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Enduring or transient happiness

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Pascal writes that man is always searching for pleasure, for happiness. Man seeks it in himself, but does not find it. In himself the desired justice cannot be found, nor can the eagerly sought truth. Man experiences that he must seek happiness outside himself, his passions chase him out.

The rich seek the fulfillment of the flesh through the material,
The knowers and scholars seek the spirit through knowledge,
The wise, they seek justice.

But what is found turns out to be transitory, temporary. Both material fulfillment, all knowledge and even (self) righteousness. It disappears like sand through one's hands.

Man also discovers himself to be transient. He soon discovers that he is not a necessary being. Even in the unfulfillability of his desires he notices this. His existence knows no necessity. Nor could he have been there. But in nature he perceives a necessary, eternal and infinite being, which is around and in him. But not through him.

God rules over everything and in Him and to Him is everything. Without God, you find pride. Seek God, find everything.

This then is the ambivalence of man:

Find it within you and find iniquity and falsehood (lie)
Find it outside yourself And find temporary happiness.
Find it in God and find it both within and without yourself, lasting in Him.

Happiness is neither outside us nor in us. It is in God, both outside and within us. And in Him we find our necessity.

Shaded sections are paraphrased from Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, Article 7, 296 - 302. 


Erwin de Ruiter

"One man tries to express himself in books, another in boots; both are likely to fail." - G.K. Chesterton

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