EACH MAN,” writes Spinoza, “must love himself and seek what is useful to him.
This sounds like the height of egoism. But Spinoza goes on to prove that it is the height of altruism. For, as Spinoza points out, in order to love yourself you must love others. Love, pleasure, happiness-these treasures of the soul are best enjoyed when most generally shared. The wise man declares Spinoza, knows that he can help himself only by helping others. He realises that individual happiness is mutual happiness. He avoids envy because envy produces not happiness but pain. He avoids hatred because hatred begets hatred. He avoids hurting others because he knows that injury is repaid with injury, that he who takes up the sword is destined to perish by the sword. He avoids conquest because he realizes that every military victory sows the seeds for a future war of revenge. “Our greatest victories”, writes Spinoza, “are won not by arms but by the greatness of soul.”
The truly good man, therefore, the truly happy man, will be the truly wise man. He will be generous to others because he knows that in his way he will be most generous to himself. And so our ultimate object in life is to seek happiness through knowledge, through the acquisition of wisdom, through the enlightened understanding of the vital interrelationship that exists between man and man. He who understands will hate nothing, despise nothing, injure nothing and fear nothing. He will live a life not of individual ambition but of mutual co-operation. He will adhere to the teaching of the ancient prophets and to the principle of the Golden Rule. He will “desire nothing for himself which he will not also desire for the rest of mankind.”
For all men are equally important parts of God. And so, asserts Spinoza, in order to be happy you must love yourself. But to love yourself is to love mankind, and to love mankind is to love God.
And this is the reason for which we have come into this world.
The above is an extract from “The Great Philosophers” by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas.
This post has been inspired by “Weekly Photo Challenge” –Quest.
So, What are you in search of?