This New Year’s, Resolve to Stop Chasing Happiness

Happiness makes for a poor goal.

It’s not particularly well-defined. What is happiness? How much happiness is enough to be happy with – to not eventually be let down by?

The steps to achieving it are not particularly well understood. Common paths attempted to achieve happiness include religiosity, conventional success, and family living.

Religiosity and piety offer no assurance of happiness. While religious people en masse tend to present as being happier than nonreligious people, there are plenty of religious people who are not particularly happy, and plenty of nonreligious people who are.The same can be said of marriage and having children. As teenagers and twenty-somethings, how many times have each of us been admonished NOT to get married? Even by people in long-lasting, apparently relatively happy marriages. If marriage, children and a career were such sure bets at lasting happiness, the Mid-Life Crisis would not be a well-known experience.

Conventional success also offers no guarantees. Those who have risen to wealth, fame, admiration, and excellence are sometimes – frequently? – disappointed when they are not met with lasting happiness at the top of the hill. Some will be disillusioned as they struggle with questions as “This is it?”, “Was it worth it?”, “What now?”, and “If all of this hasn’t brought me happiness, can anything?”. Continue reading

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Buddhism for Skeptics of Religion

I’m not a Buddhist. I subscribe to no traditional religion (though as I argue here, like everyone else I am religious). I am an agnostic atheist who values secularism, science, reason, mindfulness, and the pursuit of individual and collective wisdom and wellness. As an expression of these values, I would like to highlight key aspects of Buddhist philosophy and practice that I believe can be palatable, useful and positively enriching for even the most ardent skeptic.

Concepts to be addressed:

  • Monism
  • Atheism
  • Impermanence, Emptiness and Dependent Origination
  • No Self (or No Soul)
  • Attachment as source of Suffering; Letting Go as source of Freedom
  • Pursuing Wisdom, not Happiness
  • Mindfulness as a path to Wisdom and Wellness
  • Reincarnation and Rebirth
  • Karma

Continue reading

Atheists Are Religious.

Just because one does not believe in a God, Gods, karma, reincarnation, astrology, L. Ron Hubbard, or eighteen year old “elders” who knock on your door on Sunday mornings to bring you the good news from Utah, that doesn’t mean that they are not religious. I don’t know that I’ve ever met an atheist who wasn’t religious in their own way. I certainly am. Like other atheists, I subscribe to a sort of religion that is both different and similar to what we conventionally refer to as “religion”.

How are atheists religious? Continue reading