Eudaimonia, Stoicism and The Elements

February 24, 2017

 

                       Happiness...an endeavor

 

Eudaimonia (Greek) = happiness, welfare, human flourishing. Etymologically, it consists of the words "eu" ("good") and "daimōn" ("spirit").

 

    Ever notice how happiness has become an endeavor? Our desire of being happy is often a source of unhappiness; mostly because we've been bamboozled that happiness might be achieved through material possessions, or a slim muscular body, or fame.... A leitmotif , a leading theme in our lives, happiness is the main reason behind all of our actions, no matter how disguised they may be behind other spurious reasons. Even when you give to others in a gesture of selfless action, you are rewarded with extreme pleasure and serotonin, because it's philanthropy that makes you happy. ( I'd be delighted to satisfy your need, should you be looking for a willing recipient of your munificence someday) .

 Some of us call a friend to feel happy, some let bloom their creative cores, some seek solitude, some eat chocolate, or indulge in some other dangerous actions (that I will leave to each's own discretion)... impermanent solutions, at best; an ephemeral oasis before plunging back into the antagonistic world of lack thereof. 

                  

 Happiness- not mere temporary pleasure derived from giving in to our habitual addictions, like societal approval, or compulsive, highly satisfying ego trips*, not to mention food, and obsessing over the body) -is something much more numinous, ethereal, eternal. Just like the Self, you can't attain it , you can only be it.

"There is no way to happiness. for happiness IS the way." Thich Nhat Hanh

Untouchable, yet immediately available. Reminiscent of the Kingdom of God, it is at hand, the trick to remember is that you have a hand!


"How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god?" Alan Watts

 

                                            The Stoic's way

 

   It's difficult to be stoic in this day'n age; what with the advancement of technology, and science, we are flooded by objects and gadgets intended to simplify (pussify) our lives, information galore-for free!, and many many people and books that can help you; or guarantee things for you, taking the responsibility of your own actions off your hands ( if you're confused, think about the insurance , medical or law business).

 Somewhere on the way, many of us awaken to the concept of how "the things that you own end up owning you", that maybe we can live without some of the things we are told we need and how a minimalist approach to life leads to a more accomplished sense of self than one cluttered with objects, opinions, or superfluous judgments.

  It's time for a simpler life, where we don't complicate things, where we take responsibility for our lives, our actions, our health, our choices. 

 

" No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. - Buddha

 

Freed from passions, following reason; not seeking to extinguish emotions, rather transforming thought through a discipline of logic, reflection and concentration; this is the stoic's way.

 

"Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the Universal Reason (logos). A primary aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individual's ethical and moral well-being: "Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature."

 

"Philosophy for a Stoic is not just a set of beliefs or ethical claims, it is a way of life involving constant practice and training (or askesis, see asceticism). Stoic philosophical and spiritual practices included logic, Socratic dialogue and self-dialogue, contemplation of death, training attention to remain in the present moment (similar to some forms of Eastern meditation), and daily reflection on everyday problems and possible solutions. Philosophy for a Stoic is an active process of constant practice and self-reminder."

 

 Reminiscent of the middle Way of Buddhism, and the seven principles of Bushido (a uniquely Japanese code of ethical conduct adhered to by the samurai), and Zen, they all have in common this grounding, constant awareness of Being, which is, after all, the only thing that IS.

 

 "Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know." Lao Tzu

 

      And yet he spoke...

 

                                       "Be water, my friend" 

 

 

 

“Empty your mind! Be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water  into a cup, it becomes the cup. Put it into a bottle, it becomes the  bottle; you put into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash: Be water, my friend!” Bruce Lee

 

  What a lovely metaphor for living a free, unconcerned life, one that is not lived with a grim, rigid determination based on the obsession of controlling everything , but rather an attitude of acceptance, of saying "Yes!" to whatever comes your way.

When you look at nature, notice how flexible, adaptable and free-flowing it is. 

 We have much in common with flowers, and clouds.

"Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.…"

 

                              Conquer the world with softness

 

There is great power in gentleness, and an opportune time to share one of my favorite fables :


                                    The North Wind and the Sun

 

The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.

"We shall have a contest," said the Sun.

Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.

"As a test of strength," said the Sun, "Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man."

"It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat," bragged the Wind.

The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.

Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.

The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.

Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.

"How did you do that?" said the Wind.

"It was easy," said the Sun, "I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way."

 

Practicing ease , acceptance and fearlessness in our daily lives can be a challenge, but with awareness and love we can turn our mind inward and tap into the eternal fountain of "now", with open arms, grateful for everything.

 Put up a sail and let the wind take you,

 Laura

 

 

PS: If you made it this far, and enjoyed this article, please let me know; drop me a line in the comments,"Like" Mural Dreams on Facebook, and share it with your friends!

PPS: Professional pictures to be posted soon in the Gallery

 

           

 

 * " The biggest ego trip going is getting rid of your ego."  Alan Watts

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