Thursday, 8 April 2010

On expensive things revisited (Epicurus' take)

(sorry folks this font and formatting is driving me crazy too. its been at least 5 rewriting attempts and so IT idiot me now decides to give up and present it as is. Blame it on fate and Blogger then.)

Apparently Epicurus had, 2,000 years ago, reached a similar better conclusion:

That the ratio between Wealth or Expensive Things ("belongings" - which i find is such a sad word) and Happiness gained is heavily imbalanced, exponentially so as more emphasis is placed on wealth. 

(sorry still not very good at all at describing charts and graphs - it will have to speak for itself then)

Such that the "quid pro quo" of acquiring wealth beyond essential and necessary needs is often at no great help and perhaps even at detriment to one's true happiness (time with loved ones, appreciating what we already have, treating people fairly and equitably etc...)

As an aside, On work, i would like to be rewarded for my effort and hard work, not for my Machiavellian machinations and petty-minded bullying of others. I refuse to believe it is a zero-sum game. Life is not.

So is the pursuit of wealth worth it? Its your call. (we all have our different circumstances and trade-offs to consider after-all)

Epicurus does uses "pleasure" but one senses this has more a spiritual/mental, as opposed to material dimension to it. And spiritual pleasure (being rich in the spirit) lies in being Good, and living deliberately and consciously, thinking, and reflecting. And being at peace and accountable to oneself and one's principles.

For Epicurus himself said, "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life."

To end off, "One must regard wealth beyond what is natural as of no more use as water to a container that is full to overflowing" (and it is by no means a huge container...)

Khalil Gibran has this to add "And what is the fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst that when your well is full, the (very) thirst that is unquenchable?"

p/s: may i very self-indulgently add here: see what i mean by "cheating the system" and calling the bluff (saying enough is enough), because the greatest trick this system has ever played on us is that we will never have enough? Actually, for me, it is only now that i see it clearly and beyond doubt, after by sheer luck bumping into Epicurus.

Certainly not quite what the advertisers would have you believe an Epicurean life is about:

(to be honest, this made me lol. Rich folks are welcome to scorn me as a country bumpkin, by the way - it may be true, but what does it matter - does it make me a less-worthy person to be looked down upon? If so, so be it.) 

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