Discovering Reality

“They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false–a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.”

-A Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

In his book, A Brave New World, Huxley describes a new civilization where all things are adapted and conditioned in citizens to allow for perpetual happiness and stability. Every physical impulse is immediately gratified so passion cannot develop, every obstacle to comfort is removed, even old age is eradicated. Negative emotions are dulled by “Soma” – a drug to numb the senses. The spirit is never allowed to interrupt the distractions of the body – and so God “manifests Himself as an absence” rather than a presence.  The Chief Controller of this “Brave New World” declared, “God isn’t compatible with universal happiness. You must make your choice.  Our civilization has chosen machinery, and medicine, and happiness.”

In modern society we increasingly see happiness and stability as exalted to the place of supreme Good.  Our physical impulses, emotions, and desires must be satisfied, and these physical distractions often impede our ability to contemplate our purpose.  However, to discover the true reality of our existence, even in youth, we must “not walk according to the flesh but according the the Spirit,” Romans 8:4. We have to choose to see truth and beauty as more important than self-satisfaction. If we resist the temptation to seek momentary happiness no matter the cost, if we accept the responsibilities of progression and sacrifice, our eyes become open to the Ultimate source of joy and fulfillment. This choice will lead to a life less stable and contented that that of the citizens of Huxley’s civilization, but one with access to truth, beauty, and progress not found in satisfied ease.  The reality we discover may reveal that the very “act of striving for truth and beauty is where happiness resides.”

 

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One thought on “Discovering Reality

  1. I am living in a Retirement Village and, like myself, the other residents are all moving into the last stage of their lives.There is little evidence of tranquility resulting from the presence of God that I can observe. A lot of fear and complaining about the loss of comfort and happiness. It is quite sad.

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