He who wants nothing of life but health, longevity, amusement, comfort -- "happiness" -- should turn his eyes from world history, for it contains nothing of the sort. The best that history has created is great suffering.
'happiness" may be the the great illusionment
"True peace of mind can be obtained only when one is personally awakened to the stark-naked fact that every effort is ultimately in vain.”
but I don't think the point is that you give up
You're right the point isn't to give up, but to give up "the persuit of happiness."
To pursue happiness is to pursue a constantly retreating phantom, and the faster you chase it, the faster it runs ahead. This is why all the affairs of civilization are rushed, why hardly anyone enjoys what he has, and is forever seeking more and more.
We live our lives persuing happiness out there, as if it is a comodity. We have become slaves to our own desires and cravings. Happiness isn't something that can be persued or purchased like a suit or a car. This is maya, illusion, the endless play of form.
In the buddhist tradition Samsara, or the endless cycle of suffering, is perpetuated by the creating of pleasure and adversion to pain.
Sigmund Freud referred to this as the pleasure principle. Everything we do is an attempt to create pleasure, to gain something that we want, or to push away something undesirable that we don't want. Even a simple organism like the paramecium does this. It is called response to stimulus. Unlike a paramecium humans have more choice. We are free to think, and that is the heart of the problem. It is the thinking about what we want that has gotten out of control.
The dilema of modern society is that we seek to understand the world not in terms of archaic inner consience, but by quantifying and qualifying what we percieve to be the external world by using scintific means and thought. Thinking has ony led to more thinking and more questions. We seek to know the innermost forces which create the world and guide it's course, but we concieve of this essence as outside of ourselves, not as a living thing intrinsic to our own nature.
It was the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung that said "one who looks outside dreams, one who looks inside awakes." It is not wrong to desire to be awake, to be happy, what is wrong is to look for happiness outside, when it can only be found inside.
The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!