basis of our imagination? Or does this have an actual and objective groundwork in reality? Something that everybody can see and feel together?

The answer to this empirical question lies below:

“Since everything which exists or happens for a man exists only in his consciousness and happens for it alone, the most essential thing for a man is the constitution of this consciousness, which is in most cases far more important than the circumstances which go to form its contents.”

This concludes that self-expression makes the self the deepest layer of our reality. And what happens outside of it forms our circumstances; merely cards that in a game are meant to be dealt with.

The thing that makes life rich to one and dull to another is the realization of the identity surpassing the contents of the world. And to win against this fight we have to learn to connect our mind of today to our mind of yesterday and of tomorrow.

When Does Wisdom End?

Self-awareness is life-changing. It’s when something translates into everything. But what most people don’t tell us is that it demands a lot of our brain power. Self-awareness is not just about crossing legs on freshly-cut grass and meditating in a park during sunset. What it does come close to is waking up for sunrise and walking that extra mile to locate a better spot for the perfect adventure.

It’s all about putting in the effort with no ifs or ands or buts. Now you might say that this is the wisest, yet commonest thing you’ve repeatedly heard or read about. So, what’s the big deal about this article?

This, perhaps, is me breaking down the lesson in fragments and inspecting each fragment under a metaphorical microscope to see what intersects between wisdom and ambiguity. Wisdom and ambiguity are abstract concepts derived for the clarity and obscurity of life. Both are essential when nothing else is. Sometimes, we are not the outcome of our own wisdom. And in those times, we are the outcome of what we don’t know. That’s where everything lies. And that’s when we are able to gain control over some aspects of our own lives.

Now you might think that absolutely nothing is in our control. But conviction isn’t the tool of uncertainties. Imagine all your life’s uncertainties as your playground and conviction is what gets your hands and feet dirty. Such a courageous act exists beyond what’s out there already. And the hardest thing about this playground is that it needs to be constructed by you, from dust and rock. This is the only place where wisdom doesn’t break the silence.

What is said and done within those boundaries is simply causation within itself. It’s expressing and reflecting the workings of the mind as well as its unfathomable limitations. It’s where you push ahead – past the good and bad – and respond to deeper instincts. Wisdom ends when you draw a blank right up to the point of indulgence and obsession.

I strongly believe that self-awareness is not complete without stimulating the mind and body in myriad ways. But I also believe that with letting go one can possess a better and clearer understanding of life and throw light on the kind of choices one makes.

Endure a life and a death

In the end, we all die. We die inevitably as equals without discrimination and power. We die for the life we lived, no matter the years we have lived for. Life is the filling of death and vice versa; it doesn’t exist so that the other is temporarily defeated in a way that we feel at ease when we don’t have to burden both of the realities, life and death, together, on our shoulders. Life is the ultimate definition of death and death is of life. Without a reality as fearsome and strong as death, life would have not been lived as it is now, by us! Without a reality as beautiful and simple as life, death would have not been the farewell of the end. So, as you see, we aren’t here to choose life or death each day; we aren’t here to decide our faith in both of them; and we aren’t here to plan our life or our death to live a monotonous human-life and to surrender foolishly to death. God has given us life and only God will give us death. The choice that is left with us is as simple as our creation- when life is given to us, we should accept it with gratitude and live wisely and whole-heartedly; and when death is before us, we should accept it with weightiness and happiness as that is why we have been created for. Life is made short by effort, so we should not be quick in our actions and responsibilities; and death is made painful by effort, so we should not fear oblivion. To endure the ability to accept what is before us is to endure a peaceful life and a peaceful death.

To endure a life and a death is simple yet extremely difficult. It requires knowledge and patience; knowledge that of a noble and wise soul, who understands people and their sentiments towards existence and duty; and the patience to believe in the gravity of that knowledge. Knowledge isn’t written in scripture; knowledge is as pure as driven snow, learnt only by those who possess the desire to not live in denial any-longer. We have lived to die and in the end, we die for the life we have lived. Without true knowledge, life and death would be frittered by us. And there will come a time when we will feel sheer guilt and regret for not understanding the purist purpose of our lives when knowledge was offered to us, as true knowledge is omnipresent. To endure wisdom is to endure a complete life and a complete death.

Beauty is misunderstood today. Beauty is not just physiognomy and demeanor; it is beyond the beauty of our minds, it’s the creation of our soul and how we, as individuals, have chosen to build it. Beauty is everywhere and those who perceive it, speculate on it and use it are one of humanity’s purist creations. Beauty is inevitable, it is a gift of mind, soul and body; we are products of this gift, so lucky to have been created to live out of this, in a world so chaotic and manifold, that we choose to be who we are everyday. This choice is ours and will be forever; as beauty was a gift to us, this choice is a gift for the world as we cater ourselves to it. So, as beauty is as delicate as a feather, we should design it with thought and sensibility. We shouldn’t let ourselves be taken advantage of this gift in a way that would misfortune the purity of our lives. We shouldn’t become an example of prejudice and hatred in our own eyes. We should live each day with patience, if not happiness; and gratitude, if no wealth. Always remember that beauty is not what others see in us, it is that vision we see in ourselves. To endure beauty in living is to endure a good life and a good death.