In my previous post I mentioned how the Eastern Religions are similar to the West regarding the Journey segment of the road to happiness. The Journey is the education/training, involvement with others, and exposure to risks in one’s job and elsewhere that are needed to secure a livelihood, develop self-esteem and confidence, and establish the many virtues that will be needed at a later date.
The Journey, can be viewed as the preparation for attainment of happiness, which is the freedom from fear and anxiety as well as a connection to God or universal values. The leap from the everyday world of the Journey to the attainment of happiness is what I believe separates the religions. It appears to me that the belief in Allah is the connection between the Journey and happiness for Islam. Wisdom, ethical conduct, and concentration (the three segments of the Noble Eightfold Path) is the connection for Buddhism. For the Hindu faith, dharma, or the virtues, is the connection between the Journey, or the “Good Life,” and happiness, or moksha.
However, in the West the Adventure is the connection between the Journey and the attainment of happiness. This Adventure has three segments: the Call, the Adventure, and the Return. These three segments correspond to the final three galleries found in my book.
The Call is a summons to the adventure. Some people may never receive the call or they may not recognize it: they will remain at the end of the Journey to live an everyday existence. Some may recognize the call but ignore it: their life will be one of disintegration. Finally, there are those who accept the call and begin the adventure.
The Adventure is outside of the normal everyday world. It is full of trials with setbacks or even defeat. The goal of the adventure is to capture the boon and return to the everyday world. Some may fail and never return. Some may capture the boon but not wish to return finding the world of the adventure more comforting than the everyday world. A few will capture the boon, decide to return, and will be aided by others in the return. It is at this moment that the individual realizes happiness and, equally important, society flourishes from the many benefits of the boon.
The adventurer need not be a mythical hero; most likely, the hero is a normal everyday person, who may go unnoticed by others. The boon may be something as simple as being a good mother or father, teacher, community leader, artist, etc. The list is endless. However, the everyday hero is one who accepted the call, used all the preparation and virtues earned during his/her Journey to fight for the boon, and with the aid of others, was able to return to the family or community with the boon intact.
Finally, one final virtue must be mentioned: love of neighbor. It is this love for the adventurer that pulls him/her from within the adventure back to the everyday world. It is this love that presents the returning adventurer with his/her happiness and the flourishing of the family or community.
More thoughts in my next post.