I have been puzzled by a theorem we read in Positive Psychology, “the self is organized around goals.” This concerned me due to my struggles with identity and a historic difficulty selecting goals for myself. I have accomplished big things in the last few years but I bristle at the idea that they constitute who I am.
A goal is to desire something to come about. A postulate of Buddhism is that desire creates suffering. Is the suffering relieved in achieving the desire, or in detaching from it? Is it not in our nature to form a new goal as soon as we have achieved one? The Maslow suggests we might spend more time enjoying achievement. Actually, I think this might be the task of day 4 in Beck diet solution, which I’m working at the moment.
But back to the problem. How do we strive for what we want without inadvertently creating a hell for our self? In Buddhism, the self is but a wave in the ocean. Separation of self from others is a fiction that cannot lead to joy (in a Mormon read of joy as man’s purpose- the Buddhist we heard in Positive Psychology used joy to mean transient pleasure). God’s work and glory is our development. C.S. Lewis included appreciation of the divine in others in his weight of glory.
When we hear individuality is an illusion, we bristle because we imagine others to be dull, when the truth is others imagine themselves as unique and visionary as we do. The tendency to see oneself as unique was a flaw in Daniel Gilbert’s estimation, a distortion that caused people to incorrectly project their future. But if we can understand that everyone is special, that anyone can cook, I think we come closer to a non awful truth.
We must have goals, but the more those goals include the wellbeing of others, the happier we will be. If only we can do it without infringing on the freedom of others, which brings me to my postcard. The history of gods, as Caleb argues, is it the divinity of the creator or the creature? (Which makes this particular story a tragedy).
image: Ex Machina, 2015, Universal Pictures