If I was to attach an overarching summation for the meaning of philosophy it is the greatest legitimiser of suffering. At the forefront of the ideology of Buddhism and what it was intended for was as a rationale for suffering. How do we explain pain. Philosophy only becomes a dominant feature when suffering needs an explanation. We realise that suffering is inherent to human existence, we thereby realise the fundamental reason for philosophy.
Zen buddhism offers a solution to dealing with suffering which is acceptance. Wrought in that concept is the possibility that we do nothing to rectify that suffering. Because we in many ways are accepting of suffering, we have to come to terms with everyone’s singular fate. To my mind this is a solution of a preceding era, when fatalism is about the only recourse people had in the face of adversity. Now with unlimited access to information, most of the planet can actively combat adversity.
Even devoid of its practical benefits, zen buddhism allows us to centre the mind because of stress, physical pain and emotional despair. We have entered a new era, when buddhism isn’t there to assist the malnourished but acts as a way of accepting work stress, chronic pain and relationship stresses among others. Zen allows us to switch off through a mode of concentration little practiced in consumerist societies. Focusing on nothing.
Every so often my mind goes off the beaten path and I end up lost, not knowing where to look. This style of thinking is caused by an over-abundance of choice and the consequent uncertainty that this brings. In developed countries, everyone is at most several seconds away from complete distraction.
In summation for this comment I will say that philosophy acts as an anchor for when we are flooded with distractions and choices. It also acts as a way to centre the mind and accept suffering, in many cases embracing suffering that we would otherwise avoid. This anchor and help us make the right choices and re-focus when we are lost.