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Featured What’s the Difference Between Physical and Spiritual Happiness?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Trailblazer, Nov 24, 2022.

  1. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and as luck would have it I just got this article yesterday which will hopefully aid in a discussion.

    What Is Physical Happiness?

    Abdu’l-Baha wrote: The physical happiness is limited; its utmost duration is one day, one month, one year.

    This fleeting feeling of physical happiness comes from four neurochemicals: dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin, and serotonin.

    “Dopamine produces the joy of finding things that meet your needs—the ‘Eureka! I got it!’ feeling. Endorphin produces oblivion that masks pain—often called euphoria. Oxytocin produces the feeling of being safe with others—now called bonding. Serotonin produces the feeling of being respected by others—pride,” explained Dr. Loretta Graziano Breunig in her book, “Habits of a Happy Brain.”

    For example, we feel a surge of dopamine when we taste a really good meal for the first time, endorphins after a new strenuous and satisfying workout, oxytocin from hugging a loved one, and serotonin after a big promotion.

    But, the happy feeling that each of these neurochemicals gives us is temporary.

    What Is Spiritual Happiness?

    Abdu’l-Baha said: The physical happiness of material conditions was allotted to the animal. …This is the honor of the animal kingdom.

    But the honor of the human kingdom is the attainment of spiritual happiness in the human world, the acquisition of the knowledge and love of God. The honor allotted to man is the acquisition of the supreme virtues of the human world. This is his real happiness and felicity.

    Our true happiness is based on our spiritual behavior. When we know and love God and acquire all the virtues that we will need in the next world, we make it possible for our souls to “find happiness both in this world and the next.” This eternal spiritual happiness appears when our hearts are illuminated with the light of the love of God.

    https://bahaiteachings.org/What’s the Difference Between Physical and Spiritual Happiness?

    The above excerpt from an article applies to anything in this physical world that makes us happy, but since the topic of sex has been a hot topic on this forum lately I would like to share what I believe about it. I have argued that sex act is a physical act that is engaged in for physical pleasure, while some others have argued it is spiritual. I do not believe the sex act is spiritual, not according to my understanding of spiritual, as noted above.

    The effect of the sex act upon the body is an established scientific fact.

    Does sex release happy chemicals?

    Sexual intimacy can also help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression as it triggers the release of three mood-boosting chemicals — dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. Feb 22, 2021
    6 health benefits of sex

    Sure, people are happy during and for a short time after sex, but people are also happy from drinking alcohol or taking drugs that induce happiness. Are those spiritual experiences? Granted, there can be a component of love with sexual expression, so that is a difference. However, sex is still a physical act that is unrelated to knowing and loving God or acquiring spiritual virtues, so I cannot see how it could possibly lead to spiritual happiness as defined above, although it does not necessarily thwart spiritual happiness.
     
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  2. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    In that thread Homosexuality and Religion where I watched you and Dymbh it was talked about how physical unhappiness can lead to spiritual unhappiness. When one is left feeling unfulfilled in one aspect of their life and fall into depression, they will likely become angry and resentful and fall from grace, leading them to fall from spiritual happiness as well.

    So, even if sex is just a physical happiness, why does that matter? That doesn't mean someone should partake in abstinence if they don't feel comfortable with abstinence.

    And to compare sex to drugs? That's a bad comparison. Drugs have negative effects on the body and mind, sex (when done safely) not so.
     
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  3. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    I agree that physical unhappiness can lead to spiritual unhappiness. As physical beings that inhabit a physical body, we process our feelings through the brain, and the brain is connected to the mind and soul, so whatever affects the brain affects the soul. All happiness, including spiritual happiness, is psychological, since it originates in the mind and affects the mental and emotional state of a person.

    I also agree that depression can lead to spiritual unhappiness. I know that only too well, and that is in the Baha'i Writings.

    “In this world we are influenced by two sentiments, Joy and Pain.
    Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.”

    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 109-110
    I am not suggesting anyone should be abstinent and that is not a Baha'i teaching. All I am saying is that people should not be forced to have sex if they don't have any desire to have sex and then be looked down upon by society just because they are 'different.'

    The Baha'i teachings encourage us to take part in the 'good things' that God has provided for us, and sex is one of those things.

    “Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful.”

    Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 276
    The comparison I was making was the effect they both have on brain chemistry and thus on happiness.
    Both drugs and sex can induce happiness.

    "Sure, people are happy during and for a short time after sex, but people are also happy from drinking alcohol or taking drugs that induce happiness."

    Some drugs have negative effects upon the body and some drugs have positive effects.
    Some sex has negative effects upon the body and some sex has positive effects.
     
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  4. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    I agree, nobody should be forced to have sex if they don't want to. I don't think society looks down at people who choose to not have sex, do they? I mean, back in high school I remember people making fun of virgins, but as adults one's sex life is none of another's business.

    I dislike the idea that religion gives about sex being such a negative thing. The act itself isn't negative, it's not being careful and wise about it. Driving a car isn't a bad thing, but driving at 90 mph in a 65 mph zone without wearing a seat belt is.
     
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  5. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist

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    "How it could possibly lead to" is pretty low bar to cross over. All it needs is a possibility to lead to spiritual happiness? Is that what you meant to ask for? Any possibility?
     
  6. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist

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    Agreed! If this is your point , I doubt anyone will debate it. You win!
     
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  7. Sand Dancer

    Sand Dancer Crazy Cat Lady

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    Happiness vs joy.
     
  8. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    Whether or not it might lead to spiritual happiness is highly subjective, so the answer is different for everyone.
    Indirectly, the sex act could lead to spiritual happiness, but it could also lead to spiritual unhappiness.
     
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  9. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    What is one without the other?
     
  10. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    I am not trying to win anything. I am just trying to have a discussion.
     
  11. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist

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    This is the debate section. What do you want to debate? :)
     
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  12. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    People don't actually make fun of people who don't have sex but they do act towards them as if they have some kind of psychological disorder.
    I fully agree. The sex act itself is not negative, it is the context in which it is performed that can be negative. It is careful and wise to put gasoline in your gas tank. Gasoline belongs in the gas tank, and gas outside of the gas tank can be very dangerous.
     
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  13. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    Great. I know you were going to do that. I put it here in case anyone what to debate it, and because nobody ever looks in the discussion forums. It is a debatable topic. :)
     
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  14. Sand Dancer

    Sand Dancer Crazy Cat Lady

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    They are both important. Physical happiness comes and goes, whereas religious happiness is more constant. Sorry, I was just tired of typing one-fingered on my tablet.
     
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  15. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness is an outward expression. Joy endures hardship and trials and connects with meaning and purpose. A person pursues happiness but chooses joy.

    What's the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?
     
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  16. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist

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    Makes sense. You know my opinion. It's possible that sex has spiritual benefits.
     
  17. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    Asexuality is becoming more of a well known thing. If someone really doesn't want sex then they don't have to have sex and shouldn't feel bad about it.

    But I also think it could be useful to evaluate why one doesn't want sex, for example it would be no issue if someone just finds sex unappealing. But if they don't want to have sex because they're afraid of burning in Hell or displeasing God, perhaps they should ask themselves if it's really for the right reasons and if that's how they themselves believe God really views it. And if they don't want sex because of sexual trauma in the past, they should seek a therapist.

    I want to make a joke about semen there, but considering this isn't Eros I'll refrain :D

    I'll be honest I don't know what that was an analogy to. Driving 90 mph in a 65 mph (sleeping with anything that moves) without wearing a seat belt (without wearing a condom) was where I was coming from.
     
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  18. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    I will concede to that but it is also possible for sex to be detrimental to spirituality.
     
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  19. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    A person could choose not to have sex for any number of reasons. People do not always engage in things they enjoy. They might enjoy it but choose not to have it, just as they might enjoy a pizza but choose not to eat pizza. A person might choose not to have sex because they remember the deleterious effect it had upon them in the past, just like a person might choose not to have pizza because they remembered that they gained a lot of weight from eating it in the past.

    I do not think fear of burning in hell is a good reason not to have sex, since I don't believe that sex leads to that.
    The analogy was that gasoline in the gas tank is the proper place for gasoline, just as sex in marriage is the proper place for sex. Any other kind of sexual expression is like gasoline out of the gas tank, strewn all over the ground, and it is dangerous. Imo.
     
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  20. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    Why is that? A lot of people decide to not get married in this day and age, it's expensive and they see it as just a title. Do you believe that a partnership outside of marriage cannot be true love and commitment?

    I can understand that it's dangerous to have sex with someone you don't know well enough. But I think there are many ways to avoid the dangers that come from it.
     
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