Walk into any bookstore and, sure enough, sometimes you’ll find a rather large philosophy section. It actually may be quite surprising. But it’s all too funny what passes as philosophy these days. The feel-good philosophies of the world. “Chicken’s Soup for the Soul.” Oprah Winfrey and her ilk. Eckhart Tolle. Books with titles like “12 Steps to Living a Good Life.” Eternal questions, to be sure, but I preferred Plato’s “the good,” to this, thanks.
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For me, spiritual people’s lack of understanding about the real world is a pretty interesting topic. I think some sort of happiness is possible, though it’s a different kind of happiness than what the new age people describe. The real compassion that comes with the realization of impermanence could also be called “happy despair.” You understand the fear behind people’s destructive actions and your former destructive actions, and thus while you yourself are without fear, and therefore happy, you are still sad because the world around you is unhappy.
It’s kind of related to the same feeling one gets from impermanence where the
reason you are able to enjoy everything is because you viscerally, not just intellectually, understand that everything in your life will one day end. That is not to say you enjoy other people’s pain, but you enjoy your own pain as much as you enjoy pleasure because you have the full capability to accept it.
Anyway, I feel like most people on the left are, like Thich Nhat Hanh and other spiritual leaders, too attached to a positive outcome for the world. They want it too much, and their desire for it is also strung up in their own egoism, so it becomes false and not genuine. So I feel like an internal and external solution to this is people trying to cultivate actual compassion, which isn’t stained by any hope for a positive outcome. In other words, the only way to actually successfully work toward a good society is to realize it has no permanent nature, because then you aren’t attached to a particular result.