Tag Archives: Buddhism

World Religions – A Summary (Part V)

In my last post I discussed the Adventure segment of the road to happiness.  The Adventure being divided into: The Call, The Adventure, and The Return.

Th call is a summons to the adventure requiring the cardinal virtues of wisdom and courage earned during the Journey.

The Adventure is the trials and temptations to secure the boon – a gift for society.  This requires the preparation, self-esteem, and confidence earned during the Journey and the cardinal virtue of moderation, earned during the Journey or along the Adventure.

The Return requires the cardinal virtue of justice, earned during the Journey or along the Adventure and the virtue of love of neighbor.  With these virtues the geo may return with the boon for society and attain happiness for himself/herself.

While the virtue required of the adventure are similar to those expressed in the religions of the East, the call or summons at the commencement of the Adventure and the required love at the end of the adventure I believe are unique to the West.

It is both the call to the hero and the love towards the hero that may be the two most significant differences between the religions of the East and the West.  It is these two actions that merge the happiness of the individual with the flourishing of society.  Both outcomes are the same.  They are the same thing.  The happiness of the individual = the flourishing of society.  In other words, the individual who has reached happiness becomes immersed with universal principles.  The individual is able to pass between the everyday and the spiritual without anxiety, fear, or harm.  The same happiness as expressed by the Eastern religions.

The love of neighbor towards the returning hero is the same love expressed in the Christian faith.  And what about the call or summons to begin the adventure?  Well, it is the same – only in reverse.

World Religions – A Summary (Part IV)

In my previous post I discussed the unique aspect of the West: the Adventure.

The Adventure begins with a call or summons to begin a discovery.  The call requires the cardinal virtues of wisdom and courage: wisdom to look forward and recognize the call, and courage to leap into the adventure that is illuminated by wisdom.  Both of those virtues had to be attained prior to the adventure; as such, the Journey segment was needed to develop these virtues.

The adventure itself is the trials and temptations encountered to secure the boon, which was the reason for the adventure in the first place.  The training and exposure activities of the Journey, coupled with the cardinal virtue of moderation earned during the Journey or the Adventure, are required to seize the boon.

The return back to the everyday world requires the cardinal virtue of justice and the love of the hero’s neighbor.  Justice is the concern for the community of the adventurer earned during the Journey or the Adventure.  Without this virtue, the adventurer would simply remain in the adventure, refusing to return.  The love of his/her neighbor is what pulls the hero across back to the everyday world with the boon intact.

So, what does this all mean.  Well, the adventure is the connection between the Journey (shared by all religions) and happiness (shared by all religions).  This Western concept (not shared by all religions) is what pushes the individual to the top of Maslow’s pyramid – self-actualization.  It is a concept of great myths as uncovered by Joseph Campbell.  It is what brings happiness to the individual and flourishing to society.  The flourishing then can be used to help others prepare for their road to happiness.

Final comments in my next post.


World Religions – A Summary (Part III)

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.


World Religions – A Summary (Part II)

As mentioned in my previous post, the world religions share much in common regarding the road to happiness and even the definition of happiness.  And all the religions mention how difficult it is for individuals to reach happiness.

In my book I discuss the two segments of the road to happiness: the Journey and the Adventure.  The Journey encompasses the first three galleries of the “Prose/Art” Exposition: Preparation, Involvement, and Exposure.  These three galleries are similar to the Hindu “Good Life,” the Buddhist “right livelihood,” and the Islamic recognition of the need for wealth for food, clothing, shelter, protection, social cooperation and kindness, and the pursuit of knowledge.

The end of the Journey is represented by a well-balanced life, full education and training/preparation, self-esteem, recognition, and appreciation.  Many virtues have been attained (wisdom, courage, humility, etc.) during this time.  These attributes of one’s life and the acquired virtues are reflected in the religions of the East as needed prior to gaining spiritual enlightenment or connection with God.

However, there appears to be one feature unique to the West: the Adventure.  The Adventure is that stage of the road to happiness between the Journey and happiness.

More in my next post.


World Religions – A Summary

In my last nine post I discussed the road to happiness as promoted by three Middle-Eastern and Eastern religious traditions: Islam (Middle East and North Africa), Hinduism (India and Nepal), and Buddhism (Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand).

According the Pew Forum, theses three Eastern traditions represented 45.3% of the world population in 2010.  When you add Christianity (The Americas, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand) and Judaism (North America and Israel) the number increases to 77%.  Finally, when you add in those without a religious affiliation (those primarily from China and North Korea), the number increases to 93.3%.  For the remaining 6.7% of the world whose religion I did not discuss, I apologize.

Let us first discuss the similarities among the three major religions and that of the West.

1) Happiness is the freedom from suffering, fear, and anxiety during our lifetimes.  It is also a spiritual enlightenment, or experience, or transcendence, or connection with God.  Is some cases it is a joining with God in his kingdom after death.

2) Many virtues are needed to reach happiness.  Wisdom, ethical conduct, compassion, and love are among the virtues needed if one is to reach happiness.  Excluding Buddhism, there is a recognition of the realities of everyday existence.  These realities require an occupation to feed, house, and cloth one’s family, and to provide protection from the harm of others.

3) Excluding perhaps Buddhism, there is a need for knowledge and self-esteem if one is to lead a life aimed at attaining happiness.

4) All have a guide for traveling the road: Buddhism has the Noble Eightfold Path; Hinduism has dharma; Islam has Divine Will, and the West has virtues and the adventure.

5) Excluding Buddhism and Islam, the segments of the path to happiness are arranged in a hierarchy.  First education and training, then social skills, then a job leading to self-esteem with recognition and prestige.  Perhaps this is followed by a desire for knowledge and aesthetic pleasures.

These similarities are comforting.  They lend support for a shared understanding of the path to happiness.  Even the great thinkers and the masters of the fine arts from the West support these requirements shared by the world’s religions.

Next post, those requirements that are different.


Buddhism and Happiness (Part III)

In my previous two posts I mentioned, very briefly, the path to happiness as expressed by Buddhism.

The aim of Buddhism is to reach Nirvana.  The roadmap to Nirvana is the Noble Eightfold Path. This path includes:

A) Wisdom – 1) right view and 2) right intention

B) Ethical Conduct – 3) right speech, 4) right action, and 5) right livelihood

C) Concentration – 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, and 8) right concentration

The eight factors of the path are significant dimensions of one’s behavior.

Nirvana is very similar to Aristotle’s meaning of life being to find happiness.  This happiness, as expressed by the ancient thinkers as well as the modern thinkers discussed in my book, is similar to that of Nirvana.

The path to attain Nirvana is also similar to the teachings of the ancient and modern thinkers.  The path requires concentration (effort, focus), and ethics (virtues) including wisdom.

While many similarities exist, there are some distinct differences: 1) Western happiness involves a hierarchy of actions (see the six galleries in my book), 2) Western Happiness requires a proactive approach to finding happiness – involvement, exposure, call to adventure, trials, capture of the gift, and desire to return to present the gift to society, 3) Western happiness requires a proactive love of neighbor as a requirement for the adventurer’s return with the gift in hand, and 4) it is the actions of the individual coupled with the love of that individual’s neighbor that delivers the happiness to the individual and  flourishing to society.

I believe that Western happiness and Buddhist Nirvana are very similar.  The tools needed to achieve these aims are also similar.  However, Western happiness is based on a more proactive involvement with others, and the proactive love of one’s neighbor, not just a turning inward, if society is to flourish.  It is this distinctive gift of the flourishing of society, only delivered if the individual reaches happiness, that is expressed in the teachings of the great thinkers as well as the many works of the great masters of the fine arts.

The attainment of individual happiness equaling the flourishing of society is a unique and noteworthy revelation of Western thinkers and artists.

Up next – Hinduism and happiness.

Buddhism and Happiness (Part II)

In my previous post I mentioned that the Buddhist state of Nirvana is very similar the the West’s interpretation of happiness: freedom from pain and suffering and a connection to universal values such that the individual can move effortlessly between the material and the spiritual worlds.

But what does Buddhism teach is the roadmap to Nirvana?  The answer given is the Noble Eightfold Path.  This path includes:

A) Wisdom – 1) right view and 2) right intention

B) Ethical Conduct – 3) right speech, 4) right action, and 5) right livelihood

C) Concentration – 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, and 8) right concentration

The eight factors of the path are significant dimensions of one’s behavior.  They are not to be understood as stages, in which each stage is completed before moving on to the next.

Again we see a similarity with Western thought regarding the need for wisdom and ethical values.  Even concentration is embraced in Western culture as a requirement for attaining happiness.

However, there are some differences.  Western thought differs in recognizing that attaining happiness is accomplished in stages, with one stage coming before the next (the stages need not be completed before the next stage may begin).  Instead of an Eightfold Path, I have presented the ideas and artworks in my book in a “sixfold path,” with each segment presented in a gallery of ideas and art.  However, each of the six galleries does rely upon either concentration – especially the early galleries (1-3), wisdom – especially gallery 4, and ethical conduct – especially gallery 5.  The stages are completed in a hierarchy since each stage is required for mastering the tools that will be needed in the following stages to reach happiness (preparation, education, social skills, self-esteem, virtues).

There are two additional differences, both of which are significant.  The first is the need for the love of one’s neighbor, required at the beginning of Gallery Six.  This love is required to return the adventurer to the everyday world.  The other is the dependency of the flourishing of society on the individual’s attainment of happiness.

While Buddhism promotes compassion, it appears less proactive than the love of one’s neighbor expressed in Western culture that is required to pull the adventurer back to the everyday world.  It is this love that brings final happiness to the individual and helps society, or the family and community of the adventurer, to flourish.

The love of neighbor is not just an outward expression of kindness, compassion, and appreciation of others around us; more importantly, it is a proactive concern for the plight of the adventurer as a selfless act to safeguard his/her return.  It is this return that brings happiness to the individual and, as important, adds to the flourishing of his/her neighbors that assisted with the return.

I will summarize in the next post.

Buddhism and Happiness

I am no expert on Buddhism, not even close to an expert.  I am simply curious about other religions  and philosophies about life.  From what I have read, Buddhism, which has its roots in the East, very much parallels the teachings of Aristotle, with his roots established in the West.

According to its tenets, Buddhism regards the achievement of happiness as the aim of human endeavors.  Aristotle teachings were very similar – the meaning of life is individual happiness.

For the Buddhist, happiness is achieved in Nirvana – a state free of suffering and a state of spiritual enlightenment.  Achieving Nirvana is similar to achieving: 1) Maslow’s self-actualization and peak experiences, 2) the ancient philosophers’ freedom from fear and anxiety, 3) Campbell’s mastering of both the material and the spiritual worlds, and 4)  Csikszentmihalyi’s integration with other people and with universal values.

So, it appears to me that Buddhism’s Nirvana is very similar to the West’s happiness.  They both represent inner peace, freedom from suffering, pain, fear, and anxiety, and a transcendental connection with the spiritual.

But what about the steps to reach Nirvana – are those similar to what is proposed by the West as necessary to reach happiness?

The answer in my next post.