Sunday, April 26, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Happiness is a feeling of satisfaction and well being. It's something which we all strive for and dream of however few of us attain it.
It is my belief that material possessions can never provide satisfaction. No one has ever had enough money. I have personally known a man worth several hundred million dollars who never smiled and I have known a rabbi of modest means who never stopped smiling.
What can provide happiness is a total absorption with a love of God.
Imagine the infinite wisdom and power of God. Realize that all the beauty in the universe flows from Him.
Don't think of yourself. Selfishness is the poison which destroys happiness. Selflessness creates happiness.
Even when you care for yourself, by eating or sleeping and so on, do so not for your sake, but so that you can love God and continue to serve Him.
Don't think about how other people can help you. Stop using and exploiting others. Think about how you can help them. If you are married, God has given you a spouse as a partner in life and to give you the opportunity to help others. If you have children, realize that they were given to you so that you would be able to care for them. Through this we can emulate God who cares for the universe.
Repeat this like a mantra. Meditate on it. "It's not about me. It's about Him."
In response to some comments on this post, I want to add that I am not claiming that love of God and selflessness are the only paths to happiness; instead I am claiming that they are the the only paths to stable, constant happiness. Injecting heroin will also make you happy for a few hours; however that it is not what I mean by “real happiness”. Likewise, nothing material can bring real happiness since once the material thing is gone, as it surely will be eventually, the happiness is gone too. Meditation, anti-depressants and exercise can numb pain, which is valuable, however that is not happiness. Accepting one's situation without complaining is also not happiness.
Secondly, real happiness is not an easy, instantly attainable goal. It is something which requires great effort every hour of our lives. It is something which we can gradually come closer to. And the rewards are well worth the effort. I would advice praying constantly “God, please help me to love You.” If someone were to ask me if I am happy, I would say that I am working toward happiness.
Also, incidentally, this post is not merely good advice, however it is obligatory, as the Torah states "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
Posted by jewish philosopher at 1:58 PM
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
[Does he belong in the monkey house?]
Many Orthodox Jews in the New York City area visit the Bronx Zoo during the Passover holiday week. It's a great place to go with the kids. My family and I were there yesterday.
One of the most popular exhibits is the gorilla habitat.
One thing which crossed my mind is that from the point of view of evolution, not only gorillas should be on exhibit, however African Americans should be too.
“The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies--between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae--between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”
(The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin, chapter 6)
Many people realize that evolution promotes atheism, as Richard Dawkins has written "although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." (The Blind Watchmaker page 6.)
Less known is that evolution promotes Fascism. In Mein Kampf, Hitler concludes "A state which in this age of racial poisoning dedicates itself to the care of its best racial elements must some day become lord of the earth." This is not "social Darwinism" and a twisted misinterpretation of Darwin; this is almost a direct quote from Darwin.
This is in sharp contrast to the Jewish point of view, which teaches that all men are ultimately brothers, descended from Adam who was created by God. Needless to say, Chancellor Hitler was not a big fan of Judaism.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:05 AM
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
[Woodstock, NY August, 1969. Where it all started.]
According to the disease model of addiction, addiction is an illness.
It's my belief that the United States is a nation currently afflicted with literally an epidemic of addictions. While we have succeeding in stamping out small pox and polio and many other illnesses, this new wave of disease is overwhelming and destroying this great country.
First of all, consider shopping addiction. This is actually the basis of the current financial collapse. Too many people have borrowed and spent more money than they can possibly ever repay, resulting in a global crisis. A New York Times columnist has called America the Madoff Economy.
Sexual addiction is rampant. Internet pornography is huge and growing. Far too many men are playboys while few are responsible family men. Among young women, sexual promiscuity is considered to be normal. Few children are being raised by both biological parents from birth to adulthood, with devastating consequences.
Food addiction is ruining people's health, overwhelming the health care system and shortening lives.
Alcoholism is widespread as is drug addiction.
America is a democracy, meaning that the government follows the desires of the majority. However, when the majority are addicts, this may be a problem. An addict will often sincerely believe that he is not an addict and insist that all he needs to be happy is more of whatever he is addicted to. The United States government therefore plans to help people spend more money which they don't have. Marijuana is now gradually being legalized in the United States. Many experts are suggesting legalizing all drugs. These are not good signs.
The long range outcome of addiction is severely impaired functioning, poverty and early death. Poverty in the United States is becoming daily more severe while life expectancy is dropping.
What is happening today in the United States may be more similar to the decline of the Roman Empire than to the Great Depression. No one can predict how this will play out, however in some cases addicts will "hit bottom" (reach a situation which they find intolerable) and then recover.
There is no antibiotic or vaccine for the disease of addiction. The only treatment is the Twelve Step Program, whose key elements are monotheism and altruism.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:39 AM