Wednesday, July 22, 2009


“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are the prime values America stands for—“happiness,” not “property,” as John Locke originally phrased his triad of paramount human values.

What, then, is this elusive “happiness” that needs to be pursued? Is it one condition befitting all human beings alike, or many individual kinds of good fortune or private bliss?

Our Founders have left us to determine the nature of happiness, an enduring question that human beings the Earth over continue to debate, proposing sundry answers.

Were we to understand “human nature” thoroughly, might we find fundamental, species-wide criteria for happiness, the knowledge of which would prove illuminating and instructive in the shaping of our communal institutions of education, governance, and economy?

If we clearly knew the essential criteria of human happiness and pursued no spurious surrogates, would not this sorry world be better off?

Should we not then turn to the best of our psychospiritual scholars, those who have studied most revealingly the nature of human minds, from the most basic to the most elevated and subtle?

What do ancient Wisdom Traditions (such as Taoism and Buddhism) tell us about human happiness, and what do the academic disciplines (such as Integral Psychology and Positive Psychology) say to confirm or modify that ancient lore?

Before pursuing happiness per se, it seems, we must first pursue the idea of happiness and learn the end of all our questing. True happiness can’t be the will-o-the-wisp so many have futilely chased before, or merely good hap. It must be what we need above all else.

Now what is that?

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If it’s true that we live by stories, by fictions or myths that offer us meaning and purpose which we crave but cannot prove, then why not assume authorship of our myth-making process?

Why not spin the yarns of our own lives and weave the patterned fabrications of our own philosophies?

Though others may be well enough satisfied by modeling their life stories to imitate what’s familiar and fashionable, customary and conventional, I prefer to make own myth independently and inventively.

Changing my metaphor from weaving to house building, I’d proceed in this myth-making process by supposing the foundation I’d want to build on, the fundamental cosmological ideas I wish to assume.

In my case, I’ll assume that the universe is alive with infinitely interconnected consciousness, directed by principles of harmony and love.

Furthermore, I’ll assume (as many throughout history have declared) that my present earthly personage expresses in this physical, temporal world a spiritual, eternal essence.

Who I am essentially survives my bodily demise, has previously chosen to incarnate as me in order to evolve through this temporal experience, and will carry lessons learned here back to eternity.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.