A philosophical manifesto explores the meaning of human life.
Abner’s (Norman’s Names, 2014, etc.) short paper squarely aims at shining a light on the nature of human destiny, asserting right at the outset that all people are born avatars of pure, unconditional love—a state of grace from which they fall as they age. He warns readers of the many ways humans tend to define themselves—by their relationships, their jobs, their possessions, their physical appearances, their spiritual beliefs, and so on—and assures them that these things aren’t their essence but merely distractions. Their essence, he maintains, is that blissful, unconditional love—and the secret at the heart of the process of being “born again” into the purity of that state is concentrated awareness. The focus of this mindfulness is internal: At any given moment, are you cognizant of your surroundings? Are you happy, grumpy, fearful, or bored? The emphasis on this inner alertness leads naturally to the author’s enumeration of all the features that are under one’s personal control, like demeanor, choices, decisions, attentiveness, hobbies, and so on. Abner’s goal is to help show his readers how they can live their lives “with intention,” achieving a prelapsarian peace of mind that he at several points clearly links with a faith in Christianity, an emulation of the divine yet very human nature of Jesus. “If you believe in God,” he writes in his sweeping treatise, “then everything that happens in this world is the will of God.” There is an eternal you, he declares, an unchanging island of personal identity located deep beneath the diversions of worldly things. Although the paper shares with much longer books on this subject a certain pervasive vagueness about the actual, pragmatic methods to reach that eternal core of peace, Abner’s encouragement to his readers to maintain an inner grace, to respond to the bad things in life with a “holy spirit”-style equanimity, is a welcome antidote to the anxiety-inducing tensions of the everyday world.
A lifetime of precisely distilled experiences expertly concentrated into 30 minutes of reading time.