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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Man in exercising his intellect and manual labor, is not merely filling time but validating his life. He is making useful to others. Man as a social animal in order to be happy has to connect with others. Society is his creation and quality of which reflects his inputs into the common fount.  As a useful member he is standing between his ancestors and future of his offspring. But as a social animal you and I are not simply connecting dots in time and place. We are part of social changes like the heat thrown from blazing fire. Ancient Greece is the cradle of democracy. This form of people power has enveloped much of the world and quality of the present government reflects also social changes. Welfare state may be viewed in some parts as Nanny state and in some government interference to regulate unfair trading practices as not desirable to them. Quality of life under different forms of governments reveal social stagnation or progress. In short the present is not merely man bridging the past and future. He is like honey bees carrying social changes.

If such social changes have only produced  some one percent garnering national wealth it might show laws are not correctly formulated as to have produced this vast inequality. There are special groups to push their own agenda and lobbyism has become incorporated into the people power within which law makers work for particular advantage of some section than the whole. The idea of Bread and Circus by which Imperial Rome bought the mob works even now. Social changes have thrown wool over the citizens. Happiness that is inherent in individual, a virtue has by default come to be equated in the consumables that he could purchase. We are a victim of our own success.  

“The pursuit of happiness” is the most famous phrase in the Declaration of Independence. Conventional history and popular wisdom attribute the phrase to the genius of Thomas Jefferson when in an imaginative leap, he replaced the third term of John Locke’s trinity, “life, liberty, and property.”  It was a felicitous, even thrilling, substitution. How did this work out in practice is yet another.

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Timon of Athens belonged to the school of Cynics and while the city was in an uproar he went around as though he had no idea of coming invasion of Xerxes and asked why they were working themselves to a lather. One morning he went to the woodlands accompanied by his servant. Seeing the nobleman in charge of logging, Glaccus by name Timon asked why he was up there about so early in the morning. The man said he was supplying the wood for ship building. “There is a war coming on !” exclaimed Glaccus. At the end of conversation Timon advised that there was no guarantee the wood going into building a vessel for naval battle would serve its purpose. He explained all the hazards the vessel was subject to when uncertain weather and uncertain course of the war were against her. ” But she can carry sea-men.”the man insisted. “Why you want them to drown rather than on land?” At the end the Cynic advised. “If you were to hang from any of the branches, you are dying among your kith and kin and you are assured of a fine funeral.” Glaccus knew well enough to keep quiet. At the end of the day Timon had seen enough folly that his fellow men committed in the name of patriotism. He turned to his servant, “I am so happy. I need not skip a rope every time Athenians throw one”. Timon proved in his conduct he was a cynic. The term “cynic” comes from the same root as “canine.” Their view : The world is basically evil: in order to live properly, people must withdraw from participation in it. You know what the world will be if all good people were to shirk their responsibility in changing it for the better?

If man does not dare change society according to his vision he will be condemned to live in one that he cannot see eye to eye with it. It is what we see in our present world though social changes were not result of a cynical view of the world. Progress and undue reliance in our own ability to work changes created the world. Naturally in a consumer society happiness has come synonymous with fad and novelty of things. It is a cashless society and progress spelt for all a good life on credit. It was a disaster waiting to happen for people who dared not follow their own vision. People perish for want of vision. Virtue of an individual is not in his holiness; not in his intellectual capacity; nor in his religion nor in any ideology. All these are means to fix his vision and happiness is the result of being able to make them serve his best interests. Period.

Vision of man is in his integrity that he is an individual. If he wants only to conform to the general trends he has  compromised his virtue. Happiness derived from goods than from happiness that is based on soul is as different as a drug induced happy feeling than the happiness of being alive to the world of real time and people.

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It is in the nature of things all life forms seek to fulfill their inner most urges in the manner they are most suited for. Even unicellular organism like amoeba will shrink from pain and seek source of food. Pleasure and pain have different values on the Nature’s trading floor. When man with his higher capacity to think and hold back the currency of happiness for a higher gain it demonstrates Nature-plus. A scholar who foregoes easy living and roistering with fellow scholars late into the night in some stewpots, foresee certain advantages by his restraint. He is banking on the foreseeable future he shall be in command to please himself. A higher capacity to negotiate with future means he can also enter into the nature of things and modify changes. For example a dog cannot tell us it is under stress but by measuring changes in hormonal level we can find it out. Man with his higher ability to abstract thinking has entered into the suffering of fellow creatures. But what use is if he would know feelings of fellow beings but does not want to help?

Philosophy of man has helped man to explain the nature of pleasure and pain.In that case how do we explain happiness?

Consider a middling tree in a rainforest dwarfed by other trees. This would mean other trees have cut it out os its share of light. Its circumstance do not give much to be happy about. But in the nature of things wind works rubbing trees at the top sending them down in time. The tree could only hope the nature is in control. It means the one who is in control of natural laws is not nodding of. Meanwhile the old trees have sent their seeds far and wide or birds have done it for them. Trees that enjoyed uninterrupted sunshine shall one day hit the dust. Hope of the tree is justified. It is in line of the sun. Living and dying is part of making opportunities to others as a whole. Happiness for a tree is not thus not limited in one per se but being part of wind, weather sun and connected with the earth. Does it necessarily justify to be passive accepting happiness while we can change the terms of engagement?

The Stoics (from the word “stoa” = porch, where the founder Zeno sat to teach) taught a less extreme philosophy: not to withdraw from the world, but to be indifferent to it.

They were determinists, and believed everything that happened was pre-ordained by God according to a divine plan. Virtue therefore consists in learning to accept everything that happens, understanding it as part of a divine arrangement we are powerless to alter.

Indifference to events means that they have no power over a person; this is how one becomes truly free – virtue is a purely personal matter, residing only in the will of the individual. From modern history we realize indifference to events breed much worse discontent that shall drown everyone in it. Brutal regimes have used terror as its instrument to browbeat opposition to complicity. We have seen in the emergence of Hitler exploiting the apathy of the Allies to impose his will on Europe. A similar situation we see in the Middle East. Brutality of groups feeding on indifference shall create an atmosphere that can imperil peace of the whole. Happiness is not guaranteed by indifference but from active involvement of all parties for the general good.

(To be Concluded)

benny

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What is pleasure ? In Wordsworth’s poem we read that it is a series of sensations affecting the heart to create a certain state of being.

They flash upon that inward eye


Which is the bliss of solitude,


And then my heart with pleasure fills,…

Happiness we may gather from above can fill the heart. The heart here mentioned is not in literal sense. Nevertheless the meaning is clear.

Happiness takes care of the whole life form. We are not affected in part just around our heart or even part of the body but as a whole. Happiness fills our body making certain changes that it can make use of.

King Solomon was one of the wisest kings and the book of Proverbs is credited to him. It was his saying, ‘Merry heart makes a cheerful countenance’.Pro 15.13 On the other hand by sorrow of the heart spirit can be broken. ‘He that is of a merry heart has a continual feast.'(15:15) The significance is clear. Happiness triggers certain changes in your body that adds to the quality of eating. When your appetite is restored a simple meal is heightened to the level of a feast. 

Biology of life forms are not set down in isolation. For example look at the way nature has taken a hand in ensuring propagation of species. Love of two human beings may well begin with a kiss. A kiss at any rate sets off a cascade of neural impulses that bounce between the brain and the tongue, lips, facial muscles, and skin. Billions of little nerve connections distribute information around the body, producing chemical signals that change the way we feel.

A passionate kiss can spike the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to feelings of craving and desire. Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” fosters a sense of closeness and attachment. Adrenaline boosts our heart rate and can make us start sweating as our bodies begin to anticipate what might occur later. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, also dips to reduce uneasiness. Blood vessels dilate, breathing can deepen, cheeks flush and our pulse quickens. With so much going on in our bodies to think pleasure is located in any particular area is not correct.

Nature fixes guidelines for progress in biology by which happiness signifies the general state of a life form in terms of the whole. Safety of the group of bisons having grazing grounds and enough members to propagate their kind must mean a higher state in which to exist.

(To Be Continued.)

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The Secret Of the Rainforests

In a rainforest the ground cover receives only filtered sunlight. Whereas plants in the middle growing from branches of trees get more share of light. They get light but not as much as trees at the crown. These tree canopies receive sunshine directly from sunrise to sundown. If the ground cover and plant life on the middle were to survive they would require the wind to do its job. The wind has been at work for months and years striking the canopies together gradually wearing away here and there, letting more sunshine in. In time it so does, by a gust of wind some trees shall be sent down, clearing the way for the ground cover to survive; fire also does its own bit. These are not disasters but Nature’s way of clearing the old and useless so the rainforests may still flourish. Do we call the wind as cruel? Or blame the trees for denying the ground cover adequate sunlight?
Nature’s way of things in this instance can be applied to life of every man and woman. Change is a secret. It has its own rules. But rules apply on physical realm where everything changes. Our youth is no guarantee; much less can we crow about our material possessions. Happiness is that state of life and keeps itself whole and impervious to changes. It is in fact an higher state of life of working with Nature. We did not came into being by exercising our will; nor will we prevent death from sweeping us away. This too shall soon pass but happiness is placing ourselves beyond the Rule of Changes.

Happiness of trees is regardless of age or external circumstances; we humans are no less special.
benny

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Misery could not bear stay at home. So went she visiting. Wherever she went she announced herself thus, “I am Misery.” She came home all the more miserable because none wanted her company.
Her sister Joy thought she knew how to amuse herself. She sold everything she had and went visiting. She bought presents to give away. Wherever she went she said, “I am Joy!” She was wined and dined and she gave away all she had. At the end those who received her well inquired, “What did you say your name was?”
Joy thought she had wasted her time.
Happiness, the eldest sister went visiting. Wherever she went she announced, “Will you let me stay with you? ”and the house owner asked every time, “Who are you?”
“I am nobody.” At this many a door was slammed in her face.
In the end she knocked at one door. A man opened and was told the same she told some thousand times: ‘I am nobody, Just Happiness.’
The man replied, “I am also a nobody but I have my time to give. I have a body to keep the hearth blazing. Just you and me. You want that?”
She agreed and thus she stayed on. Later he observed that he had the best deal in his life.

benny

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