Weeks 1-2: Thinking
1. Five Fold Happiness
a. Good fortune is central to all aspects of Chinese culture and life; by
layering their lives with symbols of luck, the Chinese believe that they
increase their chances of happy existence.
b. Five happinesses
1. Embodies status, honor, and advancement to high
office; “lu” literally means high salary. High importance
of education, because passing exams means
advancement to high office
1. Most highly esteemed
iv. Double happiness
1. Synonymous with marital bliss, and it is related to
1. Prosperity attained through business; desire for wealth
c. MY OPINION: These five happinesses make it seem as if the Chinese
have a very restricted view of what is required to make a happy life.
While these aspects may provide happiness for one person, group, or
culture of people, they may not provide the same fulfillment for
others. Finally, while these aspects provide happiness in the future,
besides longevity, the happinesses don’t offer a way to supply long-
term fulfillment/contentment. This can be contrasted with the
fulfillment gained through experience of Siddhartha, who was never
satisfied in the present and always attempted to improve his current
state by constantly searching for that which would allow him to gain
true enlightenment. He had a goal to attain; he had a purpose in life.
Five Fold Happiness somewhat overlooks the idea of having a purpose
and instead looks to provide general happiness in the average
2. How Should One Read a Book?
a. Read books without preconceived notions of the way a reading should
be and without preconceived biases. Open your mind by “becoming
the author” rather than attempting to argue with him.
b. Understand the writer’s struggle by attempting to write about a
fleeting moment. Then turn to one of the greats and admire how
beautifully they portray their scenes and with what variety.
c. Another aim is to read books “not to throw light on literature, not to
become familiar with famous people, but to refresh and exercise our
own creative powers.” Read fiction because it’s fun and refreshing. d. However, we cannot sympathize completely with our readings. “We
learn through feeling.” Judgment is bound to be passed, and though
these judgments are not worth us, as we are deserving not of the high
class of critics, our judgments do have the ability to influence critics.
e. “Are there not some pursuits that we practice because they are good
f. MY OPINION: I thoroughly agree with the ideas put forth by this
author. Too many times people approach not only works of art or
readings, but also various situations and people, with preconceived
judgments that prevent learning. While it is true that not everything
should be absorbed as fact/knowledge without examination, it is
important to examine things not only from the point of view that they
must be false, but also from the point of view that they can be true.
3. Short stories of Marcel Proust
a. The author’s fantasies of the room with the beautiful scent and the
other hints of beauty that existed and emanated from the room
clouded/ informed his vision of the good life. An aspiration of what
was better made him idealize the beauty of the room and its
inhabitants. He continues to remember the beauty of it, and he
remembers with positivity in contrast to the putrid smell of the rest of
b. MY OPINION: The dude had some wacky fantasy because he smelled
something. Maybe he was high? On a serious note, making a positive
impression can leave someone with a positive outlook on various
situations that they are involved in. An optimistic outlook leaves a
greater impression and more positive memories.
4. History of Herodotus
a. King Croesus of Sardis asked Solon who was “the most blessed of all.”
Both of Solon’s responses were of men who had died splendidly: the
first died in glory, fighting in battle, while the second most blessed
were brothers who died pulling the wagon of their mother.
b. Solon valued those who had brought their lives to an end well.
c. Croesus later realized that Solon was right when he was about to be
burned alive by Cyrus.
d. Lesson: Don’t judge the blessings of a man until his work is done; he
that has enough for the day is no less fortunate than he that has plenty
of riches. It is greater to be lucky than to be rich, because though
riches can cure the visitation of evil, luck prevents it in the first place.
e. MY OPINION: While being rich can certainly help, it isn’t the only thing
in life. It is more important to do good deeds, good deeds for other
people, and live a good life: by helping others, teaching others,
realizing where wisdom truly resides, and heeding that wisdom that is
5. The Roots of Ayurveda
a. 3 ambitions of a robust, intelligent man looking for a good life
i. Will for life 1. When ya ain’t got life, ya got nuthin…Safeguard your life
ii. Drive for prosperity
1. Ain’t nothin worse than a long life with no stuff. Get a
good respectable job.
iii. Aspiration for the world beyond
iv. Many become non-believers because it is beyond the
perceptible, but the wise man realizes that there is so much
beyond the senses that it would be unreasonable to cast aside
the knowledge that