Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Do we really want an endless hedonistic lifestyle?

I just read this article this morning.  In it he says:

I once saw a ‘Twilight Zone’ half-hour which I thought was very insightful. A gangster, un-principled even by the standards of his colleagues, was shot to death during a crime. Crossing to the other side, he found himself in a posh apartment accompanied by a butler dressed in all-white street clothes. The place could not have been more to his liking. Beautiful women abounded, his liquor cabinet never wanting; turn on the TV? One of his favorite shows 24 hours a day. He also gambled: ponies, poker and pool; and he never lost, not once.
Then a strange thing happened: he grew bored with everything that had once amused him. In desperation, he turned to his butler and said, “I’m sick of this place! I want to the other place!”

“You mean Hell?”

“Damned right!”

The butler smiled and began to glow. “Why, sir, you’re already there!”
So it turns out, for this individual at least, the punishment of his eternal damnation would consist of being bored forever. A subtle extraction that.
A thorough grounding in Human nature, it seems to me, would lead us to suppose equally boring, equally punishing would be multiple virgins, and singing praises all the day long. It would be the painful equivalent of grape jelly and peanut butter sandwiches three times a day… forever [although for this thought I lack scriptural advocacy]; we need challenge, growth, set-backs, learning, and the like.

I'm not sure what we need, but I am sure that although a non-stop hedonistic lifestyle might be great for weeks, months, or even years -- or in my case decades --  ultimately one would become bored, and worse still deeply unsatisfied. Whether in this life, or an afterlife, an important element of happiness is feeling fulfilled from within. The feeling that your life and all things have an ultimate purpose and you're a very important part of that purpose. That we are striving towards some goal -- some ultimate purpose. That gaining knowledge and understanding about the world and our place in it is part of this quest. And especially the development of an empathic identification with all other beings and realising we're all in it together.

Oops that very last part sounds like a David Cameron soundbite . . but anyway. 

I would imagine that if there is an afterlife we will not be engaged in endless pleasures or any other endless behaviour which goes nowhere.  Rather I would hope that we will grow and develop as spiritual beings.   Perhaps the afterlife realm consists of different levels which we will ascend as our souls develop.   This is not to deny there might be many pleasures  to be experienced, but endless non-varying pleasures will become ultimately tedious.



2 comments:

  1. I agree, the afterlife described by spiritualists sound very unapealing to me.

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  2. I like C S Lewis' version of Paradise the most: more or less the same as what's here except that everything is stonger, sharper.
    Kind of like when you're a child: everything feels so and incredible and "pure". That's what paradise would be like in my opinion.

    I don't think that an afterlife of continuous, repeated pleasure would be paradise neither would being an, always content, interconnected,big ball of light (as some budhist like to describe).

    I think there are some elements of paradise right here, in this world in the smallest moments.
    A good day's work outside,the smell of the forest in the morning, the noises made by people playing outside... but also the less joyful moments like the melancoly of a cloudy day: they are all importants.
    The main thing is not to judge those experiences but accept them all. A bit like a child would.

    I also think that the difficulties and the variety of life are what part of what makes it so great.
    It's by fighting against gravity that I feel so much pleasure and awe reaching for the sky, it's by being a separate being from other humans that I can feel the joy of connecting with another.
    We build ourselves (our identities, our bodies...) from the apparent chaos around us, it's a way to define ourselves.
    I don't think this will ever stop, even in the afterlife.

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