Let’s assume there is an abstract entity of highest human endeavor. We call him simply “The Man”. He can be imagined to be a concept rather than a regular person with flesh and blood. He is benign, loaded with ambitions that are a common core to all of us. Unlike the human attributes, he is likely to bear some defaults too. This is because the absence of error makes him a quasi component and thereby cannot be considered to be the subtle counterpart to a normal being. So, as we imagined, in our cognition “The Man” is a perfect picture of an individual with the presence of all abundant wisdom that is needed to live without imparting the negative experience of life. But unfortunately, at some points he does. He tries to deviates it as far as possible but retires from his effort if the ambitions he pursues comes crashing down to him in the face of a colossal failure. What might be missing in his part regarding failure? Is that positivism Perhaps he endures that in a well groomed measure or we can say he is an ardent optimist. How about “sheer willpower” or “not giving” that is apt in reversing the definition of failure from ages? “The Man” as we aforementioned inherits the humanely quality and nature, which also brings into the quality of being ambitious. He thrives in all possible ways to reach to the summits of his ambitions like most of us do. Leaving behind the archetypal notions of not giving up, “The Man” is equally equipped to sustain the gritty reality like the mortals viz. the negative experiences and failure. If there’s one thing that we never stopped doing our entire lives is that we keep pushing ourselves to acquire the very best of everything. The strong believe that is domineering in our egoistic prestige is that “more” is always better than “less” and capitalism along with the media solidifies the idea to keep us wanting more, better and bigger things in order to reach happiness. In this case, the pursuit is based on materialistic achievement but if we juxtapose it with the Man’s ambitious zeal. It doesn’t draw much significant difference. The Man’s purpose for a top notch life is creating the reversal affect on how well he can escape what’s reverting back from his steadfast wants to deliver a better life. He might be the perfect epitome of mankind unless he is reluctant to accept the truth of the reversal of positive and negative experiences which comes along. This theory which identifies this paradox and which examines our faith reversing our expectations and ambitions is known as “The Backwards Law”. I have used the word ‘reverse’ because precisely, It is a concept which states that the desire for more positive experiences is itself a negative experience. And paradoxically the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. At first it appears to be a wordplay nullifying sense but let us discuss how it is one of the precarious ladders in accepting our desires and happiness.
“If we are to be fully human, fully alive and aware, it seems that we must willing to suffer for our pleasures. Without such willingness, there can be no growth in the intensity of consciousness…to strive for pleasure, to the exclusion of pain is in strive for the loss of consciousness.” A quote to the introduction of the “backwards law” by the 20th century philosopher Alan Watts. In layman’s term, we can approach to this principle that the more one tries to escape or remove the negative experiences of life, the more negative the negative becomes. In the same breathe, the more we face it willingly and intentionally, the more stronger and equipped we become. And ultimately, the more meaningful and positive the hardship becomes. A reciprocation of one’s experiences to a constructive one and which makes us more conscious is the purpose of this principle. The simplest example to replicate this idea is the example of gears in a bicycle. Like the gears, we are propelled in a synchronized manner of rotation. And in this rotation, the ceaseless relationship between the negative and positive experiences also follows up. In the harmonious rotation of the gears, wanting happiness and pleasure all the time; willing to hold onto one experience for a longer time and having more of it only serves to jam up the gears, hereby disturbing the harmony.
There are forms of pain and suffering in life that completely overdrawn by our evolutionary ancestors and “The Man” is an exception to this. There are various areas of misery in this which it includes forms of depression, fear and overwhelm, illness and poverty that are too far to be compensated through mere acceptance, motivation or any other philosophical discourse to strengthen mental stamina. It certainly requires additional and supportive aid to these conditions of human life.
However, beyond these areas of pain, there still exist a realm of suffering and unhappiness entrenched to our lives that appears to be inexorable and unshakeable, even through one’s circumstances are relatively better than other. This is the realm that draws ‘the man’ from a healthy and prosperous person to self hatred and self loathing. To even suicide and addiction. There is a mental pain that is not specific to any of us but applicable to all of us and so is to the conscience of ‘the man’. There is a struggle inside all of us that we carry along the way in all phases and conditions of life. It is a baseline of sensory and emotional experience that we all return to. And only because of the presence of this baseline, sometimes things will make us extremely happy and sometimes on the other hand extremely miserable. But as time passes by, in both cases, regardless of any effort or event, most of us will come back to the same feeling.
If we realize that the bad provides the good and the good provides the bad simultaneously, we also realize that this contrast is the foundation that shapes life. That our baseline is not something we should try to dodge, run away from or fight against but something we should appreciate for its constant renewal of life. For ‘the man’ who is ambitious and depends his existence solely on his ability to accomplish away the struggles and miseries is unaware that it will inadvertently accomplish the whole world to be met with a disappointment so intense that it would destroy whatever is left in him. Perhaps then, our quality of life is not found in the heights of our happiness or pleasures but on how we choose to consider and look at what surrounds it. And how we attempt to create a life of meaning, decency and justifying the inevitable lows rather than always escaping them.
In the end, the knowledge I tried to put forward is that if we worship happiness and pleasure, we will never feel good enough. Just like we don’t have to worship our breath to breathe, we don’t have to worship happiness or progress to actually progress and be happy. Like the inhale and exhale of oxygen in each breathe, the positive and negative flows in and out of us constantly keeping us moving, getting better and alive. And when we try to hold breathe and make an attempt to keep all the oxygen in, we suffocate. In every exhale there is a breath to come. So as long as we keep breathing, there are moments of hardships, pain and weakness. And in these moments, there is a beautiful story taking place filled with the potential of triumph, victory, strength and worthy of tears falling from our cheeks with the wonders of our life.
So as long as there is life in us there is a rare and an exclusive human opportunity to take this chaotic existence and make it something. Perhaps, when ‘the man’ learns this ceaseless relationship of our faiths, he finally discovers a chance to connect, love and flourish. A chance to revise his beliefs and to be more accepting. A chance to feel the eternity of the cosmos and for him, at that point, that would be more than enough. At that point, we can conclude, ‘the man’ is happy and so are we.