Eudaimonia is often translated as happiness or well-being. The name itself suggests a spiritual component or orientation. My new year’s resolution for 2016 is to ask as many people as possible what they believe to be the common element of happiness or well-being. So let’s begin here! Please share your view on happiness or Eudaimonia?
The video above helps to reveal an artistic perspective to the dynamism of Eudaimonia. Plato states in the Republic that the Just man is happy. Plotinus reveals the metaphysical ramifications of this level of being. And through the fusion of poetic prose, motion picture & ambient music, I attempt to synthesize these views in my own style for further reflection and potential dialogue. Click on the image above to watch the video.
Happiness – the freedom to follow one’s inner guidance or soul’s calling (daimon ~ “genius”). Plotonius has been one of the few books sitting unread on my bookshelf for years, but I think I will bump him ahead in my book reading queue. 🙂 Happy New Year!
A lovely response indeed and a very happy new year to you too!
As to reading the Enneads of Plotinus, I would encourage you to join us for such a journey. The Enneads can be a tough read and it was originally used within a dialectical framework among companions. At present Iona is providing a bi-weekly commentary (one tractate at a time; see intro video below) for the purpose of helping others to enter into the spiritual mindset necessary for understanding the wisdom of Plotinus. [It is also my intention to use artistic expression to simplify this process for the benefit of the beginner mind] One possible approach is to first read the commentary and then read the tractate. The two weeks between your reading sessions will allow for time to absorb, reflect and synthesize the gnosis/knowledge into the concepts & ideas that personally resonate with you.
As you are well aware Julianne, the major arcana of the Tarot is preserved through pictorial elements, but it is also revealed in the various forms of the Torah or the universal laws/principles that often come to be expressed through text. Unfortunately the text can become stagnated in ‘time’ (e.g. through the currents of cultural/socio change) so the spirit is necessary to breathe back into the dead word the life & understanding it truly represents. Thus the Enneads has to be approached through soulful fellowship and a heat-felt respect for the numinous, so as to draw closer to that essential Oneness that forever abides and sustains the living and breathing organism in which we have our being & existence.
PS: Feel free to extend my invite to those you personally feel would be benefited through this unique expression and dialogue of the soul:
First of all: what an excellent video. Thank you. Not only is it good in its content, but, best of all, thought-provoking (nous-provoking!)
There’s something which underlies all the formulations of various philosophies and religions at their core, all of which could broadly be subsumed under eudaimonia. The poet Issa encapsulates it well in this haiku:
Do not the petals flutter down,
Just like that?
By default, this is precisely what we do not do: trust. More specifically, I would call it ‘ontological trust’. We do not trust ourselves, nor do we trust the whole of being in which we all participate. We live fragmented lives when in reality there is no separation. That illusion of separation is what makes us suffer so, and perpetuates our suffering as well as perpetuates the transmission of it to those around us. We live dis-integrated lives.
What we are is so much more than the mere isolated ego or personality– or rather, that we participate in something far greater than what is contained by the mere confines of what we normally call the ‘self’. Ironically, happiness which is not shared, that seeks to remain within the confines of the self (i.e. selfishness) is precisely what creates unhappiness– we sever ourselves from the root of being. This is not only an impossible delusion, it is madness.
Trust in the Whole means that we don’t allow our minds to cling to memory (a past which in reality does not exist), nor clinging to anticipation (a future which likewise does not exist). Only the present is real, and its the one thing we refuse to see. Our distrust of the Whole of existence keeps the present hidden from us– at best, the present moment is filtered through either memory or anticipation. We always feel the present should be something ELSE.
But when we can learn to let go of memory and anticipation (not eliminate it, but simply acknowledge these things for what they are), then we can begin to trust, be integrated within ourselves and the world around us. Then we are connected, at the ontological root, so to speak, to the Whole. We can recognise the seamless interconnection between myself and others, and with nature, the entire cosmos, spatially and temporally. I want to embrace the Being in its wholeness:
‘And all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.’ (Julian of Norwich)
‘Each moment is all being, each moment is the entire world. Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.’ (Dogen)
So eudaimonia for me isn’t exactly ‘otherworldly’ but rather embraces the Whole, excludes nothing– to learn to say the same ‘yes’ that Being itself also says. That to me is the integration that ontological trust brings. I’ve only caught a few glimpses of it in my lifetime, moments in which I knew what this trust was– and it is those moments which have become imprinted upon me, which impel me (with gratitude and patience) to do what I can to remain present to it again.
You have complimented my narration and then some; thank you kindly.
The statement below seems to reflect the isness of my production:
‘We live fragmented lives when in reality there is no separation. That illusion of separation is what makes us suffer so, and perpetuates our suffering as well as perpetuates the transmission of it to those around us. We live dis-integrated lives.’
In other words, I believe we continue to enter into the same scenarios in life, again & again, in one way or the other, until we learn the lesson and align ourself with that which is good and true.
Acceptance that the sun must set~ life is messy~ and whilst navigating storms/reefs (rather than avoiding them as proposed by the Hedonist Always Sunshine Brigade), that contented moments can be experienced despite adversity.
The absence of the experience of suffering beyond a level that is unbearable, and/or for a duration which is unbearable.
Interesting; a CBT specialist might call this a core belief.
Allow me to share a couple of passages by Plotinus that relate to your statement:
“So the good life will not belong to those who feel pleasure but to the man who is able to KNOW that pleasure is the good. Then the cause of living well will not be pleasure, but the POWER OF JUDGING that pleasure is good. And that which judges is better than mere experience, for it is REASON AND INTELLECT; but pleasure is an experience and the irrational is never better than reason.” – Ennead I.4.2
“But suppose the pain brings delirium, or goes on at such a height that, though it is extreme it does not kill? If it goes on, he will consider what he ought to do; the pain has not taken away his power of self-disposal.” – Ennead I.4.8
This one of my favorite post. Thank you for sharing this work of love Jason. It is thought provoking and inspiring.
You asked, “What makes me happy?”
This question has no simple one liner answer. As Happiness could be described and deduced from different points of observations, experiences and in many many ways and forms.
I ask myself about this question to remind me during times when I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. I firmly believe that as long as I am breathing, safe and sound in the comfort of my own skin, no illness, no distress and the whole day seems to be an easy as pie, I think I am in good company and that makes me happy. The complete balance of emotions, spiritual, and most cases the ordinary and simplicity of little things but maybe superficial to others but not to my understanding. I’ll share a few as follows, and not necessarily in order:
– Witnessing the sun rising and setting, and stars are like scattered diamonds in the sky. It humbles me to succumb to my knees in awe that what great power must He be who created these magnificent phenomena and things in divine order. A simple reminder that I am like a small ant in a borderless forest surrounded by canopies of giant trees.
– An intoxicating feeling from the result of a deep meditation or samadhi. Where heavens meets the earth and you have no care of the world and what ever happens next. Because you feel free, very light on your feet as if you are floating on air. This must be where the ” I feel like I’m in cloud nine ” expression came from.
– A smooth, soft touch and tender skin like velvet of a new born baby and that angelic look of innocence on their face.
– Beautiful smiles that shows glimpses of sacred soul that you could see in people’s eyes. I don’t care if I see them with no teeth and wrinkles what ever physical shape or form.
– When your love from a soulmate is reciprocated and feels perfect that it feels like it’s just the two of you who exists in the entire universe.
– When you are in perfect harmony with nature, that beautiful colorful flowers are reminders that these is how the Cosmic Divine smiles at you in the physical form. That the sounds of thunder, lightning, the power of waterfalls and singing birds, are like His voice. Witnessing the graceful flight of winged species such as colorful butterflies and Eagles, as they glide up and down on the air, you just wish you could do the same. The innocent look of animals that make you say ” aaaww, ” like when you hold a new born puppy. The warm heat of the sun penetrating the dark surfaces of the earth and energizing my body. The the gentle kiss of a pouring rain on my skin.
– When I am that person who was able to bring solace to some one who was in distress. And you are there at the right moment to help them even when you are just that there as a shoulder to cry on to listen and hold their hands.
– A perfect momentum in learning new things. Those aha moments and epiphanies from lesson learned in my life.
These were just simple few, I could go on and on, but I also want to hear from you and what makes everyone happy too, as it makes me marvel to read, listen and learn. I believe we are all connected like threads that makes up a whole fabric of the entire creation. Peace and love.
That was an amazing response! Your life is filled with beauty and wonder!
May I ask a sub-question to help consolidate your answer into one statement…
Nikki, what do you believe to be the common element of happiness in all souls?
Love & Light,
Being content and to live in the moment. There is no time like the present.
The moment in which you typed your comment has come & gone. Surely living in that past moment would cloud our ability to see in this present moment?
Happiness feels “short” to me…Eudaimonia, (as another Greek concept- Arete-) defy description and become “living verbs”… Eudaimonia seems to point toward a kind of “flourishing” -“emergering” of everything soul endeavors and endures …like standing in the edge of paradoxes and being able to witness and grasp a state of Being that is not defined by the elements at the extremes. Caring of the Soul, allow it to unfold… This holds more than our modern idea of happiness… it beholds humanity in its lights and shadows, mysteries and circumstances, the ephemeral and temporal; and delights in the ineffability of all, while letting go meaning, (at least that of reason). Perhaps is the act of actually surrendering “form”, in which we become Form and Form becomes us,,the eternal and finite meet and is never forgotten, and we recreate experiences pointing to transcendent moments.
‘Caring of the Soul, allow it to unfold…’
Do say more of how one might care for the soul?
‘while letting go meaning, (at least that of reason).’
May I ask why you feel happiness consists of letting go of meaning and how is it that reason detracts from happiness? My ‘reason’ for asking this question is for the purpose of understanding more clearly what you ‘mean’ by happiness or eudaimonia.
Nothing means anything; I have given everything I see, think, all the meaning that it has for me. The “meaning of life” is derived from our philosophical, religious and scientific inquiries about existence, social ties, consciousness, and happiness. When I am able to clear my mind of all past associations, to see things exactly as they appear to me now, I realize how little I really understand about them. Letting go meaning is embracing an open mind, unhampered by judgment where a higher “meaning” shall unfold…
I think our scientific and technological world has lost the respect for -“living the mysteries” as it has for “living the questions”-. Both dwell in wisdom and love, which are not objective, tangible and controllable as we want the world to be. It is often uncomfortable and sometimes painful to acknowledge “not knowing,” but it seems that is precisely there, where we are most likely to meet “God” (however you call it).
When we have a relationship with, or the experience of being gripped by something that is stronger than ourselves – belief ceases to be a factor. We “know…” ”Knowing” here defined not as a rational process, but as the inner intuitive sense that we are one with our purpose and existence. As the – “surrendering” of knowledge into wisdom…
Boy! How do I love art’s ability to express what words cannot convey!
Eudaimonia for me is: “knowing” that you are in the right place and doing what you are meant to do. Eudaimonia is also contrast, tension, wholehearted living, creativity and wonder. Is an experienced state in oppositions to other states… it is not permanent or immutable, on the contrary, how many different “moments” we can reckon as feeling “happy”? I associate it with awe and the sacred, in the sense that it lifts above into the incomprehensible, the mysteries of life…
I am a researcher of “what makes us human.” I am also a believer on a soul-print or compass within, “whose” purpose is to guide us through the journey of “Becoming.” My life work today, is about” soul-making and becoming” (what they “look like” and how they are intertwined) and how the arts and humanities serve as windows to explore our essence and connection to what is, in its many manifestations.
I draw upon my experience as an artist and performer (and that of my students), as well as the wide cultural heritage speaking to a higher vision of humanity and existence.
In that frame or context Care of the Soul…
Is about simplifying, expanding our sense of self through beauty, depth and wonder, achieve special states of awareness and appreciation of everyone and everything, having a greater sense of the Inner, through losing ourselves, engaging in soul-making activities and bringing the sacred into our ordinary experiences.
Whether natural or hand-made I also ascribe to the Renaissance idea of anima mundi, I like to think that everything by itself has vitality and personality, that there is a larger soul dwelling in our surroundings which demands the same respect and care as mine. Honoring the particularity of things and beings and allowing them to reveal their beauty and to be close, help us relate deeply to our world (and keeps the ego at bay.)
Sweaty and smiling….
Thank you for sharing these videos and for your question! I feel happy when I live my simple day focusing on whatever I do, and knowing that my existence is an important part of Cosmos. I have no fear of death, but I do love life :). As everybody else, I have challenges and adversity, but discipline and desire to regain my balance help me in time of need. It is where I progress, and it makes me happy too. I don’t wear this on my sleeve, and don’t preach on street corners 🙂 It is my little inner happiness, my belief. So, two things make me happy: my oneness with the Universe and my little steps on the way of progress. It covers everything.
Thank you kindly!
You certainly have a well-rounded perspective to happiness…
(focusing, knowing, fear, love, discipline, desire, balance, progress, belief, relationship and method)
May I ask what you believe to be the common element of happiness in all souls?