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Socrates – a man for our times | Books | The Guardian.
via Socrates – a man for our times | Books | The Guardian.
The Death of Socrates, 1787, by Jacques Louis David. Photograph: World History Archive/Alamy
Two thousand four hundred years ago, one man tried to discover the meaning of life. His search was so radical, charismatic and counterintuitive that he become famous throughout the Mediterranean. Men – particularly young men – flocked to hear him speak. Some were inspired to imitate his ascetic habits. They wore their hair long, their feet bare, their cloaks torn. He charmed a city; soldiers, prostitutes, merchants, aristocrats – all would come to listen. As Cicero eloquently put it, “He brought philosophy down from the skies.”
For close on half a century this man was allowed to philosophise unhindered on the streets of his hometown. But then things started to turn ugly. His glittering city-state suffered horribly in foreign and civil wars. The economy crashed; year in, year out, men came home dead; the population starved; the political landscape was turned upside down. And suddenly the philosopher’s bright ideas, his eternal questions, his eccentric ways, started to jar. And so, on a spring morning in 399BC, the first democratic court in the story of mankind summoned the 70-year-old philosopher to the dock on two charges: disrespecting the city’s traditional gods and corrupting the young. The accused was found guilty. His punishment: state-sponsored suicide, courtesy of a measure of hemlock poison in his prison cell.
April L. Bogle: The Role of Happiness in the World Religions.
via April L. Bogle: The Role of Happiness in the World Religions.
It’s hard to deny that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and the world’s most famous Buddhist, is the also world’s foremost expert on happiness. He clearly states in writings that seeking happiness is the very purpose of life, and he’s dedicated his life to learning how to be happy and sharing this knowledge with others.
But what about other major religious traditions? Is happiness a good thing, or bad? To be sought in this life, or the next?
We’re about to find out: The Dalai Lama will explore the concept of happiness with other world religious leaders Oct. 17 at Emory University’s “Summit on Happiness: Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today’s Society.” For two hours, he joins in conversation with Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church, and George Washington University Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Krista Tippett, host of the radio program “Being,” will moderate.
Happiness has been a shining spotlight of psychological and scientific study and pop culture since the 1990s, and it shows no signs of fading (witness Coke’s recent ad campaign, “Open Happiness” and happiness courses being offered in major U.S. universities, following Harvard’s lead). Newsweek (Feb. 2, 2008) pinpoints the happiness movement catalyst to discoveries of brain activity underlying well-being, and the emergence of positive psychology, which focuses on strengths and virtues rather weaknesses and faults when assessing mental health.