Sunday, July 10, 2005

In the pursuit of happiness...

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I remember being fascinated at college by Aristotle's concept of happiness(eudaimonia)... I loved the rigorous mathematical analysis involved... the argument building, the philosophical inquiries into our behavioural patterns as human beings... I loved the way in which it all related to those large, deeply intrinsic questions that we all ask of ourselves:

Why are we here? Does God exist? What is the meaning to our lives?

I loved how it all mattered to me, practically, in a real and tangible way... I loved how it emboldened me with even grander dreams for the future.

I still don't claim to grasp every logical increment that led Aristotle to define an emotional, and intellectual state of contentment as a "A virtuous activity of the soul..." unfortunately, my ADD saw to that...

... however, in spite of the fact my days at college were mostly preoccupied by smoking hash and listening to death metal music ... the experience of those philosophy classes left me profoundly transformed...

I was left cogniscent of those deeper currents that sway within my soul, the grander tapestry that we all weave on our journey through life, beyond the tapestry we see in front of our eyes.

I read a little about Buddhism today, and the "art of happiness," which rekindled these memories. Life constantly poses us questions, and no matter what hurdles we overcome, there are always more around the corner to challenge us further. We all encounter trying times, and despite the fact that loved ones of mine are suffering from potentially terminal diseases, and such a grave tragedy has befallen my home city... I am currently struggling to muster the perspective to rise above my own difficult moments.

There were many things that interested me about what I read today. The concept of causality... that we possess the power to identify positive and negative emotions inside us and examine their causes, and the way in which we contribute to them. The notion of self discipline... that the human mind is like a muscle... and our capacity to wield influence over our emotional well being requires that we exercise that muscle. A healthy, informed, engaged mind is the foundation upon which we can easily build... it reminded me of a friend emerging from AA recently and telling me that he acquired the most strength from taking seriously all of the little things that comprised his day... washing his teeth, household chores, that's where it all begun again for him...

As far as I know happiness is simply a state of mind...

... a state of mind fuelled by our deepest capacities: to be emotionally aware of others, and ourselves, to share, to learn, to grow, to remain open and receptive... to engage, and take part in life, and all of its wonderful possibilities... to refrain from judgement in pursuit of truth... and finally, to allow our hearts to mature and be predisposed by the welfare of our loved ones... to eventually live for something, or someone more than just ourselves...

Hopefully I can continue working towards those lofty goals.