All people – sooner or later – get a sense of the transitoriness and hollowness of life.
If you are young and you experience this then a short-term cure is to seek a life satisfying to instinct. Get married, have kids spend 25 or more years supporting and caring for your family. I am not sure which philosopher recommended this – I think it was Rousseau – but he said that mankind has not evolved significantly from the times when we were living in tribes and hunting for food. This was prior to the time when mankind took up cultivation of crops.
So the same basic instincts which drove man in those times are present in us now. And we ignore the satisfaction of these instincts at our own peril. Bertrand Russell has touched on this subject in The Conquest of Happiness. He goes on to say that people who ignore or suppress these basic impulses or instincts like sex, having a family and feeling part of a community are seldom completely sane. If ever you wanted a reason why you should marry and have kids here is one.
But a sense of the hollowness of life comes to all of us as we age. People experience midlife crises where everything they have achieved and worked for all these years do not give satisfaction. The happiness we get from satisfying basic instincts fades away as the years pass.
So is there a cure for this sense of meaninglessness or hollowness of life as we age?
Paul Brunton has given a remedy in his book – The Quest of the Overself.” The short description of this remedy is to aspire for the Divine.
Paul Brunton said (and I quote), “It is a good time to begin aspiring, if one has not learned to do so before, when the deep despairs which follow the harder blows of fate create a melancholy sense of the transitoriness and hollowness of material existence.”
Another quote by a different author on the same subject is – By ignoble whips of pain we are driven to spiritual pursuits.
Even if you are not very religiously minded you can cultivate certain delicate emotional moods through appreciation of nature, literature and poetry, music, art and so on. To quote Paul Brunton again – ”One finds oneself forgetting personal cares and anxieties and becoming uplifted into an impersonal view of things which has formerly never been possible to obtain, much less hold.”
In other words, we free ourselves of our identification with the ego and experience our oneness with the Universe.
The Hindu scriptures tell us that the only happiness worth having is experiencing our oneness with God or the Divine. All other satisfactions and happiness fade away given time.
I suggest you read Chapter 8 of Paul Brunton’s book. It may end up giving you a new direction to your life. It is difficult to maintain enthusiasm and zest for life as the years pass. You might find that practicing spirituality or the aesthetic pleasures is the way out.
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