6 Jun 2012

Purpose, happiness, and Buddhism

Days with nothing to do are not always great.  Last weekend wasn’t great either.  There wasn’t anything specific that made me feel less-than-happy, but I wasn’t consciously happy either.  Monday morning, in the time between the start of my commute and the end of it, my mind had come back to its normal happiness.  Because there was work to do; something meaningful to do.  Looks like the mind needs to see some purpose in how I spend my time to decide to be happy in general.

This reminded me immediately of Poythevu, one of my favourite Tamil novels.  The title would translate to False God.  The crux of the novel is that each mind is seeking its own false god, and a minds that knows its false god is at peace because it has something to attain to.  My false god yesterday was the pending work I had to complete.

In sharp contrast is the Buddhist thought on purpose.  Alan Watts says “Fundamental principle in Buddhism is ‘no purpose’.  When you drop fart, you don’t say, at 9 o’ clock I dropped fart.  It happened of itself.”  If practising Buddhism means training oneself to renounce all purpose in life, that’s going to be a dramatic shift for someone like me.


  1. Although, there's a lot to be said for having days with nothing to do... For something to look forward to whilst I am being purposeful if nothing else!

    1. True. There must be more dimensions to the reality than what I see here.

  2. I always thought it was "At 9 o'clock I drop fart," as in planning it ahead of time.