“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
~ Philip K. Dick
It seems to me that there are some fundamental ideas involved in learning serenity. These are the inner building blocks that orient us in the direction of being inwardly peaceful. They are the ideas about our situation that, if not examined and well thought out, can create a life of stress, anxiety, angst etc. They are the concepts we accept as descriptions of “how things are” and are very important to our sense of well-being since they provide us with a picture of the world, ourselves, and the relationship between the two.
The collection of ideas we have is our philosophy. You might not think of yourself as a philosopher, but if you have any ideas about anything, they form a component of your overall conceptual view of the world, hence your philosophy. The ideas we accept can be a hodgepodge of notions that we pick up from the news, books, and conversations. We get into trouble when these ideas contradict each other creating confusion. When this happens, we generally dismiss the contradictions and just believe what we prefer. But the feeling of contradiction (confusion, anxiety) only recedes into the background as a vague uncertainty, leaving one with that sense of unease. This is not helpful in learning serenity. So I want to offer some ideas on a philosophical base that we can build on to help place our concepts into a cohesive whole that will help us work towards that more serene, happy life we want.
The place to start is metaphysics, or the nature of reality. This is our base on which to build a larger philosophical view. The reason for this is that the way we understand reality and our place in it will determine the next steps in our philosophical view. We will interact with and behave towards the world depending on how we think it is. If we think it is threatening we act one way, if friendly we act another way. So our thoughts about reality are very important for our inner peace and this is where reason is our best friend.
In part 2 I will talk about ways we can view reality. The essence of a serene life is to align our point view as closely as possible with how things actually are. I will also describe what I have found to be the way most conducive to learning serenity.