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What is Truth?

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Doc Tiessen

Re: The Truth

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Saklis:Your theory sounds very eloquent. I liked them. In regard to the two basic tendencies... the one of balance... and the one of increase... do they relate somehow to the Ying and Yang? The light and the dark?You mentioned that one MUST achieve a balance with them... are you saying that when you reach balance is when you can be happy? Or is it also possible when you are bouncing like a pendel from one extreme to the other? I mean, is the static or the dynamic balance the magic key? Or does the secret rely on the speed or the rythm of the pendel?However, I did not understand how did you make the analogy between knowledge + intelligence on the one hand, and relax + serenity on the other to your two principles. Also on your theory of dreams, you say that sleeping does releif a bit from the stress... so, that the passive principle helps to be happy... but sometimes, I have bad dreams, and I feel even worse that if I had not dreamed at all. Lukily this does not happen often, but how do you explain that?You also said that Happiness is not a state we want to stay for too long... why? Are we only happy after having been sad... so that happiness arises from the contrast... but not from the overall level?Also, what are the driving forces behind your two principles?Ken: I've been thinking for a while that serenity is only one of the two basic forms of happiness. The other is associated with vitality, energy, absorption in life.I would relate energy and vitality with the increasing principle of Saklis... the absorption in life is possibly more related to the balancing principle. Or are you saying that there are three principles? However, what is happiness for you? Can you explain it and how exactly to achieve it?I also wanted to ask Saklis and Ken... where do you place love in your theories? Is love apart or is it included in your principles, or does it arise by the interaction of them? Diversity is Good!
Ken Hemingway

Re: Happiness

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Doc Tiessen asked: What would you think of a drug that can activate your brain (like the meditating monk) that would you make you truely happy? Would you use that drug?Let me start off on a different but related question.If I could take a drug which would turn me into a fully enlightened Buddha, would I do it?I doubt it. First of all, if the new me is very different from the old me, what happened to the old me? Did I cease to exist? I don't want to cease to exist!How can I be assured that there are not undesirable aspects of this transformation. You may assure me that I can stop taking the drug and I will return to my normal state, but how do I know that the drug will not affect my ability or willingness to stop taking it?Having said that, let me say that there is a case where I think I would take a drug similar to the one you hypothesize. If I, or someone close to me, were profoundly, clinically depressed, I think, based on my reading of the state of the art in treatment options, that I would take an anti-depressant. It is, of course, very surprising that such a class of drugs exists, that it shoud be possible to affect something as complex as a human being's characteristic mood by something as crude as swallowing a chemical, but I believe it is possible.Now I suspect that a major reason that people are not much happier than they are, is that they worry and are anxious about things that they would be much better not to worry/be anxious about. Part of my reason for believing that is that I often worry about things that a few months down the road I have completely forgotten about. Even on a shorter timeframe, I often know that something that upsets me greatly now I will be able to think of with equanimity in a day or two. Given the magic of anti-depressant drugs, it seems quite possible that there might be a drug which would make me much less susceptible to this kind of reaction. Would I take it?Probably not. First there are the concerns I listed above about it being impossible to know all the effects of the drug. In the face of major depression I would be willing to take the risk. But probably not to deal with my everyday worries and anxieties.I have a second reason. In response to the work Martin Seligman published as "Learned Optimism", some psychologists argued that worry and anxiety are adaptive
Doc Tiessen

Re: Happiness

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Ken:I have very similar ideas. I like the way you present them.On the question of the ideal drug that would make me happy... well, in the past I answered this question it in the same way as you did... but now I have changed my view... if my aim in life would be to be happy, I would definitively take that drug. I would not hesitate. My only argument in not taking such a drug, is that the pursose of my life is not to be happy, but to contribute to a better world. So, I sacrify happyness in order to do something useful in this world.What is something useful? Well, I do not know yet, because I am still searching and trying... at the moment I work on science and try to raise a family... I have no idea if that would be useful for humanity, I am just assuming... having faith... By the way, what do you do? Diversity is Good!
MadArchitect

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Re: Happiness

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The problem with the happiness drug is that the happiness it provides is something external to you. It is therefore questionable as to whether or not the happiness produced by such a drug can really said to be your happiness. The notion of a self-sufficient good is one further explored in Boethius' "Consolation of Philosophy", which I'd certainly recommend in reference to this discussion.
Ken Hemingway

Re: Happiness

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Doc says: : "the purpose of my life is not to be happy, but to contribute to a better world."This reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown says "My dad says we are put here on earth to help others" and Lucy (or was it Linus?) says: "What are the others here for?""a better world" Would it be a better world if, after all your efforts, conditions had 'objectively' improved, but everyone was quite a lot more miserable? Isn't the real test of 'a better world' whether people are happier or not? Is so why don't you yourself count as one of the people who you would like to make happier?In Buddhism, one of the first steps in metta (loving kindness) meditation, is to learn to love, and be kind and forgiving to, yourself. They will tell you that if you cannot do that, your attempts to love and be kind to others are doomed to failure.As I've said before, I believe quite strongly that most people spend far too much time trying to 'make their lives better', and not nearly enough learning to be happy with their lives the way they already are. If you believed that, then one of the best things you could do to 'contribute to a better world' would be to persuade people to take that strategy seriously
Doc Tiessen

Re: Happiness

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Ken: Isn't the real test of 'a better world' whether people are happier or not?I know what you mean, and you are right that it is difficult on how the define a better world. Nevertheless, I see problems when the aim is only for everybody to be happy. The human beings are not made to be happy. It is an unsustainable situation. We are biologically incompatible to perfect happiness.Have you read "Brave New World" from Huxley? It describes a world in which the aim is for everybody is to be happy. They also created a perfect class system, and you are trained and given drugs to feel good. The drug is called soma and it makes you very happy, without any sideeffects. Even if you belong to a lower class, you would be happy in such a society. Are in favour of such a Brave New World? If your final aim is for everybody to be happy, you could not use any argument against such world.To use another example besides the perfect drug. Have you seen the movie: The Matrix? Imagine the Matrix would create a perfect world for every individual. Would you against the Matrix if everybody is doing perfectly fine? Or asked in another way... if you would be unplugged from tha matrix, and you would see such an incomfortable world, would ypu like to get again plugged into the matrix? Would you defend the Matrix to get on working? Diversity is Good!Edited by: Doc Tiessen at: 2/24/05 9:23 pm
Sakis Totlis

Re: Happiness

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Ken : "In Buddhism, one of the first steps in metta (loving kindness) meditation, is to learn to love, and be kind and forgiving to yourself."I've always advised people who asked for my advice (e.g. my kids, friends) to "love and forgive themselves." In these precise words. It seemed to me the shortest way to say something that seemed to fit for all cases. Like a pill (drug
Ken Hemingway

Re: Happiness

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Doc wrote: The human beings are not made to be happy. It is an unsustainable situation. We are biologically incompatible to perfect happiness.I am very sure that some people are much happier than others. Doc wrote: Are in favour of such a Brave New World? If your final aim is for everybody to be happy, you could not use any argument against such world.I've tried before to tell you what I think is wrong with the drug route to happiness. I think a lot of the difficulty of getting clear about this is due to a fuzziness in what it means to be "happy". That is why I often try to substitute the term "life that you love to lead". In the end my core beliefs are:1.&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp That the value in life, the reason it is worth living it, has to be based upon the experience of living it . Not on some external or supernatural justification
Sakis Totlis

Re: Happiness

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Yet, Doc is right.If one has this steady inclination in life toward what is "good" (like a gate always open to the "good" and always closed to the "bad"), then why not say "yes" to a drug of happiness, too? Actually you do not know how to say no to it. I mean that this steady seeking of what enhances your well being and your positive feelings (the sort of idea most people have about happiness) and steadily declining what makes you unhappy, is a sure way to hell. It is the commonest practice of all eventually unhappy people that you described so well. What our organism and our conscience prefer is not labeled as "good" or "bad" with a steady and permanent prefix. All "good" things can become "bad" and progressively "disastrous" after they merely pass some quantity. As far as equilibrium is concerned quantity is the ultimate quality. Example: Half a spoonful of salt makes food tasty and it is "very good" to add it in your soup. But if you pour the pack of salt in, the soup will be uneatable. Example: Food is very good, it sustains life, but overweight people know that "eating" (with no other clarification) is their biggest problem and they never realized how it came to be so. They find that out when they cannot stop eating because from the beginning they were like a gate always open to "good" food. They never know just how sticking steadily to something "good" can lead them straight to the worst. Most "bad" habits begin as good, giving pleasure and satisfaction and making us "happy"
Ken Hemingway

Re: Happiness

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Sakis:I think you are reading a lot more into my words than I intended to put there. I do not believe that you get to live a happy life by thinking moment to moment "What will make me happy next?". That sounds to me like the pursuit of pleasure, which I would agree sounds like a fast path to hell. Certainly I would expect there to be frequent elements of indirection - that, for example, is how I would view advice (which I would certainly offer) to pursue forgiveness, loving kindness and generosity. But I still think it is worth understanding what the goal is. I think it is to be found in "positive states of consciousness" for oneself and for others - and I also think that one has a greater responsibility (yes I would even say a moral responsibility) for ones own consciousness than for anyone else's - primarily because you have a lot more control over your own, and consequently greater responsibility.There are far too many people in this country who never get beyond believing that their goal in life is either to become rich and successful, or to fix all the world's problems. I think both are mistaken. The point I am making here (and I think of this as a very preliminary discussion) is simply that made by Thoreau when he went to Walden.
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