One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Academic Buddha’s??? Searching for Happiness?
Science and religion are two largest sources of authorities in making world views of people. Science’s main focus is on origins and religion’s main focus is on purpose so it is why we can find people are following both. Majority of educated people following both in a coexisting frame of looking to origins from perspective of science and to the purpose of their life from perspective of religion.
Science has well recorded efforts of explaining the origins and we can track the developments of major theories that are commonly known. Science is a perpetual struggle to dig deeper in origins. Few examples are as follows,
Big bang is an explanation of science to origin of universe.
Plate tectonics is an explanation of origin of changes in earth’s crust.
Evolution is an explanation of origin of living being.
Quantum mechanics is an explanation of origin of matter, energy and time.
On other hand, religion’s main focus is on the purpose of life. (Though every religion has their own views about origins but they don’t stress much as science do) Morality is the core of every religion where everything is defined in terms of good or bad. If we want to simplify a religious stress on purpose, based on morality, we can do it as follows,
If you healthy so the purpose of your health is help those who are not healthy (ill)
If you have wealth so the purpose of your wealth is help those who don’t have wealth (poor)
If you are educated so the purpose of your education is to help those who didn’t get education (illiterate or less educated people).
If you are law abiding individual so you have to convince those who break the laws (criminals) and so on.
The actions based on these good and bad are judged in the next world where unlike this world where good and bad coexist, good have a separate world, “Paradise” and bad have its own separate world, “Hell”. The main purpose of every religion is having a moral life.
We can easily conclude that both Science and religion has their definitions of what they are looking into. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT IS MOST PEOPLE FOLLOW BOTH ON THEIR EASE.
A common philosophy of Happiness:
Though the philosophy of Epicurus and Gotham Buddha is famous in how to pursue a happy life but when it is constituted in the US constitution people are let free to define their happiness. There is diversity in perspectives of happiness but the common concept of happiness just like any other concept takes its views from both religion and science (We have already mentioned that most modern men look to science and religion as a coexisting world views).
People’s perspectives of religious happiness:
People try at their best to have a moral life and live according to will of God they worship. From relationships, to dietary and to earnings they feel good when they act morally.
People’s perspectives of scientific happiness:
People rely on the science and products of science as a source of well being. People try to adopt new products to make their lives happier, from computers, to cars to electric appliances and synthetic products in their homes and offices.
Here both Scientific and religious products coexists. It is a common approach of people to happiness. What Gotham Buddha and Epicurus are saying comes next. When traders and authorities come in between to manipulate scientific products and religious products for their benefits makes peoples common judgments shaky. Advertisements make people spend and consume more than they need in search for more luxury and to be better by struggling against others moralities.
When people are lost from their track they look for happiness’s definitions, perspectives and techniques. They search in hope of finding a definition or a way to make them happier or at least back on track. Here we find a lot of GURUS teaching people, how to be happier. Certainly! Everyone search happiness according to their own methodologies. Religious authorities search them in verses to locate what happiness means. Monks search in the teachings and practices of the Buddha to find meaning of happiness. Also there is scientists who design experiments to observe responses of brains to stimulus to find what brain areas is responsible and how they can manipulate their studies result to make devices, drugs or techniques to use in curing. Also there are behavioral scientists that keep people under observations to collect data and statistically find behavioral adaptations of people to happiness. These all approaches we mentioned are a way to crack happiness but still we don’t find happiness vague and without a proper definition. Why, because all try to make happiness fitting into their own methods. They are not searching what happiness is in its raw and real nature as it is.
It is a custom that when one search for something, he must know what he is searching for? If someone generalizes, it could be misleading. Even if you want to shop for clothing, you do not generalize that I am going to shop for clothing. You specify what you want. It is really strange that we generalize states of mind under happiness. It is a misleading and one by a small pondering can get the key mistakes.
Both Gotham Buddha and Epicurus are based their works to how avoid the miseries. Gotham’s stress was on limiting expectations and Epicurus stressed on becoming self sufficient by avoiding synthesized needs by markets or society. Both these approaches are looking to happiness as cessation of miseries and sadness. Both of them were looking to sadness as caused by external stimulus so they were advocating of limiting external sources of sadness (For example expectations in case of Buddha and advertisements in case of Epicurus).
But does really happiness means cessation of pains, miseries and sadness? Or it is something else? People may not wonder much about happiness and sadness as they are temporary states and they come and go. Most have convinced themselves to just live with them as they think life is a mixture of happiness and sad.
But does happiness is a momentarily states that alternate with sadness? Until we do not define happiness we can’t judge well because there are other states of mind that comes and goes and we confuse them with happiness. Pleasure, pain, sadness, fatigue, sleeplessness, hunger, anger, joys, good mood, boredom and so on to name.
What happiness is?
Once we define happiness, we can measure our feelings against happiness. Happiness is a self convinced state of mind. Anything and act that is convincing mind adds to our happiness and anything that turns our minds against us decrease our happiness.
Happiness is specific to mind. Dreams, imaginations, knowledge, skills, world views and opinions, achievements, learning, positions and possessions, relationships are these things that are what occupies the largest portion and time of mind and all these are not temporary states of mind. They are always there in mind. Minds are always engaged with professional matters, family affairs, learning, world views, people’s opinions about you, and your financial status and so on. We can’t escape out these by adopting any technique because they are what makes our mind or at least we recognize ourselves with.
As comes to food, vacations, clothing, colors, music, theatre, you can make your mind and change it frequently without much to think or care about them. Why? Because they are momentarily, they come and go.
Hence, your mind categorizes things according to their importance. If dreams, imaginations, knowledge, skills, world views, achievements, learning, creative works, positions and possessions and relationships are the sources of happiness and soothing of mind so they are always there in your mind. Happiness is there but its levels are lowered and raised by adding something new or losing something out of it.
It is different from pleasure/enjoyments and sadness/grieves. Pleasure, enjoyments, sadness and pain are excited states of mind. They may cause happiness but are not happiness. When they convince the mind, they become part of happiness. Someone may suppose that sadness is an opposite of happiness. If we are not sad so we are happy. It is not the case. Let’s examine it with an example. If you are in love with someone his or her memories may cause you sad but you like this sadness because your mind is convinced of having his or her love (A satisfaction of attachment). We can take this example to some more depth. The religious men that get pain or feeling sad in their practices or on way of religions, they feel happy to these pains and sadness because their minds are convinced of being on right path or by feeling of achievements or goodness.
We can elaborate this by looking at development of pleasures and enjoyments and also sadness. A child may get pleased by candies, a bicycle, a game or a fairy tale. When you get older then you may lose interests in these sources of pleasures and may need something new to become pleased. By passing time one’s sources of pleasures also matures. More serious or valued things make him please. Why the sources of pleasures change while our senses are the same. Our minds grow to become more mature so our personalities.
Until now we have,
1- Defined happiness as a self convinced state of mind.
2- Happiness is not a temporary state of mind. It is always there but its levels may rise or decline by achieving or losing something of prior importance in convincing our mind.
3- Happiness is different from temporarily states of mind, like pleasure, pain and likes and dislikes like color, food, wearing, vacations, partying, music, etc.
Levels of happiness:
Now that we have defined happiness as a self convinced state of mind and we have concluded that happiness is always there and it has a level that rise or fall so there must be a measurable level of happiness also. Unfortunately, happiness does not have symptoms like pleasure and fun to make you laugh or blush that one could judge how much you have enjoyed your happiness. Yes! Sudden changes in levels of happiness can cause blushing, cry, laughing or running. But it is rare. People enjoy their happiness just by thinking or imagining about them.
Though happiness is difficult to measure but it is the most basic ingredient in constructing a personality.
How happiness construct your personality?
By our definition, "happiness is what makes your mind to be convinced". There is practical applications of this definition in real life. You may set few hours for your studies but you will study seriously when your mind is convinced to study. Traditionally it is known as "concentration" but I call it, "convinced time". By convinced time I mean the time that you really wanted to study and have studies. You may spend several hours one time with your book by name of reading and read only few pages. Another time you may read a chapter or two in the same amount of time. You can have another example related reading which is endorsing this idea. A subject that attracts you, "means have convinced your mind" you may spend more hours to read it and also by more concentrations and so become more productive in less amount of time. A subject that is of not interest to you, you may fight with yourself for a quiet amount of time to convince yourself in reading it. A lots of time and less production. Still you may not love a subject but because of its importance (either because of exam or because of some other rewards) your mind easily become convinced to concentrate on it. OK! whatever the source or method is, it is now settled that convincing of mind is necessary. After learning you will get a sense of acheivement that adds in your happiness or your mind become convinced of what it has gotten. It is a mechanism of personality building by happiness.
Let’s make of an analogy of our personality to a basin that has a mid oceanic ridge system (Bring geological time scale to one’s life time). As time pass this ocean become larger and deeper. When it was small and shallow, small winds and inflow of solutions could cause waves and turnovers. But as oceans get deeper and larger, it requires higher changes in weather, wind velocities and more density flows to cause waves or turnovers. Personality has the same patterns. The larger the personality becomes the smaller becomes the effects of pleasures on it but despite it become more calm (satisfied by its existence and achievements). Happiness is the growth of personality not pleasures, enjoyments and sadness. They are only excited states of minds and their effects depend on the levels of personalities.
Academic mistakes in studying happiness:
Happiness is still an individualistic endeavor. Mistakes are made when one confuses it with pleasures and enjoyments and try to make index of happiness by studying a few thousands of people in their excited states (enjoyments). Statistical studies of happiness has two serious drawback,
1- Measuring a mass of people with same measuring stick.
2- Measuring responses of people to their excited state (joys and pleasures) as measure of happiness.
These two drawbacks are enough to reject these statistical approach and their results. Conclusions that we get happiness from our social networks are correct to a level where social networks are able to convince the minds. If a mind is not convinced by his/her social network then this rule does not apply on him and it won’t help him. We can see the difference of levels of happiness from social networks in East and West. Weak social networks in West decline their levels of happiness despite economic well being. On other hand strong social networks in East compensate for weaker economic status.
You can find an example (by clicking on following link) of how academicians manipulate the data for defining and guiding people on happiness. Certainly, academicians think of themselves as modern Buddha. But are they on the right path??????????????