Of particular interest to me is the intersection between eastern and western ideas as they apply to living a good life. How these ideas affect one’s thinking and subsequent attitudes is a valuable way to approach them and, while personal, I wonder if it applies more broadly.
From all these philosophies I have taken certain ideas and practices and refined them for my own knowledge. While this is an on-going project, there are some aspects that have settled into place as foundational. One of these is the desire for a pleasant, happy existence and how that is brought about. For me, this has been best expressed in a combination of Buddhist and Epicurean philosophies.
I will delve more deeply into all these ideas, but I thought this video was an excellent introduction to the western side of this in Epicureanism. It is focused on the relationship between desire and happiness, and this is where the Buddhist ideas intersect. Interestingly, I find the Epicurean approach more expansive since Epicurus was not out to eliminate desires, but rather to reign them in and moderate them in the service of the larger goal of happiness.
Of note are the words pleasure and hedonism. They have taken on negative interpretations largely due to religious influences as being momentary sensual pleasures. That is not how the words are used in Epicurean philosophy. They actually refer to the larger context of pleasant living, or living pleasurably. This is equated with happiness or, in the greek word, eudaemonia, which refers to human flourishing. The east/west intersection occurs with another word, ataraxia, which refers to inner peace or tranquility as as prime component in flourishing. In the video, ataraxia is defined as “without anxiety” which while correct doesn’t quite convey the full scope of what is meant, which is pleasant living.
The video is just over 11 minutes and conveys it’s ideas very well. May you rethink your desires and begin to take pleasure seriously.