Happiness the Buddhist way as seen by Yuval Noah Harari

The recent  “Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari attempts to be the meta-history book of our time. I heard that the book was excellent from a few friends who think that everything popular is excellent.

This passage on Buddhism and happiness confirmed my view that the book is politicised snake oil. I am very open to being convinced otherwise.

Harari: “For 2,500 years, Buddhists have systematically studied the essence and causes of happiness, which is why there is a growing interest among the scientific community both in their philosophy and their meditation practices.”

“Buddhism shares the basic insight of the biological approach to happiness, namely that happiness results from processes occurring within one’s body, and not from events in the outside world. However, starting from the same insight, Buddhism reaches very different conclusions.”

Me: So far so good. Happiness = reality – expectations, meaning that it isn’t only a product of the events of the outside world. The bit about the body is also pretty solid: serotonin, etc.

Yuval Noah Harari on Buddhism

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Harari: “According to Buddhism, most people identify happiness with pleasant feelings, while identifying suffering with unpleasant feelings. People consequently ascribe immense importance to what they feel, craving to experience more and more pleasures, while avoiding pain. Whatever we do throughout our lives, whether scratching our leg, fidgeting slightly in the chair, or fighting world wars, we are just trying to get pleasant feelings.”

Me: Thus spoke Sigmund Freud. We are all about seeking pleasure and even more so avoiding pain.

Harari: “The problem, according to Buddhism, is that our feelings are no more than fleeting vibrations, changing every moment, like the ocean waves. If five minutes ago I felt joyful and purposeful, now these feelings are gone, and I might well feel sad and dejected. So if I want to experience pleasant feelings, I have to constantly chase them, while driving away all the unpleasant feelings. Even if I succeed, I immediately have to start all over again, without ever getting any lasting reward for my troubles.”

Harari: “What is so important about obtaining such ephemeral prizes? Why struggle so hard to achieve something that disappears almost as soon as it arises? According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify.”

Me: This is probably true about Buddhism (so not Harari’s problem), though it does strike me as being rather nihilistic. Feelings are biology’s way to tell us how we’re doing, so saying they are inconsequential, ephemeral and aren’t worth pursuing seems defiant of our very nature.

Buddhism and happiness Yuval Noah Harari

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Harari:”People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them.This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices.”

Me: Well, that’s not going to happen so long as we have an intact limbic system.

Harari: “In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been.”

Me: Things are about to get a little meta. What if you feel like pursuing your feelings? That’s a thought. Why reject it? Why disallow yourself from craving something? Isn’t that a “wrong” thing to do when you’re meditating? Harari is leading us down the road of blissful oversimplification. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Furthermore, our limbic systems will always crave certain feelings. That’s hard wired, and no amount of cognitive machinations or meditation is going to change that. So maybe these “accepting” people sitting in a lotus position on a green moral highground somewhere should accept their own biology instead?

Harari: “The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it. It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!”

Me: Miracle pill talk.

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens book review

Harari: “This idea is so alien to modern liberal culture that when Western New Age movements encountered Buddhist insights, they translated them into liberal terms, thereby turning them on their head. New age cults frequently argue: ‘Happiness does not depend on external conditions. It depends only on what we feel inside. People should stop pursuing external achievements such as wealth and status, and connect instead with their inner feelings.’Or more succinctly, ‘Happiness begins within.’ This is exactly what biologists argue, but more or less the opposite of what Buddha said.”

Me: Nice summary, to be fair. However, he is calling people out on something he is also culpable of.

Harari: “Buddha agreed with modern biology and New Age movements that happiness is independent of external conditions. Yet his more important and far more profound insight was that true happiness is also independent of our inner feelings. Indeed, the more significance we give our feelings, the more we crave them, and the more we suffer. Buddha’s recommendation was to stop not only the pursuit of external achievements, but also the pursuit of inner feelings.”

Me: I am sorry, what? “True happiness is also independent of our inner feelings”? What is true happiness? Why is that not an inner feeling? How do you define true happiness as distinct from just, you know, normal happiness? I surmise that normal happiness is a fleeting ephemeral emotion that he denigrated earlier, but I am really confused, what is true happiness?! Is this just an epithet designed to make me feel like a mere mortal not worthy of understanding Harari’s grand opus?

Harari: In Buddhism, the key to happiness is to know the truth about yourself – to understand who, or what, you really are. Most people wrongly identify themselves with their feelings, thoughts, likes and dislikes. When they feel anger, they think, ‘I am angry. This is my anger.’ They consequently spend their life avoiding some kinds of feelings and pursuing others. They never realise that they are not their feelings, and that the relentless pursuit of particular feelings just traps them in misery.

Me: What are we then? What’s real? We’re in the Matrix, aren’t we?…

107 Comments Add yours

  1. Major Styles says:

    Ha! I love it. Your analysis lines right up with mine (I’m not sure if that’s good for you or not). 🙂

    Excellent point-by-point retort. And spot on in my estimation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering if I was being too cynical. But hey, we hate the same things or maybe even share the same values! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Major Styles says:

        Some would call it cynical. But I view it as having a general concern for the welfare of others (particularly loved ones) and not wanting them to fall sway to fallacious methodologies. Also, there should be an honest assessment of Eastern thought (as you have done) as opposed to naive idealism.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, it’s aspiring to be academic (the author is a professor), but I really don’t think it makes the cut. It tells people what they want to hear.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Major Styles says:

        There’s quite a bit of that “give them what they want” approach to academics out there, which I think has a monetary arm all too often. It’s also the reason that some thinkers (due to their brutal approach to the truth) remain timeless.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Major Styles says:

        By the way, I touched on shared values in my latest post (pardon the shameless plug): https://majorstyles.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/3-ways-to-connect-with-people/

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh that is exactly what I was referring to. I think having a common enemy is a very strong way to bond. Not the best, but possibly the strongest. It is kind of Darwinian. A much more interesting historian I alluded to – Will Durant – said that all the different people on planet Earth will unite only when we have an external enemy.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Major Styles says:

        Good point. There is probably an evolutionary arm to uniting around a common enemy. I just finished Durant’s “Lessons of History,” which was probably the best history book I’ve read in terms of his ability to simplify large trends and topics.

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      7. Definitely one of my favourites! The progress chapter at the end was a bit… too cautious, but I can’t blame them given how clear cut the authors were in the rest of the book!

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      8. Major Styles says:

        They were, arguably, the most impressive husband and wife tandem in modern academic history.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Steve Ruis says:

    I am not finished reading this book and have not gotten to the bit on Buddhism, but you may be a bit over sensitive to a segment you are more expert in than is the author. The bits I have read so far have been beautifully written, concise and clear, and from far flung fields all of which the author could not be an expert in. Since the scope of this book is all of humanity and our history and prehistory, I am cutting him a bit of slack.

    Chiming in on bits one is more expert in is all part of the dialogue that a book cannot participate in, so I thank you for the post. I will continue reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an excellent point and does apply to most books.

      However, you can’t exactly write a book with such an aspirational title and expect to get away with this stuff.

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  3. boomergirl47 says:

    Very interesting. I’m all about balance. I’m an INFP, highly sensitive and prone to falling into an emotional swamp. I don’t want to eradicate the unpleasant feelings, but try to be aware of them and what they’re trying to tell me. I grew up stuffing them and now I’m learning how to manage them. You’re an MBTI “T” so it may be easier for you than me to be rational. I meditate twice daily and am still who I am, but I think I have less anxiety than I used to. I don’t believe in flattening out my feelings though. I experience them (w/ restraint when necessary) and come out the other end. Not sure there’s a one-size-fits-all. Are you familiar w/ the Enneagram? That helps me, too.

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  4. Anony Mole says:

    If feelings/emotions produce angst. And angst is in opposition of happiness, then one might propose that the ultimate happiness would be the absence of all angst and therefore the absence of all feeling/emotion.

    Just guessin’

    I didn’t get stuck on Harari’s specific drill-downs on anyone specific human doctrine — I think I enjoyed reading it more for the expansive context of the whole thing.

    His new book, out this month, looks probably on par with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, I am getting deeper and deeper into Will Durant’s stuff. His “The Story of Philosophy” is so good. I think I just enjoy his sense of humour and it’s also fun that he makes predictions – a lot of them pan out pretty much like he says (a lot of his stuff is written in the early XX century).

      I can’t imagine myself reading another Harari book. As Taleb says, the older the book, the higher the chance of it being good (by virtue of having survived this long).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. sohammanish says:

        “The Story of Philosophy” is a masterpiece. It initiated a kind of chain reaction within me. I had wandered for too long, anxious and discontent. This book introduced me to Schopenhauer.
        Will Durant’s writing is just wow. I further read Our Oriental Heritage, part of his magnum opus The Story of Civilization. Being instinctively interested in analytical history, I have come across different versions of Indian history being promoted as would suit the propaganda of people with vested interests. His version feels the most genuine and authentic.

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  5. Aranya Devi says:

    I had a good laugh from your comments, so good to hear someone questioning with such discernment. Harari’s philosphy seems to stem from the modernist Vipassana movement which was highly influenced by the British colonials in Burma, who were influenced themselves by modernity’s emphasis on rational, scientific methods. But the Buddha said that we should make much of the pleasure of deep meditation, that Nibbana is the highest bliss, and yes I would classify that as an “inner-feeling”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for getting in touch Aranya!

      I would love to chat to you some more about this! I think Western interpretations of Buddhism are so utterly confusing. I am also battling with Nietzsche’s views on Buddhism – plus it is such a broad set of views to begin with! I am a big fan of Tara Brach, she is my bed time story when I need one!

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      1. Aranya Devi says:

        Hi Martina Sure, it would be lovely to chat with you. You say at the top of your article that you are on “whale” the app. So I’ll check that out, and maybe we can meet there?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Aranya, let’s chat over email 🙂

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  6. drugopinions says:

    Hi there it is interesting to read your thoughts on the book. I am no expert but buddhism guides us to focus on mindfulness – any intense feelings will not lead to external bliss. When we can practice to be calm and at peace in spite our situation, our mind is “balanced” and “happy” – the concept of “happiness” is perhaps different from how we normally define it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hariod Brawn says:

    Just to counter some of your objections, Martina, where I think you may have been interpreting the author’s words a little unfairly:

    You said: “This is probably true about Buddhism (so not Harari’s problem), though it does strike me as being rather nihilistic. Feelings are biology’s way to tell us how we’re doing, so saying they are inconsequential, ephemeral and aren’t worth pursuing seems defiant of our very nature.” — Neither Buddhism in its manifold forms, nor the author (from what I can see), is deeming feelings ‘inconsequential’. In fact, the very opposite is true, and as delineated in the theory of dependent origination [paṭiccasamuppāda] in which feelings are inescapably part of the body’s aggregates, and thus, are unavoidable, as you say. [There are states of meditative absorption in which bodily and mental feelings are temporarily suspended, nonetheless.] The author’s point, I think, and certainly the doctrinal point in Buddhism, is that the craving after feelings, which are always impermanent and flux-like, is futile. We can purse them as much as we like, but it won’t alter their ephemeral nature. The concepts of Nibbana, or Nirodha — the cessation of suffering — are often confused with a Nihilism, though all that is annihilated is the dichotomous subject/object referencing of the conceptual mind.

    You said: “Well, that’s not going to happen so long as we have an intact limbic system.” — Is the Limbic System still recognised in Neurology? Anyway, you appear to misunderstand the author’s point, with respect. He is not saying that feelings are to be eradicated. Rather, he is saying that that suffering ceases when the craving after feelings ceases. That is in accord with Buddhist teaching. Feelings, and the craving after them, or the aversion to them, are different categories.

    You said: “What if you feel like pursuing your feelings? That’s a thought. Why reject it? Why disallow yourself from craving something? Isn’t that a “wrong” thing to do when you’re meditating? Harari is leading us down the road of blissful oversimplification. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Furthermore, our limbic systems will always crave certain feelings. That’s hard wired, and no amount of cognitive machinations or meditation is going to change that. So maybe these “accepting” people sitting in a lotus position on a green moral highground somewhere should accept their own biology instead?” — Again, pursuing feelings as if they were or could ever become permanent, even over a short timeframe, is futile. Feelings, like all phenomena, are in a state of constant flux. It is only the erroneous belief that they form, or could form, enduring self-like entities or phenomena, that sustains this futile craving after them. The Buddhist who sees this clearly doesn’t ‘reject’ feelings in any way, doesn’t ‘disallow’ feelings, rather they simply understand the ephemeral nature of feelings and allow them to come and go freely, without attachment (“these feelings can be mine, or are me, or are the self of me”), without craving after them, and without being averse to them.

    What the author calls ‘true happiness’, and which state you query, is what I would call instead ‘contentedness’. There is a lot of ambiguity in the term ‘happiness’, it being a feeling, and hence is conditioned by sense contacts. The end point of the Buddhist Path (accepting for now that there is one), is not a state of happiness; it is not to dwell in some imagined permanent feeling — of bliss, or whatever. Nowhere in the canonical texts or commentaries thereon is Nibbana ever connoted as being a feeling, not of happiness, nor any other feeling. Anyone pursuing the Buddhist Path in a bid to be permanently happy has got completely the wrong end of the stick. The cessation of suffering is not synonymous with happiness nor is it any kind of feeling or bodily phenomenon — permanent or otherwise. It is only the extinction of erroneous views. Nibbana and Nirvana mean ‘a blowing out’, ‘an extinction’. This is not Nihilism any more than being disabused of any false view is nihilistic.

    Apologies for the lengthy comment, Martina. Please do come back at me if anything I have said is incorrect.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Regarding your first point, I will address it in an upcoming post. In essence, I feel there is a certain nihilistic aspect to Buddhism. Assuming that there is another, better, state than we enter into through Buddhist practice makes little of our normal reality and is thus nihilistic.

      Yes, the limbic system is 100% recognised. I don’t see any reason why it could be dispelled at the moment, do you? It’s very old and we share it with many species.

      I understand about pursuing feelings being pointless and agree with it. The problem is that feelings are important, no matter how ephemeral, and saying that you can be non attached to them is overly ambitious. How do you get unattached to thirst when you are on the verge of life threatening dehydration? Is this too literal an interpretation? Where I feel non-attachment is very useful is in something called metacognition. So for example, a lot of people feel happy about being happy and sad about being sad. That’s a path too turmoil for sure.

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  8. jdhill says:

    Hard to read someone quoting another (even Gautama Buddha.) Teachers are too many, Mystics too few, not surprising you experience confusion. But that confusion is your gift, an alarm ringing amid the status quo–trust it, the journey beyond accepted principles is a solitary one. Charaiveti.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Aranya Devi says:

    Hi Hariod, I don’t like to debate too much about doctrine on the internet, because there is a such a wealth of debate already posted, on all manner of subjects, by scholars, and experts in Pali on the Suttas and the Vinayas. And I am certainly not an expert. But one comment you made struck me as too extreme, and I wanted to give some counter-examples. You commented that

    “Nowhere in the canonical texts or commentaries thereon is Nibbana ever connoted as being a feeling, not of happiness, nor any other feeling. Anyone pursuing the Buddhist Path in a bid to be permanently happy has got completely the wrong end of the stick. The cessation of suffering is not synonymous with happiness…”

    The following quotes are from a variety of suttas (Pali canon). These are only a few random examples, there are so many more.

    “I thought of a time when my Sakyan father was working and I was sitting in the shade of a rose-apple tree, where quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unbeneficial qualities, I entered and abode in the first jhana, with initial and sustained application of mind, and the rapture and bliss born seclusion. I thought: Might that be the path to enlightenment? Then following up that memory there came the awareness: That indeed is the path to enlightenment” (MN36, MN85, MN100)

    “Nibbana is the highest happiness” (sukha also translated as bliss)
    Dhp 203, 204,

    “When he directs his mind towards some inspiring sign, gladness is born. When he is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body experiences happiness. The mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. He reflects thus: ‘The purpose for the sake of which I directed my mind has been achieved. Let me now withdraw it.’ So he withdraws the mind and does not think or examine. He understands: ‘Without thought and examination, internally mindful, I am happy.’” SN 45

    “The escape from that, the peaceful,
    Beyond reasoning, everlasting,
    The not-born, the unproduced,
    The sorrowless state that is void of stain,
    The cessation of states linked to suffering,
    The stilling of the conditioned—bliss” (itivutakka 43)

    “Here, bhikkhus, the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment, is a state without suffering … and it is the right way.” MN 139

    “Oh! nibbāna is so very blissful,
    As taught by the fully awakened Buddha:
    Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
    Where suffering all ends” (Thag 3.3)

    “Here, a monk, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unbeneficial qualities, enters and abides in the first jhana … second jhana … third jhana … fourth jhana. This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment. I say that this bliss should be cultivated, should be developed, should be made much of, and should not be feared”. M139.9 cp. M66.19-21

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hariod Brawn says:

      Hi Aranya, and many thanks for providing these quotes.

      “Might that be the path to enlightenment? Then following up that memory there came the awareness: That indeed is the path to enlightenment” — So, there’s a clear distinction there between The Path and Nibbana, the former at times consisting in feelings, the latter, I maintain, not. This is obviously not to say that the (hypothetical) enlightened person (a contradiction in terms) is not without feelings, as of course, they remain with their body (the five aggregates) which function such as yours and mine, and within the conditioned chain of dependent origination — paṭiccasamuppāda — which only exists with bodily and mental feelings as part of that chain. The Jhanas are not synonymous with Nibbana.

      The Dhammapada quote is misleading as translated, as are many translations, but, granted, necessarily so given that some terms simply don’t translate into English, so approximations are adopted. Sukha is not Nibbana. But accepting still this use in translation of the English term ‘happiness’, then clearly it cannot be synonymous with what we commonly think of as ‘being happy’, otherwise we would regard the goal of the Buddhist Path as being synonymous with, say, looking into our newborn’s eyes, which we might conceive of as our ‘highest happiness’. If Buddhism was about being happy, it would hardly require of its adherents that which it does.

      Rather than take issue with the rest of your similar quotes, which might prove tedious for both of us, then again, it is important not to confuse the occurrences within the remaining aggregates with Nibbana itself. SN45 is referring to the processes of withdrawing into higher states of meditative absorption (one-pointedness), for example, and not Nibbana itself. Nibbana isn’t a noun-like thing to be realised, not an object to be absorbed by a subject. “Oh! nibbāna is so very blissful” — this isn’t the bliss of bodily feeling, it is the freedom from mental anguish, the natural state of the human being-body once false views are eradicated and when unimpeded by desire and aversion. Blissfulness is obviously a state of the nervous system. Nibbana is nowhere described as being a nervous system state.

      So, I would, Aranya, stand by my original wording in saying that Nibbana is not synonymous with feeling. Feeling is conditioned within a causal chain — paṭiccasamuppāda — whereas Nibbana is clearly stated as being uncaused and unconditioned. To say that Nibbana is synonymous with happiness or bliss is as misleading as saying that teeth and toenails are, too.

      With metta, Hariod.

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  10. Magagpa says:

    I agree to Hariod’s comment. Just a quick thought on “Why reject it? Why disallow yourself from craving something?”, because I feel like it can make it a bit clearer: It is not about having no desires or craving nothing. Buddhist teachings distinguish finely and thoroughly between “being free from [craving, desire, emotion, attachment, etc.]” and “being free in [resp.]”. The former is impossible and would be terrible – what were we then? Biomechanical Zombies? The latter is the path to exit the matrix – seeing through our patterns and karmic connections with the world, subsequently being able to “be the captain of one’s fate”. I fully agree to the last statement you cite from Harari’s book. “Who are we then?”. Knots in a complex web of interrelated entities and karmic tendencies. Take away one element (a person around you, a past experience, a stellar object, a piece of food you ate) and you are different. If you approach Buddhism from a western philosophical background: forget dualism, forget reductionism, forget causal determinism, forget (naive) realism. Monism, holism, complex conditionality and what we now call constructivism are the pillars of Asian thought. Everything is connected. There is no you! If you find this soothing, you got the point!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, I understand the point about interdependence. I agree with it. I very much enjoy imagining that I am not really me and looking at a situation as if I am a bit more omnipresent than I am!

      However, I feel interdependence is driven by a Darwinian pursuit of self-interest by each individual “self”. Not in some horrible eat or be eaten kind of way, but just in a normal, biological way. Maybe that’s just a feeling, that there is a “self”, but I understand it to be a very life affirming feeling.

      I guess that’s my main issue with understating Buddhism: the fact that it is so removed from biology in some ways. Having said that, it is much more “biological” than Christianity, is that makes sense.

      Thanks for the insight 💕

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      1. Magagpa says:

        I see a huge topic opening up here… It seems to me you still think of ego and self as entities that are separated from the rest. Then, “Darwinian biology” also appears to serve self-interests. As far as I understand the major Asian philosophies (not only Buddhism, but also Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism, the Yi-Jing, etc.), it is all about the “inter”. This is a very important epistemological insight: any process (not a state!) of knowing (e.g. knowing that A) is a separation (of A from everything that is not A). That’s what we have wisdom for: Putting everything back together after separating everything, instead of trying to deal with the separated parts. Then, the idea of emergence (e.g. as biological evolution) loses this undercurrent of “fighting”, but gains an understanding of harmonic balancing in a karmic network of conditionality. This is also how “happiness” (as understood by Harari) is not an “inner feeling” as long as it is dependent on outer conditions.
        There are valuable contributions from biologists and also cognitive sciences to the discourse on the scientific capacity of Buddhist thought, most prominently Humberto Maturana and Francesco Varela (esp. their book “The Tree of Knowledge” and Varela’s (together with other authors) “The Embodied Mind”). Here you will find strong links between Buddhist worldview and recent insights from biology!

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  11. Anne says:

    I am not able to express myself as eloquently as all above, but I just need to say that I am struggling with anxiety right now, overwhelmed with sadness, and yet, I am not unhappy. Feelings do not define me at my core.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a very interesting insight and a hopeful realisation! And, I know how you feel. I think part of (some people’s) anxiety is also hope. After all, hope is a relative of fear 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Adrian says:

    Martina, what an excellent and valuable insight: “Our limbic systems will always crave certain feelings. That’s hard wired, and no amount of cognitive machinations or meditation is going to change that.” I wish somebody had told me this long time ago… Congratulations on the great blog 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Adrian! I think we can try to tame our limbic system, but it’s a wild thing!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I am not able to express myself as eloquently as all above however I’d like to say that I use meditation as a form of self-hypnosis They say that one always hypnotises himself/herself and the hypnotiser is only a facilitator. So thru meditation I produce endorphins in my brain and the more I practise the more endorphins/serotonine/dopamine I produce in my brain. I know that what I’m saying is sacrilidge to Buddhism but I’m an atheist who likes Buddhism. As we all know our brains can perform miracles. The more we believe in something the more chance of a miracle. If I believe that my broom will cure my cancer (I don’t have one = it’s just an example) the more chance of “miraculous cure”. However believing that my broom will do it is hard to believe. It’s more “realistic” ifwe believe that some saint will do it So if I use meditation for a sensual pleasure am I condemned in the Buddhist world? I think that in Therevada they believe: Reach Nirvana first for yourself and by doing it you save humanity. But in Mahayana they say First help others obtain Nirvana which is similar to Christianity. All religions are based on idealism. Alleged Jesus was not a Christian but a follower of Judaism who wanted to revolutionise Judaism. The same with Buddha who was a follower of Hiduism (he wasn’t a buddhist) who wanted to revolutionise Hinduism. Sorry Ididn’t mean to offend anybody. I meditate to hypnotise myself. Where does this put me??? I don’t want to meditate in order to save the world. If I meditate and produce endorphins/serotonine/dopamine then I get the pleasure and all beings are created to feel pleasure. I f one doesn’t feel pleasure then ones immune system becomes weaker and consequently one dies off. Sorry for simplifications of what I wanted to say. I’m unable say things the way you guys do.

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  14. I’m not sure if I stressed my point well enough. All our body functions like blood flow, heart beat, metabolism and many other can only run well if an individual is in a state of happiness. So I meditate to prolong my life which is contrary to the Buddhist believe that my existence is a suffering so the shorter the life the better ? Is it correct?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very interesting! And perfectly well expressed!

      I looked into hypnosis done by famous psychiatrists, though I know most doctors would be quite cynical of it. I am, in this sense, agnostic, and open to reviewing new evidence.

      What is the purpose of your hypnosis, if you don’t mind me asking? Are there any famous practitioners you follow?

      I don’t believe that Buddhists favour a shorter life.

      After all, meditation is open to everyone. It’s not just for Buddhists, etc. You can certainly practice it for the simple reason that you find it pleasant and beneficial to your health without the need to justify it in the context of any philosophy. However, it may be a starting point of a journey into philosophy – which it was for me!

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  15. What is the purpose of your hypnosis, if you don’t mind me asking? Are there any famous practitioners you follow?

    Hi Martina 🙂 I’m not so sophisticated in my hypnosis. Many years ago I paid for 6 weeks non-dominational (not connected to any religion course of meditation. Then I discovered that I can do to my body what would I never believe that was possible. By sitting on a chair I told myself to be heavier and heavier and then at certain point unbelievable happened = I started falling in space – it really scarred me off first but it was so pleasant that I continued doing it.Once you start falling in space then nothing matters any more. You are free of any worries, Later on I started going to a Buddhist temple not as a believer = they provide free meditation. My journey with meditation continues. It is very reassuring that one can do to one’s body such a stunning things. There is such a potential. Actually people exploit that all over the world = all religions are based on that. But there are few hard core believers. If there were more of them then the so called “miracles” (=spiritual placebo effect) would happen more often. However people don’t often realize that what they doing is a pure meditation. Like old women in catholic church repeat prays to Jesus and Holy Mary like a mantra. It’s got different names but it is the same thing.
    Also all Christmastes and Easters are based on hypnotism as well. You hear carols and immediately your imagination does a trick for you = you get hypnotised. People need those times of silly happiness.
    I live in Australia but I’m of Polish descend. During war my father was taken to a concentration camp because out 3 brothers he looked a bit Jewish even thou he wasn”t the one. He survived and was liberated by Americans but weighed only 30 kilos (he was 25 then I think. The purpose I’m saying this is so that nobody thinks I like Nazi. But you see the nature is very cruel because it favours only happy individuals. It seems to operate on such basis that if one is not happy individual then thru compromised immune system one is condemned to death. It is based on simple principle (which sounds cruel = I’m not a nazi) that there is limited space in nature and everything is based on economy in such way that the world is only for happy individuals. If one happens not to be happy then it’s better to kill unhappy one and replace it with happy one – I know its is very cruel and that is why I told you about my father. But nature is not governed by ethics. And that’s the reason why people keep inventing religions to have the illusion that the nature is governed by ethics even though it is not.
    My regards.
    Martina Meditation = Placebo effect = hypnosis I like them all = it’s good fun. Imagine how many resources could be saved in such a simple way.

    Martina says I don’t believe that Buddhists favour a shorter life.
    I know it doesn’t but doesn’t it make sense to die off if life is a suffering. I know that suicide is forbidden on ethical ground. It is the same with Christianity. If they really believed in afterlife and paradise then they would not be so scarred of dying. But no religion follows any logic. 🙂 I was once a catholic. 🙂

    Martina says: However, it may be a starting point of a journey into philosophy – which it was for me!

    Philosophy!!! it scares me off = it is so complicated and I like things to be simple. I tried to read Kant but I’ve got no idea what he is all about.
    The last thing = if one’s brain can produce anything then perhaps it can produce a heroine as well and one can overdose on that which could be some form of enlightment??? But what purpose would it serve????
    Nice day in Western Australia today = the sky and ocean are blue. I forgot to talk about conditioning. Conditionig is also some form of hypnosis.
    Wish you nice weekend. 🙂

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    1. I love this, I am going to savour my response to it – a bit hectic at the moment. Have a great weekend

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    2. I think you are already quite the philosopher. Kant is very difficult to read.

      If you are ever in the mood, try Seneca. Maybe get it translated into a language other than English – I assume Polish is better for long sentences than English, most languages are. Seneca is a surprisingly easy read. It was my starting point in philosophy.

      I admire your insight into the placebo effect. I believe it is incredibly powerful. I am so upset by the amount of “snake oil” advice on the internet, but on some level I know that it is probably as helpful as the real deal. The mind is a physical force: all the greats agree on that. The fact that it leaves the door open to people making money off other people’s faith in miracles is just unsettling to me though (watch the video for “Say, say, say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson), it seems unkind, but like you said – kind may not be that relevant.

      I think you have a very Nietzsche-inspired view of the world: that morality is only important i the context of biology.

      Thanks again for the discussion, really enjoyed your super clear argument.

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      1. Thanks Martina.I know I have to restrict myself and not to write too much as I have so many things on hold…like I promise myself that I would finish learning more of my Tai Chi which I started but never finished. I also have to make some sculptures of Buddha. I always try to have his enigmatic smile. I also enjoy going to Bali every year. And then I go to Poland as well. I’ve got deserted house there in a small town in which I feel as if I was in France.
        I’ve got plenty of enthiusiasm for living and enjoying it.
        Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

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      2. Martina I’m trying to read all your posts but I’m having difficulty…..like the post where you classify each religion and philosophers…like you say Buddhism =life has a meaning but it is ambiguous . Ambiguous in what way?
        You see I believe (wrong word) I know that our minds are like hard drives. It can be supported by hypnosis = so it must be true. ?? 🙂
        All our smells, visions, touches, tastes, hearings of each day of our lives get recorded in our subconscience. So the older we are the more we are like robots as our decisions are based on those recordings in our heads. Now how well we use all this data depends upon our emotional (operational) intelligence. Some of that collected data can work against our interest as subconscience is like a rubbish dump.. Some our life experiences are good, some are not. One can’t remove any data as one doesn’t have an access to subconscience. You may try by repeating some affirmations. But it is only a hypnotiser who can do it successfully. So basically what I’m saying is that we are robots = we don’t differ from computers. Some computers have better working frequency (forgot a name for it) Other computers are slower. And it is exactly the same with people. All people have in their brains this incredible ballast and the decision of an adult is really only dependent on how quickly that person takes into account all his past life experiences and how quickly he/she (his/her brain) analyses them and makes decision = that’s operative intelligence. They would be other factors to be taken into account. For example a person had to make similar decision in his past life and he made a wrong decision then. So it is also important his brain takes into account the other time hurting mistake. If it hurt really bad then then his brain would recall that then it was really hurtful for him. And that could influence his new decision after analysing all his data in his brain. Obviously there other factors – like we have some likes and dislikes but that is also the same with computers. They would always go first to what you searched recently. If it was porn then the first thing the computer would automatically go would be porn again and that is the same with people brains =they have likes and dislikes the same way.
        So Martina where does this “philosophy”takes me to? 🙂
        I’m not a Buddhist but I think that Buddha accepted all Hindu gods but he didn’t mentioned them too well. But it is the same with Christianity. Some Christians mention Old Testament frequently others not. How would classify my “believe? = my “philosophy” please 🙂
        I read a bit about Seneca and stoicism but it is all based on humans. Will it be relevant when humans die out like dinosaurs? They have to die out as there too many and nature always solves its problems by itself. It’s always chaos but also always trend to organize things. Does a god do it? So how come he didn’t succeed for so long? Buddha said that gods also suffer because of their existence. So if Hindu god suffers =he/she god isn’t really usefull, is he or she god?

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      3. My understanding is that Buddhists don’t really explain what the purpose of life is, like Christians do. However, they don’t deny that there is a meaning to life.

        I think you described the process called Long Term Potentiation and Long Term Depression, that can be quite similar to the Google algorithm (http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/NECO_a_00945#.WJ2JehJ96L8)

        I agree we are a lot like a machine, but I believe we have at least some free will: maybe not in the way that we feel we do, but there is evidence to say it’s there (I will find a reference for you later).

        I don’t even bother trying to understand what the world is as seen from an omnipresent point of view. I wish that were within my range, but mostly, I think it is just fantasies for those who try. Like you mentioned before, it’s all biology and so I am looking at it from my own subjective “self” and everything I am interested in relates to us, living humans with our many flaws.

        Also, my recent discussion of meaning according to Nietzsche prompted many to comment that the fact that we die and that the universe will ultimately end (something to do with the Sun and physics) implies that there could be no meaning in our lives. I don’t follow this argument. To me, it is like saying there’s no point in eating because you’ll get hungry again.

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  16. Thanks Martina for explaining it so clearly to me. You see what I know about Buddhism comes from a local Buddhist abbot and his teachings and he was influenced by Ajahn Chah form Thailand. First I was really impressed when I listened to his talks/sermons but later on I discovered that he kept repeating the same stories over ad over. However I still like his writings.
    So my simplified understanding of Buddhism was that life had no value as it was all suffering. A lot of people confuse Buddhism with Hindu religion. There is no reincarnation in Buddhism. They have REBIRTH which means that the same personal identity is reborn over and over. So if Dalai Lama dies then they start looking for him amongst kids by presenting them with personal belongings of the deseased Lama and if certain child picks up the object which belonged to the deseased Lama then they recognize the deseased Lama in that child. So in that respect it is a personal Buddha like personal Jesus is. So the tibethan Buddhism is so popular between Polish people as in some aspects is similar to Christianity. Some Buddhists have even Mother of God like Mary. It’s called Boddisatwa or something like that. I think it was Shoppenhauer who created his philosophy based on Buddhism’s ideas.
    The local Buddhist abbot Ajahn Bramavamso (he is of English origin) believes that if you follow Buddha teachings then gradually you upgrade yourself from happy state to happier and happier again. I admit that Buddhist monks are happier beings but on the other end I believe that when they keep on meditating they pretend not to be alive (non existant) as that is the ultimate goal (but that’s my cynism)

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  17. I started thinking about what you said that Buddhism doesn’t explain what purpose of life is? The main canon (main thought ) in I Buddhism is Dependant Origination which is both complex and also simple. I’m sure you know that but I will repeat it anyway. Nothing in this world is real =wholesome due to it’s conditionality. like there is a rainbow in the sky but we only experience it because our eyes are constructed in such way that we can see and experience it. Dogs don’t see too many colours but parrots see ultra violet which we can’t see. So nothing in the world is real (wholesome) because it doesn’t have true essence. So everything in the world is an illusion. So we don’t really exist. But if we don’t exist then who suffers? Who is the sufferer?. And why rebirth is mentioned as a fact if one illusion becomes next illusion. If everything is an illusion why should I worry about anything? I can rest and say nothing bothers me because it is meant to be an illusion and if one illusion gives re-birth to another illusion so what the hec? But this consoling universal concept is interrupted by ethics. And my understanding of this universal concept is not very good. Because there are too many illusions.
    But my Buddhist abott would say that purpose of life is the ultimate happiness. The happiness comes in stages and is reinforced. It’s the happiness thru happiness and more happiness. The Happiness is my ultimate goal and so is yours no matter what religion you follow Martina. The purpose of life is happiness.

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    1. Anony Mole says:

      Happiness is the goal? I think happiness is an accident.

      Okay, I want you to sit there and TRY to be happy. Yes, you. Do it now. Go on, be happy.

      Can’t be done.

      If your not primarily driven by Nihilism (like me), then happiness only manifests itself as an incidental “ah ha!” moment. Like a reflection looking back or looking right now at your current condition.

      If you were fishing and enjoying the sun and the scenery and your companion’s company and your experience was just one of the best days ever — and you, right in the middle of that experience (or after it was over) and said to yourself “hey, I’m happy right now” or “I was happy all that day” you discovered it — after the fact. But you certainly didn’t set that morning with the goal “Today I’m going out and I’m going to be happy!”

      Happy happens or it doesn’t.
      You can’t *be* happy.
      But you can realize you are happy.

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      1. Anony
        Thanks for your comments. I’m so sorry but your comment is very subtle and that makes it non understandable for me. Hit me harder please.:)
        I strongly believe that one can make himself/herself happy on purpose. If you really try and if you are physically and mentally sound and if you don’t make yourself wishfully unhappy then happiness is around the corner..You see that due to your comment of not being able to be happy at certain moment you basically sabotage yourself. However I can console you that everybody’s subconsciousness doesn’t accept negative comments. So if you are saying: I can’t be happy =that doesn’t go into your subconsciousness. You have to say for example: I’m going to be unhappy because it suits me.
        You have to fool your subconsciousness get what you want.
        As long as you have enough money to support yourself and you happy with your partner and you don’t suffer from any disease then as long as you control all your thoughts and make them less then you can deliver happiness unconditionally or conditionally but the condition to be happy have to be reachable. You can’t say I’m going to be happy only when I win lotto. So if you are mindful then there is no obstacle against being happy. Be realistic and don’t feed things which will sabotage your happiness.
        Perhaps I wrote things which will sabotage somebody’s happiness as it is not very comprehensible.
        So my conclusion is : Happiness is a natural state for anybody. Unhappiness is a malfunction of your mind. So try to mend it and be happy.
        Small remark Do you know that if you are unhappy your heart doesn’t work properly? I had a small device registering rythm of my heart for 24 hours and then a psyhiatrist having analyzed data said that that device was showing a heart beat pattern of person who suffers from depression. So here you go. If you depressed then all unvoluntary funcions of your body don’t work properly. So if your opinion is that happiness is incidental then you sabotage your body and it malfunctions.Ask aged Chinese who do Tai Chi every morning if they happy. Happiness is a state which you have to nourish every day. First try small things which make you happy and once you establish yourself on a road to happiness don’t be so much ambitious. Note every small step on a road to become happy.
        I also like incidental happiness as ypu do = because it is like sex = it doesnt last very long. so I’m not interested in such happiness in a long run.
        So I’m talking about other happiness.= one which is more durable.When you meditate or pray in any other religion then you associate that with pleasure and this why people believe in God. But even if you an atheist (non believer) you can still get some pleasure from mindfulness and meditation and once you have a that pleasure you become happy. And you become hooked on that. and diminish your ego. People who forget their ego and sacrifice themselves for others are known to be very happy.
        Also there is a custom that people who extremely happy don’t say it. But if you observe them they’re so happy that they don’t have to admit that they are happy. Their happiness radiates and is contagious. 🙂

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      2. Anony Mole says:

        Telling yourself you’re going to be happy is like saying you want to set out in your driving career telling yourself “I’m going to be accident free!”

        Now, whether you end up being accident free or not is a function of many things, other drivers, conditions, the state of your car, your mental driving awareness, your general ability and training, etc.

        “I’m going to be accident free!” winds up being an empty statement if accidents happen (accidents are things that cannot be predicted or avoided – ergo they’re accidents.)

        However, if you set out originally with the intent to drive aware, drive safe, drive in good conditions, keep your car tuned equipped for the road conditions, and so on and so forth, AND, at the end of your driving career, (or along the way) you look back and discover you have been accident free — well is that be cause you set out to be that way? Or, is it because you focused on the factors and behaviors that resulted in your state of collision free, that is, happiness?

        My point is, to be happy you don’t TRY to be happy. What you do is focus on the behaviors and actions that may produce happiness.

        And, hopefully, one day, while you’re driving down a country road, the wind in your hair, the sun shining, a friend sitting beside you singing a song on the radio you look up and discover, “Hey, I’m happy!”

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      3. Anony I will not be beating around the bush and will tell you that happiness depend on certain hormones of which content can be analysed in a laboratory. But probably you knew it anyway.If you classify yourself as a hard case then you could be connected to certain device which (if unhappy thought appeared in your brain) would deliver an electric shock as a punishment for having unhappy thought. Nobody likes to be electrocuted so that might work on hard cases except masochists. There is also what you call “feed back” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedback where your brain could be connected to some form apparatus and you would have some monitoring of your happiness = you try to move the scale (=clock) the more you would be happy the higher the scale ot the higher clocks move .Happiness is a vital thing to everybody. If you are unhappy then you attract all bugs=bacteria or viruses who try to be opportunist and kill you. So Happiness is an important thing. If you are unhappy you are less productive and the more unhappy individuals in certain country the less productivity there and the Gross Domestic Product is less. So Happiness is very important,

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      4. Anony Mole says:

        Happiness might be important — IF the Universe has a purpose. Otherwise it’s just a fabricated directive assembled by DNA to make sure we don’t kill ourselves off before we produce and raise progeny. (But I’m just being Nihilistic here, can’t help it, the truth just leaks out sometimes.)

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      5. I don’t think that’s nihilistic Anony Mole (unless you are using the word differently to me). You aren’t denying any meaning here!

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      6. Anony Mole says:

        Wouldn’t I be denying that happiness is important? And if happiness is not important — what is? Sounds pretty nihilistic to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Ah, I don’t think so! The ultimate anti-nihilist Nietzsche said that he strives for his work, not happiness.

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      8. Anony Mole says:

        My original point exactly – no one “strives” for happiness. But, one can discover one is happy during one’s pursuit of work or service. (And round we go…)

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      9. IWhy do you condition your happiness on universe having a purpose ? You do exist so you might as well be happy.

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      10. Anony Mole says:

        My point has always been: one cannot TRY to be happy, one can only discover, along the way, that one IS happy (or not).

        Regarding the Universe: As the Universe has no ultimate purpose (that we know of), therefore, nothing that we do can ultimately have purpose.

        If you ignore this fact (such as it is), then along the way, you may discover that you are — at times — happy.

        If one focuses upon the absurdity and pointlessness of the Universe, then one’s actions become an exercise in futility. Futile pursuits, in my book, would never make me happy.

        One could accept that the Universe is absurd and has no purpose, but “forget” that this is how things are; focus on pleasant activities or work that occupies one’s mind, and reflect back on the day or task and admit — after the fact — I am happy (or not).

        But I doubt that one could set out that morning committed to the pursuit of happiness directly — I WILL be happy!

        Happiness is an accident.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I do agree to everything you say. Everything you say makes sense however…….The body functions can only run well when one is happy. If one is happy the immune system gets a boost if not one becomes ill and dies off. Emotinal System>>>Immune System Immune System>>>Emotianal System :))) It’ s obvious that one evently dies off but dwelling on that doesn’t serve any purpose as you say yourself.. We seem to know a lot about universe but really we do not. Everything =all knowledge is based on scientific assumptions. So it is better to be cunning and base one’s life on simple pleasures. Subtle pleasures create “an air” we’re all breathe in. If I like plants or animals they like me and you in return. Simplicity is better from complexity. 🙂 So o.k one only discovers one is happy but we are all habitual. Have a good sleep and good diet and job you enjoy and live in a sunny country where you meet smiling people. It all helps. 🙂

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      12. Bertrand Russel said: “There can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true”. What if fooling yourself into happiness just isn’t real life?

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      13. What if 90% people (believers of one religion or other) on Earth are fooling themselves. What is the point of creating an avangarde. I don’t want to be another Lenin or Trocki.
        Something like Real Life does not exist. Our brains are capable of producing heroine (drug) and many hormones which give us pleasure. If non believing would give us pleasure then most of the believers would disappear. You need pleasure in your life I know sex life gives pleasure but believing gives even more pleasure. People got used to stoneng themselves. There is no replacement for it. They tried with communism but it didn’t work. I ran away from it. 🙂 Living in Poland wasn’t very nice then.

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      14. Why not take drugs the usual way if the whole point is pleasure?

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      15. Pleasure is necessary for the imunne system to work properly. 🙂 You can’t be happy if you are ill. 🙂 and vicevercus. 🙂
        If you are happy everything gets orderly. And vicevercus

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      16. Like you said, it’s a circular argument! Maybe that’s wisdom, but it’s confusing me!

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      17. Dr Martina, 🙂 You are trying to get an answer for something which doesn’t have an answer as yet and perhaps will never have an answer. You can’t ask a dog what colours exist as dogs can only see few colours. Parrots see more colours than people can (they see ultraviolet) but one can’t say that parrots see all colours. So if there is hardly sufficient data available we are all blind. So if practical things are developed for blind to ease their life they should be happy. But you are not happy with such approach. You demand an answer why you are blind.

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      18. All very true. But I am so curious! I think it is one of those issues where you may not get an answer, but it’s still worth exploring. I believe John Keats called it “Negative Capability”!

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      19. „Negative Capability”! ? you are just more enquisitive, that’s all. But it may not be good for you as it may be like sabotaging your life. 🙂
        I listened to your voice in one of your lectures in your blog. I assumed you would have a heavy Russian accent but you speak like an English native speaker. How come? Actually you could be Czech.

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      20. Ha, I was indeed born in Moscow, but I have lived in Ireland for a long time now

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      21. still Russian people never lose their accent. I can’t lose mine – that’s for sure..mine is Polish.

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      22. Dr Martina move to Ausiland.it’s better.

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      23. Lots of Irish doctors over there! I’ve never been, must go someday

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      24. Martina Ididn’t give you justice as far as your gravatar goes> I enlarged it for the first time and you look very intellectual as well. So my apologies. I’ve got a very large house along the ocean so you can come and visit with your partner. But don’t come in our winter as it may rain. I’m going to Poland shortly. Polish summer I colder than our winter. I live at mediteranian climate zone in Australia that is Perth. The original Perth is in Scotland. My daughter lives in London.

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      25. you are a second Russian lady I met. She was also neurotic. I think the reason being living iin a cold climate and spending a lot of time indoors = being deprived of oxygen. Once I was passing thru Soviet Union and was after a toilet and asked one lady wadaa as I didn”t re,membeeer the worrrld for toilet She entered the toiled and demonstrated how the tap worked and I was amazed ..;

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      26. I think there are limits to conditioning and forcing emotions. (Explained here https://thinkingclearly.co/2016/11/21/why-i-am-getting-rid-of-positive-thinking-in-my-life/)

        In your opinion, why do we have negative emotions at all?

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      27. Martina says In your opinion, why do we have negative emotions at all? Oh Dear Martina that’s easy to answer. I know that Christians believe in Devil but I don’t.
        Negative emotions are part of primeval. I consider humans as animals and part od that is killing and if humans do killing as nature tells them to do then they have second nature as they try to have ethcs as well and ethics is contradictory to nature so there is struggle of human duality. If I want to believe in Bible then my interpretation is such: The moment when Eve took an apple from the tree of knowledge in paradise is the beginning of civilization. Before Eve took an apple both she and Adam were animals but as she took an apple and gave to Adam is the beginning moment of civilization. When Adam and Eve were animals they didn’t bother to be clothed but there came sudden realization of civilization.
        So I believe our primeval feelings are such as prevail in nature = they both good and bad. When people believe in Christian God they say that God created perfect nature which is beautiful. But that’s not true. Nature is far away from being perfect. When wild animals are old they die from excruciating death. They hungry but they can’t hunt so they die from starvation or very simple reason like they don’t go to a dentist and they don’t give birth in hospital. Sometimes we are not so far from them. Before II World War people on general lived until they were fifty and then they died. And one might say what perfect conditions they had = all food was grown organically. :))))) A lot of things become absurd now. Who would want to gas Jewish people and recover their clothes and send it to Germany. Asia produces so much clothing at very low cost. So the negative emotions come from the nature. You have to kill to survive. Everybody is now happy to buy meat from supermarket. But if you to a country it is different story. If I went to a rural Poland to my grandmother she might tell me to kill a hen. We are civilized and all good but you never know when new war starts. They start periodically and then people do things they would never do in a peace time.It’s an evel time then.
        So it is this duality between nature and ethics. I know that some people would say that nature is all primevaly good but I don’t buy that (I don’t agree to that)
        I hope you have a nice day today in Ireland Martina. :))))) my spelling is not always good, sorry for that.

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      28. That’s an interesting perspective, but then is the purpose to be happy (like you said before) or is it to survive?

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      29. I am much more with Nietzsche on happiness. Striving for happiness, the feeling, is generally not what people expect it to be.

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    2. Hey, sorry for delay, been super busy. Yes, that’s what I mean by meaning being ambiguous: what is the meaning of an illusion? As for the purpose of being happy: I think that can mean really different things to different people.

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      1. You are asking me about Buddhist illusion. Martina that’s very advanced philosophy. One gentleman who maybe was a monk before was explaining all of that to me. It took him half an hour but I still didn;t understand anything but I always nodded gently.. However I didn’t want to be unkind and say I didn’t understand.May be if I was a Buddhist I could understand more. Things get complicated there if there is an illusion of illusion. I’m not a philosopher Martina so certain things are not as clear as to you. If you really interested read more about Dependent Origination but from different perspectives of different authors. As to happiness I think you have happiness if you don’t suffer. As soon as suffering ends your happiness starts and we are talking about simple things like joy. And you are talking about happiness when buy perfume Channel 5. :)))
        I ooffended our poor Buddhist abbott. I said that due to his meditationa he created some drugs in his brain. And he didn’t like it and said that I considered him to be a junkey. And he said in his sermons that he would never get angry. :))) cheers Martina

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      2. I suddenly realised I think I know the answer to your question in some way but not 100%.
        It’s not that an illusion is created. Due to its conditionality and unwholesomeness nothing really exists. There is a gigantic emptiness !!!!!! And Christians are afraid of that as it doesn’t have any warmness of a Christmas time.But Martina do admit that that pholosphy created 500 years before Christ is really awesome. Also you know like we are built from atoms and all atoms have an electron circulating around the same as moon around the earth. And there has to be some space in atom so that the electron can circulate there. And it’s like that in all atoms in humans, animals and plants. And if there are empty spaces in all atoms then you Martina have only 20% of real Martina. And then take into account that you built mostly of water so if we take away water ffrom the calculation then may be there is 2% Martina in a whole Martina. And we took into account other formulas then may be we would end up with 0.2% Martina and that’s pretty close to that that you don’t really exist. But as the universe is bigger and bigger and limitless then it is limitless the other way = the samllnes never ends because there is always something smaller than the smallest you thought was . :)))

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      3. Haha, I love how you think. My brain though, likes to think I am a discreet person. All of this philosophy may or may not be conducive to survival

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      4. Pity you don’t blog in English normally! 💕

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  18. Anony Mole says:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/02/the-post-human-world/517206/

    Not to try and sell you on this dude — don’t really care either way.

    “Harari’s previous work, Sapiens, was a swashbuckling history of the human species. His new book is another mind-altering adventure, blending philosophy, history, psychology, and futurism. We spoke recently about its most audacious predictions.”

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  19. Anony I like your comments and appreciate them. English is my learned language since I was 16 so I don’t necessarily get all your subtelities. But I understand your main point. You are basically saying that to achieve happiness is really hard and there many obstructions. Once when I was a catholic (=Christian) my obstruction was that I was going to die so one could say that the purpose of life was death. Also I imagined paradise to be hard to “live”place because you had to stare at God all eternity and that was boring. Also the concept of eternity was scary. I’m not a Buddhist. I only like the philosophy. Also sometimes I go to Buddhist’s temple to meditate. And the purpose is to achieve pleasure. And to get that I have to switch on all aspects (all senses)which introduce me to that happiness. It’s true that it is momentary happiness and it’s intensity stops the next day. But to get to that happiness I have to involve all senses. Even driving the car to the temple is part of the “hypnosis”. So the jorney is important because while I drive there is the same as f I was telling myself = I’m going there to achieve happiness. And having that thought is also important. So I could say you were right. 🙂 But the more you do certain thing the better results you get. It’s the same as learning to play some instrument. You have to do pretty hard work too become virtuoso (the perfect player). So basically what I’m telling myself every day I’m 62 and in the rest of my life I intend to be happy. I don’t go to pub for a drink and I don’t do a lot of things which people do for their happiness. I’m not 100% Buddhist but I like its philosophy It tells you how to live happily = be in the present moment. And to be in the present moment requires a lot of training. I shouldn’t promote Buddhism here as Martina is an Orthodox Christian and she is saying that as a Christian you can meditate as well a Buddhist and she is right but my journey with Christianity ended. I saw incredibly beautiful orthodox church in Belgrade (=Serbia) not so long ago. I even purchased the music which was played in that church. it’s very awesome.

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  20. Martina That’s an interesting perspective, but then is the purpose to be happy (like you said before) or is it to survive
    It’s both but it all depends on conditions and conditioning. There were killing fields by Pol Pot in Kampuchea and it’s over now. There is possibility that monks will revive Buddhisn in Agkor Wat. I wasn’t there so one day I might go and see it myself.
    If one struggles to survive then one can’t afford to be happy. Happiness has to be affordable. 🙂
    But then there are extreme cases where one guy said he was happy in Aushwitz Concetration Camp because he didn’t have to make decisions about his life. I was really stunned when heard that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah you see I think that’s gaming the system a little bit, a sort of forced happiness, though sometimes that’s required to survive. I think happiness is a motivation, not a purpose – if that makes sense? Plus, like we said, happiness can mean different things to different people

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  21. Anony Happiness might be important — IF the Universe has a purpose.

    You wish there was a god but you know there isn’t one. I can’t console you on that as I’m an atheist.myself. It’s a hard question to ask which makes one miserable. On top of that you may say that one is a piece of meat which absorbs food and shits and so on. What purpose does it serve? Also one has 2 kilos of bacteria inside. If they are happy you are happy too. 🙂 I’m sarcastic. Why do you want to think about extreme things? Do you miss God?

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  22. Martina: I think there are limits to conditioning and forcing emotions. (Explained here https://thinkingclearly.co/2016/11/21/why-i-am-getting-rid-of-positive-thinking-in-my-life/)
    I read that but I’ve got some problem with understanding your point of view. Do you want to warn people who try to believe that thinking positively will get them what they want because universe will be on their side then ?There was a movie about that.Forgot its name.
    I’m trying to be positive all the time because I believe that my emotional intelligence is high enough to get me always out of trouble. I was looking after my wife in such way so that my emotional intelligence was extending her life as well. Once she went back to Poland to live on her own she died within seven months. I still wish I supervised her life in Poland to get her out of trouble. However I’m not a superman.
    Dear Martina I don’t want to repeat useless empty phrases but Every night before going to bed I tell myself positive thoughts. I admit that it’s very hard to be perfectionist but I enjoy life and have a good joy out of it. Life is very challenging. Every day conditions change and I have to be on my guard but these challenges are fun> Solving them and adapting to them makes one’s life interesting.

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    1. Sorry to hear about your wife. The way I see it, for you happiness is a survival strategy, not an end in itself. This makes sense to me, though it may not be the way you see it.

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  23. Martina I’m hoping to gain something from your personal philosophy but I don’t know what yet. I have to read more things to understand you. Have to see what idiosyncrathes ??? are/ 🙂 And I must read a little about Nietche. But Hitler was influenced by him. wasn’t he?

    Martina says: I am looking at it from my own subjective “self” and everything I am interested in relates to us, living humans with our many flaws.
    But to me it is the same as training monkeys (sorry for saying that but I couldn’t resist the temptation.
    Most people live very repeatable pattern of life. It’s very boring and they have some excitement sometimes but even in that they exactlly similar to others. Like catholics in Poland they never sure if they really believe anything. Most of them never read or even tried to open a bible. Some would even don’t know what bible was. Even I wouldn’t know a lot as I stopped being Catholic when I was 16. When immaculate conception of Mary was mentioned I would understand that Mary became pregnant being a virgin. I thought that God made her pregnant in a mysterious way. But then my wife told me that immaculate conception meant that Mary didn’t have a sin from Adam and Eve taking an apple.So I don’t really know if Joseph had a sex with Mary and their son was Jesus.
    If one reads certain things about early Christians then one finds out that they changed their religion as they pleased. They were at their throats when one side was saying there was one God only and the others were saying there were two Gods =The Father God and Jesus the son. They didn’t know how to reach compromise and then concept of triple? Father, Son and the Holy Ghost was created. Hardly any people know what it means but you either believe in it blindly or if you asked questions about it you could be sentenced to death then. There is also problem in identifining two Mary Magdalens = One who some say was a head of the church and the other who was a prostitute and Jesus got sensual pleasure from her placing an expensive oil on Jesus feet with her hair. And the founder of Christian faith was Paul. And it wasn’t a Paul Apostle. It was another Paul of later time who fought against Christians but then as he rode on his horse or donkey thru a desert he got a stroke from too much sun and got miraculesly converted to the most fervent believer. He travelled a lot to many countries spreading the faith. And he was a Jew as well. And eventually he was crucified as well. But if you asked any of current believers in Christianity hardly anybody would know what Paul we talking about. And if it wasn’t for him Christianity would collapse as small insignificant sect as there many of them at that time. People in The Middle East have tendency to create new religions as they live in a desert and one can have fatmorgana there and they get bored as well. And boredom results in new religions inventions.A lot of them are proud people and if they invent something new then they stick to it.So very few christians would know about Paul who got a stroke in a desert But he’s got very beautiful cathedral in London.
    I’ve got some problem of explaining why Saint James was fighting a dragon (both Russians and English people believe in it) Is it some form of fantasy or is it real? I also have questions what was the infuence of Ancient Summers on Ancient Jewish people religion? I read a book by Zenon Kosidowski “”Öpowiesci biblijne” in which he was saying that Summers had the same religion as later Jewish people and that Jews copied it but changed names of all heroes to their own. But it was time of communism in Poland so they tried to influence people to be atheists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are seriously interesting points. I am not sure in what way it is training monkeys. You mean conditioning? And you mean that religion is conditioning? And then the sense of self is conditioned too? That’s interesting too consider!

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  24. Martina says The way I see it, for you happiness is a survival strategy, not an end in itself.
    Oh Martina you are spot on. I couldn’t agree more on that. I didn’t realise that myself. You are psychoanalytic. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good! 👍👍👍Makes sense

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      1. Martina How come you don’t write any posts any more?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey, I am moving, so my time just disappears! I’ve written one recently and look forward to getting back to it soon!

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      3. I can’t wait to read it.

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      4. your addvertisment for subscription of your blog is quite aggressive even after my submission to its demand took place. I don’t know how to get rid of that.

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      5. Thanks for letting me know, I have limited it to a certain page.

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      6. Thanks. It became impossible to read your posts. So I let its way and baceme subscriber 🙂 but even then each time it kept attacking me. I’m not a computer hacker so I wouldn’t know what to do to be able to read your posts. It’s like watching TV and commercials keep spoiling your pleasure. One accepts it to a certain way but everything has its limits.

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      7. So odd, but thanks for letting me know!

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      8. By the way I’m looking for a wife. Not you = you’re too yong

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  25. Martina I like nearly everything about Buddhism. I like its philosophy I like enigmatic Buddha statues, I like all the cultural side and I’m a bit asianized due to my frequent visits to Bali, Singapore and other Asian countries around the region. Also Australian say sometimes that Australia is part of Asia but other countries in the region are suspicious. I don’t believe in the main doctrine of Buddhism which is rebirth (recarnation is in Hinduism). So I like meditation, living in the present moment, mindfulness. But I’m still a bit catholic . So it is strange combination.
    But I don’t like C because he had really painful life as he had many diseases. In the end he got syphilism. So he was hardly any superman so the philosophy he created is contradictory to himself. What is the main difference between his philosophy(which you like better) and the one of Buddhism? I know that Nietzsche didn’t intend for his philosophy to be opportunistilly used by Nazis but it did happen. So I don’t like him because of that as well. And he was a German as well. Whenever I would go to Germany I always see and experience their exaggeration in many aspects. Have a nice Sunday. 🙂
    By the way I like many things about Orthodox Christians but when I was in Greece in their churches on top of high mountains I saw terrible painted scenes of murders to inflict fear in the followers and to me it was execcive.

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  26. gspottedpen says:

    Your article is an interesting read. I wonder how can Buddhism can address existential nihilism. When our feelings are not gratified, negation enters the consciousness. The Being for itself is a real entity, I think meditation is a pseudo farcical exercise that induces suppression rather than letting go. Existential angst is real and creates a raging tempest in the mind, Happiness is momentary, yes and not based eternity. True happiness is like the myth of the Sisyphus (Camus). Anand Bose from Kerala

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the insightful comment. I think a lot of people use mindfulness in a nihilist kind of way for sure

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  27. I think people can really learn a lot from this culture/belief. You may not have to adopt it for yourself but the ideas and beliefs they live by can provide an abundance of insight for a happy life. Really nice article, thank you.

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  28. RahulYuvi says:

    very good write up ..and yes,undoubtedly Buddhism is one culture which can really help you meet yourself..having said that, each on can experience that bliss that inner happiness with one’s own belief ..whatever may be the religion,its just that you need to be truthful to yourself, you need to be absolutely & brutally honest with yourself in your quest to know your inner engineering..after trying so many techniques , I have very recently learned a very simple but extremely effective meditation technique from Sadhguru’s disciples , called AumKar meditation which is really helping me to glance outside in ..its based on vibrations…it takes less than a minute to learn itand you have to practice it for only 15 minutes a day but is highly effective as you can actually feel vibrations moving upwards..will write about it in detail in my next post..nevertheless, you summed up really well..

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    1. Thanks very much for your detailed comment. I will surely be exploring your next post!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. RahulYuvi says:

    Hello Dr Martina ..well here goes my blog about Aumkar Meditation that I talked about earlier :

    Most of the people want to do Meditation but they don’t know how & from where to start.

    Well here’s my small effort to help you commence – Learn extremely effective Meditation technique in just 4 minutes !

    https://the-passport-souls.travel.blog/2017/04/29/learn-extremely-effective-meditation-technique-in-just-4-minutes/?preview_id=2665&preview_nonce=738d207e92

    Liked by 1 person

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