Bob Thurman on Happiness

One of my favorite peeps, Professor Bob Thurman, The President of Tibet House and guest blogger here, goes on one of his great rants and contends that true happiness occurs when we’re least aware of it.

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  • Alejandro Elorriaga Claraco

    The same intelligent reflections Bob makes about happiness, can and should be also made about love, health, justice, democracy, and many other “archetypal concepts” that permeate our culture. These concepts are all erroneous when consider as absolutes or as entities separated from the people who experience them. Greek-Jewish-Christian philosophy believes in these absolutes but in actuality they only exist as manifestations of individuals behavior or the behavior of the physiological systems of the body. They are not desirable (nor achievable) states, but manifestations of measurable outputs (Yes, and this is the beauty). So we should not pursue happiness, health, love, justice, or democracy, as they are not independent from us. What we should strive for is TO MANIFEST outputs that can be recognized as pertaining to all these ideas that represent certain ideal (but not achievable) states. Do not seek happiness, just experience happy moments as Bob suggests. And the more you experience the happier you will be. Do not seek health, just produce healthy outputs such as moving, laughing, thinking good thoughts, enjoying good/clean/nutritious food, accepting and loving your body, etc.; and the more of these you practice the healthier you will be. Do not seek love, just produce loving outputs such as being kind to yourself and others, helping those in need, considering the needs of others, etc.; the more you do the more love you will experience and the more loving you will be. Jumping to the political arena, do not seek democracy as it only exists when democratic outputs are produced, such as the control of social decisions by the people, the use of the law to serve the community (and not the other way around), the true representation of all in the public forums (and not the monopoly of representation by self-serving parties), the independent work of the judges, etc. Yes, a democracy is not achieved by voting, though that could be one manifestation of it; it requires constant and widespread production of democratic outputs, same as health, love, and happiness. So now, how healthy, happy, loving, or democratic do you think we are?