On Wisdom: Attributes: Goal of Happiness

Music: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.
By J.S. Bach. Sequenced by George Pollen.

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Nicholas Gordon

1. Happiness is by definition the state to which one aspires. For most, that state is one of deep and lasting pleasure.

2. Such pleasure is not to be confused with transitory pleasure, which comes and goes, while happiness, to be truly happiness, must be a state that is far more stable and certain.

3. Nor should such pleasure be confused with the avoidance of pain, for those who strive to avoid pain must also of necessity avoid happiness, which lies in the same direction as pain and is part of the same landscape.

4. Although most pursue transitory pleasures and seek to avoid pain, we know well that such behavior does not bring us happiness.

5. The deepest and most lasting pleasure is derived from the act of being, and is available to all at all times and under all circumstances.

6. Happiness therefore comes about through continuous awareness of the beauty and goodness of being. Such awareness, however, is difficult to sustain.

7. The principles of wisdom are inborn faculties that bring us to an awareness of the beauty and goodness of being and help us to sustain it.

8. To the extent that we are happy, we have the will to survive despair. Paradoxically, however, those who are most happy have embraced all of being, including death, and thus fear it least.

Next: The Principles of Wisdom: Freedom
Previous: The Attributes of Wisdom: Basis in Human Nature

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