Happy, healthy, wise and wealthy sometimes leads to contentment.
The big four human quests are happy, healthy, wise and wealthy, but these are usually considered mundane quests and the ultimate life quests are set into a higher plane of eschatology or the journey of the soul. I have been puzzling over the various possibilities of what life would be like if there is no meaning to one’s life and the relationship of that idea to contentment. Is it possible to be contented with one’s life and the complexities of the universe around us if there is no ultimate purpose to anything? What if all the myriad of purposes of our daily lives and those we let be imposed upon us by society are nothing more than temporary things which evaporate when our thoughts shift to some other idea and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, beyond these things?
An alternate reality.
What if after a night’s sleep we awoke to a new day totally free of the impositions of our previous hopes and fears and lived simply with an immediate interaction with the universe as it presented itself to us? Wouldn’t we be filled with the terror of emptiness for only a few moments, and then reawaken to a world where our personal being just interacts with the problems which present themselves to us? And wouldn’t that simple direct interaction with what is, be enlightenment and contentment? Contentment is the acceptance of what is as being what should be. Once we can accept what presents itself to us, and simply say yes to our mutual existence, we can be far more than happy, we can be contented. Contentment is the state toward which we ultimately strive, even if we haven’t been fully aware of that as a goal.
How can we be content in a world filled with sorrow?
Sadly, there are many things in the world which are repulsive, and there is a vast amount of unnecessary suffering. Innocent people and other innocent things are slaughtered for food, power or sometimes for sport and sometimes simply the mindless venting of viciousness. Can I be contented with a world that has these qualities? I hesitate to say, yes I accept those things, but if I have no power to affect them in any way, why should I hesitate to say yes? On the other side of the world the tiger kills and eats an innocent lamb, or the warrior who represents a spite-filled nation kills an innocent child, but I have no power to affect these things. Should I hesitate or condemn the universe because these things happen? Is my acceptance of personal contentment, which includes the entire universe, somehow degraded if I condone atrocities, which is part of the universe? Am I being somehow remiss for being contented, or even happy, or even healthy, or possessing some form of wealth, when some other conscious entity is deprived of these things? Being worldly-wise seems innocent enough, and wisdom keeps the person out of many difficulties which others fall prey to, but it can ignore the suffering of others located in some distant time and place.
Because I can not control everything my relationship with contentment must be limited to that part of the universe with which I can interact and influence. I cannot do everything, nor should I be expected to, but I can do something, and the ultimate goal is doing those things which I can to bring about more human contentment.
Contentment for humanity in the very long run.
At some time in the distant future humans will no longer exist, and a postulated intelligence could look back upon the entirety of human moments in time and measure up the totality of human contentment. From that remote point of view it seems that maximizing that quantity of universal contentment is the goal toward which my personal contentment should be directed. I should be doing those actions which will not only maximize my personal contentment but ultimately the contentment of as many people now and in the future as is possible. This is a striving far beyond happy, healthy, wise and wealthy of myself or even the whole of presently existing humanity. Those four things are only needed to some personally acceptable level so I can move beyond them and then to find contentment with the world which actually exists around me as an individual.
What is my ultimate goal and what is yours?
I cannot give people contentment. I can give them moments of happiness by doing some kind act, I can give them a boost in their health by guiding them into health-giving behaviors, I can give them some small bits of wisdom if they are ready to receive it and I can give them some suggestions on how to improve their worldly possessions. These are all desirable things and everyone wants them, but even if they dedicate their entire time and effort to obtain them and finally have them all to the maximum available they still will not have contentment, because contentment is of a different dimension. It is a state of mind and the emotional acceptance of the world as it is and one’s relationship to it.
Heaven is where one is content with things being as they are. It can be here and now.