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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24 Inspiring Quotes on Learning to Change Your Mindset

  1. “The primary goal of real education is not to deliver facts but to guide students to the truths that will allow them to take responsibility for their lives.” ~John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling
  2. “Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.” ~ Nancy Astor
  3. The home-schooling movement has quietly grown to a size where one and half million young people are being educated entirely by their own parents; last month the education press reported the amazing news that, in their ability to think, children schooled at home seem to be five or even ten years ahead of their formally trained peers.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
  4. “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. ” ~Kofi Annan
  5. “As society rapidly changes, individuals will have to be able to function comfortably in a world that is always in flux. Knowledge will continue to increase at a dizzying rate. This means that a content-based curriculum, with a set body of information to be imparted to students, is entirely inappropriate as a means of preparing children for their adult roles.” ~ John Taylor Gatto
  6. “I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
  7. “School is about learning to wait your turn, however long it takes to come, if ever. And how to submit with a show of enthusiasm to the judgment of strangers, even if they are wrong, even if your enthusiasm is phony.” ~ John Taylor Gatto
  8. “Great education means self-education, but as some point it must also mean having a great mentor. In the history of the world, the combination of classics and mentors has been the method of obtaining all of the necessary knowledge, traits and skills.” ~Oliver Demille
  9. “A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is.” ~ Lao-Tzu
  10. “All problems in life-whether they are international life, in the collective life of a nation, or in the life of an individual-are the problems of education. And the problems of education are the problems of knowledge.” ~ Maharishi
  11. “Food is a perfect microcosm of learning. Anyone who does not eat well has failed in his or her own ability to systematically learn. Learning is impossible without being fed. The act of growing according to one’s genetic blueprint supersedes the act of learning. Students who are adding inches to their height are biologically different from people who are not, and the same eating schedule will not accommodate other. Every stated goal of an educational institution (or real goal of a parent) is predicated on a student’s lifelong health, which requires good food as a foundation.” ~ Clark Aldrich

These final 13 quotes come from J. Krishnamurti’s brilliant essay, Education and the Significance of Life:

  1. Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult.
  2. Reaction only breeds opposition, and reform needs further reform.
  3. It is only when we face experience as it comes and do not avoid disturbance that we keep intelligence highly awakened; and intelligence highly awakened is intuition, which is the only true guide in life.
  4. As long as education does not cultivate an integrated outlook on life, it has very little significance.
  5. All of us have been trained by education and environment to seek personal gain and security, and to fight for ourselves. Though we cover it over with pleasant phrases, we have been educated for various professions within a system based on exploitation and acquisitive fear.
  6. Education is not merely a matter of training the mind.
  7. If education leads to war, if it teaches us to destroy or be destroyed, has it not utterly failed?
  8. To bring about right education, we must obviously understand the meaning of life as a whole, and for that we have to be able to think, not consistently but directly and truly.
  9. To understand life is to understand ourselves, and that is both the beginning and the end of education.
  10. The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and, therefore, intelligent.
  11. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity in oneself and in others, is education.
  12. What is the good of learning if in the process we are destroying ourselves?
  13. The individual is of first importance, not the system.

What is “practice”? What is not practice?

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1. Nothing is not practice.

2. We have our formal practice of hatha yoga, or mindfulness, or whatever, and we have our “informal” practice of life. We have meditation and “postmeditation.”

3. Formal practice is important. Essential. Sit down and shut up. Learn to concentrate the mind. Delve into the practical techniques of meditation. Gain insight, humility, compassion and so much more.

4. Just as essential is “informal” practice: how we carry ourselves in the world. How we speak, eat, act, drink, look, see.

5. The best is when boundaries are blurred, when formal and informal collapse into one. When work is play and play is work. Passion plus compassion.

6. Enlightenment is not an epiphany. It’s simply being absorbed in the moment and in the paradox of life: that all is one and the same yet each is separate and unique.

7. Keep doing your yoga schmoga, whatever it may look like. Keep being you, whoever you are. And realize that ultimately, we’re all made of the same stuff and headed toward the same end.

8. Practice or don’t practice. Everything is practice!

Read the full version here.