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Old 05-26-2003, 12:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
Location: This side of heaven.
Happiness Vs. Complacency

As I see it there are two ways in which one may attain that ultimate goal of fulfillment. Either you fulfill your desires and thus creating happiness or you remove all desire from your life and create an inner peace. (a la Zen Buddhism (Thank you ARTelevision)) The question I posit to you is, is one form of happiness equivalent to the other? It will be very hard for us as creatures with desires to understand what a lack of all desire will be like since I am pretty sure that none of us have attained this inner peace.

If happiness through the fulfillment of your desires is only creating happiness because you no longer have a need for that object, then I would say that the two forms of happiness are equal. Otherwise, having desires and having them fulfilled can create a greater happiness than simply not having the desire in the first place.

If one has no desires to be fulfilled, one is complacent, not seeking anything because they have no reason to. The argument for this type of happiness is that one can never truly attain complete happiness since no one ever gets exactly what they want all the time, however if what you want is nothing, then you can always fulfill that desire.

What do you think?
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Old 05-26-2003, 02:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
Location: Orlando, FL
Whoa... I don't know if I should try to tackle this one as my frist post (well, second to an introduction), but I'm going to try.
This would appear to be a matter of perspective. As you stated, we are creatures of desire, extending far beyond desire for survival. That said, it can be deducted that we are also creatures of accomplishment. Regardless of the means of accomplishment, our desires only exist with the hope that we can fulfill them. Thus, when we <i>do</i> achieve our goals or fulfill our desires, we gain satisfaction more out of the process than the outcome.
Complacency, though in itself is an accomplishment, is also unnatural, <i>perse</i>. Because one is refusing his/her desires, rather than refusing the fulfillment thereof, one is content, though not happy in the same sense of the word. But again, this is based on perspective. To me, and I'm sure to most people, a life without desire is desireless (ha!), so my perception of the posed question will always be a little biased. However, I would like to discuss the issue with someone who has a different approach. I don't really even know if I answered anything, but that's my reply...

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Old 05-26-2003, 02:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Sexymama's arms...
Just an FYI,

Removing desire (which leads to unhappiness) is fundamental to all Buddhism, not just Zen Buddhism.

This principle is one of the Four Nobel Truths, spoken by Gautama Siddhartha, The Great Buddah himself.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." C. S. Lewis

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Last edited by Lebell; 05-26-2003 at 02:56 PM..
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Old 05-26-2003, 03:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
Location: in a deep, dark hole where rainbow creatures attack me to eat my fingernails.
here's a question for you, if you do attain inner peace by fulfilling all of your desires, then what else is there for you? if desires and and a need to attain that, whether it be spiritual or worldly, or something else, then to me, all you are filling are your desires and then leaving your soul restless to fulfill itself. desires are nice to have, and some desires do fulfill your souls, but not all do. as a follower of tyler durdan, i quote "the things you own, end up owning you." we are the scum of the earth, but it's up to us to make ourselves otherwise and bring peace to ourselves.

am i making any sense, 'cause i dunno. i think i am, but...
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Old 05-26-2003, 06:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Clarkson U.
Desires are impossible to remove, but if you could you would be peaceful with whatever was happening. But you would not get anything done, because you would have no desire to. Tech. at a standstill, humanity stops evolving...
hmm, I will try to achive fullfilment to my desires because I know its impossible to reach...
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Old 05-26-2003, 07:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
To put it simply....How boring.

Know your limits, then break them.

We are here for two reasons...to survive & experience.
Those who are not experiencing or exploring,
have died inside.

You are not truly content...just numb

I enjoy that passion, despite some pain
it reminds me I'm alive, I'm human.

Last edited by rogue49; 05-26-2003 at 07:14 PM..
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Old 05-30-2003, 05:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
Location: This side of heaven.
I don't think you can say that someone without desires is just numb. It's kinda like the old saying, "The grass is always greener..." except in reverse. You can't say that if you have no desires at all is complete happiness because you don't know what that's like. Only someone who has truly experienced both sides of that coin can say at what point he was more happy. I tend to agree with rogue49 that passion reminds us that we are alive, I am also human and far from desireless. However I don't know that it wouldn't mean that I would be happy if I didn't have any desires.

Let's do this logically...

A man who has no desires is:

1.) unable to change.

He has no desire to change, if he has any motivation that would drive him away from this situation he is immediately disqualified.

2.) content.

...if not happy. We at least know he is content with his situation.

3.) cannot be denied.

...because without any motivations for his own happiness he cannot be denied anything.

Therefore we know that anyone who can answer this question (i.e. has experienced both sides of this controversy.) must currently have no desires. (as proven by statement 1.)

However we do know how he will answer. He will answer that he is happy. So, the only answer we can glean from informed opinion is that the path of no desires is the correct way to go.

Now... the question is did the man truly experience fullfillment through meeting his desires before he chose a path of no desire at all?

We are now left with 3 options:

1.) He did and has chose this path because the lack of fullfilled desires drove him to this path and the amount of dissapointment that he has faced outwieghed the happiness that he ever felt.

2.) He did and he chose this for no other reason than that one can be truly happy with a path that has no desires.

3.) He didn't and his opinion cannot be regarded as valid because he did not truly experience the other option.

So... there you have it. Some logic.

Not exactly sure what that proves, but... there you have it.

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Old 06-22-2003, 02:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
Location: Grey Britain
Read and opine

There's actually a bit of research that shows that the relative sizes of these bits of the brain are favourably altered in tibetan buddhists, but I can't find it
"No one was behaving from very Buddhist motives. Then, thought Pigsy, he was hardly a Buddha, nor was he a monkey. Presently, he was a pig spirit changed into a little girl pretending to be a little boy to be offered to a water monster. It was all very simple to a pig spirit."
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Old 06-24-2003, 12:36 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Location: North Carolina
In general I think happinness breeds complacency.

When I look at my life, I accomplish great things when I am not completely content. When I am happy for a prolonged period of time, I start to become less productive, and more complacent. I guess I feel less of a need to struggle to improve my life when I am already happy.
"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." - Winston Churchill

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dream with open eyes, to make it possible." Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence
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Old 06-24-2003, 05:39 AM   #10 (permalink)
Location: St Paul, MN
I always understood the ultimate aim of Buddhism was to eliminate unnatural desire (that is, wants driven into us by society), thus leaving our natural desires known to us so that we may more effectively pursue them (be they fulfilling human relationships, spreading good throughout the world, finding a real purpose in life, etc.). Sure, the monks take the acetism to degrees beyond what Sidhartha probably originally meant (leading to the age-long debate of whether a life devoted to reflection is better than a life devoted towards charity, much akin to Christianity's debate over faith versus works), but as far as I understand this, your basic everyday Buddhist just wants to rid themselves of unnatural, ultimately harmful wants and desires. I think using a philosophy like this, both versions of happiness are about the same.
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Old 06-24-2003, 07:05 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan
I am often described as a happy individual. There are different levels to happiness. You cannot truely experience great happiness without great sadness or loss. The more you have something to compare to the more intense the emotion. I have been through some things that were very traumatic but now when I look at what I have achieved and where I am in life I am happy. True happiness is not based on current circumstances but an inner decision to choose to be happy. Just by smiling at someone you can cause them to smile and they will often feel a surge of happiness. The emotion of happiness is such a objective emotion that it is impossible to say that you are or are not completely happy. As for complacency I don't think you should be complacent. I would never have finished my college degree if I had been. I had a goal and I reached it. The satisfaction gave me happiness BUT I had to allow myself to experience the happiness. There are some people that no matter what good thing happens to them they are not happy from it and only want more. Greed causes you to desire things but Greed is never satisfied or happy. Happiness that lasts is a self-chosen state of mind and not dependant on circumstances. Even if you were to try to wipe out all desires in order to be happy you are doing that because you DESIRE happiness. It's contradictory. Be content, be happy, and be ambitious as you choose to be. It can all happen simultaneously. Just my opinion.
"Always learn the rules so that you can break them properly." Dalai Lama
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Old 06-24-2003, 12:10 PM   #12 (permalink)
Sky Piercer
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Location: Ireland
I'm gonna completely dumb down for just a second and ask if anyone has seen Vasquez's vision of "heaven" from Johnny the homicidal maniac?

Despite the fact that it sits in a comic among pictures of graphic dismemberment and excruitating pain, I think it displays a very interesting concept.

In it, all people just sit, and stare into space. They have no cause to do anything. Motivation is the ultimate cause for us to do anything. In heaven, we would have no desires, and hence no motivation, so happiness in heaven, is simply mimiking the dead! Does that sound like the perect world to you?

Consider an earthworm. I've never heard of manically depressed earthworms going around commiting suicide. They presumably don't feel sadness (or other negative emotions in the usual course of events), hence must be close to supreme happiness? Hypothetically if you don't posess the intellect to have desires, you are completley at peace, and hence "happy"? Ignorance is bliss?

Recievers of a full frontal lobotamies, must surely be well on their way to attaining happiness?

To me, happiness is found in the quest. It is striving to attain happiness, wherein happiness is found. I don't believe that happineess is an enduring state. At no point do I believe somebody could state; 'I have achieved happiness, and now I simply must stay at this point'.

(BTW: My discussion of heaven was from a purely hypothetical stance. I am a 'confirmed atheist' )
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Old 06-24-2003, 09:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
Location: This side of heaven.
I think one of the main problems that we're gonna come up against is the fact that because none of us is complacent, the idea of complacency will be so foriegn and so uninteresting that we will rebel against that idea regardless of wether it is true or not. CSflim just might be right, and we should all go out and get frontal labotamies, and we will all be truly happy. However because we are products of our desires, that plan seems so flawed, even if it were to be true, I don't think we can understand it or comprehend it.
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Old 06-26-2003, 05:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
Location: St Paul, MN
I wasn't advocating that, I was saying we just stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and value human relationships more. Would making 200 G's a year and owning an SUV and a phat house make you happier if you didn't have anyone in this world to share it with?
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complacency, happiness

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