Happy are those who know they
  are spiritually poor;
 the Kingdom of heaven belongs
  to them!

Happy are those who mourn;
  God will comfort them!

Happy are those who are humble;
  they will receive what God has

Happy are those whose greatest
    desired is to do what God
  God will satisfy them fully!

Happy are those who are merciful
    to others;
  God will be merciful to them!

Happy are the pure in heart;
  they will see God!

Happy are those who work for peace;
  God will call them his children!

Happy are those who are
    persecuted because they do
    what God requires;
  the Kingdom of heaven belongs
    to them!

Matthew 5, verses 3 to 10.

So many times I see religion as a poor justification for violence and hatred. I wonder if these people were ever taught that religion is meant to be happy? The whole point of faith (to me in the least) is be joyful!

I think it's important that being happy was the first lesson of The Sermon on the Mount. You have the power to choose to be happy; what good is life without happiness?

These words make me happy

If you hold your head up in pride,
You arrogance will draw everyone away,
and you will hold up your head before no one,
Only to droop it down in loneliness,

If you keep your gold to yourself,
In your vault it will remain,
And continue to be useless,

If you exercise power and dominance over others,
Their hearts will cry out in freedom,
And at the first opportunity they will break away
Leaving you with no power, and alone

If you help a child get an education,
You will bring light where there was ignorance,
you will help them, and their children,
and they will thank you throughout their lives,

When then lieth happiness?
In selfishness or other centeredness?

"And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world's multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization
1998 film directed by Todd Solondz. There isn't a single happy thing in this movie. Like Welcome to the Dollhouse, Solondz's last film, Happiness is harsh, and cringe-inducing. It tells the story of three sisters: One is married to a pedophile; another dates men who use her; and the third is carrying on a phonesex relationship with a crank caller.

To quote a friend, the film is unrelenting. Solondz portrays the pedophile character as an otherwise normal guy who happens to enjoy drugging and raping his son's friends, and it's torture to watch -- it would have been easier if the guy had been some kind of greasy, disfigured monster.

A notable feature of the film is its depiction of semen -- I've never seen so much outside of a porn flick. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a sweaty, twisted pervert who calls up women on the phone while masturbating and verballly abuses them. (After ejaculating, he hangs up and sticks pieces of paper to his wall with his spooge.) When he gets one of the sisters on the phone, she turns out to enjoy the abuse.

The third sister, in comparison, is easier to watch: she's simply a spinless, unhappy woman who dates men who steal from her.

There's plenty more to this movie to make you cringe -- imagine all the angst of a depressing German movie honed to a really sharp point and drilling in to your forehead for the entire duration of the film.

This film was not rated in the United States, and Blockbuster has declined to carry it.

Back to The Dhammapada

Chapter Fifteen -- Happiness

  1. Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst
    the hostile. Amidst hostile people we dwell
    free from hatred.
  2. Happy indeed we live, unafflicted amidst
    those afflicted (by craving). Amidst afflicted
    people we dwell free from affliction.
  3. Happy indeed we live, free from avarice
    amidst the avaricious. Amidst avaricious people
    we dwell free from avarice.
  4. Happy indeed we live, we who possess
    nothing. Feeders on joy we shall be, like the
    Radiant Gods.
  5. Victory begets enmity, the defeated dwell
    in pain. Happily the peaceful live, discarding
    both victory and defeat.
  6. There is no fire like lust and no crime
    like hatred. There is no ill like the aggregates
    (of existence) and no bliss higher than the
    peace (of Nibbana).
  7. Hunger is the worst disease, conditioned
    things the worst suffering. Knowing this as it
    really is, the wise realize Nibbana,
    the highest bliss.
  8. Health is the highest gain and contentment
    the greatest wealth. A trustworthy person
    is the best kinsman, Nibbana the highest bliss.
  9. Having savoured the taste of solitude
    and peace, pain-free and stainless they become,
    drinking deep the taste of the bliss of Truth.
  10. Good it is to see the Noble Ones, to
    live with them is ever blissful. One will always
    be happy by not encountering fools.
  11. Indeed, they who move in the company
    of fools grieve for long. Association with fools
    is ever painful, like partnership with an enemy.
    But happy is association with the wise, like
    meeting one's own kin.
  12. Therefore, follow the Noble One, who
    is steadfast, wise, learned, dutiful and devout.
    One should follow only such a person, who is truly
    good and discerning, even as the moon follows
    the path of the stars.
Happiness is a film which, despite the sickening overtones, is just hysterical. I think a lot of people just aren't patient enough to get it, either that or they just don't think in the way Todd Solondz, the director does, one iota. This film wasn't designed to be sick or perverted, though it comes across that way. A lot of your friends will think you are strange for liking this movie, but it's beautiful, it really is.

Solondz himself describes Happiness as a series of intertwining love stories, stories of connections missed and made between people, how people always struggle to make a connection, and to what degree they succeed or don't.
"Love" stories... what an interesting description. Depending on your mood, you will either be horrified (by the wrenching scene where a psychiatrist confesses his paedophilia to his ten year old son), or you will find yourself giggling, or you may find yourself feeling empty. You get to see a lot of the ugliness that comes along with beauty. And indeed, a bit of the beauty that comes along with ugliness. Or you will find yourself one of the many people who simply do not get the movie, and don't care to.

The storyline is very complex, there are about a dozen central characters, not one of them more outstanding than another. Most distressing was the character, equal amounts family man, therapist, and paedophile, who participates in the most disturbing father/son dialogue ever captured on film. The thing which strikes me about the movie is, that no matter how disgusting we find these people, no matter how dysfunctional they seem at times, we all act like them on occasion, some of us daily. So, for me, the people who don't understand this movie, or rather do not want to, are partly denying that which we really are.


As I find myself doing a lot these days I was having a think earlier about my parents, my relationship to them, my feelings regarding them and so forth, and this beaten track, familiar line of thought led me to some other paths I began to explore, to putting a small comparative study of various parenting styles together in my head, based on a few years of informal observation. Much of the following will probably relate to me in a pretty big way but bear with me.

There is fundamentally little difference between an authoritative parent and one who wants their kids' best friend. Yes the last part of that sentence is missing a couple of words but it looks better that way. So anyway, the different kinds of relationship somebody can have with their parents is mainly down to the .. I hate to use the term 'child', seeing as people of all ages have parents, but it will have to do. So it's dependant on the child, and more accurately their gender, if gender has anything to do with the kind of person somebody is, which it almost definetely does. This factor is more essential to the question because the kind of person somebody is (this is clearly not a scientific study and was never intended to be, but for now it explains certain things for me relatively elegantly) will affect how they respond to their environment.

Since I first started living apart from my parents, I've noticed two major changes in my head and my life: firstly I'm noticing that this is a great position to evaluate aspects of my life from, probably because I'm no longer on the inside of certain parts of my life.. and secondly my father seems to be beginning to trust me, and more significantly respect me. We have always had a great relationship- sporadically, intercut with periods of fury or indifference, but now I am approximately a grown man he seems to be speaking to me as an equal. Now we put up fences together as opposed to me helping him put up fences. This change has been very interesting for me as I now know my dad as having being both a patriarch and a friend.

There are definite fundamental differences between men and women and nobody should ever apologise for thinking so. It is a very complicated subject and nobody is ever 1 or 0, most of us will be somewhere on a spectrum within the normal distribution range, but on the whole, men will mainly be found more towards one side of the scale, and women will group together on the other side, (like elephants)- women tend to be better with people, and men tend to be better with machinery. There is a reason why professions in which problem solving skills and spatial awareness are an advantage are dominated by men (there are female mechanics but in my experience they seem to think more like men than women- though if I recall correctly, there are no female pilots who work for commercial airlines.)

Men (and any further use of general terms like 'men' and 'women' and 'negroes' should be regarded as general terms, statistically typical cases) like the world to be a certain way, and have a vague-to-definite idea about what they would like it to look like. A man will spend a considerable chunk of his life on making his environment more comfortable or practical or economical, to improve it in some way, in baby steps or bounds.

Until my teenage years I got on very well with my parents, never saw any reason to be deliberately antagonistic towards them. If I ever pissed my parents off as a kid it was just a kid being a kid and there was never anything malicious behind any of it. Then a surreal pocket of time sucked me into it which drove me to do things like whack off until I bled, and predictably enough it was around this time that my parents seemed to be beginning to exert unreasonable levels of control on me. In retrospect it seems that they were trying to allow me more freedoms and space over that time but I hadn't given them any reason to trust me and plenty of reason not to. It looked at the time like I was giving them the continent and they were demanding the hemisphere, but all it was was a lot of unnecessary anger which could have been avoided completely had I been more mature.

The interesting thing is though, that they've never bothered to try to control my sister, which is because she has always been happy to do what they ask of her anyway. My sister is one of the happiest people I have ever known, completely relaxed in her environment all the time. She shares a frequency with my parents I suppose, which my brothers and I probably do not.

It's like this free energy idea that's being thrown around these days, that unhappiness comes out of frustration, which comes out of the difference between what we would like the world to look like and the world we are presented with. I don't know what sense they mean 'energy' in, I think it's supposed to be an abstract concept. I'm also not sure how much support this idea has but it seems to explain some things in a way that probably means nothing at all.

So boys have a certain way they want the world to be and when we find the world doesnt look like we want it to it pisses us off. My sister's advantage seems to be that she has been pre tuned into the world she was to be born into, prenatally.

Middle age, close to retirement, his kids are all grown up and he maybe has a couple of grandchildren, the house is all paid for, he has found an occupation that satisfies him.. this is almost invariably the situation that I see the happiest men I know in, living off the fruit that grew out of the stuff they've worked for all their life and their genetic code in safe hands. The exceptions are either actually miserable on the inside or they have found a better way for themselves but the principle remains the same.

It's about letting your environment be what it is, and just enjoying the view, because complaining achieves practically nothing. To a point of course, starving to death in a pool of your own faeces, losing all your teeth, that can't be much fun. I mean as far as learning to work with what you have rather than wishing you were in a more comfortable situation. We can be exactly as happy with life as we want to be. Abraham Lincoln said an approximation to that.

Hap"pi*ness, n. [From Happy.]


Good luck; good fortune; prosperity.

All happiness bechance to thee in Milan! Shak.


An agreeable feeling or condition of the soul arising from good fortune or propitious happening of any kind; the possession of those circumstances or that state of being which is attended enjoyment; the state of being happy; contentment; joyful satisfaction; felicity; blessedness.


Fortuitous elegance; unstudied grace; -- used especially of language.

Some beauties yet no precepts can declare, For there's a happiness, as well as care. Pope.

Syn. -- Happiness, Felicity, Blessedness, Bliss. Happiness is generic, and is applied to almost every kind of enjoyment except that of the animal appetites; felicity is a more formal word, and is used more sparingly in the same general sense, but with elevated associations; blessedness is applied to the most refined enjoyment arising from the purest social, benevolent, and religious affections; bliss denotes still more exalted delight, and is applied more appropriately to the joy anticipated in heaven.

O happiness! our being's end and aim! Pope.

Others in virtue place felicity, But virtue joined with riches and long life; In corporal pleasures he, and careless ease. Milton.

His overthrow heaped happiness upon him; For then, and not till then, he felt himself, And found the blessedness of being little. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

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