Solomon doesn’t mince words as he starts with a bang, “everything is more tiring than man can express”.
Everyone I know seems to have noticed some acceleration in the rhythms of life over the last few years, and even months.
I am appalled at how little is done with such enormous effort. But apparently this is the “school of life” we were born into.
- That God gave humans the hard and laborious task of “giving our hearts to inquiring and seeking with wisdom about all the things that are done on the earth”, and,
- That he did just that, he gave his heart to inquire and seek with wisdom about everything that is done under the heavens. (And that it wasn’t easy, and neither was he impressed with the findings).
But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it, it means that we must do it.
Do you know what we need in order to do this hard and laborious task given to us?
Time and (at least) some serenity.
People who live always in a whirlwind of activity, fun, entertainment, and many other pursuits of a shallow nature don’t have space in their saturated lives to have the reflections in their minds that this kind of insight calls for.
Competitive, cut-throat environments are hostile to efforts to grow and evolve our spirits, consciousness, etc.
“I looked at all the works that are done under the sun, and behold all of it is vanity and vexation of spirit”.
Vexation of spirit. This means that, while the mind can be stimulated, the spirit can be completely dry, and when we neglect our spirit and it becomes dry, later when we are alone, we are going to feel it, no matter how much fun we may have had earlier.
You may postpone feeling this “dryness of spirit” with drugs or any other form of mood-altering substance or activity, but it will wait and show up, full force.
This is not about religion; this is about the part of us that is truly Us, as opposed to all the rest that is not us ,— even though we live as if it were; you know, the titles, the degrees, the professions, the fame, the accomplishments… even beliefs we identify with as if they were us!
We must stop confusing what entertains and occupies the mind and what nurtures our spirit and soul. These are two very different things with very different outcomes.
Solomon seems to be saying to himself:
- Are you kidding me? What is all this for?
- What is the profit man gains for all his toil under the sun?
- All the natural processes are steady and reliable, and there’s nothing new under the sun,
- Everything is forgotten; what has been was forgotten, and what will be also will be forgotten, what’s the point of it all? (He doesn’t answer this in this chapter).
I think we can say that Solomon was a little depressed when he wrote some of these words; and who can blame him? Don’t we too get down when we consider some of the same thoughts? If we don’t we aren’t human or normal.
Solomon says something that we know to be otherwise, much to our surprise and hope; he says, “that which is twisted cannot be corrected, and what is incomplete does not count”.
But we now know that we can change with dedicated and committed effort; we know that our brains have plasticity and we have seen examples of tremendous transformations. Solomon would be happy to know this.
He is right in that there is burden and discomfort in knowledge, but don’t let his words here mislead you if they sound as if he is against knowledge and its pursuit, he is not.
Later he spends all of Proverbs praising knowledge and bashing foolishness, so we know for a fact that Solomon, even though he found it laborious, valued knowledge and wisdom greatly, and we should too.
Ignorance is not bliss for long, neither is knowledge pain forever.
We should seek knowledge with diligence, after all, “this is the labor that God gave humans” to find out stuff, and to continue to grow and learn things and live lives that reflect our growing knowledge and understanding of the real nature of things.
If we aren’t changing, shifting, developing… what are we doing with our lives? We are not here to be stagnated. All of nature teaches us this every day.
Besides, there is no more exciting way to live than in pursuit of knowledge and a clearer understanding of the nature of things.
CALL TO ACTION: Would you like to explore some new ideas about old things?
Join me for bi-monthly thought-provoking talks where we stir the pot of traditional thinking and question things that perhaps we haven’t dared question before.
— We are caught between two eras. Join me as we discuss provocative topics. I’d love to see you there!
Viviana Rose — Copyrighted material 2018