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J.S. Mill on Life, Death, and Happiness

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  • walto
    [The Buddha and his followers] could find nothing more transcendent to hold out as the capital prize to be won by the mightiest efforts of labour and
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 5, 2012
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      [The Buddha and his followers] could find nothing more transcendent to hold out as the capital prize to be won by the mightiest efforts of labour and self-denial, than what we are so often told is the terrible idea of annihilation. Surely this is a proof that the idea is not really or naturally terrible; that not philosophers only, but the common order of mankind, can easily reconcile themselves to it, and even consider it as a good; and that it is no unnatural part of the idea of a happy life, that life itself be laid down, after the best that it can give has been fully enjoyed through a long lapse of time; when all its pleasures, even those of benevolence are familiar, and nothing untasted and unknown is left to stimulate curiosity and keep up the desire of prolonged existence. It seems to me not only possible but probable, that in a higher, and above all, happier condition of human life, not annihilation but immortality may be the burdensome idea; and that human nature, though pleased with the present, and by no means impatient to quit it, would find comfort and not sadness in the thought that it is not chained through eternity to a conscious existence which it cannot be assured that it will always wish to preserve.

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      It is not, naturally or generally, the happy who are the most anxious either for a prolongation of the present life, or for a life hereafter: it is those who never have been happy. They who have had their happiness can bear to part with existence: but it is hard to die without ever having lived.

      --J.S. Mill, _Three Essays on Religion_

      W
    • medit8ionsociety
      ... Yo Sri Walto, I really liked this a lot, and it stimulated many meditative concepts to flow past my inner screen. While giving an interesting conclusion of
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 5, 2012
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        "walto" <calhorn@...> wrote:
        >
        > [The Buddha and his followers] could find nothing more transcendent to hold out as the capital prize to be won by the mightiest efforts of labour and self-denial, than what we are so often told is the terrible idea of annihilation. Surely this is a proof that the idea is not really or naturally terrible; that not philosophers only, but the common order of mankind, can easily reconcile themselves to it, and even consider it as a good; and that it is no unnatural part of the idea of a happy life, that life itself be laid down, after the best that it can give has been fully enjoyed through a long lapse of time; when all its pleasures, even those of benevolence are familiar, and nothing untasted and unknown is left to stimulate curiosity and keep up the desire of prolonged existence. It seems to me not only possible but probable, that in a higher, and above all, happier condition of human life, not annihilation but immortality may be the burdensome idea; and that human nature, though pleased with the present, and by no means impatient to quit it, would find comfort and not sadness in the thought that it is not chained through eternity to a conscious existence which it cannot be assured that it will always wish to preserve.
        >
        > ***************************************************
        >
        > It is not, naturally or generally, the happy who are the most anxious either for a prolongation of the present life, or for a life hereafter: it is those who never have been happy. They who have had their happiness can bear to part with existence: but it is hard to die without ever having lived.
        >
        > --J.S. Mill, _Three Essays on Religion_
        >
        > W
        >
        Yo Sri Walto,
        I really liked this a lot, and it stimulated many
        meditative concepts to flow past my inner screen.
        While giving an interesting conclusion of what type
        people may "bear to part with existence", it also
        allows for the concept of who would most likely want
        to reincarnate. It seems that that would be someone
        who had great happiness in human form, and that those
        who knew this lifetime to be one of suffering would
        be least inclined to coming back to do it again.

        Perhaps a Taoist balanced perspective, simply witnessing
        life as it flows by, non-attached to the seeking of
        continuation of further happiness or the cessation of
        further suffering would likely be an ideal position to
        "find comfort and not sadness ... chained through eternity to a conscious existence which ... it will always ... preserve."
        Peace and blessings,
        Bob
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