As time advances forward, what of you will remain forever?
Your youth will leave you,
The body will age,
Your hair will gray,
The face will wrinkle,
And your cognition will decline.
That last one is interesting. Without a nimble brain, free of the natural vitiation that comes with age, all the memories and images upon which our ego is predicated will disappear, and with it, our most sanctified concepts of ourselves. In this respect you might consider yourself to be nothing. The mind seemingly came out of nothing, and to nothing it will seemingly decay.
So if this decay of the mind and death of the body is inevitable, and life is but a transient phenomenon, how does one best live his /her life and attain true happiness?
“Perhaps one could turn to hedonism!”
Ah, but pleasures of the flesh are transient as well. They cannot sustain happiness. But then again, happiness cannot, so far as one can tell, be sustained by anything indefinitely; for this would contradict the principle of impermanence.
However, happiness, as abstract as it is, should be understood as a common existential imperative. You see, people don’t purpose themselves to go out and engage in activities that make them suffer as an intentional mode of living. At least I haven’t met any. Sure, from time to time one’s actions generate the soil of suffering into which we sow many seeds, but we should not be so ignorant as to think that human beings don’t tend to seek happiness in life more than suffering.
So, in adherence to this idea of happiness as an existential imperative, what might sustain happiness in our lives? We cannot derive happiness from our hopes for the future, for the future may not come for us. We may not sustain our happiness with our precious memories of past events and those people and things we love, for old age will eventually rob them from us. In truth, attempting to generate happiness by acquiring and clinging to impermanent things will assuredly set us up for discontent.
I’m going to share a secret with you: Happiness is not to be found in the material world.
Think about it friends. Has there ever been a thing in your life that has sustained your happiness up to the present moment? I chance to say there hasn’t.
And so the question beckons us still. What can sustain happiness? Ironic as it may seem, one could argue that the abstract notion/state of happiness may be sustained in the appreciation and acceptance of the finite nature of our physical existences. Death itself is abstract as well. We don’t really know what it means or entails, hence all the fear that the notion of death generates. But in knowing you will die, perhaps you will appreciate more in life?
To the point: I will die, you will die, others will die. This is all natural and not to be feared. Happiness can be found in oneself by accepting this inevitability while respecting the life around us; having sympathy with all, for everything around us is dying. If you do not accept your own impermanence, then suffering will find you, and when it does happiness will obviously vanish. If you do accept death, then you might appreciate the life you do have and bask in contentment. You might treat others with compassion in that they suffer as you have (or do). Why bring more pain into an already diseased and painful world?
That is it for now. Take care.