|Mind Set: Graduating from life|
30 Jul 2008, 0059 hrs IST, JERRY BOONE,TNN
What should you do with rest of your life? About three thousand years ago, a Jewish king named Solomon aired his opinion on the subject. As he put it, he "wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives".
Solomon was an interesting character, and he had a lot going for him. He was intelligent. Indeed, this sageking still has the reputation of being the "wisest man who ever lived".
He also had the means to do practically anything he wanted to do. In his old age, Solomon found time to reflect on his lifelong experiences. And he passed his thoughts down in writing. He starts off by telling us that everything in life is meaningless.
"I know, because I have seen it all. You name it, I've done it. I not only did it, but I did it in a big time, kingly fashion. I denied myself nothing, nothing at all. But looking back on it now, I can tell you none of it amounted to a hill of beans."
"What do you think is worthwhile in life? The pursuit of pleasure? I had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines. I had music from men and women singers; all the wine I could drink; and a palace full of people falling all over themselves doing everything they could think of to get in my good graces.
"Sure, it is enjoyable up to a point. But when you get everything you want whenever you want it, you quickly discover how meaningless pleasure really is.
"Here is what I've learned: Whenever you seek pleasure, pleasure eludes you. The only way you may find pleasure is by seeking something else first. It could be nothing more than paying someone a sincere compliment , or giving someone a hand with an unpleasant task.
"The idea is that when you least expect it, happiness suddenly bubbles up like a well inside of you. You don't find pleasure; pleasure finds you. Pursuing pleasure is like chasing after the wind.
"If not pleasure, then what? Wealth? Do you think you should dedicate your life to the pursuit of wealth? I had houses, vineyards, gardens , parks, fruit trees, reservoirs watering groves of trees, slaves, more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem, horses and chariots, and more silver and gold than anyone can imagine. I had it all. But if money and things could buy happiness, then I would have been the happiest man that ever lived.
"But what did I discover? Just this: Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. A rich man doesn't even sleep well at night. He's too worried about his money.
"Money has its uses, but don't lose perspective. We were born naked, and when we die, we're going to take with us just what we brought into this world. Whatever we acquire will be left to someone who had not worked for it."
If neither pleasure nor wealth are worthwhile pursuits, how about the scholarly pursuit of knowledge?