18

votes

On emptiness and living in a modern world

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 30, 2012 at 8:39 PM

I apologize if I'm rehashing a topic that has been addressed, but I've been mulling Mark Sisson's comments regarding other aspects of living in a manner more consistent with our ancestral upbring. As I think about my own life and look at the world around me, so many things just strike me as empty. The accumulation of material possessions, the job that exists mainly to pay for those possessions, the hours spent at a desk and in front of a computer, and the related lack of meaningful connections. It just doesn't seem that wholesome or rewarding. That being said, its quite tough to break out of the rat race. Plus, when you have a successful and modern life, there is very little sympathy if you find it unfulfilling.

Any comments? Are my thoughts off base?

Alternatively, omitting details like reality, what would an idyllic life be? What sort of social system? What sort of work?

E4069040201c3591b9b774df6ed9cad4

(80)

on May 21, 2012
at 09:46 PM

I'll just point out that Mark Sisson lives in Malibu, in a $2.6 million dollar house.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 02, 2012
at 02:42 PM

Hah, don't claim to know more Buddhism. Do claim to know more Russian literature than most.

E4f858a9178422502c42b9719690e52c

(603)

on May 02, 2012
at 11:53 AM

I know more Buddhism than you... Irony?

59d367d77f4082717bade07508624db8

(1198)

on May 02, 2012
at 03:34 AM

Living in an expensive city like San Francisco, I see this a lot, friends getting unknowingly trapped in it. They move here with bohemian fantasies, find an apartment, but it's so expensive they have to work at a job they hate 6 days a week, they become miserable and can't enjoy the city they pay so much to live in, and at some point while they're throwing up from migraines they realize they don't remember why they even moved here.

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on May 02, 2012
at 01:13 AM

My smile took a 180 after realizing that this kind of tranquil existence is probably only possible after years and years of working. Oh well. Jai guru deva om.

A97b68379a576dfa764a4828304d2efb

(4181)

on May 02, 2012
at 12:58 AM

Well said, Eric. The student loan debt beast is the killer of all my hopes and dreams.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 01, 2012
at 08:54 PM

I think you allude very well to the concept of making a living, but not a *life.* So many of us are guilty of it (if you want to call it that), but it is pretty scary and intimidating to jump off that treadmill, even when you desperately want to. "I think a lot of people make a living, but don't feel particularly useful, of service to their fellow humans, or part of a real community."

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on May 01, 2012
at 03:31 PM

Wow. I have to check out that book. I would NOT be surprised if there was solid evidence suggesting that. Also glad that you've found your peace!

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on May 01, 2012
at 01:43 PM

Great article, thanks. Alone together is such an odd state. I do think the 140 character nature of communications has negatively impacted my attention span. I'll check out "The Shallows". Like you, I have these thoughts while sitting at my computer. I'm acutely aware of the irony.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 10:00 AM

You convinced me - felt incredibly peaceful while reading your answer. It's a shame society convinces us we want so much more than that at the outset, so that--by the time we realize how simply we could be happy--we are so beholden to our various attachments (jobs, debt, social structures...) that such a life is only an idyllic fantasy.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 09:56 AM

I can accept that, Raney - I honestly did not even think anything could be perceived as negative in what I wrote, and wrote it offhand while taking a short break from the work I was doing. I didn't feel the need to elaborate, but I was clearly wrong in that regard. It is definitely a stronger answer with my edits.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:08 AM

And +1 for "and I start too many sentences with and." LOL

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:06 AM

Cool. Congrats for taking the plunge.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 01, 2012
at 05:45 AM

I agree. Ideal would be to convince a bunch of like minded friends.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 05:10 AM

I'd add another one - you have to live with people who might drive you nuts. With the nuclear family, that's more limited.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on May 01, 2012
at 03:12 AM

And for the record, I haven't read the manifesto in about 10 years; around the same time period I read Mein Kampf, The Satanic Bible, etc... everything about that sect of literature is going to be completely superseded by the inherent negative connotations, despite enlightened glimpses contained within. You need to be pretty specific and pretty well-versed about what you're alluding to, to reference one of such bodies of work without automatically discrediting yourself.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on May 01, 2012
at 03:02 AM

Fair enough, Eric. I'll restate: I feel like you should have elaborated more if you wanted to invoke anything more than just the negative connotations of said figure.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:03 AM

Great question. Really important. Maybe for overall happiness even more important sometimes than just decisions on what we eat. Here is a tangentially related thread: http://paleohacks.com/questions/111212/we-talk-a-lot-about-food-and-exercise-here-but-what-are-some-of-your-paleo-ish/

F524eaa9d58e5cd2d2368ff7bfffda9c

(480)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:57 AM

I find liberal pacifism hugely annoying... I am guilty of it as well...

F524eaa9d58e5cd2d2368ff7bfffda9c

(480)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:55 AM

Hi Eric, great point to bring up. That sort of thing is frightening to most people, including myself because it rings TRUE.

45eaf1688c1baf31d687a382b78f451f

(502)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:34 AM

Whoa...dude...I started reading the manifesto and had to stop. It makes sense. Not that this means I'm gonna start planting pipe bombs. The manifesto doesn't sound crazy at all. Of course, it's late and I may think differently in the morning. But yeah, I have to agree with Eric on this one. The Unabomber went off the deep end with the bombings and all, but his manifesto doesn't sound all that crazy.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:32 AM

Be careful! A "meaningful life" can become another possession, and "relationships" something we seek to acquire because we believe they will make us "fulfilled." I'm not at all accusing you of falling into this trap, just warning you that it is there. You may consider me a spiritual materialist in recovery.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:26 AM

Please read my comments below ed. Did not mean ANYTHING negative by the Unabomber reference, but--if you can get past the person making the argument--your thesis sounds a lot like Kaczynkski's. Obviously, I'm not trying to insinuate that you think we should move into cabins and mail bombs to people, but the essay is well worth the read with your thoughts along these lines. I am pretty shocked by the downvoting; with the overall rejection of conventional wisdom in this community, I would have thought it was more open minded to individually and rationally judging an argument's merits.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:23 AM

Oh, and I haven't even had the chance to point out the similarities between Leibnitz and the _brahma viharas!_

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:21 AM

I don't mind blunt at all, but I'm not a Mahayana Buddhist. I was actually thinking that OP had realized the First and (possibly the) Second Noble Truths on his own. I think that the concept of dukkha is actually very similar to that of poshlost' in _Oblomov_ although I don't believe that Goncharov studied Buddhism (I could be wrong on this point--Tolstoy certainly had a background in Eastern philosophy). The nihilism of Sartre is certainly one historical response to the realization of the unsatisfactoriness of existence. You misrepresent the contents of my post by focusing unduly on Sartre.:)

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:15 AM

Read it: cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt -- he says basically that we try to assign meaning to a lot of meaningless things because modern society has taken away truly meaningful things.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:12 AM

Also, way to judge me without knowing what you're talking about raney and Violet9.... I spend a pretty good bit of time thinking about this topic.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:11 AM

I didn't mean anything rude by that. Have you read his manifesto? He talks a lot about the emptiness caused by the modern world. If you take out the "crazy" - for lack of a better term - ed's question is very reminscient of Kaczynski's thesis. Not sure why all the downvotes, but they're uncalled for.

7660f5a0ec906d3922d79b20f3434ecc

(788)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:06 AM

I recently discovered Early Retirement Extreme. It is a blog by someone who has very similar ideas to yours and devoted his time to teaching people how he broke out of the rat race. He also mentions Your Money or Your Life as one of his motivating books.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:03 AM

I think you hit the nail on the head. Human beings are social animals and happiness (meaning contentment and fulfillment in one's life in this use) is largely determined by meaningful relationships we share with one another. Many studies have shown that mental illness and isolation are related. The modern world tends to isolate us from one another in our work and homes. There is a reason more and more people suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental ailments (that and large companies make money by selling a pill).

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on May 01, 2012
at 12:48 AM

Maria, I can't relate to everything you've said, but I can relate to the internal/external disconnect that is overt success. You have all that it is that supposedly makes you happy, but there is nothing to it. And, you get little sympathy because you cant complain because you have the life others aspire to. And, you look around at those in the same situation and you wonder whether they are happy with their lives. It may be they want that life, it may be they have the same feelings. But, most importantly their BMW is shiny.

Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on May 01, 2012
at 12:48 AM

The "emptiness" you find in Buddhism is not nihilism. Sorry to be so blunt, but you misrepresent the concept of śūnyatā with this post.

59d367d77f4082717bade07508624db8

(1198)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:39 AM

My first thought when reading the original post was "this person is going to be so relieved when they find buddhism," the whole thing is about escaping the rat race that is chasing happiness.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:32 AM

"My idyllic life would include a job that actually made a difference to someone, somewhere in the world, and a strong social support network." This is exactly how I feel.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:05 AM

Well said Karen!

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:45 PM

ditto to raney's comment

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:44 PM

What a rude thing to say. I think there are a fair amount of us around here that think about this at least on occasion.

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on April 30, 2012
at 10:07 PM

Hmm... That wasn't quite the effect I was going for.

65bf1ca7071028018c6d8305d0ddcd76

(3049)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:22 PM

It's never too late, ed! As soon as you recognize that you're not fulfilled, you can make a change.. any change will start the ball rolling. Maybe you decide that this is the week you stop putting in 10 hour days (when you're paid for 8), or use your allotted vacation days to make every second week a 3 day weekend... You don't have to do anything drastic until you feel ready, and trust me, even the small steps add up! Sure, you may stumble - but keep "working" towards finding the quality of life you want. Your days should be filled with enjoyment. You can do it! :)

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on April 30, 2012
at 09:08 PM

Thanks for the insights. A bit late for me. I guess I was more musing why as a society we embrace such unfulfilling things.

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16 Answers

best answer

1
F44b15b2fd1ad134200793d6b474fc4c

(938)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:36 AM

For me, peace and well-being is about accepting that life will inevitably be a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences. No way around it. On days when I can accept that, I feel content no matter what my circumstances.

9
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:15 PM

It's all tied together, isn't it?

I highly suggest reading the book Your Money or Your Life. Another good one is A Reasonable Life by Ferenc M??t??. Some awareness can help you align your values with your approach to life. The noise of the modern world will lead you to believe that there is one way to happiness. One common misconception, for example, is the idea that to be successful and live the American Dream you must own a house. Yeah, that worked out really well for a lot of folks recently, didn't it? While everyone was going crazy buying a depreciating asset for ridiculous amounts of money and debt, you would've come out ahead had you waited it out in a rental and socked away all the extra at modest interest. Now's the time to be buying, but no one's crying about it from the rooftops anymore. Funny, isn't it.

My personal view is that you do have to deal with the world and its rules to some degree, but you also have to know when and how to reject it.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:05 AM

Well said Karen!

6
Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:24 PM

I think you're right. It's easy to get trapped in the cycle and it's easy to NOT think about it, because we have this modern idea that if you're busy, you must be doing something worthwhile, so people feel satisfied just with being busy, and it takes a lot of courage to step back and say "ok I'm busy, but what am I busy doing? Is there actually a point to it?"

The worst for me is the continuous degeneration of the social structures that we rely on for support - from the extended family to the nuclear family to the single person. I live thousands of miles away from my nearest family member and I'm externally "successful" (well-paying job etc.) but internally miserable because I'm completely isolated with no social support except through the phone. It really isn't worth living for but this is apparently the new normal - most of my coworkers/acquaintances (I don't really have friends) live like this too and they don't seem to have any trouble with it.

My idyllic life would include a job that actually made a difference to someone, somewhere in the world, and a strong social support network.

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on May 01, 2012
at 12:48 AM

Maria, I can't relate to everything you've said, but I can relate to the internal/external disconnect that is overt success. You have all that it is that supposedly makes you happy, but there is nothing to it. And, you get little sympathy because you cant complain because you have the life others aspire to. And, you look around at those in the same situation and you wonder whether they are happy with their lives. It may be they want that life, it may be they have the same feelings. But, most importantly their BMW is shiny.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:32 AM

"My idyllic life would include a job that actually made a difference to someone, somewhere in the world, and a strong social support network." This is exactly how I feel.

59d367d77f4082717bade07508624db8

(1198)

on May 02, 2012
at 03:34 AM

Living in an expensive city like San Francisco, I see this a lot, friends getting unknowingly trapped in it. They move here with bohemian fantasies, find an apartment, but it's so expensive they have to work at a job they hate 6 days a week, they become miserable and can't enjoy the city they pay so much to live in, and at some point while they're throwing up from migraines they realize they don't remember why they even moved here.

5
A97b68379a576dfa764a4828304d2efb

(4181)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:14 AM

My idyllic life: small, sturdy house in the woods. Land with potable water nearby. My guy in a plaid shirt chopping wood and occasionally walking up behind me to kiss me on the neck. Me hunting with a bow for our dinner (because he couldn't do it and I love him even more for that). A few little cavekids growing up in the sunshine. Garden. Vegetables. Hard work that is good work because it makes something. Showering outside because we're using the bathtub to make whiskey. A really bitchin' insect collection.

Having many more of those moments in the woods when everything is so quiet and right that it feels like there is a tuning fork in my chest.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 10:00 AM

You convinced me - felt incredibly peaceful while reading your answer. It's a shame society convinces us we want so much more than that at the outset, so that--by the time we realize how simply we could be happy--we are so beholden to our various attachments (jobs, debt, social structures...) that such a life is only an idyllic fantasy.

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on May 02, 2012
at 01:13 AM

My smile took a 180 after realizing that this kind of tranquil existence is probably only possible after years and years of working. Oh well. Jai guru deva om.

A97b68379a576dfa764a4828304d2efb

(4181)

on May 02, 2012
at 12:58 AM

Well said, Eric. The student loan debt beast is the killer of all my hopes and dreams.

4
Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:13 AM

Often I think idyllic life would be communal living, hunting, gathering, building shelter, growing vegetables/fruits, digging wells for water, making clothes, etc. Of course, until I've actually tried it for a while, no way to know if I'd like it any better. Goes without saying, you'd have to give up a lot of modern conveniences. I like to think that wouldn't be a problem, but who knows. Few things stopping me from trying it:

  1. I suspect my wife wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as I would
  2. I make a decent living now. We're comfortable, safe, healthy. Hard to give that up without knowing for sure what you're getting into
  3. I'm guessing if there are opportunities like this, the standard of living isn't too high?
  4. Most importantly - I don't think it's fair to make the choice for my kids. Growing up in a place like that, would likely make it difficult for them to move back into "normal" society later in life if they wanted to

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 01, 2012
at 05:45 AM

I agree. Ideal would be to convince a bunch of like minded friends.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 05:10 AM

I'd add another one - you have to live with people who might drive you nuts. With the nuclear family, that's more limited.

4
65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

on May 01, 2012
at 12:19 AM

Make peace with the universe, in whatever manner best suits you. It can be harsh and unforgiving, and the only way to handle that is to accept life for what it is.

3
Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on May 01, 2012
at 05:29 AM

Shortly before becoming Paleo, I went minimalist, can move in a snap...and became a very basic needs sort of guy. (Very, very basic.) Travel light. Live clutter-free, stress free.

Now, my spending consists of...food ,rent, and the occasional gas. Some experiences here and there (tickets for concerts, tough mudder, eating out...) but nothing I own doesn't have a "experience" function. I've even went poo-less, and own less than probably 50 things.

It's advanced me leaps and bounds in enjoying relationships and experiences, rather than...stuff.

People can say, "it's not cozy." (I actually find waking up in a bare, clean, white room ridiculously zen and stress-free.) But although my room is empty, my heart and head are full, and since that's always so close to me, the world is never empty.

My two cents.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:06 AM

Cool. Congrats for taking the plunge.

3
F524eaa9d58e5cd2d2368ff7bfffda9c

(480)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:52 AM

This is the best question/comment ever posted on this board.

Unfortunately the large majority of our society operates in a way which drives forward this big hulking consuming machine.. you can live differently, but it isn't easy.

A practice of 'mindfulness' has been hugely important in my life as I try to live 'against the grain'

3
Medium avatar

(2338)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:47 AM

yeah the lack of community is sad to me... i think it's a lost necessity of the human race. it seems like everyone wants to have 600 friends from behind a computer screen but they don't even get to know their neighbors, that seems so backwards to me. i think the computer is probably one of our greatest inventions and resources but also one of our biggest downfalls. it allows us to share all the information we could ever share with people all over the world basically free of charge. it allows us to connect with people all around the world but it also keeps us from getting to know people in our community and the people we interact with on a daily basis. unfortunately i think we've already passed the point of rehabilitation as a society but on an individual basis you can change and i think you would absolutely feel more fulfilled. im really looking forward to reading marks new book "the primal connection"

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:26 PM

As usual, it comes down to N=1. There's no one idyllic life, perfect social system, etc... just the one that works for you.

3
5d5732f693afb35fa8755b032e75b6d6

on April 30, 2012
at 08:48 PM

Hm. Everyone has a different idea of an idyllic life, but there are definitely ways to get out of the cycle you've described and try something else.

There are intentional communities of people doing this. Try visiting www.ic.org, for a start. I also recommend the periodicals Dwelling Portably and the Caretaker Gazette for different ideas of lodging.

You can also change your life in smaller steps, right where you are. Get a cheaper place to live. Sell your stuff. Switch to part-time work. Sell any car(s) if you own them, and walk/bike/take public transit. It can make each day more lively and interesting, and will obviously cost less, saving you money and allowing you more options.

Beware of big investments/financial drains. For example, if you don't currently have children or own a house, think very carefully before adding that kind of complication.

65bf1ca7071028018c6d8305d0ddcd76

(3049)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:22 PM

It's never too late, ed! As soon as you recognize that you're not fulfilled, you can make a change.. any change will start the ball rolling. Maybe you decide that this is the week you stop putting in 10 hour days (when you're paid for 8), or use your allotted vacation days to make every second week a 3 day weekend... You don't have to do anything drastic until you feel ready, and trust me, even the small steps add up! Sure, you may stumble - but keep "working" towards finding the quality of life you want. Your days should be filled with enjoyment. You can do it! :)

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on April 30, 2012
at 09:08 PM

Thanks for the insights. A bit late for me. I guess I was more musing why as a society we embrace such unfulfilling things.

2
Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:05 AM

This so resonates with me. I had an office job at 70% for four years and it nearly drove me mad. I felt like I was always running around trying to manage my life and family so I could get to that desk and chair to do my job. So I quit and went into business for myself. It was a huge decision that took me ages to make. Since then, I have been able to make the same amount of money in a fraction of the time and I have my freedom - if it's a beautiful day and I don't have any pressing deadlines I can ditch everything and go for a hike. I have time for my kids. Time to prepare decent food for my family. I could go on. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge (and the risk) and hope it works out.

Have you read "The Shallows" by Nicolas Carr? In it he makes the argument that the internet is actually changing our brains - our neural structures are adapting to flitting from one thing to another and multitasking, but as a result we're losing our ability to think long and deeply about things. As a philosopher of sorts, that really disturbs me. There was also an article in the NYT recently about how 3D real relationships with real people are being replaced by little snippets of connection in cyberspace, and how this is not good for the soul. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=opinion

I have written and thought a lot about this. But I'm as addicted to the internet as anyone else. It's hard to know how to find a good balance in the world today.

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on May 01, 2012
at 03:31 PM

Wow. I have to check out that book. I would NOT be surprised if there was solid evidence suggesting that. Also glad that you've found your peace!

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on May 01, 2012
at 01:43 PM

Great article, thanks. Alone together is such an odd state. I do think the 140 character nature of communications has negatively impacted my attention span. I'll check out "The Shallows". Like you, I have these thoughts while sitting at my computer. I'm acutely aware of the irony.

1
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on May 02, 2012
at 01:48 AM

The ideas of simple living have popped up in many places over the years. I think they are inconsistent with many "paleo" ideas, like that freezerful of grass-fed meat, endless crossfit, a whole set of kettleballs, fancy vibram shoes, constant body monitoring. etc. Real simple living wouldn't have all that.

1
870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:15 PM

Hm. Either you are becoming a Buddhist by intuition or you have borderline personality disorder.

At least, those are the two contexts in which I typically encounter people talking about "emptiness."

It's not a trivial inquiry that you make, but I don't know that it's novel. You can draw a straight line from Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, 2500 years ago, through Oblomov and Evgenij Onegin, past Sartre, right down to Peggy Lee ("Is That All There Is?"). It is said that Alexander the Great sat down and wept when he learned that there were no more worlds to conquer.

I'm not seeing your inquiry as particularly "paleo." But maybe that's just me. I'm having a lot of trouble with this sort of thing today.

Seeking a happiness not dependent on conditions is really what it's all about, isn't it?

E4f858a9178422502c42b9719690e52c

(603)

on May 02, 2012
at 11:53 AM

I know more Buddhism than you... Irony?

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:23 AM

Oh, and I haven't even had the chance to point out the similarities between Leibnitz and the _brahma viharas!_

59d367d77f4082717bade07508624db8

(1198)

on May 01, 2012
at 12:39 AM

My first thought when reading the original post was "this person is going to be so relieved when they find buddhism," the whole thing is about escaping the rat race that is chasing happiness.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:21 AM

I don't mind blunt at all, but I'm not a Mahayana Buddhist. I was actually thinking that OP had realized the First and (possibly the) Second Noble Truths on his own. I think that the concept of dukkha is actually very similar to that of poshlost' in _Oblomov_ although I don't believe that Goncharov studied Buddhism (I could be wrong on this point--Tolstoy certainly had a background in Eastern philosophy). The nihilism of Sartre is certainly one historical response to the realization of the unsatisfactoriness of existence. You misrepresent the contents of my post by focusing unduly on Sartre.:)

Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on May 01, 2012
at 12:48 AM

The "emptiness" you find in Buddhism is not nihilism. Sorry to be so blunt, but you misrepresent the concept of śūnyatā with this post.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 02, 2012
at 02:42 PM

Hah, don't claim to know more Buddhism. Do claim to know more Russian literature than most.

1
A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:37 PM

You sound like the Unabomber's manifesto, minus a lot of the crazy.

Edit:

I didn't mean anything rude by my comment. Have you read his manifesto? He talks a lot about the emptiness caused by the modern world. If you take out the "crazy" - for lack of a better term - ed's question is very reminscient of Kaczynski's thesis. Not sure why all the downvotes, but they're uncalled for.

Read it: cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt -- he says basically that we try to assign meaning to a lot of meaningless things because modern society has taken away truly meaningful things.

Or read what philosophy professors from the University of Aberdeen thought about the merits of his argument (again, not a testament to his character): http://www.abdn.ac.uk/philosophy/endsandmeans/vol3no1/kujundzic_mann.shtml

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on April 30, 2012
at 10:07 PM

Hmm... That wasn't quite the effect I was going for.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on May 01, 2012
at 03:12 AM

And for the record, I haven't read the manifesto in about 10 years; around the same time period I read Mein Kampf, The Satanic Bible, etc... everything about that sect of literature is going to be completely superseded by the inherent negative connotations, despite enlightened glimpses contained within. You need to be pretty specific and pretty well-versed about what you're alluding to, to reference one of such bodies of work without automatically discrediting yourself.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:44 PM

What a rude thing to say. I think there are a fair amount of us around here that think about this at least on occasion.

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:45 PM

ditto to raney's comment

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:11 AM

I didn't mean anything rude by that. Have you read his manifesto? He talks a lot about the emptiness caused by the modern world. If you take out the "crazy" - for lack of a better term - ed's question is very reminscient of Kaczynski's thesis. Not sure why all the downvotes, but they're uncalled for.

F524eaa9d58e5cd2d2368ff7bfffda9c

(480)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:57 AM

I find liberal pacifism hugely annoying... I am guilty of it as well...

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:15 AM

Read it: cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt -- he says basically that we try to assign meaning to a lot of meaningless things because modern society has taken away truly meaningful things.

F524eaa9d58e5cd2d2368ff7bfffda9c

(480)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:55 AM

Hi Eric, great point to bring up. That sort of thing is frightening to most people, including myself because it rings TRUE.

45eaf1688c1baf31d687a382b78f451f

(502)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:34 AM

Whoa...dude...I started reading the manifesto and had to stop. It makes sense. Not that this means I'm gonna start planting pipe bombs. The manifesto doesn't sound crazy at all. Of course, it's late and I may think differently in the morning. But yeah, I have to agree with Eric on this one. The Unabomber went off the deep end with the bombings and all, but his manifesto doesn't sound all that crazy.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on May 01, 2012
at 03:02 AM

Fair enough, Eric. I'll restate: I feel like you should have elaborated more if you wanted to invoke anything more than just the negative connotations of said figure.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:12 AM

Also, way to judge me without knowing what you're talking about raney and Violet9.... I spend a pretty good bit of time thinking about this topic.

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on May 01, 2012
at 09:56 AM

I can accept that, Raney - I honestly did not even think anything could be perceived as negative in what I wrote, and wrote it offhand while taking a short break from the work I was doing. I didn't feel the need to elaborate, but I was clearly wrong in that regard. It is definitely a stronger answer with my edits.

0
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on May 01, 2012
at 07:51 PM

You may be suffering from a baby deficiency. I know I am, because every once in a while, somebody brings a baby near me. Babies trigger some sort of soothing biochemical cascade. They are also small and squirmy and need lots of care and attention. Mysteriously they fill up the emptiness. Then they go away and the emptiness returns.

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