Continuing with my last post, the artists validate the teachings of the great thinkers (both ancient and modern) regarding happiness. What is equally amazing is that the artists are in universal agreement as to the description of the state of happiness.
Their perception of happiness is remarkably objective and their experiences, as portrayed in their works, are strikingly similar. Maslow suggests, “… if self-actualizing people can and do perceive reality more efficiently, fully and with less motivational contamination that we others do, then we may possibly use them as biological assays. Through their greater sensitivity and perception, we may get a better report of what reality is like, than through our own eyes, just as canaries can be used to detect gas in mines before less sensitive creatures can.” What better use of great artists than to have their technical expertise and virtuosity, perfected through their many personal trials, put to use representing an objective display of happiness as witness during their periods of peak experiences as self-actualized individuals!
It is this depiction by the self-actualized artist, the hero returning from the adventure with St. Thomas’ final virtue in hand, integrated with other people and universal values, which is their gift to society. It is incumbent upon us all to follow their inspiration and continue our personal journeys of collecting IOUs to be cashed in at a future date for our own “Heaven on earth.”
More to come!
Continuing with my previous post, one fundamental question that I have asked in the past is: Why do many risk so much on something that others consider to be saturated with uncertain odds of success?
We now have the answer to this elusive question: By doing so the individual has the opportunity to travel well beyond the successes of ordinary life. Capitalizing on opportunities today, considered risky by others, provides a chance for a future lived well above that of an everyday existence.
If successful in capitalizing on these opportunities, the adventurer has the potential for a life of happiness and fulfillment with freedom, integration, and the peak experiences. Or, the answer is simply: accepting the adventure, with its uncertain odds of success, allows the hero to collect the IOUs during the adventure undertaken, IOUs which are cashed in for the ultimate reward – happiness. It is this definition, as found in the title of this book, which best expresses the state of happiness as interpreted by the “prose” and the “art.”
The ancient philosophers knew the answer. It just took the intellectual “prose” of three modern thinkers to give us the keys to the galleries – galleries filled with inspiration from great masters who have translated the “prose” into human feelings and experiences. It is this “art” that Tolstoy instructs is “indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”
Continuing with my previous post regarding self-actualization, Maslow asserts, “An important existential problem is posed by the fact that self-actualizing persons (and all people in their peak-experiences) occasionally live out-of-time and out-of-the-world (atemporal and aspatial) even though mostly they must live in the outer world. Living in the inner psychic world … i.e., the world of experience, of emotion, of wishes and fears and hopes, of love, of poetry, art, and fantasy, is different from living in and adapting to the non-psychic reality which runs by laws he never made and which are not essential to his nature even though he has to live by them. … The person who is not afraid of this inner, psychic world, can enjoy it to such an extent that it may be called Heaven by contrast to the more effortful, fatiguing, externally responsible world of “reality,” of striving and coping, of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood.”
The key point that Maslow is making is the following: those individuals at this final level of human development, reached by less than 1% of Americans by Maslow’s own estimate, have acquired certain human qualities through preparation by family and society, social interactions, activities leading to confidence and prestige, the acquisition of virtues, and the fulfillment of a personal mission or destiny. This existence is one of Heaven – a world without effort, fatigue, striving, or coping. Such is a life determined by the individual and not a life lived by the laws of others. After all, this is Maslow’s final level of human development with no further human needs and desires to be satisfied. A life that is lived absent any further needs or desires is truly a superhuman condition.
More to come!