Baklav Havel described selfishness as the root of all human suffering; deeply ingrained in every human person, it is said to be almost ineradicable source of humanities’ suffering. Many people underscored this problem too much that they failed to see the bigger underlying problem; a problem where even selfishness is embedded into- pretension.

I’d like to discuss pretension in a general perspective and as objective as possible. I strongly believe that pretension is the root of all human suffering. Pretension is the culmination of all the ill feelings of humanity: fear, selfishness, insensitivity, jealousy, depression, pride, etc. Humans are natural born pretenders. We may all have been created equal but we’re not perfect. And that is why we pretend. People try to compensate what they lack in their life; things that may seem unreachable to them. So, what they do is they assume a role or perhaps, a different personality- a personality that is not uniquely identified in us. Things that we don’t commonly do, we now do; attitudes that are odd to us now seem to be ordinary. This leads us to do things that we shouldn’t do- morally unacceptable as identified by the moral and positive laws nor spiritually correct as defined by the eternal laws. These actions make us feel supreme among other people. From pretension, we draw out everything we don’t have. I believe that all the atrocious attitude and behavior that we demonstrate are not the real us because we are all created with the image and likeness of God.

Now, the key to this dilemma is of course, embedded again in ourselves. Acceptance and truth is hostile to pretension. “To know the truth is to know thyself”, so as to say. Being aware of the truth and accommodating it in ourselves is tantamount to deeper and inner learning about our being. From this acknowledgement and acceptance of truth comes contentment, happiness, satisfaction, security and everything else opposing the essence of pretention. These things are the key to human suffering. If we were able to enforce these in ourselves then we may have a better chance of living a better life and living in peace and solitude.

But the promulgation of this idealism is not easy. All the good things in this world encompass extensive sacrifice for there is no good and free thing in this world. All things in this world have somehow an equivalent sacrifice that we have to undertake. This makes man a flexible and rational being. This is where the depth of knowledge we learn from others becomes wisdom, the applied knowledge.

Just like Maslow’s humanistic approach to hierarchy of man’s needs, I have my own way of addressing the changes that happen in a person with regards to the transformation of his inner self. These are:

1. The need and feeling to do something to improve oneself- everything starts with the feeling of need to change and to improve oneself. This is where we take-off.
2. Self-Discovery- the curiosity that is brought about by the need and feeling to improve oneself leads us to a deeper acquaintance with ourselves. We find out more about ourselves, we start to learn through pondering and thinking about our past experiences, etc.
3. Self-Realization- of course, self-discovery is useless without realizing and accepting the truth about ourselves. In this level, we already gain the knowledge and understanding that will motivate us and give us the drive to put into action what we learned from ourselves and others, just like the relationship of knowledge to wisdom as I’ve mentioned earlier.
4. Self-Actualization- Maslow’s idea of self-actualization is when a person is detached from material things. Persons reaching this level finds their happiness and contentment in helping other people or generally, making other people happy. My idea of self-actualization is where we now enforce in ourselves what we have learned in self-realization. Meaning, we implement and put into action the “knowledge and understanding” we acquire from self-realization. This is a good epitome of knowledge being put into action. We may not necessarily follow Maslow’s ideas of actualization. What is important here in this level is that we practice what we learn, do what we preach. It’s not on the number of things we learned or how we excelled on the subject matter, it is on how we use it and how we made a positive difference because of it.

I find these steps a way to lead us closer to happiness. I mentioned “closer” for I believe that true happiness is unattainable in this earthly existence. All we have now are simulations to the life we are having after this one- the life that the Greek Philosophers and I share the same belief… perfect existence in an ideal world. It is really funny to think that the very same thing that identifies and makes us above all other creation is the very same thing that enslaves us all- our own free will.

In this world, we are presented with so many questions and problems but not without answers. Some are bound to be answered; some are left to be hanging for not all should be answered. This way, we find motivation and drive to everything we do because of our curiosity- the same curiosity that killed the cat.

That's all.

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