Not even the greatest philosophers who have been thinking all their lives about beauty and nothing else, like Croce who has written volumes upon beauty, end up with anything definable. The whole effort, hundreds of pages, and the conclusion is that it is indefinable.
“Just go on this way. If somebody says, ‘That man is very virtuous,’ immediately ask, ‘What is virtue? How do you know, on what grounds, what authority?’
“Never make any statement of your own, so nobody can criticize you. And you go on criticizing everybody, don’t miss a single opportunity, and ask for a definition.”
And after one month the sage came and the idiot fell at his feet and said, “Your secret has done miracles. Now I am supposed to be the wisest man in my village. In just one month!”
To negate needs not much intelligence. To affirm needs tremendous intelligence. So there has been a majority tradition of condemners. That is the easiest way to prove yourself superior. They condemn everything, they condemn the whole world.
There has been a small stream of affirmers also. But they are looked upon in a very derogatory way. These are the materialists. The majority thinks itself spiritualist. Yet there is a small stream which says, “Eat, drink and be merry. This is all. There is nothing else to seek and search for.”
My situation is a little complex. I accept the materialist as far as he is saying, “Eat, drink and be merry.” But I deny that this is all. I accept the spiritualist’s search for something higher, but I refute the spiritualist for his condemnation of life, enjoyment, the small joys of life.
I am a materialist-spiritualist. Begin with this very earth and rise up to the sky, to the highest stars. This is one single universe. There are not two universes, one materialist and one spiritualist. Matter and spirit are continuously meeting with each other, dancing hand in hand.
You have to be a materialist to begin with. But don’t stop there. That is only a beginning. The second thing that will make your journey complete is the search for significance. Otherwise every enjoyment is going to become boredom sooner or later. If you don’t know the significance, if you don’t know the eternal meaning of life, if you simply live superficially – I am not saying it is evil, I am saying it is incomplete. It is getting lost in the very beginning. It is very superficial.
Life has depths beyond depths, and unless you reach to the very bottom and touch something eternal, you will not know the significance of existence, the splendor and the glory and the abundance of blessings. Your enjoyment will pay well for a long time. But then you will know that, “Eat, drink and be merry,” was not enough. It was good enough, but not enough.