Of Long Life and Other Tall Tales
Most eastern philosophies, on the whole, speak of and advocate a preoccupation with the inner life as a means of transcending the confines of the physical realm. Not quite Psychological Science. New research published in this presumably august journal says having a purpose in life can add years to one’s life, whilst generally whiling away the time, à la an aimless, leisurely stroll through a park means you will kick the proverbial bucket rather quickly. The research “proves” that having a sense of purpose, even aiming rather high, means a longer lifespan across all age categories. Which, by definition, could mean a 90-year-old aiming to make it to 110 might actually get there. Now, one isn’t at all having a go at that sort of sentiment. It is rather fine and fitting and that sort of thing to have ambition. But, equally, one could ponder the merits or otherwise of a long life versus a somewhat shorter one, albeit lived a wee bit more contentedly. One has the sneaky suspicion Psychological Science would not have much time for quite a lot of eastern sages, the Buddha included. All that drifting around telling people about desire being the chief cause of suffering and whatnot. Then again, the Gautama might have smiled at this human preoccupation with longer and yet longer lifespans. To live well, or just to live long, one might say, is the question….