Perception of Life and the Worldview

My Heart Speaks
Rein In and Train the Horse
Joint Statement of Muslim Religious Leaders on UCC

Human action is the cause of change and you are the agent of change. You are not in charge of what happens to your life, if lifestyle and mindset remain disconnected.

By Aqeel Ansari

The philosophers harness the power of mind in pursuit of truth about origin and nature of human existence. They argue with words and interpret historical events and phenomena to understand basic questions about human life. How they answer the basic questions define human nature. This is why we need a sense of history and language skill to understand human performance through time. I make the point because the majority in contemporary societies lacks both language skill and sense of history.
The basic questions the philosophers seek to answer, include: Who is the human? What are his innate qualities or characteristics? What does he exist to do? The human deliberates these questions always and how he answers them determines his perception of life. You discover in the perception of life the key variable that explains human nature. How one perceives life answers two basic questions ““ why he lives life and how he lives it. Why he lives life defines his mindset whereas how he lives it defines his lifestyle. But what determines the mindset is his object of pursuit. We define the object of pursuit as someone or something he intensely loves and admires. The intensity signifies that he subordinates his love and admiration for everyone and everything to love and admiration of the object of his pursuit. Recall the idea of exchange in human relationship to understand the intensity of love and admiration. If you intensely love and admire someone or something, you are willing to exchange whatever you have for the object of your pursuit. The object of pursuit in the final analysis is about the perception of life. You find in it the criterion that is sufficient to distinguish one perception of life and its mindset from another.
It is reasonable to argue that your mindset guides your lifestyle. You must act to live life (your lifestyle) according to why you want to live it (your mindset). Recall that human action is the cause of change and you are the agent of change. You are not in charge of what happens to your life if lifestyle and mindset remain disconnected. The idea of mindset is to give meaning and purpose to how you live life. If your mindset fails to guide your lifestyle, either you have not developed your mindset by choice or you lack the will and determination to live the mindset of your choice.
Ideally, the mindset of the majority, which is an aggregate of individual mindsets, ought to shape the mindset of society. The argument assumes that the people organize society for a common purpose. Historically speaking, the owners of wealth and power organize society. Though they are a minority, they generally use force to define the geography and common purpose of society. History therefore is replete with recurrent disconnect between real mindset of the majority and contrived mindset of a minority. This is why people experience conflict, anxiety, alienation and violence. Extend the argument to humanity and you can explain why contemporary societies continue to experience disconnected mindsets.
The argument makes it amply clear that every human has the inalienable right to accept or reject by choice a perception of life in order to live his life according to the mindset he prefers. He is born with the freedom of choice. If he is deprived of making the voluntary choice, the contrived mindset becomes his de facto mindset. Recall the 90-10 Covey Principle where 90% of what happens to one’s life is caused by him. But it does not apply to him because the contrived mindset preempts his freedom of choice. What applies to him is its converse, the 10-90 principle, where 90% of what happens to his life is caused by a minority. He fails to take charge of life because he lacks the will and determination to reject the contrived mindset and build own mindset. He generally plays the blame game but to no avail.
The minority contrives many perceptions of life but we group them into two broad categories to keep the argument simple. The two historically dominant perceptions of life include the secular perception and the sacred perception. We will discuss these perceptions separately. We then discuss the coexistence of both perceptions to argue how the interplay of the secular and sacred perceptions shapes individual and collective performance of humanity regardless of race, religion, gender and geography. We begin with the secular perception of life.
The dictionary defines the word secular as a system of belief concerned with worldly affairs rather than spiritual ones. It may also mean a belief system not involving or belonging to religion. The Legalists in ancient China argue that the human is disposed to the pull of passion and self-interest, which force alone can restrain. A body of laws is therefore required based on rewards and punishments to encourage or deter certain behavior. But rewards ought to be high and punishments heavy for laws to command obedience. The historians also refer to Legalists as Realists because they consider real the Legalists’ estimation of human nature. The ruling elites of Babylonia, China and Egypt accept it as the basis of secular perception of life.
Centuries later, the philosophers in ancient Greece follow footsteps of the Legalists in China. Their estimation of human nature begins with the premise that he is a rational animal. It gives him a barbaric origin for it views him essentially as a two-legged animal and distinguishes him from all other natural beings only by unmatched power of his mind. The secular perception thus denies the human his soul. The Greek premise remains for long the philosophical basis of secular perception until Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century offers in the theory of evolution a scientific basis. Modern secularist accepts evolution as scientific basis to deny the human his soul. The truth is that what Darwin offers is a theory and not a law of science. Yet the secularist finds in evolution indisputable evidence to scientifically validate the secular perception. This is how the theory of evolution becomes part of the secular belief system. Read more about secular mindset and lifestyle in the next column.
(The writer is based in Texas, USA, and can be reached at [email protected])