Sunday, March 1, 2015

Carpe Diem #678, Happiness

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy it was to see your first haiga submissions ... it makes me really happy that we also can explore this wonderful part of the Japanese poetry ... really awesome. Today our prompt is happiness and there is a lot to say about "happiness", but I have focused on the spiritual meaning of happiness ... I found a really awesome article about happiness at Wikipedia. I love to share a part of that here:

The Chinese Confucian thinker Mencius, who 2300 years ago sought to give advice to the ruthless political leaders of the warring states period, was convinced that the mind played a mediating role between the "lesser self" (the physiological self) and the "greater self" (the moral self) and that getting the priorities right between these two would lead to sage-hood. He argued that if we did not feel satisfaction or pleasure in nourishing one's "vital force" with "righteous deeds", that force would shrivel up (Mencius,6A:15 2A:2). More specifically, he mentions the experience of intoxicating joy if one celebrates the practice of the great virtues, especially through music.
Credits: Happiness
In the Nicomachean Ethics, written in 350 BCE, Aristotle stated that happiness (also being well and doing well) is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake, unlike riches, honor, health or friendship. He observed that men sought riches, or honor, or health not only for their own sake but also in order to be happy. Note that eudaimonia, the term we translate as "happiness", is for Aristotle an activity rather than an emotion or a state. Thus understood, the happy life is the good life, that is, a life in which a person fulfills human nature in an excellent way. Specifically, Aristotle argues that the good life is the life of excellent rational activity. He arrives at this claim with the Function Argument. Basically, if it's right, every living thing has a function, that which it uniquely does. For humans, Aristotle contends, our function is to reason, since it is that alone that we uniquely do. And performing one's function well, or excellently, is one's good. Thus, the life of excellent rational activity is the happy life. Aristotle does not leave it that, however. For he argues that there is a second best life for those incapable of excellent rational activity. This second best life is the life of moral virtue.

According to St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, man's last end is happiness: "all men agree in desiring the last end, which is happiness." Aquinas agreed with Aristotle that happiness cannot be reached solely through reasoning about consequences of acts, but also requires a pursuit of good causes for acts, such as habits according to virtue. In turn, which habits and acts that normally lead to happiness is according to Aquinas caused by laws: natural law and divine law. These laws, in turn, were according to Aquinas caused by a first cause, or God.

Credits: Happiness (2) Oil-painting Leonid Afremov
And, because of the Buddhist background of haiku I also love to share the ideas about happiness as stated from Buddhism:

Happiness forms a central theme of Buddhist teachings. For ultimate freedom from suffering, the Noble Eightfold Path leads its practitioner to Nirvana, a state of everlasting peace. Ultimate happiness is only achieved by overcoming craving in all forms. More mundane forms of happiness, such as acquiring wealth and maintaining good friendships, are also recognized as worthy goals for lay people. Buddhism also encourages the generation of loving kindness and compassion, the desire for the happiness and welfare of all beings.

simple happiness
cherry blossoms bloom again -
spring is near

© Chèvrefeuille

No haiga by me this episode, but I hope that this post on "happiness" will inspire you all to create a beautiful haiga and share it with us all.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 5th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, light, later on.


  1. A real philosophical exploration into happiness, followed by a haiku that people knowing Chevrefeuille would recognise. lightly and deftly bringing cherry blossoms and happiness together

  2. you are leading us into deep waters this evening...

  3. Very interesting little snippet on happiness. I would say this is the only poetry blog which makes any real reference to high art or intellectualism. Good for you KP ! The dinosaurs ( like me) really enjoy it :)