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The Persuit of Happiness

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    Posted: 06 November 2006 at 9:58am
Excepts from an Essay by Akhtar Hameed Khan
From the book: Orangi Pilot Project, Reminiscences and Reflections
With due acknowledgement to Oxford University Press, Pakistan

Pursuit of Happiness

Covetousness, lust and gluttony cannot give us happiness or
peace, because indulgence in these ‘natural’ passions creates
discontent, discord, corruption, and conflict, which ultimately
result in suffering for individuals and communities.

When I was a student my professor of European History told this parable: An old
woman lived in a hut on the Atlantic seashore. Everyday the tide crept into her
hut, and the old woman, armed with a broom, struggled to seep it out. Our
professor used this parable to describe the futile efforts of European monarchs
trying to suppress democratic movements in the nineteenth century.

Now I have found a new application for the parable. I feel that my friends and I
are very much like the old woman sweeping the Atlantic tide with a broom. It is
our misfortune to be misfits; we are misfits not only because we are old. We are
misfits because we don’t gladly accept the dominant cult of our age.

We still thing that old sages—Chinese or Indian, Greek or Muslim—are right.
Elucidating mankind’s spiritual tradition, its perennial philosophy, the sages
teach that, if we want to be happy, we should severely control our instinctive
desires, curtail our covetousness, lust, and gluttony, restrict our needs, be
frugal, contented, and detached.

On the other hand, the dominant cult of our age proclaims that we should seek
happiness through indulging our ‘natural appetites’, increasing our needs,
acquiring as much wealth and power as we can.

Of course, in neither the past nor the present was the advice of the spiritual
sages followed by most people; but our ancestors in East or West, even when
they did not follow the advice, at least did not deny its validity.

The dominant cult of our age, however, rejects the perennial philosophy as
irrelevant, as escapism. R.S. Tawney, in his classic book, Religion and the Rise
of Capitalism, describes how this ideological shift took place in Europe, and
consequently how a brutal civilization was established, based on industrialism
and militarism, which rapidly overwhelmed the whole world.

Expert advertisers, the copywriters, are the priests and prophets of
Consumerism. Cleverly utilizing the science of psychology, they have developed
very subtle and sophisticated methods of manipulating our minds. They have
learnt to bypass our prudential reason and penetrate into the dark depths of our
subconscious.

If they want us to buy cigarettes, they do not waste their time proving that
smoking is good or necessary. Instead, through fascinating pictures, smiling is
associated with fantasies of foreign travel and high society. Cigarette in hand we
stand before the Tower of Pisa or the pyramid of Giza; cigarette between our
lips, we drive sports cars or smile at charming ladies.

Consumerism flourishes by promoting covetousness, lust and gluttony. The
wizards are supreme masters of this black magic—they are equal to, it not
superior to, Mephistopheles. It seems that the poor sages who denounced
covetousness, lust and gluttony have been defeated.


But not really. They are still right. They said that covetousness, lust and gluttony
cannot give us happiness or peace, because indulgence in these ‘natural’
passions creates discontent, discord, corruption, and conflict, which ultimately
result in suffering for individuals and communities.

No one can cure your craving for things except the wise; go seek the wise. –Al
Maarri
And that He is Lord of Al shi'ra(The Star Sirius), And That He destroyed The tribe of 'Ad that was first.

[chapter the star verse 49-50]
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote StarComm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 November 2006 at 10:23am

In the true persuit of happiness lays the answer to the worlds problems, it is however a long journey through history it seems for everyone to understand what the true persuit of happiness means. The true persuit of happiness is a striving that is balanced and thus just, it is not a striving where people are deceived and put in misery for the sake of attaining their sustainance to add to ones own and incease ones own wealth in such fashion. History tells us that some do understand this otherwise I do not believe we would still exist and those who do not

 undeniably get themselves in such a situation

 that they either start to learn or leave the stage of history in one way or another. Is this maybe too an overanalysis? or am I struggling with a flogging of misplaced fear?

And that He is Lord of Al shi'ra(The Star Sirius), And That He destroyed The tribe of 'Ad that was first.

[chapter the star verse 49-50]
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