Archive for the ‘epictetus’ Category

HAPPINESS An Epicurean Approach

November 22, 2009

HAPPINESS

 

The Epicurean Approach

 

By

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Musings on the Art of Happiness

 

HAPPINESS & PLEASURE

 

 

Are Happiness and Pleasure correlated?

 

 

They say:

 

1.  Pleasure is Quantitative; Happiness is Qualitative.

 

2.   Happiness is a lifelong goal.

 

3.       Happiness requires cognitive judgment.

 

4.       Pleasure is not essential to achieving happiness – here I do not agree. I feel happiness and pleasure are not mutually exclusive; in fact genuine pleasure can be the source of much happiness.

 

 

No philosopher has better explored the distinction between happiness and pleasure than Epicurus, a Greek Philosopher of the Third Century BC. Epicurus (341-270 BC) espoused a strategy for achieving genuine human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind (over which a person has control) rather than the delights derived from material things (which are so often beyond one’s personal control).

 

 

Epicurus’ name survives in the team “epicurean” which is used to refer to someone with elevated tastes and a lifestyle centred on pleasure. However, if you peruse his philosophy thoroughly, you will realize that Epicurus counsels a way of life very different from what the popular use of the term “pleasure” implies.

 

 

You may feel that Epicurean philosophy champions the pursuit of pleasure as the supreme goal of life, but this does not mean the unrestrained pursuit of excesses of any kind. Instead, Epicurus argues for a life of sober restrain and moderation in all things. The pleasures Epicurus recommends are those that are easy to achieve and simple in nature. The prolonged pursuit of pleasure is best achieved by restraint and enlightened choice.

 

 

It may be the prudent to moderate our single minded pursuit of “outward” success and achievement, the mindless acquisition of material possessions and accumulation of wealth, tendencies to showing off and ostentation, conspicuous consumption and lavish unrestrained pleasures; and focus more on the more authentic “inner” pleasures of life such as happy family life, enriching relationships, cultivating the mind and intellect, enjoying the pleasures of friends and companions, and living on the higher plane.

 

 

Epicureanism does not advocate the wanton pursuit of pleasure. Also, you must remember that pleasures and pains of the mind are of greater importance than those of the body. Epicurus set forth a strategy for achieving authentic human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind (over which a person has control) rather than the delights derived from material things (which are so often beyond one’s personal control). The fundamental premise is that presence of pleasure is synonymous with the absence of pain.

 

 

Genuine happiness emanates from pleasures that are easy to achieve and simple in nature. If you have only a few things, we will enjoy them more than if you had many things, and if you do not become used to rich and expensive foods, then simple fare, which is easier to obtain will satisfy you more.

 

 

In a nutshell: “The Art of Happiness is in keeping your Pleasures Mild”.

 

 

And how do you keep your pleasures mild?

 

 

 

DESIRE & PLEASURE

 

 

Are pleasures in any way linked to satisfying your desires?

 

 

There are two different types of pleasures:

 

  1. Moving Pleasures

 

  1. Static Pleasures

 

 

“Moving” pleasures occur when one is in the process of satisfying a desire – like eating delicious food when one is hungry.

 

 

These pleasures involve an active enjoyable titillation of the senses which most people call “pleasure”.

 

 

However, Epicurus says that after one’s desires have been satisfied, like suppose you are fully satiated after eating a heart meal; this state of satiety, a state of no longer being in need or want, is itself pleasurable. Epicurus calls this “static” pleasure, and says that these static pleasures are the best pleasures.

 

 

Hence, Epicurus says that there is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain. When one has unfulfilled desires, this is painful, and when one no longer has unfulfilled desires, this steady state is the most pleasurable of all. There is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain – either your desires are fulfilled or they are not.

 

 

Epicurus also distinguishes between physical and mental pleasures and pains. Physical pleasures and pains concern only the present, whereas mental pleasures and pains also encompass the past (fond memories of past pleasure or regret over past pain or mistakes) and the future (confidence or fear about what will occur).

 

 

The greatest destroyer of happiness is anxiety about the future, especially the fear of death. If you can banish fear about the future, and face the future with confidence that one’s desires will be satisfied, then you can attain a most exalted state of tranquillity.

 

 

This we see that the key to happiness is the effective management of your desires – Desire Management.

 

 

 

DESIRE MANAGEMENT

 

There is a close connection between pleasure and desire-satisfaction.

 

 

If pleasure results from getting what you want (desire-satisfaction) and pain from not getting what you want (desire-frustration), then there are two strategies you can pursue with respect to any given desire: you can either strive to fulfil the desire, or you can try to eliminate the desire.

 

 

Epicurus advocates the second strategy of scaling down your desires to the basic minimum which can easily be satisfied.

 

 

Epicurus distinguishes between three types of desires:

 

1.      Natural and necessary desires,

 

2.      Natural but non-necessary desires,

 

3.    “Vain and Empty” or unnatural and unnecessary desires.

 

 

How we tackle each of these three types of desires determines our tendency to happiness [or unhappiness].

 

 

Examples of natural and necessary desires include the desires for food, shelter, health, sense of security and basic physical needs, cravings which will necessarily lead to greater pain if they are not fulfilled.

 

 

These basic desires are easy to satisfy yet difficult to eliminate (they are ‘hard-wired’ into human beings naturally) and bring great pleasure when satisfied (“Happiness begins at the stomach”).

 

 

Furthermore, they are necessary for life, and they are naturally limited: that is, if one is hungry, it only takes a limited amount of food to fill the stomach, after which the desire is satisfied.

 

 

Epicurus says that you should try to fulfil natural and necessary desires.

 

Vain, unnatural and unnecessary desires include desires for excessive power, wealth, fame, and other egoistic ambitions which have all the trappings of status and prestige.

 

 

Vain desires are difficult to satisfy, in part because they have no natural limit. If one desires wealth or power, no matter how much one gets, it is always possible to get more, and the more one gets, the more one wants. These desires are not natural to human beings, but inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need; (e.g.) believing that being very powerful or wealthy or famous will guarantee us happiness. In fact, Opulence attracts thieves, and power and fame attract sycophants.

 

 

Epicurus says that such vain and empty desires should be eliminated.

 

An example of a natural but non-necessary desire is the desire for luxury food. Although food is needed for survival, one does not need rich expensive gourmet food to survive. Thus, despite his hedonism, Epicurus advocates a surprisingly ascetic way of life. Although you shouldn’t spurn extravagant foods if they happen to be available, becoming dependent on such food ultimately leads to unhappiness.

 

 

These natural but non-necessary desires are those cravings that do not necessarily lead to greater pain if they are not fulfilled. These desires are typically recreational in nature: Sexual gratification, aesthetic desires, entertainment, pleasant conversation, the arts, sports, travel etc.

 

 

In the case of natural but non-necessary desires you must approach life as a banquet. Think of your life as if it were a banquet where you would behave graciously, when dishes are passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion. If a dish should pass you by, enjoy what is already on your plate. And if a dish hasn’t being passed to you yet, patiently wait for your turn.

 

 

To paraphrase Epicurus, “If you wish to make a man wealthy, don’t give him more money; rather, reduce his desires”.

 

By eliminating the pain caused by unfulfilled desires, and the anxiety that occurs because of the fear that one’s desires will not be fulfilled in the future, the wise Epicurean attains tranquillity, and thus happiness.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

 

Appetite for a Stroll

 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

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Musings on The Art of Living

March 1, 2007

MUSINGS BY VIKRAM KARVE ON THE ART OF LIVING

 

My name is Vikram Karve. I’m 50 and live in
Pune, India. I love reading, writing and blogging and have a philosophical attitude towards life. Here are a few links to my musings on various aspects of the art of living. I trust you will enjoy and derive benefit by reading them. Do send me your comments and feedback to:

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

TEACHING STORIES

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/two-teaching-stories.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-4-by-vikram-karve-on-teachers.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-3-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories-part-2-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories.htm

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/10/a-teaching-story-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

 

 

Book Review of THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING by LIN YUTANG

[A book that shaped my life and taught me the art of living]

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/01/the-art-of-living.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/the-art-of-living/

 

 

THE ART OF HAPPINESS

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/01/happiness.htm

 

 

THE ART OF EATING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-eating.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/the-art-of-eating-by-vikram-karve/

 

 

HOW I QUIT SMOKING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/how-i-quit-smoking.htm

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/how-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

 

THE DAY AFTER I QUIT SMOKING

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/29/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking.htm

 

DO YOU WANT TO QUIT DRINKING?

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/force-field-analysis-helps-you-quit-drinking/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/want-to-quit-drinking-.htm

 

 

TIME MANAGEMENT – SPEND TIME ADD VALUE

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/time-management.htm

 

 

A SENSE OF VALUES

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/a-sense-of-values-by-vikram-karve/

 

 

THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-map-is-not-the-territory-by-vikram-karve/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-map-is-not-the-territory.htm

 

THE SWEET CHILLIES

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

 

 

COOSING THE RIGHT CAREER

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/choosing-the-right-career.htm

 

EPICTETUS – THE ART OF LIVING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/the-art-of-living-a-book-review–2.htm

 

80/20 LIVING

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-book-review-80-20-principle.htm

 

A TEACHING STORY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

 

BOOK REVIEW – A SOLDIER’S STORY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/book-review-a-soldier-s-story.htm

 

ORIENTAL STORIES – A FASCINATING BOOK

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/a-fascinating-book.htm

 

KNOW YOUR VALUES FOR HAPPINESS AND HARMONY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/know-your-values-for-harmony-and-happiness.htm

 

HURRY SICKNESS

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/hurry-sickness.htm

 

BIBLIOTHERAPY

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/bibliotherapy.htm

 

LIFE PROCESS OUTSOURCING (LPO)

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/life-process-outsourcing-lpo.htm

 

BOOK REVIEW – THE PETER PRINCIPLE AND PETER PRESCRIPTION

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/book-review-the-peter-prescription-the-peter-principle.htm

 

 

ETHICAL FITNESS

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/07/ethical-fitness-2.htm

 

THOUGHT CONTROL

 

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/be-happy-and-healthy/

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/monday-morning-rumination.htm

 

HAIKU

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/haiku-minerva-moment-by-vikram-karve.htm

 

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/12/the-art-of-eating-an-affair-to-remember-by-vikram.htm

 

MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD – A book review

 

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/management-of-the-absurd.htm

 

MAHARSHI KARVE – BOOKS ON HIS LIFE AND TIMES

 

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/maharshi-karve-books-on-his-life-and-times.htm

 

 

I hope you enjoyed these articles and look forward to your feedback. I’ll keep on posting.

 

VIKRAM KARVE

Pune
India

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

http://karve.wordpress.com

http://vikramkarve.blog.co.uk

http://vikramwamankarve.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epictetus – The Art of Living

February 21, 2007

The Art of Living(a book review)ByVikram Karve 

 

I’ve got a wonderful book in my bookcase. It’s called The Art of Living: The Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness, a new interpretation by Sharon Lebell. The compact book encapsulates in a nutshell the salient teachings of Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher.  

Whenever I buy a book I write my name, the date and place of purchase on the first page. I bought this book from one of my favorite bookstores Gangaram’s
Bangalore on 18 August 1999. There was a time, in the nineties, when I used to visit
Bangalore very often. I ensured I stayed somewhere near

MG Road

, and spend the evenings strolling in the delightful area around

MG Road

and

Brigade Road

. A delightful meal of the scrumptious Kerala delicacies like Stew, Appams, Parotta and the Ghee Rice at Imperial on Residency Road, baked delights at Nilgiri, Rosogullas at KC Das and Book Browsing at Gangarams Book Bureau were an absolute must. It’s been six years now, I cherish those memories and hope I get a chance to visit
Bangalore soon. 

Now let’s have a look at a few gems from this witty and wise book which delves on two basic questions pertaining to the art of living: How do I live a happy, meaningful, fulfilling life? How can I be a good person? 

Approach life as a banquet, Epictetus advises. Think of your life as if were a banquet where you would behave graciously. When dishes are passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion. If a dish should pass you by, enjoy what is already on your plate. Or if a dish hasn’t been passed to you yet, patiently wait your turn… there is no need to yearn, envy, and grab. You will get your rightful portion when it is your time. 

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not… and once you learn to distinguish between the two inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.  

Events don’t hurt us, only our attitude towards them. Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them to. Accept events as they actually happen. That way peace is possible. 

Create your own merit. Never depend on the admiration of others. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. There is no such thing as vicarious merit. 

Whereas society regards professional achievement, wealth, power, and fame as desirable and admirable, Epictetus views these as incidental and irrelevant to true happiness. What matters most is what sort of life you are living; a life of virtue, caretaking the present moment. Authentic happiness is always independent of external conditions…your happiness can be found within. 

This captivating book has had a profound effect on me; my way of thinking and living, and motivated me to delve into the life and works of Epictetus in more detail and it was heartening to see the congruence and harmony of the teachings of Epictetus with Eastern philosophical wisdom and precepts.  

I’m glad I bought this splendid book. It cost me only ninety five rupees. Go down to your neighborhood bookstore and browse through it. I’m sure you will love to have a copy in your bookcase. 

 

VIKRAM KARVEvikramkarve@sify.com 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

MUSINGS BY VIKRAM KARVE ON THE ART OF LIVING

February 12, 2007

MUSINGS BY VIKRAM KARVE ON THE ART OF LIVING

My name is Vikram Karve. I’m 50 and live in Pune, India. I love reading, writing and blogging and have a philosophical attitude towards life. Here are a few links to my musings on various aspects of the art of living. I trust you will enjoy and derive benefit by reading them. Do send me your comments and feedback to:
vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com
TEACHING STORIES

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/two-teaching-stories.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-4-by-vikram-karve-on-teachers.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-3-by-vikram-karve.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories-part-2-by-vikram-karve.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/10/a-teaching-story-by-vikram-karve.htm

Book Review of THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING by LIN YUTANG
[A book that shaped my life and taught me the art of living]

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/01/the-art-of-living.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/the-art-of-living/

THE ART OF HAPPINESS

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/01/happiness.htm

THE ART OF EATING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-eating.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/the-art-of-eating-by-vikram-karve/

HOW I QUIT SMOKING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/how-i-quit-smoking.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/how-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

THE DAY AFTER I QUIT SMOKING

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/29/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking.htm

DO YOU WANT TO QUIT DRINKING?

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/force-field-analysis-helps-you-quit-drinking/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/want-to-quit-drinking-.htm

TIME MANAGEMENT – SPEND TIME ADD VALUE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/time-management.htm

A SENSE OF VALUES

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/a-sense-of-values-by-vikram-karve/

THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-map-is-not-the-territory-by-vikram-karve/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-map-is-not-the-territory.htm

THE SWEET CHILLIES

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CAREER

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/choosing-the-right-career.htm

EPICTETUS – THE ART OF LIVING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/the-art-of-living-a-book-review–2.htm

80/20 LIVING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-book-review-80-20-principle.htm

A TEACHING STORY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

BOOK REVIEW – A SOLDIER’S STORY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/book-review-a-soldier-s-story.htm

ORIENTAL STORIES – A FASCINATING BOOK

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/a-fascinating-book.htm

KNOW YOUR VALUES FOR HAPPINESS AND HARMONY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/know-your-values-for-harmony-and-happiness.htm

HURRY SICKNESS

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/hurry-sickness.htm

BIBLIOTHERAPY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/bibliotherapy.htm

LIFE PROCESS OUTSOURCING (LPO)

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/life-process-outsourcing-lpo.htm

BOOK REVIEW – THE PETER PRINCIPLE AND PETER PRESCRIPTION

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/book-review-the-peter-prescription-the-peter-principle.htm

ETHICAL FITNESS

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/07/ethical-fitness-2.htm

THOUGHT CONTROL

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/be-happy-and-healthy/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/monday-morning-rumination.htm

HAIKU

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/haiku-minerva-moment-by-vikram-karve.htm

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/12/the-art-of-eating-an-affair-to-remember-by-vikram.htm

MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD – A book review

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/management-of-the-absurd.htm

MAHARSHI KARVE – BOOKS ON HIS LIFE AND TIMES

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/maharshi-karve-books-on-his-life-and-times.htm

I hope you enjoyed these articles and look forward to your feedback. I’ll keep on posting.
VIKRAM KARVE
Pune ,  India

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://blogs.ibibo.com/karve