Monday, April 18, 2005

Thought vs. Action

I've been thinking recently about what leads to action. What determines the actions we make? Most people I think would say simply the decision to do something. But if you think about this, you would see that this is not true. Have you ever decided to do something, and then just never got around to it? I know I have done this many times even when I honestly thought it was a good thing and really wanted to do it. That proves for me at least that decision does not necessarily lead to action.

When I read this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer I realized the answer:

“We have spent too much time in thinking, supposing that if we weigh in advance the possibilities of any action, it will happen automatically. We have learnt, rather too late, that action comes, not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. For thought and action will enter on a new relationship; your thinking will be confined to your responsibilities in action.”

This quote has given me a new understanding of how we choose our actions. We have no natural impulse toward any one action, because goodness can exist in any course of action. When we make a decision to do something we are merely saying "I see goodness in this course of action." This same thing can be said of just about any action that we make. Like the quote says, action comes only when we choose to accept the responsibility that comes with that action. Of course we think there are a lot of things that would be good to do; the question is what are we willing to accept responsibility for. That is what we must answer before we can change our behavior.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

On Happiness

It seems to me that at the root of human dissent is happiness, or the lack thereof. This concept is so simple that it almost makes me weep. No person who is truly happy would ever do harm to another. Balance with one’s environment is easily achieved when one has balance within. It appears that most, if not all, problems are caused because people are not happy.

Wars are started over riches, land, and beliefs. The most basic of these are material goods, money, oil, etc. But the only reason that people hunger for these goods is because they believe that having them will make them happy. What they do not see is that true riches come from within. These are the riches that truly make on happy (to be touched on later). Again is the misconception that land will make on happy. This idea is quite funny considering that land cannot truly be owned. History has shown us land changing hands many times due to various reasons. People can certainly occupy a space of land, but it can no more be owned than the air that we breath. Lastly, beliefs tend to be such a touchy subject these days. I’m right! No I’m right! These concepts simply melt away with the awakened person. The awakened one is at peace because they see things for what they are. No attachments are made. Beliefs do not define the individual. Indeed, it is the other way around. While I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be some conflict if people were truly happy, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

Now, what does it mean to be truly happy? Happiness, I believe, is the equivalence of awareness. Awareness of what you ask? Awareness of life! Our society has imploded upon itself to create zombies out of people. The conditioning that subjugates people can cause them to walk through life with their eyes closed. Be aware of knowledge, attachments, and labels. All of these can stop one from seeing, for seeing is the path to righteousness, to awareness. See things and people simply for what they are. This is achieved by dropping your labels, your attachments, your preconceived notions. Once one is walking through life with their eyes open, they see, they are aware. Awareness such as this will lead, most importantly, to seeing yourself. It will lead you to drop your ideas and labels of who you are. Once one sees themselves simply for who they are, they will realize that nothing can hurt them emotionally and spiritually. How can you be hurt when you have no attachments to trivial things such as pride and beliefs? Once it is all dropped, the natural state of happiness will ensue.

It is this particular statement to which I have given thought recently. The natural state of people is one of happiness; not the common misconceptions of elation or joy, but mere happiness. Contentment might be a more apt choice of words. Just what is this particular state like? It is simply experiencing all the natural emotions of life while not identifying with them. Realizing that one is not the emotions that they experience, all worry and anxiety will fall. Only contentment will remain. And how can happiness not be the most basic feeling when there is so much beauty in the world? Not just sunsets and flowers but simply wood and rock too. When all things are seen for what they are, a sense of great wonder will prevail. Such wonder I myself experience at taking in the view of something such as grass. Live each and every day in this state of wonder through seeing; happiness will permeate your existence. That is the key.