Relevant Article on Happiness #4

In my exhaustive quest to cover all things “happy,” I use several cutting edge research techniques.

In other words, I usually just type the word “happy” into Google.com and see what’s there.  Tonight my search led me to this article called “Deceptive Happiness,” part of the aptly named site called findhappiness.org.  It appears to be a website that promotes Buddhism, but the articles usually end with a book sale at the end.  Commercialism is generally a red flag on the trustworthy scale- which is one of the reasons I took down my own advertisements after flirting with it for a few days.

Regardless, I’m merely pontificating and cataloguing here, so it doesn’t take much to warrant archiving something.  I did find this quote from the article an interesting subject for discussion, however:

Everyone wants to be happy, but no one in samsara experiences true happiness. In comparison with the amount of suffering they endure, the happiness of living beings is rare and fleeting, and even this is only a contaminated happiness that is in reality the nature of suffering. Buddha called the pleasurable feelings that result from worldly enjoyments ‘changing suffering’ because they are simply the experience of a temporary reduction of manifest suffering. In other words, we experience pleasure due to the relief of our previous pain. For example, the pleasure we derive from eating is really just a temporary reduction of our hunger, the pleasure we derive from drinking is merely a temporary reduction of our thirst, and the pleasure we derive from ordinary relationships is for the most part merely a temporary reduction of our underlying loneliness.

Besides being an incredibly depressing way to look at the world, I also think that perhaps this is backwards.  Darkness is the absence of light, not the other way around.  Notwithstanding the fact that a “darklight” would be an incredibly cool invention, it’s just not possible.  The quote above makes unhappiness seem like a never-ending zombie invasion, and our pathetic attempts to stem it simply delay the inevitable slaughter…

It’s also very simplistic.  People certainly eat when they are not hungry- I do it all the time.  Also, thirst is a sign of dehydration– we should never technically get thirsty if we are drinking enough fluids.  Lastly, I refuse to accept the fact that my relationship with my wife is simply an excuse to ignore the fact that I’m really a lonely human being.  How much does such a belief system ignore other people’s roles in our lives?

I know I’m parsing this to a hellish extent, and that the article is actually dealing with a more metaphysical argument.  I have nothing but respect for the world’s major religions, but I cannot agree with the statement that the happiness in my life is merely the transient absence of suffering.  Wouldn’t we all be clinically depressed if that was the case?  If I sit on the couch and do nothing for a few minutes and get bored, I don’t start crying.  Sadness doesn’t descend upon me like a harpy and carry away my sense of joy.

If a practicing Buddhist happens to read this, please comment.  I admittedly know next to nothing about your religion, and I’m sure I’ve misconstrued it in probably ten different ways.  I’m only critiquing the article from a practical and experiential viewpoint- I have no bearing or authority to attack it on its spiritual merits.  

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