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"Famous Scholar Concludes - This World Is Meaningless"
Do You Believe Life is Worth Living?
One of history's most famous scholars concludes life on planet Earth is meaningless. Quoting this famous writer, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity!"
This quotation, taken from his book titled, "Ecclesiastes", is found in the Bible's Old Testament. The famous author is believed to be King Solomon, rumored to be the wisest man who ever put pen to parchment.
Solomon does not sugarcoat the harsh realities of life...to the contrary, he describes life on planet Earth as bleak, impossible to understand, eventually leading to a shared human fate we call death.
Why I Love This Book
Ecclesiastes blasts the modern day self-help 'gurus'...writers like Carnegie, Dyer, and Osteen who spew and spread their 'can't fail' secrets to happiness.
These self proclaimed 'experts', both secular and religious, are penning time-wearied books that convincingly hoodwink their respective audiences. Their basic message proclaims that life can be a solid state happiness journey - uninterrupted through time. But this "wisdom" is total, complete nonsense as the wise and ancient author proves throughout his amazing book.
The plain, in your face truth lies in Solomon's keen insight when he asks the poignant question, "What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?" He expounds on this statement with the futility of planning for the future.
The modern, interpretive quotation is: "Man plans; God laughs."
I wonder what the 1900 Galveston population was planning before winds of over 140 MPH destroyed their city and claimed an estimated 8,000 lives. Blowing in like a massive collection of freight trains, this natural phenomenon laid to rest many a planned 'life outline'.
Is Solomon saying that retirement planning, for example, is futile and useless? I don't interpret his words in that light. His stance merely underscores the shortness of this life and that the unexpected should be expected.
Politics as Usual
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, describes politics of his day using similar words heard on 21st. century, 24 hour TV news channels...crooked, incompetent leaders meting injustices to the poor. Sound familiar? Solomon's words, "there is nothing new under the sun," written over 2,000 years ago, stand the test of time.
America's 16+ trillion dollar debt merely reflects the greed, materialism and stupidity of our political leaders perceived and reported centuries back. Indeed, there IS nothing new under the sun!
The Futility of Riches
Solomon was the richest man of his time, and yet all of his wealth brought unhappiness. He writes, "Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me."
These words bring to mind the modern day quotation, "You can't take it with you." True words, written centuries ago that still hold water today.
Solomon's riches enabled him to acquire any and all his mind could possibly conceive and that's exactly what he did. The outcome was the same:
"I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards. I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits. I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees. I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me. I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun."
If you believe riches and fame create happiness today, consider the Tiger Woods' saga.
"There is nothing new under the sun."
Wisdom and Knowledge Create Problems
I'm sure you've heard the expression, "what you don't know won't hurt you." Consider the following scenario:
You are at the workplace, totally oblivious to the outside world.
At the school playground, your son is on the receiving end of an accidental blow to his head causing a slight concussion. The incident happens at 8:30 A.M. As a precautionary step he is taken to the hospital, but you are not immediately aware of this accident. In fact, you learn the details at 5:30 P.M. Between the hours of 8:30 and 5:30, you carry on with your every day routine...laughing, joking with your fellow workers and performing your daily routine.
Using the same event sequence, if you knew of the accident at 8:35 A.M., I feel sure all the joking and working would stop, as you would immediately leave your place of work, sprinting to your car for swift action on the knowledge of your son's accident.
Life's events do not cause negative or positive reactions; rather, it's the knowledge of the particular event that brings an action and reaction.
As Solomon experiences more and more of his perceived, ugly human plight, his wisdom increases, but he realizes the wise man has no advantage over the fool.
"The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.
For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dies the wise man? As the fool.
Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Most of us are not privy to unlimited wealth as Solomon accumulated in his day, or the Trumps, Buffets and Perots of 2012. The non-1 percent of America's population (in other words, most Americans) will never experience owning every 'heart's desire'.
However, history books are filled with stories about the super rich. MOST of this privileged group suffered from all sorts of maladies, and they did NOT enjoy more happiness than the poorer majority. Alcoholism, various addictions, mental diseases, familial disasters and tragedies run rampant in this group.
So, why is a book of this negative nature a part of The Bible?
In this writer's opinion, I view these teachings as a "cutting to the chase" depiction; a brutally honest and true picture of life and the emotional swings caused by events that occur beyond one's control. Yes, the human race should plan for the future, but Plan B's and even Plan C's should always be in waiting.
Finally, life brings change and if one lives long enough, Father Time allows for events to alter planned, individual life courses - sometimes for the better; sometime otherwise. As King Solomon so wisely writes:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."