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October 1

Supreme Happiness, Chuang Tzu, Pg. 885


How do Americans define happiness and how is it different from Taoisms teachings?
Chuang Tzu writes This is what the world honors: wealth, eminence, long life, a good name.
This is what the world finds happiness in: a life of ease, Rich food, fine clothes, Beautiful sights,
sweet sounds. This is similar to what most Americans believe to be a happy life, or at least, the
pop culture and businesses try to make us think. Since our beginnings, America has been built
on the backs of traders and entrepreneurs, wealth seekers. We name cities, streets and even
concert halls after our biggest wealth seekers and successful business- men and women. Does
this mean we put some sort of importance on these people? We honor them like countries
honored warriors in the medieval times. Yes, I believe that Americans look up to and expect
happiness if they amass wealth. But this is contrary to Taoist beliefs. People who can not get
these things [wealth property] fret a great deal and are afraid- this is a stupid way to treat the
body. People who are rich wear themselves out rushing around on business; piling up more
wealth than they could ever use- this is a superficial way to treat the body. Chuang Tzu, a
Taoist. Taoists promote a simple natural life free from constraints as a way of achieving a
harmonious and contented life. According to Chuang Tzu people are not happy when they amass
wealth but are actually more distraught as they work more and more. This is very different from
what most Americans like to think: wealth and money makes you happy. What ordinary people
do and what they find happiness in I do not know whether such happiness is in the end really
happiness or not. I look at what ordinary people find happiness in, what they all make a mad
dash for, racing around as thought they could not stop. Chuang Tzu wants to teach his people
and us that happiness is not bought or gained through property or wealth. Only by finding
acceptance is happiness truly gained.

Oct 6 Buddhist Contentment pg. 894


According to Buddhist do the acts of religion gain you happiness and the good life? Buddha
became a spiritual leader and called himself knowledgeable on how to achieve contentment. He
lived a very sheltered childhood until he was let out from his compound into the world in his
twenties. He saw for the first time many things like, wealth, poverty, sickness, dead people,
dying people and other worldly misfortunes. He goes and sits under a tree processing all this
after a while he becomes the Buddha through meditation. Before he became Buddha Though
my parents wished otherwise and were grieving with tears on their faces- I put on the ochre robe
and went forth from the home life into homelessness. {he became a disciple of Alara Kalama,
then of Uddaka Ramaputa, and learned meditative techniques and the ways of asceticism}
(Punishing the flesh to allow for a greater spiritual experience.) Do the acts, self-harm
meditation and piety gain you happiness in Buddhist religion? To find greater understanding

Buddha went through a series of what I call experiments he I thought suppose that I, clenching
my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, were to beat down, constrain,
and crush my mind with my awareness. So, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against
the roof of my mouth, I beat down, constrained, and crushed my mind with my awareness. As
I did so sweat poured from my arm pits My body was un-calm because of the painful
exertion. This experiment did not calm his body and clear his mind it just made it harder for
him to meditate. I thought suppose I were to take only a little food at a time, only a handful at a
time of bean soup, lentil soup, vetch soup or pea soup. So I took only a little food at a time. My
body became extremely emaciated. Simply from my eating so little, my limbs became like the
jointed segments of vine stems or bamboo stemsMy backside became like a camels hoof
Through these experiments of self-harm Buddha realized that these activities did not help him
meditate or have a greater understanding. He finally learned it is not the actions that make you
happy it is the intent of the actions.

Oct 8 Judaism, Happiness and the good life, Rabbi Mark L Shock. Pg. 921
What is the purpose of Jewish traditions? My friend Isana Invited me over for what she called
Passover with her family. I had never heard of it before but did not want to be rude so I
accepted the invitation. I knocked on the apartment door and then was welcomed in. Even
though I had been to her home a thousand times I instantly felt out of place. Some Decorations
were hung on the wall and the table was set with a table cloth and round plates with six
indentations the size of eggs taken out. In the middle of the plater was Hebrew writing and fancy
Hebrew script. In each divot was a different kind of food, I remember parsley, a lamb bone, (just
the bone no meat. Unfortunately I was under the impression that it was a full meal so had not
eaten beforehand and was disappointed.) and a cracker like bread. Throughout the night different
processes happened her father said a prayer and explanation before we ate the food. After dinner
we went in the back yard a looked for an old Hebrew prophet to come; turning all the lights on. I
sat for a while enjoying the cool Florida air and asked her what some of the stuff I had just
muddled through meant. She could not give me a straight answer. I asked Why do you do it if
you dont know what it means? its what we have always done I dont know why, we just do,
its tradition. (Sorry if my recall is a bit choppy it was almost 5 years ago and I was paying more
attention to her than the meal.) So what is the purpose of traditions? Jewish traditions help
people remember and learn religious teachings. Most Jewish traditions are based in some way to
the Old Testament or someone in the Old Testament. It gives the practitioners stability, identity,
a sense of bonding and community, and understanding. Even though not every Jewish person
will know every single meaning of every tradition the point is that they practice them and get an
understanding and connection to their faith.