How to benefit from Philosophy

I am writing about my experiences over the years in using philosophy to guide my life. Many times, when I was reading philosophy, I could not make head or tail of what was written. And yet I have gained from what I have read. I have taken the road less travelled and would not have it any other way.

So how was it that I benefited when I could not understand most of what I was reading? It happened like this: Once in a way I came across a sentence which made sense, which inspired me and which I understood and wanted to apply in my life. And as the English saying goes: One fact mastered is a thousand enjoyed. Just applying whatever I could understand and was inspired by in my life has made all the difference.

Now I must add a caveat. I benefited from philosophy and my reading but over a period of decades. The immediate effect of my reading books and taking them as gospel was that I got into a lot of trouble.

This was not only or mainly because of my reading. Due to factors that I do not want to disclose because they are personal I would have got into trouble and would have been victimized even had I not read my philosophy books. But philosophy would in time prove its worth. It gave me direction when all was darkness around me. It gave me a purpose in life and made it meaningful when I was severely harassed and punished by society.

Anyway, I am not writing an autobiography and this book is about you and how you can benefit from my experiences. And I’ll start by a very conventional piece of advice. Don’t read too many books when you are young.

I remember reading this advice from Winston Churchill and being a disrespectful young punk paid it little attention and went on my merry way of reading whatever I could get my hands on. But it is not just Churchill. Plato, Confucius and Swami Vivekananda also – in effect – say the same thing.

Here is a quote from Confucius:

“At home, a young man should be a good son, when outside he should treat others like his brothers, his behaviour should be one of trustworthy and proper, and should love the multitude at large and keep himself close to people of benevolence and morality. If after all these activities, he has any energy to spare, he should read widely to stay cultivated.”

Had I followed this advice when I was young it would have saved me a huge amount of grief and trouble.

When you are young learn from your elders and family and give them respect. Your family has brought you into this world and have supported you for years if not decades. You may be depending on them for a roof over your head and food on the table. Repay your debt by being polite to them and being sensitive to their feelings.

Preachy stuff I know. But it is very easy and common to be victimized when you are young and I am asking you not to offend powerful people and have that happen. Learn prudence. Be polite to people even when you do not respect them. Because like it or not – there is a lot of merit and strength in conventional wisdom.

Find this handy. Buy me a coffee

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