Chilling with a friend on Capen street at night, when it was snowing.
The main focus this week was Hedonism, which I found very interesting. Personally, I find the ideas make total sense. I’d like to clarify that I don’t mean give yourself up to a crazy, 24/7 haze of pleasure, but that without any pleasure, life can be can be a life not lived. A very important point for me was “If work is not fulfilling, why take it so seriously?” (Inouye, 69). I passionately agree that work should be enjoyable, and not the root of stress. If you are going to dedicate your life to something, then do something you enjoy, something you can get pleasure out of. Wasting away in a profession that is not enjoyable for the sake of money/future comfort is something I cannot process. Life, as Saikaku put it, “will vanish in the morning dew” (Saikaku, 172). If life is fleeting, and unpredictable, why not enjoy the flow of it, rather than strive for some sort of permanence? I don’t agree in doing things without ever thinking about some of the consequences, but to hold back completely, to withhold from any sort of pleasure, makes no sense to me. The question, however, of “who does not feel sad about dying” (Inouye, 83), left me to ponder for a while. Personally, I don’t feel sad at all about dying, because it doesn’t really mean anything. The only tangible meaning to it is that I will not be living in this current body anymore. Death is just a part of me as is life, for I can’t be a complete being if I’m not going to die. So I really don’t understand what there is to be afraid or sad about; Alan Watts said “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” I don’t know what my consciousness will be like after I leave this body, but why should I fear that, why try and ground myself in ‘this’ life, when that effort will eventually be fruitless? To quote Walt Whitman, “The smallest sprout shows there really is no death, and if ever there was it led forward to life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it…all goes onward and outward, nothing collapses…and to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier”. The very fact that I know I’m going to die, but can’t do anything to prevent it, is liberating. I don’t know, however, when I’m going to die, and that’s exactly what is exciting about life: everyday is another breath of life, another day to experience living. That’s why I think a certain amount of Hedonism in everyone’s life would do no-one harm, and everyone good. “This place is a dream, only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief” (Rumi). This sentiment is echoed in the writings of Chuang Tzu, “Not until we wake do we know that we were dreaming. Only at the ultimate awakening shall we know that this [world;life] is the ultimate dream. Yet fools think they are awake, so confident they know what they are…How do I know that we who death are not exiles since childhood who have forgotten the way home?” Time and time again, at different points in human history, sages/philosophers/holy men have come to this conclusion about death. Knowing it to be true, what is there to fear or be sad about?