Condemned to Happiness in the West: good article

I wished to share a very interesting recent article by a French philosopher arguing that the “the Western cult of happiness is a mirthless enterprise.” I cannot say I agree with everything the writer Bruckner makes (i.e. smoking laws and some others) but it is one of the most perspicacious short commentaries on the nature of contemporary life that I have come across. Bruckner writes:

"After the American and French Revolutions (the first of which inscribed the pursuit of happiness in its founding document), the right to a decent life and the privileged status of pleasure became the order of the day for progressive movements across Europe. Human misfortune would be rendered an archaic residue.

In the 1960s, two major shifts transformed the right to happiness into the duty of happiness. The first was a shift in the nature of capitalism, which had long revolved around production and the deferral of gratification, but now focused on making us all good consumers. To make this shift possible, an ingenious invention had appeared not long before, first in America in the 1930s and then in Europe in the 1950s: credit.

The second shift was the rise of individualism. Since nothing opposed our fulfillment any longer… we became solely responsible for what happened to us. It proved an awesome burden: if I don’t feel happy, I can blame no one but myself. So it was no surprise that a vast number of fulfillment industries arose, ranging from cosmetic surgery to diet pills to innumerable styles of therapy, all promising reconciliation with ourselves and full realization of our potential.

Happiness is no longer a matter of chance or a heavenly gift, an amazing grace that blesses our monotonous days. We now owe it to ourselves to be happy, and we are expected to display our happiness far and wide.

Thus happiness becomes not only the biggest industry of the age but also a new moral order. We now find ourselves guilty of not being well, a failing for which we must answer to everyone and to our own consciences.

The Western cult of happiness is indeed a strange adventure, something like a collective intoxication. In the guise of emancipation, it transforms a high ideal into its opposite. Condemned to joy, we must be happy or lose all standing in society. It is not a question of knowing whether we are more or less happy than our ancestors; our conception of the thing itself has changed, and we are probably the first society in history to make people unhappy for not being happy."

The full article is here from the City Journal
city-journal.org/2011/21_1_happiness.html

Whether one be a Christian, Jew, atheist, agnostic, I think the article makes some valid observations of how we all value happiness now, and whether in some respects our expectations are naive.

Anyway, thought I’d post it here, in Philosophy. :slight_smile:

I am happy, therefore I exist, or do I live. :shrug:

Thank you for posting this! This article is exploring ideas that I have been pondering myself lately.

If you believe the TV commercials, things like a Pepsi should be having us jumping for joy! Real life doesn’t add up though, and I do think it makes us all feel like we must be missing out on something. :confused:

I was so relieved when I finally realized that what we’re missing out on isn’t going to be found here, since this isn’t our real home! :rolleyes:

Glad you found the article thought-provoking and pertinent. :slight_smile:

That article is interesting in that it actually names the problem. The problem is unadulterated hedonism. Reinforced by Voltaire’s declaration that *“Earthly paradise is here where I am” *the developments of mankind which did give rise to the absence of pain and suffering on a grand scale became the means for losing focus on what the true priorities of leading a good life actually were. The author gives an account of the developments that supposedly pandered to mankinds proclivity for personal happiness and he asserts that one of the reasons was the rise in individulaism. I dispute that and would suggest that the real reason for the pursuit of hedonism had to do with the rise of Marxist doctrine, its adoption by the so called intellectual classes of many nations, its spread through teaching institutions, it’s focus on the material and the empirical and its tendency to fragment society into indentified ‘classes’ of people who demanded their own particular brand of ‘rights’. Things such as credit, cosmetic surgery, etc, were just sympotoms of the desire to have what ever it took to make one happy and to appear to be just as good, if not better, than the next class of people. The west largely forgot its spiritual nature, its spiritual heritage and the need to give a meaning to living that wasn’t self centred. However, the self centredness was always measured in terms of the class of person one identified with. Like Middle Class and its requisite values.

I wholeheartedly agree that we have a huge problem with happiness in the West and in America in particular and that the problems stem almost entirely from the “expectations” you mention here.

There’s an episode of The Sopranos – probably the best-written show on television in the last several decades – that diagnoses our happiness problem as follows (I’m paraphrasing from the speech of a non-American character): “You Americans, you have everything you want and yet you are unhappy. You run around feeling sorry for yourselves, crying to your shrinks, while the rest of the world is out there struggling to survive.”

The point, of course, is that all the things that are supposed to make us happy inevitably do not. We have it all here in America, especially compared to the rest of the world, but we aren’t satisfied with “it all.” We want…well, we don’t know what we want. That’s part of the problem. As another poster mentioned, we’ve been trained by our TVs to think that buying Pepsi and having a bowl of Cheerios will make everything perfect. Life doesn’t work out the way that marketing wants us to think.

That’s partially where these “naive expectations” come from. They also come from our psyches. Human beings have the tendency to look outside of themselves for happiness or “fulfillment.” We’re all desperate for something, anything other than me to come and make me happy.

We’ve all done it. We’ve said, “Oh, if I just buy this new hat, I just know I’ll be happy.” And, of course, we’re not. We go through this process many times before some of us wise up a little bit. Then we shift from “things” to abstract things: “Oh, if only I get this promotion, then I’ll be happy.” But that doesn’t make us any happier either. So then, some people (who think they’re really super clever), say, “Oh, if only I could meet the perfect partner and raise the perfect family, then I’d be happy.” And then, those few who talk themselves into thinking they have a clue say, “Oh, if only I could be spiritual or give my life to a cause…yeah, then I’d be happy!” These folks have the added benefit of not only having a new goal, they have the advantage of feeling superior to everyone else because now they’re purusing something is intrinsically “good.”

What very few people actually realize is that all of the above is nothing more than a new version of the hat. As long as we’re running around chasing goals outside of ourselves – expecting those external goals to make us happy, we never will be.

There’s another poster above who blames our “happiness crisis” on “hedonism” and “selfishness,” but that’s not quite right. The root cause is the assumption that underlies some behaviors labeled “hedonism” and “selfishness”: that something external to me can make me happy, that happiness is a “thing” out there that I have to seek.

As long as you think that happiness is a “thing” that can be brought to you by some means, you will ultimately be miserable, whether your “means” is hedonism or spirituality, whether it’s a new hat or a new prayer.

To go back to The Sopranos for a minute, there’s an event from the final season that echoes the idea about Americans being unhappy: after a serious and life-threatening injury occurs to a main character, a Native American saying mysteriously surfaces in that character’s hospital room, and everyone denies having pinned it up there. It reads: “Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, when all the while a great wind carries me across the sky.”

This is what our lives are like. We mope around feeling sorry for ourselves because we can’t have that shiny new hat or because we want to think that happiness is some “divine gift” to be doled out by supernatural bookkeepers with nothing better to do with their time. But with all our moping, we don’t notice that not only is none of that gunk we fill our heads with is important, it is the only thing standing in the way of happiness.

My response to the “happiness crisis” is to promote the value of living in the moment, of seeing the present moment for what it is. I’ve written at length about this idea on these forums under the subject of Zen meditation, and it’s relevant to this issue: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=537049

There’s one more story that occurs to me, and it echoes the Native American quote and the idea that looking for things outside of yourself to make you happy is silly. I’m going to shamelessly steal this story from a book on Zen by Joko Beck. Briefly, there was once a fish who wanted to learn what the Great Ocean was, and he swam from teacher to teacher, asking, “What’s the Great Ocean?” (or, in other words, how can I be happy?). The wise fish he consulted gave him all sorts of conflicting answers. Some said that he had to follow certain rules and try hard to be a good fish; others said that the Great Ocean was a “divine gift,” and so he he better just pray again and again for it; others said that the Great Ocean can only be found by giving up this or that, or trying to live up to this or that ideal.

One day, the fish came across a very wise teacher named AntiTheist. The fish swam up to him and asked, “What’s the Great Ocean?”

AntiTheist looked down at him and then started to laugh. He laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed…

John, I agree with the rest of your post with respect to attempts to create paradise on earth and the loss of spiritual heritage, but I take some issue with your quote above.

In university I was a great fan of Hayek, Friedman, the Chicago school of Economics, and the argument that keeping the economic sphere in private hands militates against the prospect of totalitarianism where both the economic sphere and the political are concentrated in one power. Hayek and Friedman both took marxian totalitarianism as a serious threat. Hayek’s arguments in The Road to Serfdom are timeless, though we can see them now through the lens of what we have learned since it was published.

Nevertheless, even Adam Smith, author of the “invisible hand” idea in free markets, dedicated much time to questions of morality. Hayek and Friedman really did not. Yes, defending personal liberty and individualism are of the utmost importance, but Friedman’s argument (which I heard in one of his speeches posted on youtube) about the value of greed and that everyone does things out of self-interest and “greed” (paraphrase but he did use the word greed) is not, imho, a recipe I’d defend.

Individualism, when taken to the extremist lengths of Ayn Rand has no room for altruism or religion. Individualism and the free market do not operate in vacuums. Societies rely on cultural maturity as well, and extreme individualists or libertarians never understood that all the arguments for unfettered individualism might come to naught if there are not some widely accepted ground rules and “cultural” health. Marxism was a problem, yet unfettered individualism also leads to problems, obviously less if one looks at history and totalitarianism’s death toll, but still nonetheless. Free markets and individualism are not panaceas in and of themselves, imho.

Thanks for the link AntiT. I haven’t been on this section of CAF for a while so I was not aware of your other thread. I’ll have to read it later.

As for the Sopranos, my friends and I started off one evening with a marathon to get through one season and another but I can’t remember much from that weekend so I must profess ignorance. :shrug:

If one goes out strenuously searching for happiness in all earnestness, I don’t think one will find it. It usually is something you encounter along the way, I think.

Yes, that is how some people live their lives. It is sad, because the founding fathers of the United States of America had it exactly right. Each person is entitled to the right to PURSUE happiness.

Note, they did not in any way make a promise that anyone would be happy. They merely stated that each individual had the right to have the opportunity to pursue that idealistic goal. To, in effect, try to make it happen.

Having things does not make a person happy. They never have and they never will. But, all too many people chase after the things in life, and forget virtually everything that really means anything

Family, friends, your church, your community, your country should all mean more to you than things do.

Ok, fair enough. I’ll expand my thinking a little more and you tell me wat you think. Just keep your mind on the spiritual heritage stuff, because I think that’s a vital point.

In university I was a great fan of Hayek, Friedman, the Chicago school of Economics, and the argument that keeping the economic sphere in private hands militates against the prospect of totalitarianism where both the economic sphere and the political are concentrated in one power. Hayek and Friedman both took marxian totalitarianism as a serious threat. Hayek’s arguments in The Road to Serfdom are timeless, though we can see them now through the lens of what we have learned since it was published.

I agree with you here. Hayek and Friedman were actually bulwarks against the Marxist philosophy that was beginning to pervade the thinking of the west’s so called intellectuals. Many of them openly supported Communism, despite, or in spite of, the obvious totalitarianism that was building up in various parts of the world. I’m sure you know all that. However, the eyes of hayek and Friedman were on the totalitarionism and not on the thing we you and I have labelled as our ‘spiritual heritage’. I’ll explain the relevance of that in a sec…

Nevertheless, even Adam Smith, author of the “invisible hand” idea in free markets, dedicated much time to questions of morality. Hayek and Friedman really did not. Yes, defending personal liberty and individualism are of the utmost importance, but Friedman’s argument (which I heard in one of his speeches posted on youtube) about the value of greed and that everyone does things out of self-interest and “greed” (paraphrase but he did use the word greed) is not, imho, a recipe I’d defend.

All correct. Smith was from a certain cultural milieu, and a time when religion, or spirituality, was a big part of society. Hayek and Friedman, particularly the latter, came from a different culture. Friedman was pushing the idea of the self serving individual, the rational man who attends to his own needs. He was advocating capitalism in a society which prided itself on seperation of church and state. Smith, in contrast, came from a society which had a state religion. I do think the use of the word “greed” was a poor one. It has connotations which don’t do justice to what capitalism is about, or should be about and it was a concept that the Marxists have exploited.

Individualism, when taken to the extremist lengths of Ayn Rand has no room for altruism or religion. Individualism and the free market do not operate in vacuums. Societies rely on cultural maturity as well, and extreme individualists or libertarians never understood that all the arguments for unfettered individualism might come to naught if there are not some widely accepted ground rules and “cultural” health.

Ayn Rand was an atheist and so she never included spirituality in her works. That, however, doesn’t mean there is no room for the concept in her philosophy. I’m sure you have read Atlas Shrugged. I think it would be quite easy to turn John Galt into a Catholic, because he had the basic moral precepts, but they were never articulated as such. In fact, I would argue that true capitalism requires the moral precepts that Christianity espouses and that point, unfortunatley, the writers of economic and political philosophies have ignored. Except for Smith.

Marxism was a problem, yet unfettered individualism also leads to problems, obviously less if one looks at history and totalitarianism’s death toll, but still nonetheless. Free markets and individualism are not panaceas in and of themselves, imho.

Marxism is still a problem! It’s a problem because it has now become an accepted tool of academia. The Marxist dialectic, the Marxist deconstruction method, the Marxist ‘perspective’. Marxism is not used to promote a totalitarian society now, but it is used to break society into chunks, or ‘classes’ with special attributes, so they can be studied and dealt with seperate from the society they are lodged in. Marxism is itself a Godless philosophy and it is a Godless tool for academic study. It does not consider that human society either does, or should have, a spiritual aspect. Of course, neither does the cold, unfettered individualist philsophies. Marxism, however, dehumanises the individual because it places the individual into a ‘class’. Take for example Feminism and Homosexuality. These groups are ‘classes’ that Marxist analytic tools have seperated off from society. The “cultural health” you wrote of used to be a shared morality. The breaking up of society into special enclaves has broken that common bond, the glue of a healthy society.

Until man is perfected along with the new heaven and earth, our notion of what constitutes happiness is as fallen as we are currently. The article posted fails to mention God, who is our final end and ultimate happiness as St. Thomas states in the Summa: I-II, q. 1, a. 8:
…"[M]an’s last end is happiness; which all men desire,…"

Question 2 article 8 states, in answer to whether any created good constitutes man’s happiness:
“Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 26): 'As the soul is the life of the body, so God is man’s life of happiness: of Whom it is written: ‘Happy is that people whose God is the Lord’ (Psalm 143:15).”

Question 5, article 1 of the same first part of the second part of the Summa asks whether man can attain happiness:
“Happiness is the attainment of the Perfect Good. Whoever, therefore, is capable of the Perfect Good can attain Happiness. Now, that man is capable of the Perfect Good, is proved both because his intellect can apprehend the universal and perfect good, and because his will can desire it. And therefore man can attain Happiness. This can be proved again from the fact that man is capable of seeing God, as stated in I, 12, 1: in which vision, as we stated above (Question 3, Article 8) man’s perfect Happiness consists.”

The society that fails to put God above all is doomed to misery in this life as well as the next, as well as the individuals that do the same. The problem is that that not all know that the perfect happiness consists in God and His Blessedness but they seek for that which they do know and what is continually being reinforced as that which will make them “happy”, material things and physical pleasure. Utilitarianism and materialism, which is at the heart of the political philosophies of Marxism and Communism, are the orders of this current epoch despite the obvious knowledge of their inability to provide happiness in any meaningful way. The good in this linked article is that they know what cannot provide happiness and maybe are open to receive He in Whom our happiness truly consists.

AntiTheist:

My response to the “happiness crisis” is to promote the value of living in the moment, of seeing the present moment for what it is. I’ve written at length about this idea on these forums under the subject of Zen meditation

While I agree with what you are saying, the value of living in the moment is also a very Catholic ideal. For example:

In Philippians 4:11 St. Paul declares:
…For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence:
amazon.com/Trustful-Surrender-Divine-Providence-Happiness/dp/0895552167
Note one of the comments from Amazon:

By gofigure@mris.com (Columbia, Maryland United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness (Paperback)
I have to confess I was resistant to reading Trustful Surrender. I am a yoga meditation teacher and I did not want to read another book on Catholic doctrine. (I love the Catholic mystics however). This book was a pleasant and powerful surprise and it had a surprising influence on me. The basic concept is so simple - trustful surrender as an attitude towards ones life. It seems so simple …till you try it. I discovered how willful and controling I am…and how this willful attitude caused me tension and suffering.
Whether or not your are a Christian, if you can read this with an open mind the concepts presented are revolutionary. The Yoga Sutras, (the yoga version of the Bible) goes on for 190 + terse sentences about all the different yoga practices that will lead to enlightenment and an understanding of oneself…but then in one sentence it says… All of this can also be accomplished by surrender to God.

Give the book a try. Its well worth (dollar amount).

(Trustful Surrender can also be read online) :wink:

And yet, complete and total happiness will never be found here eternally, only elusively and with a certain amount of effort. I still look forward with hope to that effortless, eternal happiness of the world to come and ask God to give me the grace to attain it. :thumbsup:

Thanks for the link rose. First time I have heard of this book. I might give it a read tonight. :slight_smile:

Please do. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

As for the Sopranos, my friends and I started off one evening with a marathon to get through one season and another but I can’t remember much from that weekend so I must profess ignorance.

You ought to start with the pilot episode and see if it “catches” you. From there, I’d proceed at the rate of one episode per night.

It’s a very interesting and well-written critique of modernity, and it gets increasingly more layered and nuanced as the series progresses. It definitely repays rewatches, and even at this point – where I’ve seen each episode at least three times – I still find new things every time I rewatch an episode. “Brilliant” isn’t a good enough word to describe what the show is, and for those of us who enjoy the mob genre to begin with – which really serves as nothing more than a backdrop for some very thorough character development – it’s even more entertaining.

If one goes out strenuously searching for happiness in all earnestness, I don’t think one will find it. It usually is something you encounter along the way, I think.

Yeah, or to put it in slightly different terms, happiness is the way. Once you stop your mind from doing its usual act of trying to go somewhere else, you start to realize that there is nowhere else to go but Here and Now.

roseofshannon:

the value of living in the moment is also a very Catholic ideal

Sure. Since we’re talking about universal problems of humanity here, it’s not surprising that just about all spiritual systems incorporate similar ideas.

And yet, complete and total happiness will never be found here eternally, only elusively and with a certain amount of effort. I still look forward with hope to that effortless, eternal happiness of the world to come and ask God to give me the grace to attain it

From my perspective, the idea that there’s one day going to be some “complete and total happiness” is one of those stories the mind invents to try to get somewhere other than Here and Now.

I’m going to bump this thread because it’s interesting and because I have a good post on here.

I’ll give you a bump.
Because I have a better post on here!! :smiley:

I highlighted and underlined what I see as a problem. The nothing else other then the ‘here and now’ you wrote of has implications which I find worrisme. It suggests to me that we shouldn’t strive for anything greater in our lives. A greater education, a greater type of happiness, to be a better person, to provide more and better for our loved ones. I recall reading somewhere, but for the love of me can’t remember where, it might have been Voltaire, but I’m not sure, that it is the ‘striving’ that makes us become ‘better’. ‘Better’ is what we have to define for ourselves.

I completely agree with the basic premise of the article, as I discovered it for myself one time when I was experiencing depression. I don’t know what sparked it, but I just thought, “Hey, maybe it’s okay that I feel like ****! I don’t have to feel happy all the time!” It was quite liberating, and one thing I discovered from that experience is that peace is sometimes more important than happiness. When we’re unhappy we feel anxious and stressed because we think we’re not supposed to be that way, and that we’re supposed to try and get rid of that unhappiness. In reality, I think most of the negative feeling associated with unhappiness is our focus on the idea that we’re not happy but we should try to be. We need to just accept it sometimes.

This phenomenon manifests itself in many ways. For example, I have found that performing penances like giving up some food item or taking a “cold” shower are difficult not because the action itself is painful or hurtful, but simply because I’m desiring something which I can’t have! Or when I worry about my physical appearance, the negative feelings aren’t from other people making fun of me, but from my own anxiety about not looking perfect. I need to just accept that I have imperfections, and that it’s even okay to look ugly. It’s okay to look ugly! (I’m not going to say that I am ugly, just that it’s acceptable if I am.)

I think we’ve all experienced this at the doctors’ office, too. We make the inevitable 10 second pain, for example, into 10 minutes of agonizing over the upcoming 10 seconds of pain. Instead, we should accept the prospect of the pain and not worry about it.

So yeah, I know I personally cause myself much unnecessary grief worrying about not being happy. I need to come to terms with the inevitable imperfectness of life and my inevitable unhappiness with certain situations.

Good post. I agree.:thumbsup:

Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s the sentence that John flagged: “Once you stop your mind from doing its usual act of trying to go somewhere else, you start to realize that there is nowhere else to go but Here and Now.”

He continues:

The nothing else other then the ‘here and now’ you wrote of has implications which I find worrisme. It suggests to me that we shouldn’t strive for anything greater in our lives. A greater education, a greater type of happiness, to be a better person, to provide more and better for our loved ones.

I’m glad you brought this up because this is a very common misunderstanding of the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Anyone who has some degree of experience in meditation will come to perceive, more or less clearly, the perfection of the Now – that there is nothing else than Here and Now, that there is nowhere else to go than Here and Now, and that Here and Now is, just as it is right now, completely perfect.

“What in the world?!” someone might say. “Perfect?! Well, if you’re right, then why should I do anything at all?” [As always, these kinds of questions are born out of the mind, which is always jabbering away at us]

What people always seem to misunderstand is that the “perfection” of the Here and Now includes the desire to change things.

To take a trivial example, say I’m sitting here and just experiencing the moment, and I feel myself getting hungry. I don’t just say, “I’m getting hungry.” I experience the thought and then feel what the hunger is like: the contractions in the stomach, the dull ache, the dryness in my mouth, whatever the physical manifestations of hunger happen to be (they’re a little different for everyone, so part of the fun of being alive is feeling how I experience hunger, uniquely). Then I feel a desire to, say, make a sandwich.

Cool. This moment – right here, right now, with the hunger, the desire – is perfect. And, since I have no reason to interfere with my body’s desire to feed itself, I watch myself as I do what I naturally do: I proceed to get up and make a sandwich.

At each step in the process of making the sandwich, that particular Here and Now is perfect. Taking out the bread is perfect, deciding which meat to put on it is perfect, fumbling around trying to find the mayo is perfect (getting angry because I can’t find it and then noticing that it’s right in front of me and then getting mad at myself for being so inattentive and then laughing at myself is perfect), etc., etc.

If you keep this up, by the way, you’ll stumble upon something interesting: there actually is no “Here and Now” because every time you try to grasp the present moment, it’s gone.

So what is there, then? Well, right now, there’s the act of making the sandwich. And there’s not even “I” that’s making the sandwich: there’s just the making of it.

Notice what happened: I felt my hunger, and I responded to it. I responded to the moment. I didn’t set out on a quest to make a sandwich because I believe that “the world will be better off for my making this sandwich.” I wasn’t following some ideal, and I wasn’t operating under the delusion that a world in which I eat a sandwich is a “better” world than one in which I don’t eat one: I just responded to the moment.

Life is nothing but a series of responding to the moment. Everything that you will ever do in your life happens in the moment, including making life plans, setting goals, deciding to pursue a career path, etc. There is nothing that doesn’t happen in the moment. And if you’re really paying attention, then you already know that there is no moment.

Ultimately, the objection of “why should I do anything at all?!” is a question that can only be asked if you’re not responding to the moment. If you’re actually responding to the moment, that question would never occur to you – because you’d already be doing. The whole idea of “striving for the better” – in fact, the very idea that something is “better” – is nothing more than a creation of the mind that can, if you’re not careful, distract you from responding to the moment.

Why should you do anything at all? Because you bloody well can. Because you’re a living being with desires and feelings and goals and all the rest.

There was a thread on here that I responded to a few days ago called – appropriately enough – “Why bother?” and the OP was this doom-and-gloom message from an angsty kid who was saying basically, to paraphrase pretty closely, “Why should I bother doing anything? Marriage is a coin-flip cause half of them don’t work; careers are just ways of feeding the economy while you fritter your time away….why should I do anything?”

Those of you who have been paying attention to my post should be able to tell that these questions are coming from the kid’s mind, coming from someone who is not responding to the moment, coming from someone who has been convinced that there is some “better” or “ideal” picture that the world should conform to before he can have motivation to act.

This is poison to real happiness and real “spirituality,” for lack of a better word.

One finds happiness not by running from the world into a dreamland of “betters” and “ideals,” but from engaging with reality on reality’s terms. For some people, this certainly will take the form of obtaining an education and a great career and setting goals and meeting them and caring for a family, etc.; for others, it will take other forms. No one path is inherently “better” than the other.

There is – to repeat the point about a zillion times now – nothing other than the Here and Now, nothing other than responding to this moment.

There is great wisdom in your observations.

AntiTheist, your philosophy seems to seek to reduce ourselves to brute animals, who only respond to the bare reality of the moment- no analyzing in the context of a bigger picture. Could you elaborate on whether this is a correct interpretation?

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