Aristotle asked the vital question, “What is the essence of life?”
His answer was “To serve others and to do good.”
Your answer can differ from Aristotle. You are on this journey for yourself. You have to find your essence from your experiences.
The essence of life is your absolute truth. Once you embrace the essence, life becomes meaningful. In simplest terms it should give peace, make you feel alive and serve your purpose.
For some it can be to bring peace or to spread love. It can also be to aspire growth or to touch million lives. Your essence makes you more aware in harmony with other individuals existing around you.
In this article we will first trace the philosophical roots of Essence, then we will proceed to understanding why a life of service is considering more meaningful. Hope at the end of it, you come in touch of your true essence.
Table of Contents
It’s commonly agreed that the notion of essence began with Aristotle.
However, a philosophical prototype can also be found in Plato’s Euthyphro. In that book Plato argued that physical entities acquire their essential being when they instantiate what he called Forms. For Plato this meant that Forms are abstract universals which exist before any concrete particulars instantiate them. Plato therefore saw Forms as the paradigms of the particulars (i.e., things) which we experience in everyday life.
Aristotle himself departed from Plato in that he attempted to discover the non-capitalised form of an individual physical entity. Aristotle called such a thing ousia or substance. In other words, Aristotle believed that Forms (or universals) must be instantiated in order to have being.
The Muslim philosopher Avicenna (Ibn Sina) initiated an important distinction between being
One of his theses was that ‘Being’ indicates ‘being-real’, while ‘Essence’ indicates the Whatness of a Being.
Being is to be understood as the act of some particular being; it is not a property of its essence; and it is related to its essence as an accident, even though not a categorical one. On the other hand, the essence has its own value: it is indifferent to determinations such as universality or individuality, and mental or real ways of being, and can be thought of without them. So essence and being are distinct. This teaching about the accidentality of the Being of created beings was accepted by Algazel (Al Ghazali) and Moses Maimonides, but rejected vigorously by Averroes (Ibn Rushd).
Hence essence also has three denotations.
In God, essence is pure act itself. In angels, essence is form. In material creatures, essence is composed of potency and form. Form is related to matter as insight to sensible data.
Essences are also divided into essences pure and simple, and essences qualified in some sense. An essence pure and simple is the essence of being pure and simple. An essence in a qualified sense is the essence of anything that pertains to a being pure and simple.
Esse is the act of a being. The act of being is the act of an essence. In God, esse is pure act itself. In angels it is an act limited by form; in material creatures it is an act limited by essence composed of matter and form. There is a real, adequate, minor distinction between finite essence and contingent act of existence. There is a real, inadequate, minor distinction between a finite being and its essence. That which is, in other words, is not a finite essence, but a being composed of essence and act of existence. In God, being, essence and act of existence are the same. But in a creature, being pure and simple is indeed that which is; but it is by essence and act of existence that the creature is a being.
If you believe that the goal of human life is to maximize happiness, then you are a budding Aristotelian. Aristotle was the first philosopher to inquire into subjective happiness, and he understood its essence better and more clearly than anyone since.
According to Aristotle, happiness is not about physical well-being but rather a condition of lasting satisfaction, which should be the ultimate objective of human life. We achieve happiness through identifying a purpose, discovering our potential, and adjusting our behaviour to become our best selves. With these goals in mind, Aristotle devised a humane programme for happiness that has endured the test of time, incorporating much of what we now connect with the ideal life: significance, creativity, and positivity. Most importantly, Aristotle saw essence as approachable to the great majority of us—but only if we choose to commit ourselves to its conception he demonstrated this by example.
There is a lot of discussion these days about “detachment,” primarily out of dread of connection with life. Indeed, the concern is not of engagement, but of attachment. Because most individuals are unaware of the difference between connection and attachment, so it becomes safe for them to refer to detachment. If you understand how to be completely involved in life without being entangled, you are not discussing detachment. The fear of interconnectedness is what sparked the development of this entire ideology of detachment.
Ambiguity has occurred not as a result of a flaw in life. Entanglement has occurred as a result of your inept handling of life. You would not know life if you were not involved in it. That is, when you speak about detachment, you are referring to the act of avoiding life. Why are you attempting to exist here and evade life?
Too many people on this globe aren’t living their full potential. A crime against life is committed when a person is only partially alive. Living and experiencing life are the main reasons you’ve come here. Your life is supposed to be full of excitement, but you’re paralysed by the fear of becoming attached. You will see no entanglement if your involvement is complete and utter with all you are now involved with. The problem is that you choose to focus on a single person and ignore the rest of your life, so you get twisted up.
It’s impossible to avoid connection if everything you touch, the oxygen you breathe, the atmosphere around you, and the life around you, is a part of you. Discrimination has led to attachment, which has led to entanglement. You will only come to understand life’s meaning when you get actively involved in everything around you. Without involvement, even if you’re in heaven, it doesn’t mean a thing. Only if you are fully immersed in a given situation will you be able to gain a sense of what it is like to be a part of it.
Those who believe in detachment are the product of individuals who have misinterpreted life. Because of these beliefs, there is a great deal of scepticism concerning spirituality. As of right now, the majority of people believe that spirituality is for individuals who are not interested in living. In their minds, being spiritual means that you should not eat well, dress well, or live well. Whether or not you’re smothered, you appear like you are. You’re not spiritual if you’re always smiling, laughing, and having a good time. Most people assume that if you have a goat-like face and never smiled, you are spiritual.
Being spiritual means that you’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole of life that you’re eager to learn all you can about it. You’re not simply interested in the physical aspects of life; you’re interested in the entirety of it. People who shun life have no possibility of becoming spiritual since it requires whole and complete commitment in all aspects of life. Because if you don’t, there is no way around it.
It’s not life itself that’s got you tangled up; it’s your ignorance of life’s process. You become entangled when you become identified with things you are not. You’ve become attached to a slew of things you’re not, including your physical body, your thoughts, opinions, ideas, and emotions, your clothes, jewellery, your family, and your job. Once you’ve been identified, everything changes. You become caught up if you don’t have a proper understanding of yourself. In order to avoid attachment, you must be conscious of your own identity and the identity of others. If you always keep this distinction in mind, there is no chance of getting mixed up.
There is a Chinese saying that goes:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Throughout history, the greatest thinkers have argued the same thing: Fulfillment is found through service to others.
According to Van Tongeren, performing acts of generosity may help us feel fulfilment since they strengthen our relationships. The researchers tested this hypothesis by interviewing participants about their prosocial activity, sense of purpose in life, and level of relationship happiness. They discovered a correlation between prosocial activity and life meaning, and that relationship satisfaction—in other words, the quality of people’s relationships—accounted for a portion of that link.
Experiments demonstrate that altruism is encoded into the human brain – and that it is rewarding. Helping others may be the key to enjoying a better, healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful life.
Jenny Santi, author of The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories and Science Behind the Life-Changing Power of Giving says, the challenge is to choose an approach that is right for us. It’s only through doing so that our lives can be filled with the things we’ve been searching for all our lives: purpose, meaning, and happiness.
According to the studies, donating makes us feel more connected to other people, which enhances our sense of purpose. Do you wish to have a more fulfilling existence? Here are some pointers to get you started.
Start small and work your way up. When it comes to making a difference in the lives of others and yourself, you don’t have to start with great gestures. For example, you can remind yourself of your ties to others and identify with those who may need your support by using the Eliciting Altruism practise, which contains methods for cultivating a habit of compassion and giving.
Make the most of your efforts. As it turns out, not all forms of charitable giving have the same impact on our mental wellbeing. If you’re looking for ways to help others in a way that makes you feel better about yourself,read How To Give Back: Help Others Around You! – xMonks. In particular, when you can see how your activities have a direct effect on the lives of others, it can be a powerful motivator.
Take a moment to thank people. As the research provided here has demonstrated, thanking others can be a positive action as well. A simple thank you can go a long way toward strengthening your relationship with the people in your life and making your life more meaningful. Writing a Gratitude Letter in the style of those in Van Tongeren’s study is made easier with the help of this activity.
It’s not just us who feel this way. According to recent studies, it is possible to have both meaning and fulfilment while helping others. More than just those who have already discovered their life’s calling love donating to charity. Instead, we might get the sense of purpose we seek by assisting others. It is possible to find the answer to the question of what makes our lives worthwhile while working toward burnout by focusing on human connections.
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