Question – Does enlightenment / awakening / personal improvement automatically lead to more happiness?
I’m reading “Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy” by Eric G. Wilson, and he makes some good points about how happiness is just a bit overrated… and chasing it for its own sake can lead to a somewhat vacuous, one-dimensional life. Melancholy connects us with the rest of life, the flow, and it makes us more creative — and more interesting — people.
I haven’t finished the book, so I may get something else out of it before all is said and done, but it’s got me thinking.
One thing he talks about, is how Christianity used to be trained on the idea of suffering, but now it seems all about God wanting us to be happy and prosperous and abundant. The “man of sorrows”, as Jesus has been described, is now a personal growth advocate who just wants you to live the good life.
I think the author’s onto something there — again, I haven’t finished the book, so I may change my mind by the end of things. And the idea that’s been looping through my brain has been, whether enlightenment and awakening and spiritual advancement are necessarily all about happiness.
Looking around online, there are a lot of websites that make that connection, using “happiness” and “awakening” and “joy” in their urls. As though becoming more conscious is going to impart unbridled joy — and the true mark of a spiritually elevated person, is that you’re never sad, never suffering, never un-happy.
And I’m not so sure about all that.
It seems to me, there’s a much greater likelihood of unhappiness, when you’re conscious of what’s really going on around you. I mean, seriously, there’s some pretty nasty stuff going on in the world — always has been, it just changes the type of nastiness as time goes on. Suffering, pain, all that…
Of course, there’s plenty of joy, and keeping sight of that is every bit as enlightened, in my opinion, as being aware of suffering.
To me, there’s a flow to it all. And the whole enlightenment thing seems more about being able to roll with it… to see it all, but not get sucked down into the abyss. Getting stuck with others in feeling their suffering, for the sake of what you think is solidarity, is not my idea of enlightenment or awakening — for anyone.
But this is just me talking, mortal and all.
It’s actually a beautiful day, so let’s all go find out what’s going to happen today.