Saturday, January 11, 2014

Search for Meaning - Part 2 (of 7) - What, then, is Happiness?

Part 2 - What, then, is Happiness?

If scientists, materialists or scoffers were more self-honest, they’d simply have to admit that these questions are outside the scope of their inquiry or their personal interest. Just about any “man on the street” can supply the most obvious answer to the purpose of life: we want to enjoy life and to perpetuate that enjoyment. It’s happiness we seek, silly! Most men and women, looking at life’s wonders, mystery, complexity, order, and beauty, see that the cosmos is veritably bursting with intelligence. The observant and aware human experience is sufficient to tip the odds strongly in favor of creation being both a product of, and directed toward increased awareness of, Consciousness, Intention, and Purpose! Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, was in awe of the universe and saw beauty and intelligence where other more pedestrian observers see how to make better bombs or grow food more profitably.

Most weekend-Darwinists would fall into the trap of admitting that mere existence isn’t enough, at least not for them personally! “Sure, I wouldn’t want to be in a coma or paralyzed for life. I’d want to enjoy life!” In any case, they can’t help but allow a higher purpose to enter which I will call simply, happiness. Right there they’ve forfeited the match by admitting to something, “happiness,” that cannot be defined and that constitutes a non-material reality -- in fact, a reality which is a product solely of consciousness and feeling! Bingo, ‘ol boy! I think I’ve just won!

And if you’d be tempted to say that happiness is the result of material satisfactions (home, hearth, money, pleasure, success, etc.) I would counter with the well established fact that the human experience discloses ample examples of people under the most harrowing conditions of pain, suffering or lack experiencing happiness (in the form of joy, contentment, and focus) like the full moon appearing in the sky, untouched in its beauty by earth bound devastation. The potential for human consciousness to transcend seemingly impossible physical conditions can never be circumscribed. Score one for metaphysics, I say!

You might still object by saying that desiring happiness (in any form) doesn’t make life necessarily meaningful, just purposeful? Hmmmm, hair splitting, are we? Even a scientist would say you have to limit your inquiries to what you know and can test. The meaning of life isn’t likely to found in a rock or in outer space. The very inquiry suggests consciousness & intelligence and, besides, intelligent or not, it is we who are asking the question, not the rocks or the whales. So we must be the measure of the response and the inquiry into whether and what is happiness and whether our pursuit of it is meaningful!

In any case, to admit happiness into the discussion is certainly a crack in the materialistic egg of strict Darwinism. You might object that seeking happiness doesn’t answer the question for the lower life forms and their respective stages of evolution. Hmmm, I would say, really? Are not earthworms and plants “happy” if they get sustenance and favorable conditions for living? Well, ok, we can’t say for sure they are “happy,” but as their simple needs are more fulfilled they are at least, well, “more fulfilled!” It’s at least as good as your survival of the fittest theory, I’d say. It supplies at least a motive, as it were, for their compelling interest to survive. Survival for its own sake has no logical explanation by itself without the squishy appearance of consciousness and feeling. A kind of primordial, “What’s in it for me?”

I will admit that we have yet to grapple with what is happiness. For one question that remains is not so much why we want to be happy (that is intuitively and innately self-evident even if beyond logic and reason), but what parameters foster this happiness. A murderer might imagine (presumably does) that killing his enemy will make him happier in ridding his life of some terrible pestilence. But remorse and regret may set in, afterwards, or the hangman’s noose, descend. Either way the happiness achieved by the murderer may be fleeting, at best. But, let’s explore the nature of happiness in another section.

Positing that happiness is the goal and purpose of life isn’t all that much of a threat to anyone, now that we’ve dismissed the Darwinists from the room, that is. It’s the atheists and the agnostics who are now left standing, quietly muttering to each other and suspicious of what’s to come next.

Our AA friends (agnostics and atheists) are suspicious because once you introduce meaning or happiness into life, then a higher octave than material fulfillments of the law of cause and effect is admitted into the conversation. The causes of achieving meaning are as insubstantial and lacking materiality as meaning and happiness itself. A metaphysical truth can only be dismissed when one lives comfortably, if narrowly, under the umbrella of materialistic, present life realities.

Right now, however, these baddies think that the meaning of life is to “get mine” and the only cause and effect they care about is how to cause mine to be got. Now I admit that some of ‘em are actually really nice people who love whales, pets, lovers and mothers. They just don’t cotton to that God thing. We’ll call this a sub-group of AA’ers, humanists.

You see: all of these people, nice or not, are wedded to the idea that the only realities worthy of note are the ones that they are interested in. Such realities are likely to be things they can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. The idea of a broader, intangible reality is, for them, dismissible on the grounds of “Frankly, I’m not interested.” Even the billions of galaxies or the bad things that live under their fingernails are generally of little interest to this group of people. Maybe they love puppies or buy organic produce, but these they can touch.

Is there a way to bridge the happiness motivation into something less subjective? Can “God” enter the picture through the backdoor of happiness? Let’s wait and see….stay tuned for Part 3 – Consciousness, God & Intuition