Mad to think that North Korea is now the freest country in the world:
-no social media
-internet is a niche/specialist use
-no corporatist consumerist culture
Well no, obviously thinking about different types of freedom; they lack a lot of individual rights such as movement or expression. But one wonders how much they miss it. No, a large number do try and escape (but are they lured by desperation? Their vision of the outside world?). I watched the Michael Palin documentary recently, and I’m sure to some degree what you got to see was manufactured, but you couldn’t help but get the impression the people you saw were mostly content. At the least the government runs a very effective brainwashing program. But you wonder, if they’ve got enough food on the table how much their lives really need to be changed. Will they be enriched by becoming part of the globohomo(genous) world economy?
Anyway, that all relates to what I was thinking about contentedness lately. I figured at least from my perspective the most fundamental aspects to living at peace is firstly attaining a reasonable level of comfort, then letting go of anxieties and realising most things just don’t matter that much, and being content with your situation, and balancing all that with working towards goals and achieving your potential.
I read an idea recently that I thought was quite interesting, which suggested that despite the great disparity in material comfort between the modern age and medieval times, people were ‘happier’ then. The thing is back then religion permeated daily life, and in the medieval psych, the spiritual world was just as much a reality as the present one; so whatever you went through in this life, you had the promise of salvation in the next. It makes sense to me, although it’s probably not as simple as that.
I think in most forms of modern Christianity this line of thinking gets neglected, which kind of contrasts to Eastern religions (or at least how they are portrayed).
So this led me to thinking about Eastern religions, because I’m far less familiar with this; my understanding more or less extends to karma and reincarnation and how hippies and psychologists have co-opted the meditation and mindfulness and all that. But I know this theme of, well, being content is the best way I can think to put it - plays a big part. Come to think of it I know very little about Taoism and I think I tend to associate it with the folk religions and the interesting collections of statues you see in the temples, but I don’t think it’s really about it. I was having a cursory read on Wikipedia and apparently there are a lot of parallels between Taoism and Buddhism, and in Chinese history they in many ways kind of played opposites with Confucianism.
I wonder if anyone here has a good understanding of them? I’ve been thinking about what the major ideas are and how they influence the common practitioner’s values and way of thinking and all that, particularly in history.