You want to know what you should do with your life, what things really matter, discover the answers to lots of similar, related questions. So why should you read this book? What am I claiming that you will find of value in these pages? Well, suppose that the one ambition in your life is to travel to Mars. If you are sufficiently young, intelligent, athletic and determined, you might think that this is not beyond the realms of possibility. But suppose that I could prove to you that Mars simply does not exist. You might not be very pleased to discover this but then at least you would be able to drop your obviously now unattainable goal and aim instead for something that is realistic and worthwhile. The purpose of this book is to demonstrate to you that, whatever your particular ambition might be, Mars does not exist.
Two fundamental questions are addressed. They are probably the two most important questions you could ever ask yourself, though many people never even give them a thought. It is possible to spend a lifetime attempting to reach satisfactory answers – and many have. Before beginning, you may find it useful to ask yourself these questions now and attempt to formulate an answer. If you acknowledge your position at the outset, you will be able better to appreciate whether your views have changed by the end of the book. Books, especially those that might be classed as self-help, often ask their readers to fill out questionnaires. You may be pleased to hear that this is not one of those. I do not want you to write pages of notes. In fact a single sentence response to each question is all that I am suggesting. My own answers at the end of the book will be single words. It will be best if you do not cheat and look now, however, or you may decide not to read any further!
The questions are simply as follows (ask them of yourself):
Who am I?
What really matters?
In order to answer these questions, this book will focus on the fundamentals of our being, the world and the relationship between them, asking about our nature, motives and actions, emotions and thoughts. It will aim to provide a more consistent, logical and practical explanation than you will find from the traditional viewpoints of Western philosophy, major religions, psychology or sociology. It will systematically address key topics such as meaning and purpose, happiness and free will, the nature of the world and self, in a way that appeals directly to your own experience and reason, answering the fundamental questions of who we are and what we ought to be doing.