Friday, July 17, 2009

Materialism and Entitlement to Happiness

There is a sense that because we live in a time of plenty from a materialistic standpoint we are not entitled to be dissatisfied. That perspective itself has its roots in materialism because it assumes that material wealth and comfort are all one needs to be happy. Therefore, if a person's happiness is a function of material wealth and that person possesses material wealth, that person should necessarily be happy. As such, when that person is not happy under those circumstances something is necessarily wrong with that person.

At the same time, however, it has been my experience the jobs and life styles that "produce" material wealth are increasingly isolating, uninspiring and unsatisfying. And yet to feel unhappy in an uninspiring state that produces wealth in turn produces a state of cognitive dissonance because of the assumption that happiness and materialism are connected. The mind cannot exist in a state of cognitive dissonance and must search for a reason to bridge the gap. The classic example is walking into a dark room, flipping the switch but the light does not come on. Instantly, the mind must find a solution to make sense of this situation - is it the fuse, the light bulb, the wiring? Perhaps this switch does not control the light I originally thought it did.

In my estimation, the point is this, material wealth and entitlement to happiness are two separate phenomena and should be treated as such regardless of how powerfully the world seems to think they are connected. We (or at least I) have been programmed to think that this connection between happiness and materialism exists. But conversely, we have been programed to think that we are not entitled to be unhappy if we have material wealth and perhaps not entitled to be happy if we don't. My sense is that it would be liberating to sever this connection.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on life by not being able to live authentically and by subjecting myself to miserable experiences over and over again. Other times I feel like it is my journey to overcome this painful cycle. Not that the cycle is necessarily an integral part of the education process. Looking at this from the perspective that I am missing out is subjecting myself to more misery. Viewing the process as a journey takes a step back from the misery. It does not dispel the misery but it does lessen it somewhat.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Big Mind, Little Mind and Reality

There are different terms used to describe the dynamic between Big Mind (i.e., the true self, Atman, witnessing conscience) and Little Mind (i.e., the ego, monkey mind, chattering mind) and that which is real. "Reality" is a vast blank slate from which seemingly limitless data is derived. It seems that Big Mind is usually one step removed from perceiving reality directly. This one step is Little Mind, the commentator on reality. Big Mind can choose to perceive reality directly but tends to use the Little Mind as an intermediary. It is a question of what Big Mind chooses to focus its attention on. Big Mind can focus on reality itself or on the often distracting Little Mind. This dynamic suggests that Little Mind is not all bad as seems to be the rap that Buddhism gives it (at least as far as I understand it). It suggests that Little Mind exists as a helper for Big Mind so perhaps there is some useful role for Little Mind to play. However, for most of us (I assume) this relationship is out of balance. Big Mind has abdicated too much of its role to Little Mind. Put another way, Big Mind is sleeping and Little Mind is running the store.

Authentic - Definition

au⋅then⋅tic  [aw-then-tik]


1. not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.

2. having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified: an authentic document of the Middle Ages; an authentic work of the old master.

3. entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy: an authentic report on poverty in Africa.

4. Law. executed with all due formalities: an authentic deed.

5. Music. a. (of a church mode) having a range extending from the final to the octave above. Compare plagal.

b. (of a cadence) consisting of a dominant harmony followed by a tonic.


1300–50; < LL authenticus < Gk authentikós original, primary, at first hand, equiv. to authént(ēs) one who does things himself (aut- aut- + -hentēs doer) + -ikos -ic; r. ME autentik (< AF) < ML autenticus

Related forms:

au⋅then⋅ti⋅cal⋅ly, adverb


1–3. Authentic, genuine, real, veritable share the sense of actuality and lack of falsehood or misrepresentation. Authentic carries a connotation of authoritative certification that an object is what it is claimed to be: an authentic Rembrandt sketch. Genuine refers to objects or persons having the characteristics or source claimed or implied: a genuine ivory carving. Real, the most general of these terms, refers to innate or actual—as opposed to ostensible—nature or character: In real life, plans often miscarry. A real diamond will cut glass. Veritable, derived from the Latin word for truth, suggests the general truthfulness but not necessarily the literal or strict correspondence with reality of that which it describes; it is often used metaphorically: a veritable wizard of finance.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quote from the Book of John on Authentic Living

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Authentic Living and the Hero's Journey

If I look at my life in terms of a hero's journey from living inauthentically to living authentically, I can see a couple of different options. First, I could still be in the ordinary world having repeatedly received my call to adventure at various points in my life but having refused the call up to this point. The call to adventure in this instance would be the call to stop living my life as I perceive others would want me to live it and live it as I want to. Or second, I could be on the approach to the inner most cave, wherein I will face the ordeal that will fundamentally change me (i.e., the reward and resurrection). I could be facing the ordeal now as we speak. In either scenario I think the fundamental issue involves making the decision to live life on my own terms but also to know that is the right thing to do. Perhaps the knowledge part is the reward received after facing the ordeal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Henry David Thoreau Quote on Authentic Living

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau