SHAW'S LEGACY

By William Markiewicz

Bernard Shaw said, I don't remember his exact words, that we don't grow by discovering ourselves but by building ourselves. Usually 'building' and 'seeking' intermingle. Architect, chemist, theologian and philosopher do both simultaneously. But some disciplines, some cultures, put more accent on one or the other; craftsman, scientist, technician put the accent on 'building' while the humanist, especially the mystic, considers himself a 'seeker' first. Perhaps the main difference between the, a priori, 'seeker' and 'builder' is that the builder dismisses the dimension Ouspensky called 'Miraculous.' The 'builder' acts within the concrete world, for the 'seeker' the ritual of seeking equals the goal in importance. The idea that building overshadows seeking has its home in the West; Bernard Shaw's statement embodies the core of the Western drive toward science and technology. We could eventually define Western philosophy as a message: 'Instead of researching mystery, accept the fact that you are part of the mystery, meaning beyond your understanding.' Was it Niels Bohr who said that observer has to be an outsider? This is a 'metabolic' conception of philosophy: you grow, not through what you discover but through what you built.

The accent on 'searching' or 'building' gave birth to diametrically opposed concepts of the universe. For the 'seeker' the universe is a unity, to embrace this unity is equivalent to enlightenment. The whole pathway of existence, its meaning, is to merge with the universal unity as the ultimate goal and blessing on the road to eternity. In Western thought the universe is not a unity but a mosaic. No matter how coherent and homogenous the situation may appear, tiny components of the mosaic remains forever separated, though close neighbours. We see this in particles, atoms, molecules, genes...

Maybe Shaw's statement contains a warning; don't explore yourself too much, wasting your limited time by searching for hidden truths if you don't know what to search and where (Gurdjieff's Russian Prince 'seeker'). 'Something marvelous' indeed may appear while you're absorbed with something trivial. You'll never possess a fishing line that catches a rainbow. When you're struck by existential problems don't search for a philosophers' stone; go to sleep, or -- act. What is in you remains in you in one form or another, while your act will change something for yourself and for others.

Shaw probably meant also that you should consider each day for itself, concentrating more on opportunities than wishes; don't be preoccupied with the thread of fate.

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