The Relationship between Happiness & Morality

“Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.” ~ Aristotle

Since its inception, humankind has been fascinated by the pursuit and the fruits of happiness.

Aristotle asks, “What is the ultimate purpose of human existence?” Notably, his prime interest lies in life’s “purpose” rather than its “meaning.” He inquires as to what is the most important goal toward which we should direct all of our activities. Pleasure? Abundance? Status and reputation? While Aristotle does not deny the value of these, he asserts that happiness is the chief good for which humanity should aim, “worth pursuing for its own sake and never for the sake of anything else that might be gained through it.”

Do we desire money, pleasure, marriage, children, and accolades because we believe that the possession of these will make us happy? According to Aristotle, all virtues are a means of obtaining happiness, while happiness is simultaneously both the path and the goal, the means and the end. Happiness is not fleeting, evasive or temporal, but rather the ultimate end and purpose of human existence: the exercise of virtue. This happiness is far from from the pop culture definition of a happiness attained through acquisition and consumption.

It seems to me that the older I get, the happier I am. Wisdom comes with age and reflection, and more wisdom brings greater joy. According to Aristotle, authentic happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life, since it is a goal and not a temporary state. Our individual level of happiness is the result of our character development and requires contemplation, a mental activity which Aristotle sees as the ultimate realization of our rational, intellectual capacities. Aristotle conceives of “happiness as the primary goal of the happy life.” The whole point of contemplating and examining the nature of happiness is to aid our pursuit of happiness.

Aristotle would surely criticize our modern culture of instant gratification, because he realized that humans cannot achieve happiness through the pursuit of superficial or momentarily-passing pleasures. He astutely noted that “the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts,” long before our current era of digital devices and their provision of an unending stream of information made possible by the internet.

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The Earth-plane: 6 Ways to Ground Your Root Chakra

Where on Earth are You?

Feel where your body connects to the planet. Feel how gravity is grounding you to Mother Earth. Breathe in a sense of belonging and of being completely right where you are.

Our chakras, according to Swami Saradananda‘s wonderful guidebook, Chakra Meditation, are “seven focal points of radiant power, or vital energy, within the subtle body.” Translated from Sanskrit as “wheel,” these seven energy centers can be visualized as gears, constantly shifting our subtle energy upward and downward.

Muladhara chakra is the Sanskrit name for our root center and literally translates to “root support.” The element associated with this center is earth; the sense is smell; and the color is red. The core issues are energy, identity/ego, safety and security, roots and ancestry. In other words, the root is our foundation and personal ground of being.

In a recent interview with Deepak Chopra, he explained how Donald Trump is stuck in his root chakra. When our energy stagnates here, we can become egomaniacal and extremely paranoid. Our insecurity, if not healed, can lead us to feeling incredibly uncertain, unsafe, and unsupported. The feelings, of course, become unhealthy, narcissistic behaviors and words that lash out in a fruitless effort to protect our little selves, by keeping others at a perceived safe distance.

Perhaps right now, most of us on the planet could use some grounding, balancing, and healing of this primal, primary chakra. May these be of benefit.

Six ways to connect with the root chakra.

1. Connect with the soles and the soul.

Practice a walking meditation. Walk in exaggerated slow motion, noticing the act of walking. Feel gratitude for the ability to move in this mundane and miraculous way. Focus on the soles of the feet. Notice the heel touching the ground, next the ball of the foot, then the toes. Walk more slowly than you’ve ever walked before. There is no destination. The act of walking is itself the practice. Simply walk and breathe, nothing more, nothing less.

2. Use aromatherapy and healing stones.

Aromatherapy is a fancy way to say smelling stuff. The essential oils that activate muladhara energy include patchouli, sandalwood, ginger, thyme, basil, and clary sage. We can burn or smudge cedar, sage, or patchouli, in the form of incense. Wearing gems and stones, such as hematite, smoky quartz, beryl, black tourmaline, and garnet, assist in healing and aligning root energy. It’s also useful to place these gems and stones on our meditation altars.

3. Eat earthy foods.

To counteract feeling too airy, spacey, or ungrounded, we can intentionally eat meals and snacks that root us and reconnect us with the earth element. These include veggies that grow in the ground (beets, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes), as well as beans, nuts, tofu/tempeh/soy, and pumpkin or sesame seeds. Eat these comfort foods in small portions, mindfully and slowly, savoring their density and deliciousness.

4. Give love to your knees, ankles, and feet.

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