In my post, I tried to avoid putting down too many details and I settled with short statements that actually need elaboration. I'll try to elaborate here using your observations as a starting point.
WARNING: This post ended up being a theoretical digress, surely too complicated. And is loooong. It might not be of much practical interest. While I spend most of my life thinking about this stuff, this here is written off the top of my head, and is all in my humble opinion
@AnjiTheDestroyer: I was in the middle of writing a response to your last question (I have an already too large draft), then this thread came along, and now I wanted to respond to Lisa. I thought it would be simpler, or shorter, but I ended up with a large post in which I reused many of the ideas that I created when writing the response to you. This post does not directly address your questions, but I think it provides some of the base elements of my views.
LisaTranscending wrote: ↑
Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:20 pm
as long as we believe these concepts of happiness as a need for something to happen or someone to behave a certain way or life to comport with some future wish of ours surrounding life circumstances and another person's awakening (to how wonderful we are to be lover or friend to).....we are doomed to disappointment and unhappiness with any remnant of such wishing as a motivating factor for our pursuits in daily life.
I think is true that we almost always search for happiness in the wrong places. But I also think that when we fail to find it there, we may came out with the wrong conclusions.
If I understand correctly your point of view, or if I may, the point of view of that "school of thought", all we need to be happy is ourselves, to awaken and ignite our inner light, allowing the world--all that is external--to be whatever it is. To accept all that which is out of our control and be happy regardless.
There is a lot of truth in there, but IMO, is nonetheless incomplete
I believe it is true that happiness ought to be within our reach, for otherwise, we're doomed to an endless goose chase. More specifically, it has to be the case that "there exist one or more (alternative) sequences of decisions that leads us to happiness"
LisaTranscending wrote: ↑
Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:20 pm
we have zero control over anything outside of ourselves
I completely agree that ultimately
that is entirely true.
If in the end we have only control of what we
do, which means we can only directly
decide what we ourselves do, and happiness is the outcome of a certain sequence of decisions, then it follows that it must be the case that we would reach happiness by figuring out what we should do, regardless of anything else on the outside. Which summarizes your point of view if I understand correctly.
That is correct. However...
As it turns out, we don't really do anything in isolation. Instead, everything we do is an interaction. [You will probably argue that when I sit on the top of a mountain and think of something, I'm acting without interacting. Well, for the sake of the argument, allow me to postulate that even in that case you are interacting with your brain and mind (and also with nature but that's besides this point)]
Everything is connected and all actions are entangled. There is really no such thing as a perfectly individual sequence of (self-)decisions because what I decide affects others, such that what they decide, in turn, affects me.
So, while external control is ultimately an illusion played out by this mechanical world we live in, total separation is also, ultimately, just an illusion. In reality, we're all nodes in a peculiar, almost paradoxical network, in which each of us decides (and controls) what we do, but what is done has an impact (on us but also on others), which in turn means that each decision, while still entirely ours, depends on anyone else's.
That is, while we have control over ourselves and we are free to decide what we do, we are all connected by the the impact of our actions.
So, my happiness is defined by a sequence of my decisions, true, but that sequence can never be independent of anyone else's for, as I said, we are all connected, and which decisions of mine are those, depends on which are those of the others. Is not possible to predefine
my own path to happiness as if I were in complete isolation.
Going back for a second to the illusion of external control. Is interesting to notice how this peculiar world is such that it seems that we do have control over external things.
For example, we need water here then we just build a canal to deviate the flow from a river. Or, I need my baby child to stay alive so I pick him up if he's crawling towards a highway. Or, I want my house clean so I buy a slave and tell him what to do. There are a lot of examples in which we exploit different mechanisms to exert control outside of ourselves. As it turns out, since it is a sequence of personal
decisions that leads us to happiness, we seek that by expanding the reach of said decisions, so as to include everything and not just ourselves. In other words, we seek external control in an attempt to extend our very selves in order to be happy.
But nature has a way to teach us what doesn't work by having us fail and see it first hand. A very good example of the ultimate failure of external control is kids. When they are babies, we have total control and we have to
decide for them, but as they grow up, we progressively lose that control and we have to decide for them less and less, until a point in which they break free and we lose all control and there is no need at all to decide for them anymore.
It is a part of our human nature to want
things, to think we need to control that which is outside of ourselves in order to be happy. I agree with you that in the end this doesn't really work since external control is ultimately an illusion.
Some might argue that external control is quite real for we do deviate the flow of water, we do pick up babies running towards a highway, a nasty CEO does get hundreds of people in his company going there every morning to do what he tells them to do, and a bloody dictator does get thousands of people to obey and work out of fear. All that is true, but it should be noted that as much as we can mechanically control someone else's (body), or indirectly control someone else's decisions exploiting that mechanical control, or manipulate someone so that they do what we want thinking is what they want, all of that is limited by the (possibly subconscious) cooperation of the other. One can only control that which accepts to be controlled, whether out of confusion, fear or because they are playing a role that specifically delegates control (such as a son to a parent, a student to a teacher, or a worker to a boss).
something is to (want to) control something, which in turn, since ultimately we can only control ourselves, is to (want to) posses something (to make it part of ourselves so that we can truly control it). And we humans basically operate by wanting things. The perfect example is LO. Is completely clear to me that I want
her (as opposed to Love her... or maybe, as well as). I want her to want me. I want to make her mine. I want to control things so that I can be with her.
While at the very fabric of reality we are all connected (by the entanglement of inter-action), we create "bindings" on top of that based on our intentions. An example of such bindings is when one takes (pseudo-)control of others by exploiting certain mechanisms. Let me to call that "control-bindings". From slavery, to social class hierarchies, to abusive-relationships, to co-dependency, all the way to limerence (in which the control-binding is often just potential), these are all instances of networks that operate on different forms and degrees of external control, actual or potential.
From this, I think your worldview is that ultimately, control-bindings fail to lead to happiness even if they would seem to serve just that. For instance, I want LO thus I might think it would make me happy. But I know it won't in spite of the fact that I want her nonetheless, to whatever purpose and for whatever reason.
If, due to the fundamental fact that external control is ultimately just an illusion, which implies that in the end, I can only truly decide for myself and myself only, and my happiness must result from my own (and only my own) decisions, control-bindings as described above do not really work. But, what does work?
Say I want to go north. We just established that dragging others along does not really make me happy even if I might think it does. What then?
One possible solution is to just walk north, and if it just so happens that someone else, out of its own free will, walks north with me, then perfect.
That is, we just "freely" follow whatever our paths are, and leave it to chance to find us intersecting.
I believe this is your position. Is a very common position. However, I also believe is missing out on the most important component of being happy...
Whether we see it or not, we are
all connected. To miss-understand and miss-use this connection to try to expand ourselves and extend the reach of our control does not lead to happiness (and I would argue it does lead to suffering). But that doesn't mean we have to ignore the connections and, in my opinion, leaving to chance all "intersections", just waiting, or hoping (or not even that), for my path to accidentally cross yours is ignoring the connection.
There is the wrong way to do things purposely together
, such as I
decide what we do, and you]
just follow... that control-binding I described above, and for sure there is an accidental way to do things together, but there is also the right way to do things purposely together
The right way is free from (external) control but is not free from commitment. Is not about dragging others along my path, neither walking my path on my own and leave it to chance to meet others, is actively searching for a common path.
You would probably argue that of course we can always choose a control-free common path, but why would that make me happier than my own (also control-free) path?
In order to attempt to show why let me make the following observation:
Suppose there is a person out there that is just like that. He (or she) is pure light. He doesn't try to control or change anything that is outside of him for he accepts reality (from a storm to whatever everyone else is doing) just as it is. He seeks no external control whatsoever. Now further suppose that this means that he is completely, perfectly happy.
Now suppose you are in a lot of pain. Say physical pain because you have a terrible disease, from which you are just a victim and none of what you've done is the reason for it.
Next to you there is another person, say me, and I am in a lot of pain too but because I make all the wrong moves. To make the argument simpler, suppose I just keep cutting myself with a knife because I hate myself and can't stop punishing me.
Now, imagine that this enlightened person, who is completely and perfectly happy because he accepts everything as it is
, come join us and says:
- I can see you are in a lot of pain but I want you to know that I'm perfectly happy, and your pain doesn't change that. I'm going back home tomorrow, and your reality doesn't change a bit how I'm perfectly happy with myself. Just as I don't even wish for a storm to calm, for it is out of my control to have that happening, I don't wish for your pain to go away for it is also out of my control to make it so. In other words, I'm happy and that you are not, doesn't change that because I found my happiness within myself, not in you.
What would you make out of it? Would you think that this is how a light being looks like? Would you hope to be like that, perfectly happy entirely out of your own state of mind, accepting and not needing to do anything at all about the suffering of everyone else?
In fact, assuming you believe in God, do you imagine that he is completely and perfectly happy out of his own perfection and that he just sits and waits for all of us to crawl out of our own misery--which we ourselves created in the first place as a matter of opinion--completely out of our own devices?
Wouldn't you say that "light beings" (say, Moises or Buddha or Jesus Or Gandhi, etc...), assuming you believe in them, "need us to be happy" (to reuse my original expression that started this debate)?
And if semantics are getting in the way, since "to need" might imply to mean "to want (to control)", "to ought to have", let me rephrase that: "Wouldn't you say that light beings make our happiness their business"? That they work for it since they see their own happiness as incomplete without ours?
I guess you could respond that they don't, or that they don't even exist to begin with, or that they do it, but because they can't escape the need to control just like all of us here (which is one way to "want to" make others happy)
The first observation that started all my argument is that we're all connected, hence, there is no such thing as an isolated action, they are all inter-actions.
I like to think that happiness/suffering is just a "matching function", a sort of feedback that gauges whether what we wanted to experience by deciding on an action, effectively is what we did experience after we executed the action. Here is an extremely oversimplified example: When I decide to get an ice-cream, there is an expectation on what I will experience. Then I go and get the ice-cream, and if what I experienced is what I expected, then I'm happy. If not, I'm in pain.
In real life, both decisions and expectations form a complex "chess-game like" network, so the "feedback matching function" does a job much more complicated than in the ice-cream example, but in essence, is the same.
If, on the one hand, happiness comes from matching expected experiences with actual experiences (and suffering from mismatching them); and on the other hand, being all connected as we are such that all actions are actually interactions, the actual experience we got is necessarily
determined by all those involved; then happiness--or the matching of the expectation--is bound to depend on the decisions of all those involved.
This, however, seems to contradict one of the initial propositions: that there exist a sequence of individual
decisions leading to happiness, because as we said above, the experience we get is never independently defined by our own decisions because we inter-act, not act in isolation.
This is the simple reason why, in principle, someone else can make me suffer, for example by slaving me, because in my interaction with my master, the effective experience from my decisions is almost certainly not what I expected, and it takes either to change my decisions (such as break free at whatever risk) or change my expectations.
It might seem then that the only way to have my own decisions result in my own happiness, considering that said happiness is the matching of expectations against outcome, is to isolate the outcome as much as possible, that is, try to act rather than interact. Or at most, leave interactions to those which just occur accidentally and do not interfere with the matching (for example: I
want to go north, then I
go north, and if there is anyone else there just as well, cool, but that is unrelated from my decisions and doesn't affect my experience).
Clearly, this is one way. But, if this were the best
way, then the world would be doomed to be a giant partitioned
set eternally separated in happy people and unhappy people with no convergence. Granted, you can argue that the world is exactly like that. For what is worth, I believe there is something in our nature that imprints a convergence, as I tried to illustrate with the observation of how (the alleged) light beings make our happiness their business.
The fact that we inter-act as opposed to act in isolation, meaning that what we experience (when inter-acting) results, on the one hand, from an ultimately disjoint set of decisions (since each of us decides on our own even if we can communicate to coordinate the decisions) but, on the other hand, is shared and ultimately determined by all such decisions, implies that figuring out such individual decisions when the outcome depends on the collective is extremely difficult. I've shown in the preceding parts that the strategies seem to be to act as independently as possible, or control the decision making as much as possible, while none of these really do the job in the long term.
Why don't they do the job? Because to inter-act is not just to aggregate actions.
From the point of view of the experience we get by doing things, it can be said that every
action is ultimately a creation
, and thus every inter-action is a co-creation
. A key fact is that nothing that we can create (in isolation) matches the reach of what we can co-create (together)
. Since we seek to expand ourselves via the things we create (which is the very reason we do things in the first place), the reason for control and the building of control-bindings that I mentioned above is precisely because we actually seek to co-create (to reach even further). Power (slavery, class hierarchies, abusive-relationships, co-dependence, even sides of infatuation and limerence, to set some examples) is a distorted way to do just that.
If every action intends to create something, then happiness (as defined above) would be a reflection of that creation (whereas suffering would be the lack of such a reflection for the creation is missing). As such, happiness is not a fixed destination, or a token to be obtained, nor a definitive ultimate state of mind. We perpetually seek to create, and as we see the creation unfolding, we sense that as happiness, for is a feedback that tells we are moving in the right direction.
But then, if what we co-create is always larger than what we create, the reflection of a co-creation provides a bigger feedback. That is, we can be happy by doing alone (if we matched what we created with that which we sought to create), but we're always happier by doing together (if we created something together that matched what each of us individually wanted to co-create)
It is my believe that in order to provide such a "system" with a chance to evolve to a commonl co-creation, which would provide the most happiness (and not just happiness), there is an intrinsic mechanism that can be put at play: Empathy.
Here Empathy refers to an essential mechanism by which we can "experience another's experience". It think is easy to see how this mechanism provides the perfect strategy for the most happiness (that which can only result from reflecting a co-creation) since by being able to sense someone else's experiences we can synchronize individual decisions in a way that is just not possible without empathy.
I mentioned above that on top of the basic connection we all share, we bind to each other (in order to co-create), which usually for us humans takes the form of control (we want to create with others but controlling--i.e. individual deciding--what is co-created), and I called that "control-binding". Well, as it turns out, empathy provides a different form of binding, which, by its reflective nature, runs opposite to control. In an empathy network, as opposed to a control network, all individual decisions are maximally expressed yet the result is also a co-creation, one that in fact is even much richer precisely because all individual "creations" are fully merged in.
In my views, Love would be the practice of creating empathy networks, which allows us to co-create and expand ourselves much further than with Power, which is the practice of creating control networks.
At the end of the day, is our call how we humans bind to others, whether through control or empathy. Usually with a mix of these two. They are opposites, which is why I mentioned in other posts that Love is the opposite of Power.
Having said all of the above, let me rephrase what I said about the OP "needing his DH happiness for her to be happy" using all of those concepts.
That might have sounded like: she "wants" him to be happy as in "she needs to control his state of mind" so that she can co-create with him under her own terms (which in the case at hand, is not possible since he is not co-creating anything with her right now)
But what I meant is:
She has built an empathy-bond with him, which means, she feels his pain, which means, she will naturally make it her business to help him heal. Of course, she can choose to undo the empathy bond (we can
do that), but then, she is walking away from the strategy that maximizes the "better happiness" that co-creation (doing things together with him) provides (for all the reasons expressed above). To remove that empathy bond is to settle for a lesser happiness, whereas to stick to it is to fight for the better one.
EDIT: I wanted to add that I'm well aware of the popular idea, specially from Eastern traditions, that happiness is a state of mind directly
accesible. As if it where a place to just go, or a state to just transform into. In my opinion, you cannot just decide to be happy for we can only decide what to do, not what state to be in. The state we are in comes from the effect of what we do. One reason for this is that I believe in eternal life (not of the body of course). In the endless future of eternity there cannot be final destinations or states, for motion can only exist where there is potential. Everything, including happiness, ought to be an endless progression. If we could at any given point just reach happiness as a final state, what comes next for ever and ever and ever? That is why I think happiness (and suffering) is just a feedback to direct us into doing
this and not that, for we will keep endlessly doing something.