Your OP and later answer to me contain both a level of easy chat and some profound approach to existence. And for me it's a pleasant change from my
self-appointed ATS role as watchdog for liberal society against the onslaughts of extremism to just 'flow' for once on a thread.
I have some almost 'conversational' directions towards your thoughts.
When I almost 50 years ago took my final examinations in the local equalent of college, one option in language/literature was "what is happiness". I
chose another option, because I at that time didn't have an inkling on how to answer, except on the subjects of getting laid, drunk or being
'somebody'. Directions I don't believe the examinators would have appreciated.
Later in life I have been sufficiently laid, drunk and for a short while a minor 'somebody', but not being of the material from which hedonists are
made and also possessing an insatiable intellectual curiosity, this wasn't enough, so I started looking further into other weird, wondrous and wild
options. Along the way, and amongst other things, giving me acquaintance with buddhism, in which a semi-divine hierarchy is presented, in which 'gods'
(as a result of good behaviour, however defined) spend a certain period of hedonistic bliss on some kind of astral level as a 'karmic reward'.
More later than that another buddhistic level of asking unanswerable questions manifested for me. This time the question of the relationship between
'ultimate reality/absolute truth' (in all its innumerable versions depending on doctrine) and the mundane 'reality' most of us participate in and
'believe in' to some extent.
In Mahayana buddhism beautifully compressed to the almost equation-like simplicity of:
"Nirvana (transcendent reality) = Samsara (illusionary mundane 'reality)"
Much theology, cosmogony, cosmology and philosophy can be put forth on this 'equation', but to cut it short the really interesting and important part
of it is the '=' sign, where I take the stance, that '=' means the perspective of awareness/consciousness/mind. In the inimitable and oversimplified
lingo of new-agers: 'An observer-created existence'.
In usual language: Things (visible existence) exist by and through the existence of other things. Life, as we generally know it, is a question of
So the maze shifts because of the way we and it relate to each other, in ever changing and dynamically growing patterns. There are no absolutes inside
it, and all postulates of being able to formulate ultimate absolutes from the maze-inside are just so many wild and fanatic guesses (probably
originating from psychological mindsets, rather than knowledge per se).
Lofty? Not really, I think. This answer to your OP simply says, that 'answers' will vary depending on who are asking them and how they are formulated.
It's full circle in a way; you ask from a position of general 'pleasure' in life, I ask from a position of very abstract speculations. None of us have
any absolute reference-point leading to ultimate reality. But we do have rather good maps of our respective 'territories'
(pleasure/non-pleasure....logic, science/subjective guesses.... can be good beacons in 'local' contexts). I'm not taking relativism to absurd
PS I have some far from conclusive working hypotheses about a way out of the maze.
edit on 12-1-2011 by bogomil because: spelling