Finding True Joy in My Two Souls

Two souls, alas, are housed within my beast, And each will wrestle for the mastery there.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One Early Chinese culture explains human beings are made up of two spirits: two hun and po. Hun represents the earthly needs and wants while the po represents the more ethereal needs and wants.

“As generally understood, hun is the spirit of a person’s vital force that is expressed in consciousness and intelligence, and po is the spirit of a person’s physical nature that is expressed in bodily strength and movements. Both hun and po require the nourishment of the essences of the vital forces of the cosmos to stay healthy,” according to encyclopedia.com.

No English word exactly fits hunpo, but I like to think of it as a kind of dualistic “soul.”

Both souls need nourishment. Both souls need attention. When both are in harmony I feel a true joy. When one receives more attention than the other I feel a “false” joy.

These two forces pull within me. Sometimes my thoughts are for ease of life, distractions, and pleasure, my po, so of speak. Other times I crave mental stimulation, service above self, and communion with others, my hun.

When consciousness demands more time, usually driven by urgency or fear, I drown myself in study and writing and forgo exercise, proper eating, and personal connections. I become driven to accomplish my task or goal. Never mind the journey just show me the “brass ring,” get me to my goal. I will achieve the goal and I feel a joy that it’s done, but it’s a false joy, for it lasts only a short while before I’m left wanting more. During this imbalance between the two, I can get moody, sullen, or angry. I look at the goal as the object that will bring me my joy in the end, but more often than not it is a false joy that doesn’t last and I have forgotten it’s the journey that brings true joy.

When my body urges me toward physical desires and activities and food of which I derive a certain pleasure, I binge watch television, eat unhealthy sweets and snacks or drink in excess or feed my addiction to online gaming. These feel so pleasurable in the moment, but leave me craving more. I find if I spend too much time and energy to these pleasures, my joy feels like a “false” joy. It stays a short while and is gone.

Both the body and the mind can easily pull me toward an excess of one over the other that creates a false sense of joy. The key for me is to recognize the pattern that pulls me into the excess habits and change it.

When the po becomes overextended with activities, I need to be aware of my cravings, urges and addictions and decrease my “pleasures” and include more hun activities, usually in the form of meditation, reading, and communion with people.

When the hun becomes overextended with mental stimulation or service activities, I decrease my studies and include more po activities like recreational activities such as walking, hiking, or sports and nutritional foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts.

My true joy comes when both souls feel in balance. I’m calm, content, and at peace with my world and the world around me. I strive for this balance. I strive for true joy.

My conclusion is that one soul is not better than the other, nor should I let one soul be master of the other, but to allow both souls to move in harmony together.

Like Wolfgang von Goethe, I wrestle to find a balance daily between the two souls and not to allow one to master me but for me to be the master of both.

To me, only then do I feel true joy in my daily life.

Peace, Joy, Love

Who to Sacrifice to feel Joy?

The author Ursula LaGuinn wrote a short story titled The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. In it there is this town called Omelas where everyone feels joy all the time, people are happy, prosperous, and loved, but that euphoria the townspeople came at a price.

To feel joy in the town of Omelas the people must allow for one young child to be in misery and pain. The child is locked up in a room in a basement that’s no larger than a broom closet. The child is scared, maltreated, and alone forever. The child wails in pain, hides in fear, and starved for kindness.

It’s part of the deal for the town to prosper. This child must never feel joy. Everyone in the town knows about the child, but no one does anything to make the child’s life better. The townspeople make excuses. Making the child’s life better means making the townspeople’s life worse.

When the town’s youngsters reach their teenage years, they are encouraged to visit the child to learn the town’s “reason for happiness and prosperity,” but when they are shown the child in the closet and learn this child must live in pain, suffering, and starvation forever, their first reaction is anger or sadness. but given their well being, many come to accept the situation as necessary, but some empathetic souls question the community’s action or inaction. They must choose to go on living prosperously in the town accepting this atrocity or walk away from this nirvana forever.

LaGuinn’s, story feels strangely allegorical in these pandemic times. Should I accept that many more people should die from covid 19 in order to restart the economy so they can feel more joy, contentment, and well being? Or, do I do my best to follow the guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus and STAY AT HOME and suffer the sacrifices necessary so that more people can live?

Personally, I can only control my choices. I am responsible for my own actions to help not spread the virus. So, I promise myself to do these three things:

  1. I will follow the guidelines recommended by my doctors and elected leaders: to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash my hands and stay at home whenever possible.
  2. I will not give in to peer pressure by those who try and make me feel bad for following the guidelines. Instead I will use my integrity and “doing the right thing,” follow the guidelines.
  3. I will ask people to wear a mask in my present. I will stay my distance even as they get closer. A number of people have the mask with them. They just don’t put it on.

I see no joy in another’s death for the sake of my well being. Talking with individuals that caused another’s death either by accident or on purpose, I notice high stress; I see remorse and depression, even after ten years the incident.

Joy comes in the simple act of giving and caring for others. We see this around the Holidays.

I will adapt; I will persevere; and I will survive and do so by caring for the mortals around me.

In story LaGuinn’s story, not everyone accepts the situation of the little boy. Occasionally, adults go back and revisit the child and when they walk away they choose to keep walking away from the town. “They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman.”

I choose to walk away — six feet away from people, wearing a mask, or I can just stay at home.

Peace, Joy, Love