-- The Ideal
-- Happiness Depends Upon the Ideal
The second fundamental difference between man and animal is freedom. Based on his intelligence and his will, man is able to control his instinct, to enjoy a freedom of selection which no other animal possesses.
For example, a dog or a monkey will have sex a thousand times out of one thousand of occasions which present themselves. In contrast, man has the capacity of rejecting or accepting sex whenever the opportunity arises. To accept is easy, more instinctive, more like the other animals. To reject is more difficult, since it requires the intelligence needed for a noble and grand idea, and on such occasions the will requires an immense sacrifice, so as to suppress the instinctive desires. Rejection is more difficult but it is possible, it requires a man to be very "human"-- something the animal cannot do.
This freedom also manifests itself in love and hate. An elephant will hate persons that torture him. A man can do likewise, but he also has the capability of loving the same person who molests or hates him.
A dog will eat bread every time he is hungry, given the opportunity. Man might be starving and very much enjoy a meal, and not eat it in order to give it to his child or a friend who is even more hungry than himself.
A man can be deprived of his freedom by incarceration, like a caged bird. But the liberty of which we speak cannot be taken away from him by means of jail, chains, poverty, hunger, pain, threats or training. He can lose his freedom by wine or drugs and thus temporarily lose his freedom, his most precious quality, "humanness." He can lose it also partially by permitting himself to be dominated by sexual aberrations, by greed, gluttony, arrogance or by some destructive instinct.
Man has the freedom to dominate his instincts, but throughout his entire life he is not really free unless he accepts many limitations. Man is not free to be born, not to choose the time or place of his birth. Nor is he free to choose such important features as the color of his skin or his race or his physical constitution, his stature or the shape of his face. Nor is he free to decide when to be healthy or sick, nor to elect to be male or female. Finally, he is not free to die, nor does he know when or how or where.
Man's liberty is based on the freedom of choice between love and hate, between good and evil, between meeting his obligations or not; in brief, in the freedom to control his instincts. An animal cannot fulfill responsibilities, because it does not have the freedom to control its instincts.
Tell Me What Your Ideal Is
and I Shall Tell You What Kind of Man You Are
The ideal is an asset which, being known to the intellect as such, inspires the will towards its possession. Every man is free to choose the ideal or ideals of his life.
Every man has some ideal. Some people idealize money, some alcohol, some science, or glory or to enjoy prestige or to be perfect, saintly, beautiful, artistic, etc.
What is important is to realize that man is the greater, the loftier his ideal, and he is as base as his ideal is vile. For example, a drunk may be very intelligent or very rich, but everybody knows and despises him as a "drunk." For this is the ideal that dominates his life, and although he may be intelligent, he is a base man because his ideal is miserable. Napoleon was a great man who wrote a page in history, because he had a great ideal, to conquer the world for France. Plainly a great ideal, which together with an impassioned will to fight for it made him immortal, despite his many faults and shortcomings. A drug addict has a miserable ideal, his will is driven by misery and thus he is a man in disgrace, deserving of compassion, regardless of his intelligence, his goodness, his wealth or his generosity. Like his principal ideal, he is a small man, if the ideal that drives him is mean. Saint Paul had a great ideal: to spread the love of God and one's neighbor among all gentiles, and since he was fired by a great ideal, he passed into history as a great man, although he was lowly or had other shortcomings.
Buddha, Christ, Moses, Muhammad, Lincoln, Columbus, Gandhi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Joan of Arc, Edison, Michelangelo, Einstein, Churchill, etc., they all were people who wrote pages in history. All were different, more or less impressive, more or less intelligent, rich or poor, heavy or thin. But they all had something in common, namely, they all had a great ideal: a great idea, for which they knew how to drive themselves, and to fight until it consumed their very lives. It was a great idea which inflamed them, and then became the source of their energies and the illusion of their lives-- something great which made worthwhile the pain of living, fighting, of gladly sacrificing and, if necessary, of dying for it. In truth, the idea is the measure of a man.
Happiness... Depends on the Ideal
Every human being wants to be happy, as we stated in Chapter 3. Every man seeks happiness in the ideal or ideals where he believes he will find it: in money, in honor, in science, in alcohol, in family life, in his religion, in the fight for justice, in art, in a profession, in his work, in beauty, in sports, in gaming, etc.
Some ideals offer happiness but are deceiving, because they result in misery or in weariness or simply in the frustration of finding happiness. Other ideals offer happiness, and really produce it. Therefore, it is of great importance to know how to choose an ideal which really produces happiness, capable of fulfilling and enriching the only life we have.
If you are human, you must have an ideal, even though you may not wish to. Make an effort in finding one, and devote yourself to one which offers and induces happiness. This is the first step toward happiness. But, do not forget that ideals are like diamonds, some are genuine and some are false. If you choose false ideal you may ruin the only life you have. Make all efforts to find and nourish a true idea, which really will give strength and beauty to your only life.
Qualities of a True Ideal
(1) It must be great, capable of making us completely happy. It must fulfil us when we work for it. A great aim that can inspire us to strive for it, that will inject enthusiasm, optimism and hope into our existence. It should make us willing to bring sacrifices and to struggle for it. An ideal which merits not only the pain of living for it but, if necessary, also to die for it.
(2) It should fill our lives. It should not be valid today, and appear worthless and to be discarded tomorrow. Instead, it should be able to fill me all my life until death, and should offer me hopes of happiness even beyond death! It should offer me the hope that I and the world are going to be better, so that at the very hour of death despite weariness and wounds, one still feels full of optimism and courage to go on fighting to the last breath in order to attain it, to find fulfillment. It should offer the certainty that the heart is going to feel fulfilled and in peace when dropping off to its final sleep.
(3) It should be attainable. You should be able to achieve it. An unattainable ideal cannot fill a life. On the contrary, it induces disillusionment and renunciation of all ideals. It would be ridiculous if one would choose as his ideal to grow 10 feet in height or to build a hut in the sun.
(4) It should be the Axis of your life. Like the main mast of a sailing ship, it should be the axis which guides the course of the ship, yet insures the aid and assistance of the smaller masts. The course of our lives must be chartered by a great ideal, but with room and facilities for other though perhaps smaller ideals, which may also be good and necessary. ---- Taken from God the Father, or Happiness in Your Hands, by J. Dominguez, M.D. 1976. New York Publishers Co., Box 240, New York, NY 10032 ---- USA
How To Find a True Ideal
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