Is ignorance bliss?

It is a recurring source of sadness that I now lack belief in non-physical things. I once had a deep enthusiasm for buddhism and a path towards enlightenment. I had fantasies of defying the laws of physics, of trancending the routine mediocrity of life.

But now, it seems enlightenment means finding out that existence is random, accidental, and chaotic. And that the human race is well into it’s downfall, and that no matter how advanced technology is… mortality is as inevitable as it always was. I will be dead some time in the next sixty or so years. And I won’t be alive to know what being dead feels like.

I can definitely understand where you are coming from with your outlook. I was much happier when I was 5 and believed in the supernatural. Things like time travel, ghosts and Santa Claus were all posible in my mind. Now I just feel disenchanted.

I don’t know. :stuck_out_tongue:

Now that that’s out of the way… Humanity has been in a “downfall” for forever. Every generation looks at the next and says “We’re leaving this to them? We’re doomed.” Even if we don’t kill ourselves off, eventually every living thing in the universe will die.

I’m not sure what you meant by ‘ignorance’ in his case. Optimism? Religion? The mere hope that maybe you won’t disappear from existence when your physical body stops working? I suppose I have a bit of that myself (short term only - robot bodies and digital brain recordings. Nothing that’ll help when space and time collapse back into a singularity), but I can’t say I have faith in it; I don’t take comfort because I’ve got a brine tank waiting for me. All I hope for is that when my time comes I’ll have followed the old camping adage: “Leave your space in a better state than you found it.”

So, you’ve got 60 years to have fun. And, who cares that you won’t be alive to know what being dead feels like? Deal with that issue when it arises. Random, accidental, and chaotic is interesting - so many possibilities. And, I see no reason to believe that the human race is well into its downfall. It’s still in its infancy as far as I see it.

Yes, ignorance is bliss if you can pull it off!

I know all of the little things that people are up to around me, and I can see the big picture…they’re happier believing that I don’t know. I’m happier forgetting about it and playing my part.

No. Ignorance is not bliss. As Duke Leto Atreides said in Dune, “Knowing a trap is the first step to avoiding it” (paraphrased). Since you know that humanity is doomed, maybe you can do something. You could vote for Nader.

Maybe knowing something is unpleasant, but not knowing it doesn’t make it not true. And if you know the unpleasant truth you might be able to do something about it, which you would be able to if you didn’t know it.

I believe that no one was happy when they were five. When people think about the time they were 5 they only think about the lack of responsibilities. They do not think about the time they cried for hours when they were not allowed to put a shiny object in their mouth or the time they could not figure out why they were not allowed to eat ice cream everyday.

Ignorance is only a bliss when things will always go your way. If they don’t, what then? Nothing, because you are too ignorant to fix them.

It is very cruel that someone makes you believe in a mystical place when no such thing exists. How will you ever find out anyway, you’ll be dead by then.

There is good to this. Few people are tough enough to deal with the truth. If it was inevitable, would you tell a child he is going to be tortured? You have to decide if you can handle it. If not, there is no shame in living in a fantasy, you are in good company. Lots of people lie to themselves because they can’t deal with reality. Just don’t brainwash others into giving up reality, don’t build a neverland ranch and don’t ever become helpless .

The more I learn about life and those living it, the more disappointed I become. When I knew less about the realities of the world and how it works, I was much happier.

I’ve been fairly despondent about things for many years - the almost certain lack of a recognizable afterlife, the inability to ever fully communicate with a fellow sentient being, the general lack of humanity or kindness in people (often including myself…) etc.

But the novelty of having a consciousness and at least the illusion of free will is cheering albeit for only 70-odd years. I could have been born a pebble or something, and while that would be a relaxing untroubled existence, it doesn’t sound much fun…

At least there’s booze and conversation :slight_smile: .

If I looked at it like that I guess I’d be despondent too.

It’s up to you if you want to be happy in life. It’s a decision as much as anything else, but it doesn’t come without effort.

Well Lobsang, you have gained knowledge in hearing and rote learning. But you have wisdom in the recognition of cynicism. You have not obliterated the magic, you have just come to a transitory point --evolving and turning, arising and falling away-- having scaled the sunny side of the mountain you must now descend the shadow side into the fertile valley. Perhaps the wisdom and return you seek is in decrease rather than gain.

Maybe these texts will help in contemplation:

Tao te Ching, Verse 12
Tao te Ching, Verse 20

I know that if I were my dog, I’d be much better off emotionally. So yes, it is bliss.

I was just about to respond that there are so many wonderful things to see and experience and do in this lifetime, and how I wished I had 60 more years on this planet.

And then you had to say that!


Just so you know, the original saying was Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. It by no means its saying that ignorance is always bliss.

Falling out of delusion can be disorienting, but I hope in retrospect you’ll come to see it as a source of happiness. Instead of the universe, or some diety, forcing some one-size-fits-all meaning on you, you are now free to find your own custom-fit meaning in life.

I, for one, find it in the love of friends, the intrinsic wonder and majesty of the universe, in fighting entropy, and yes in fighting ignorance.

And when you finally find bliss in ignorance, somebody has to come along and tell you the truth. Sheesh, Askance.

Welcome to **The Straight Dope: **
Stamping Out Bliss since 1973.

What makes you sad about humanity being in its downfall? If we get that, we deserve that. No organism can crap up its nest forever, consequence-free.

Jim and I came up with an idea that might make you feel better - we theorize that modern people being so self-centred and thoughtless of other people is actually a survival mechanism. People who are thoughtful and caring are a dying breed, because the world we are creating will be too hard for them to take. Isn’t that enough to make you glad you’re not going to be around 50 years from now? In other words, everything changes.

That’s just your definition of enlightenment. But even so, how does that preclude belief in non-physical things? If existence is so random and accidental, what’s to prevent you from one day defying the laws of physics?

Again, in your opinion. Has it ever occured to you that thinking like this is evidence of your continued ignorance, rather than evidence of any enlightenment? In which case, the answer to your question would be “no”?

Listen to this woman, Lobsang.

Personally, I find that the more I examine life (the universe, and everything) the more wonder I feel at the world around me – and the more I want to keep learning. Sure, there are disappointments, but the true surprise to me has been the fact that there is so much more good than bad. Cynicism is a cop-out; it’s lazy. “There is no way to happiness: happiness is the way.” There’s your Buddhism. If you no longer find that to be true, I don’t think you can really blame anyone or anything but yourself. Like Indygrrl says, it’s not easy: I know I’m coming across like some Pollyanna, but I have my bad days and my frustrations with humanity just like everyone else. It’s just that I try to keep a general perspective, and when I look at existence as a whole there’s just too much to be pleased with to give in to the clamoring trolls of negativity.

Clamoring trolls of negativity? WTF?? Oh well…

No matter how far you turn from the mystery of life, it continues. With or without you, it exists. Look for it and it will be there. Turn away and it is still there. Try to supplant the magic and it plans greater mysteries. Magical is right in front of you. Drop the front and find that magic permeates.