On the Pursuit of Happiness

We are a species obsessed with our own emotions. What we feel about how we think, and what we think about how we feel flow so mutually and overpoweringly that there seems no respite for the observer of the mind. It is a strangely selfish outlook for a species so bent on bringing about its own generosity; we are divided by the one thing that makes us all common- our individuality. What I feel and what I think can (in theory) never be shared in a complete way with the other individuals around me except by a conceptually agreed upon system of symbols we call language, and even this adept and sophisticated system cannot translate emotion in its essence- for one's true feelings remain hidden behind the veil of how one expresses themselves. For this reason it is often said that silence speaks louder than words, for the absence of language is an absence of that which may potentially hide the truth-truth is silent in of itself: as soon as it is spoken, it becomes that which it is not and because of this, it also becomes perceivable. The problem with this fact is that true emotion then, is not perceivable only through the spoken word; there is a numinous and primal quality to all things which truly stir powerful emotions within us, and when the spoken word is used to describe the experience of such an emotion it almost always does not do it justice. In the world we have created, the thing and the symbol we use to describe that thing are very confused. We say: "I want happiness," or "I want to be happy," as though the emotional state of being happy were as attainable as any object you may buy in a store. But it is not so; the emotion and the thought which describes it with words are completely separate, the thought being that which we unconsciously mistake for a final and absolute object instead of a flowing and ever changing state. In our entire view of emotion, there is a fundamental lack of neutrality, because (as we are so wont), we reject the fact that the experience of being an individual is an experience in of itself, and that emotions and thoughts are the contents of a vast nothingness of the soul and conscious mind, which cannot observe itself but through analogy and symbolism. We are caught in thinking that we are something that can be obtained, and that the potential contents of our psyche can be; as it were, caught and caged to be kept like a pet. This is our constant pursuit when we say "do what makes you happy", or "do what you want to do". The problem is, that even when one attains that which the conscious mind believes will make it happy, the state of being at peace or in bliss is not achieved, precisely because there was an intention to achieve/capture anything at all. If a person pursues being one thing for long enough, and focuses on the fruits of his efforts instead of the process it takes him to get there, he will fail to see that the vast spectrum of being, and the many aspects and contents of the vast human psyche are easily passed by. This is the man so utterly focused on the goal, the driving force behind his actions being nothing but that which he wishes to attain, as though the resolution of his life depended on it absolutely.

But it is not so.

Should one confuse the state of being they associate with the word/thing happiness, and the true experience of the totality of the self which may be observed in any passing present moment, one falls into a trap of their own making-and what a trap it is! Even "happiness" does not make a person fully happy, for happiness without its counterpart of suffering is meaningless. One confuses the thing of happiness with the actual process of being in a pleasant state of mind, and indeed with just the process of being at all. People do not truly wish for happiness, which in of itself is an object-state of pleasure, there is instead an inner working of the psyche which moves the individual towards meaning. Now meaning is very different from any emotional or psychological state, for the specific reason that meaning is the catalyst for the contents of the psyche, the contents themselves being reflections of the meaning we associate with them. Thus the most pleased man in the world is in fact the least happy, for if he finds that there is no meaning to his happiness, he will become the greatest sufferer in the world. See now the beginnings of another paradox which remains hidden within the inner workings of the psyche. One cannot be happy if they do not know in their heart that out there, laying in wait in the vast potentiality of the world, there remains suffering in all its most hideous forms. Without the contrast between happiness and its various opposites, happiness in of itself would become meaningless, and would thus become obsolete and cease to exist. Any given state loses its meaning entirely without its opposite, for it is the contrast between things that allows the human mind to perceive them, and thus in perceiving them, also experience them as a particular state. So the pursuit of happiness then, is a rather foolish one indeed. If one pursues only that which makes them happy, there is no doubt that their lives will come to a short and abrupt end in a manner in which one should superficially hope to bow out; surrounded by sexual desires or pleasures of various and infinite kinds. And all the while in the back of one's mind there will remain the gnawing doubt, the question which hunts all people like a wolf in the night: why? What for? For what has this all been? This is the true question which may lead one to a meaningful, and thus happy life. For he who has meaning in his life will never fail to appreciate that which gives him purpose, and in ceasing his constant questioning he will become as the enlightened: at peace with himself and all things.

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