The Good Life

3 March 2017

Attaining and living the “Good Life” does not always come easily. There are costs to living a fulfilling life and often times sacrifices must be made in order to do so. This is most notable in a few of the readings from the course. Siddhartha, from Hesse’s novel, exemplifies someone who so passionately wanted to find enlightenment that he was willing to give up his family, prior beliefs, and all of his belongings. Rama’s situation in the Ramayana also demonstrates the idea that the good life does not come without sacrifice.

A final example of this idea is read in the Bhagavad-Gita where Krishna must put his family in danger on the battlefield to do what is right. After a more in depth look at the situations from these readings, it is ever more apparent that the good life does not come free. The novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a clear example of the good life requiring sacrifices. Siddhartha so badly desired attaining Nirvana that he was willing to abandon his beliefs, stray from his family and friends, and give up all of his worldly possessions.

The Good Life Essay Example

With each different belief system with which he orientated himself, he changed his lifestyle in one way or another. Some beliefs required him to give up his belongings, so he did. Siddhartha’s rationalization for this new life he was willing to lead was that in the end, he would find enlightenment, which would be worth more than anything currently present in his life. Most people in today’s world would never be able to handle such a sacrifice but still believe they are living a good life regardless, which argues Siddhartha’s method of attaining enlightenment.

I can attest to that in that I find myself living a good life without giving up my possessions. As long I have people in my life who matter, that is all I need to be happy. It is ironic that Siddhartha felt he had to give up people in life in order to be happy when in the end, it was a person (his son) who brought him to the state of total happiness he looked so long and hard to find . The Ramayana by Valmiki also gives insight to the idea that the good life is not led without a cost. Rama, the first son of the King, was next in line for the throne as necessary for Dharma.

His stepmother forcing the king to give the throne to her son and the King’s second son left Rama banished to the forest with no throne and no one but his wife Sita. This situation can be viewed in two ways: Rama accepting his banishment means that Dharma is not being done since the first son must rule. The other is that he is willing to sacrifice the throne because it was his father’s order. This shows that maybe Rama’s idea of a good life is doing his father’s will rather than what society and cultural belief call “right” (Dharma).

However, Rama does end up “doing good” in the forest when Sita is kidnapped and he is given the opportunity to rescue her. That could be seen as his Dharma. Rama rationalizes his banishment by knowing he is doing what his father desires of him and that is all he needs to feel fulfilled. Rama’s situation relates to a topic that recently came up in American History class where John Brown wanted slaves to be free and ended up being hanged for measures he took to free them.

The similarity lies in the fact that both Brown and Rama felt they had an obligation to someone and were willing to sacrifice whatever they had to in order to meet that obligation. Rama’s story is a contrast from Siddhartha’s idea of gaining enlightenment. Rama will do the will of the person he sees as his master while Siddhartha feels the need to be independent and find enlightenment himself by abandoning others. Again, it seems that Rama’s method was more accurate seeing as in the end Siddhartha realized that certain people mean more than you think which was Rama’s thought from the beginning .

The Bhagavad-Gita is a story in which the most drastic sacrifice takes place in order to what is right and attain the good life. Arjuna, the Pandavas leader, is told he must fight his family, the Kauravas. Arjuna is opposed to fighting his own blood for a kingdom he does not really want. Krishna tells him that he must act selflessly to attain enlightenment, which is reached by dissolution of the soul. The main concepts of this include renunciation, self-service, and meditation.

He is telling Arjuna that he must work off his karma so that he can achieve enlightenment and the first step is to be selfless by fighting his family and forgetting that he fighting against his own blood. After Krishna’s lengthy lesson, Arjuna realized that it truly was his duty to fight in battle against his family, challenging as it may be. This situation compares to Rama’s in the Ramayana in that both characters are loyal to their families. The only difference lies in Arjuna’s final decision to abandon his selfishness of not wanting to harm his family and do hat was expected of him. The story of the Bhagavad-Gita is similar to the Bible passage Genesis 22 verses 1-18 where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. While although Arjuna was not literally sacrificing his family members he was fighting them knowing bloodshed would occur but was willing to go through with battle because it was expected of him and would ultimately bring him the enlightenment he desired . It has been evident throughout the course “What is the Good Life” that reaching enlightenment and living a happy life do not come without a cost.

There are times when family might have to take a back seat or unnecessary goods must be purged. Some are willing to do whatever may be required if it means they will reach enlightenment but seeing as no one can pin point what exactly enlightenment is, it is a big step to alter ones entire life not knowing what will truly come out of it. The characters of these readings from the course exemplify the kinds of people who take the chances and have faith that those costs will lead them to the good life. Word Count: 1071 Really good essay! Sorry it’s coming back so late again, just been overloaded with work! Hopefully this helps.

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