“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Philosophy is essential; at least according to Matthew Beard and Socrates it is. Personally I’ve always been fascinated by Socrates’ bold statement: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He doesn’t exclaim that the “unexamined life” is less meaningful or less valuable, he simply and clearly states it’s not even worth living. Well, why does he make such strong, unmistakable statement? Socrates believed that the purpose of life on Earth was to gain personal and spiritual growth. Although, we are unable to comprehend a greater understanding of our true purpose unless we take the time to delve into and reflect upon our life. As another philosopher, Santayana, observed: “He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it.”
Examining our life reveals patterns of behavior. Deeper contemplation yields understanding of the subconscious programming, the powerful mental software that runs our life. Unless we become aware of these patterns, much of our life is unconscious repetition. The good news is that it is never too late to start examining our life more thoroughly and to reap the rewards. We all have blind spots, missing pieces of the puzzle. But when I examine a returning problem in my life, I have that unnerving feeling that I must be missing something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. We try to analyze ourselves, but none of us can see our own back side (our “shadow” if you will).
That’s why Socrates’ method of self-examination included an essential element that became known as: “Socrates Dialogue“. Conversing with a close friend, a spouse, a skilled psychotherapist or spiritual adviser helps reveal those blind spots we cannot see by ourselves. Our society discourages self-awareness with a weekly cycle of working and consuming that keeps us too busy to slow down for self-reflection. Consumer capitalism’s game plan prefers an unaware and vaguely dissatisfied populace that tries to fill the emptiness inside with shiny new products. It’s an overwhelming act to stop and contemplate your life. But according to Socrates, it’s the only game that really matters.