Advertisement

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

The Future of Happiness – Up or Down?

It’s unsettling that so little is known about what it takes to be happy, and a lot of what we do know is contradictory. On the one hand, most people report that they are happy when asked by pollsters – up to 80% in most developed countries. On the other hand, psychological studies and various reports don’t share such a bright picture. The following things make happiness a problem:

 

  • As a feeling, being happy comes and goes. It often arrives accidentally, leading to one popular theory that we “stumble on happiness” rather than create it.
  • People are generally not good at predicting what will make them happy. Having a baby, for example, is often a major stress from day to day, not a sustained joy.
  • Prescriptions for antidepressants and tranquilizers remain high, with no clinical indication that either kind of medication does more than improve symptoms, and sometimes not even that.
  • Aside from rampant consumerism and the pursuit of diversions, modern society has not found a deeper theory of happiness to guide us.

 

Advertisement

It’s the last point which is the most critical. One of the major reasons for the existence of religion has always been that God offers a happiness beyond what is found in mortal life. That view is no longer viable for millions of people who have walked away from organized religion.  The promise of Heaven vaguely persists in people’s minds, but it’s fair to say that trying to be happy in material terms has replaced the hereafter as their main focus.

 

If we leave aside religious terminology, the picture of happiness held out by the world’s spiritual traditions isn’t at all like the materialistic model, with its dependence of looking outside yourself for things that bring pleasure. Instead, the following are supposed to be true:

Advertisement

 

  • Happiness is a permanent condition of the soul.
  • We create unhappiness by deviating from the soul’s immortal condition.
  • Lasting happiness is achieved by a spiritual journey that heals self-division.
  • The undivided self is the true self and therefore the most natural identity for every individual.

 

This model of a kind of happiness that no one can take away from you remains as radical today as it was centuries ago, perhaps more so given the hold that materialism has over us. But appearances are deceiving, I think.  The world’s religions were addressed by and large to a population that struggled to fill the basic necessities of food and shelter, with early death and lifelong privation the norm. Rising prosperity and modern medicine have created a much more secure platform for the average life today.

Advertisement

 

This means that millions of people are in a position to test for themselves if the spiritual model of happiness is actually valid – they have the time and freedom to pursue the true self.  Such an agenda is part of official social values, but it has been adopted by countless people who form a loose confederation of seekers around the world. Material freedom, in a word, isn’t the opposite of spiritual freedom. People aren’t forced to seek God because daily life is so miserable but because they have higher expectations than daily comfort and security.

 

It would be better all around if we recognized the reality of the situation instead of recycling outworn images of sin, eternal punishment, earthly life as a vale of tears, and a state of bliss achievable only after death.  Eastern spirituality doesn’t focus on these things, but it too has outworn notions of renunciation, daily rituals, caste obligations, and a state of enlightenment available only to the dedicated few.

Advertisement

 

What will our future happiness look like if all of these hindrances and obstacles were rejected once and for all? We’ll go into that in the next post.

 

(To be cont.)

 

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment

Pingback: Should society Prioritize Measuring Happiness?

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Physics' Split Personality: Is the Dark Side Winning?
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Menas Kafatos, PhD   For some time now most of the universe has gone dark. This startling news was brought to popular attention in a June Op-Ed piece in the New York Times called "A Crisis at the Edge of ...

posted 12:32:11pm Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Mindful Evolution: Can You Guide What Your Genes Are Doing?
By Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD   Human beings are unique in the scenario of life on Earth--that much is obvious. We are guided by awareness, and to implement our wishes, dreams, and inventions, the higher brain ...

posted 11:49:40am Jul. 20, 2015 | read full post »

From Facts to Meaning, Through Beauty
By Frank A. Wilczek, PhD and Deepak Chopra, MD Science tells us what the world is, not what it means. As expert as they are at collecting and analyzing data, most modern scientists tend to shy away from the question, "What does it all mean?" ...

posted 10:54:48am Jul. 13, 2015 | read full post »

A New Hot Button: Consciousness-Driven Evolution
Science is meant to be the opposite of a belief system. No one underlined this point more securely than Charles Darwin, who devised a theory of evolution that defied the strongest belief of his time, the all but universal belief in the bible ...

posted 11:12:21am Jul. 06, 2015 | read full post »

How to Make Quantum Reality Our Reality: Looking for a Better Deal
  By Deepak Chopra, MD and Ruth E. Kastner, PhD   If you ask a scientist to talk about quantum mechanics, it’s predictable that the first thing he or she is likely to say is that this is the most successful theory in the ...

posted 11:08:03am Jun. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.