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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happiness or Joy – Credo XXX

A reasonable argument has been put out about our frantic pursuit of happiness and a valid criticism of sadness now being diagnosed as depression and therefore medically to be considered an abnormal state requiring treatment. This, it seems to me, deserves consideration from a cultural, philosophical, spiritual, and Jungian point of view because some of the greatest creative artistic creations in the world have come out of sadness and longing.

Genuine sadness, I think we all would agree, occurs with the onset of puberty. Esoterically, this is a time when the average adolescent develops another psychic sheath and is often accompanied by the true emergence of the ego. There is a tremendous turmoil, and I have a suspicion that few of us reading this cannot look back and say that we were not often sad, if not in despair. Today, the solution seems too often a pill, rather than loving parental support. All this, of course, is made more desperate today by the prevalence of recreational drugs.

One thing for sure, it is the ego that is by turns happy or sad. The word happy comes from the Old English word hap meaning good fortune, a happenstance. In German the distinction between happiness and joy is even clearer: Glueck, from which we derive luck, and Freude, as in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony’s “Ode to Joy.” As the literature of the world has mirrored and our current culture is reflecting, the pursuit of happiness per se, as expressed in the negatives of lust, greed, and power, invariably ends in dust and collapse or at least “a morning after”! In this current year, this is all too apparent. The daily news on TV is a constant morality play. “What profiteth a man if he gain the world and lose his soul thereby?”

In my The Beejum Book there is an autobiographical chapter titled “The Gimmie Attack.” I was 5½ and with my parents in Athens. I saw a change purse in a shop window with multiple pockets (Moon in Virgo!) in which I could put Dutch, German, and Greek coins, to say nothing of Egyptian. I begged and pleaded and whined for about three days and my mother sat me down and said that if this would make me happy, okay, but I had to promise not to beg for anything else as long as we were in Greece. I vowed fervently and great was my delight with owning the wee purse. Alas, only a few days later another object of passionate desire appeared at a fair. This I did not get, but my mother sat me down and explained that there was no end in life to “Gimmie Attacks.” Eighty years later, I know that only too well and sadly observe every day the rush for fool’s gold that leaves so many most unhappy.

So what is the solution? What is joy?

For me, joy comes when we realize that if you want to be rich, count your blessings. Gratitude and grace come from the same root Latin root, gratia, so we receive grace by being grateful. Simple. But this involves consciously inviting the Self (Divine Guest) to partake of the source of happiness. As I have written at greater length in Credo XIII, "God Can’t Eat a Poached Egg," the superstition of never saying one is happy because something bad will happen disappears because that is ego fear. True joy, as many will attest, lasts. One does not lose it because its source is at that psychic center point which has no dimension and is beyond time/space. The gift is the result of a coniunctio of ego and Self.

Bliss is as close to samadhi or nirvana as most of us can come, so in these troubled times it might pay to stop and think, what triggered such a moment in your childhood? Adolescence? As a man or a woman? What was the gift? Because that is what it is. For example, I am mindful of such a moment drinking coffee outdoors one early summer morning with my darling Polar Bear, Walter. The lawn was glistening with dew, the drops became diamonds and we both knew we were rich.

lovingly,
ao

P.S.. As I am writing this, a blizzard is blowing outside. The Polar Bear left this life ten years ago, but I can close my eyes and relive that particular moment as if it were now.

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