Friday, June 21, 2013

Good Ideas from the Hindus

Because I love Arthur Schopenhauer so much, I decided to look into some of the texts that inspired him. I'm currently reading The Bhagavad Gita.

It's a good little book, with a few ideas that I find absolutely worthy of carrying around with me; the idea of a changeless self beneath all of our feelings, experiences and desires is one. The idea of Brahman--a changeless self within and across all of us that we all share and that ties us together--is another one. Most important to me is the idea that we should work prayerfully 'for the hell of it', without attachment to outcomes. That is a big one for me.

 So often we work our asses off for some future reward, and then find our ambitions frustrated. Putting my happiness in such schemes is absurd, because, as John Lennon observed, 'Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans'. Too often I am guilty of seeing life as a grand chess game, planning six and seven moves in advance. If an early move is blocked, suddenly my whole game is thrown off. How frustrating is it to live this way?

'Frustrating' is a word that I keep using in this post. Schopenhauer is always warning us that our will is the most powerful aspect of our being, and it is only by denying it that we can find happiness. When we feed our will, it only becomes hungrier, and is in a constant state of frustration.

By not allowing myself to be too attached to outcomes--positive or negative--I can do things for their own sake, and become more closely associated with that changeless Brahman that we all share.


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