I’m reading Mastery, the latest book from author Robert Greene (author of the classic book The 48 Laws of Power). On page 42, Greene writes about Buckminster Fuller. A depressed Fuller was on his way to commit suicide when he heard a voice from within himself that said:
“From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”
I am not sure what the first line means. What is “temporal attestation”? From the context, I guess it means that you do not have to wait around to see whether or not your thought is true; whatever you think right now is true, based on your experiences. It may not be true in the sense that it may not correlate with reality, but it is still valid in and of itself. If you gain new experiences, as you inevitably will, you are obligated to form new thoughts based on them, not to refuse them in the name of pride or fear. That’s my Karl Popper-ish guess, at least; it may be something both deeper and simpler than that.
“You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe.” This certainly struck me. There are people who have had powerful conversions after suicide attempts who also mention learning that their life is not their own to eliminate. And certainly much of today’s political and spiritual misery probably arises from the idea that each man belongs only to himself, and not to “Universe” (or God as we might say).
While a man’s significance in this life may forever be obscure to him, I don’t think it will remain that way forever. I believe part of the comfort and joy of Heaven, that feeling of being “at home”, comes from being able to see oneself fully, and to see the connection between oneself and the rest of existence. However, I cannot confirm this. (Yet.)
The “advantage” of others seems a subjective thing. I can easily imagine someone wanting from me something I cannot or will not give, claiming it would be to his advantage, whether it be my money, my approval of something I cannot approve, my time, my agreement, or my indifference to his words and actions. That is, you do not get to decide for others or for the Universe (God) what would be to your advantage; it is not merely the fulfillment of your latest natural desire, such as money or the adoration of others. To know what would be to the “advantage” of others is the wisdom we ask the Universe for, in the name of and for the sake of the Universe.
Anyway, the main principle I take away from this is that I am not living my life for the sake of itself. While working on my novel or any of my projects, it’s easy to get sidetracked daydreaming of fame and fortune, wanting a piece of the power that the “big names” in the entertainment industry have. And, on the business side of things, that’s how the world encourages one to think. Money and power are the validators, and the foundations for getting anything done. But that’s not where the fulfillment in a project comes from.
It also makes me that much more interested in the life and works of good old Bucky.