There isn’t a single problem in the human realm that isn’t ultimately rooted in ignorance and nurtured by hubris or at least, smugness.
One of the biggest illusions we labor under as a species, or at least in the U.S. and likely other western countries, is the illusion of “happiness.” this subject merits a book, but I will try and lay out the big picture of “my” thought. I say “my” thought in quotations because it’s ultimately the Truth (“God’s thought”) if the thought is true. This illusion of happiness causes untold pain as we struggle to achieve/maintain something that isn’t even “real.”
Happiness very simply does not exist. There is no state that can be achieved and maintained by the human heart-mind except the state of ‘no-state.’ This no-state occurs upon enlightenment. It indicates in part a complete absence of projection of meaning to any realities in the external world (the physical world of the body or said less precisely the world from the skin out) or to the external world itself. This no state implies no judge-attachment and is likely best described as emptiness.
What happens to the vast, vast majority of us is that we judge-attach to certain realities and believe when we have them, we will be happy and therefore, until we have them, we will be unhappy. There is no way around this dynamic in that if we believe having something will make us happy, then until we have it, we will be unhappy. It’s law #3; “realities exist in context of their opposite.” you cannot know sweet without having tasted sour and the more sour you’ve tasted, the more sweet you can enjoy. In the Tao te Ching, is written; “happiness is rooted in misery and misery lurks beneath happiness.” if these two states rely on each other to exist, or rather, if its necessary for us to know both in order to know one, why chase happiness? Saying you want to be happy is like saying you want to be sad.
This is not to say joy doesn’t exist. Just that joy is something that comes and goes whereas “happiness” has the illusion of being achievable and maintainable. If you do not seek happiness, you will find you are more likely to experience it. Happiness is what happens. This was brought to my attention by an author who I cannot remember but whose name I will try and locate and appropriately refer to. This definition is very advanced. It applies to a very small subset of the population who do not seek to be happy. This implies one is open to whatever happens and that one is not judged-attached to specific outcomes.
This means “not caring” about all the stuff you strive for, e.g. A nice car or hot girlfriend or good job, etc. It means not judge-attaching to that stuff and striving for it. It means merely doing what is natural and watching what happens. This relies on one being centered or inwardly still, calm and quiet.
(Please see the above post, “the tao of skate,” and the analogy of Christmas.) I hope this makes sense and isn’t too radical for you. A lot more should be said about this… in a future post. (Please see the post above this one, “happiness and thriving.”)