The term, "rational hedonism", is common within philosophical circles; but few people today realize that since the days of ancient Greece the term also represented a personal religious belief and lifestyle.
In ancient Greece, there were men and women who relished discussing ideas, differing philosophies and what it meant to live a good life; a time when virtues and the Delphic Maxims were considered the gold standard of personal behavior to strive for, and the greatest good was pleasure and living a pleasant life. Rational Hedonism is a pathway back to a simpler and realistic lifestyle based on human nature with immediate results in the here-and-now.
People once enjoyed simple conversation with family and guests over a shared meal, listening to and participating in mental sparring and debating their perspective on varying topics, and, even if the discussion grew heated, able to agree to disagree. There was an anticipation that not all would agree with you, ensuring a lively, witty debate seeing who could make the best points/ counterpoints. People would gather around public areas to listen to especially entertaining and often loud "discussion". There was an acceptance and interest in other theories, beliefs and points of view. It was a time of curiosity, an openness and embracing the quest for knowledge, as well as encouragement within theatrical, artistic and written classics, and discoveries in science, astronomy, and human thought.
The natural curiosity and thirst for ever-increasing knowledge, science, and wisdom, the true understanding of pleasure and freedom from fear of any afterlife or judging gods have kept Rational Hedonism fresh, vibrant and alive, over two thousand years since its shadowy origins of possible Indian influence on Democritus, who in turn influenced Epicurus, and he, others. Even as the dark shadows of Emperors Constantine and Theodosius choked out the open debates of free thought and all other voices and religious beliefs of all areas it touched, Rational Hedonists as well as other philosophical, free-thinking minds escaped to Arabic countries and the Hellenic settlements in India which escaped the choke-hold of Christianity, cutting their ties and reorganizing, eventually blending in, living in plain sight in their adopted countries, passing down the philosophies and teachings within families and selective groups for centuries, their influence reappearing in various Renaissance movements, the Enlightenment, and continuing to this day.
Rational Hedonism is considered an ancient faith, but that faith ultimately, is in yourself. Although the concept has been hijacked by a modern narcissist environment, deep down, you know no self-help group or theistic religion can change your life or help you find inner happiness if the resolve doesn't come from within. You will be unable to be more loving and giving to those you care about without putting your Self first.
Rational Hedonism embraces our human nature, accepting the flaws while trying to be our best selves; unlike other religions with frozen, stagnate 16th century dogma which created guilt-inducing "sins" and the threat and fear of endless punishment even after death.
Ultimately, it has to be Your desire, Your inner strength. The choices You make, the people You associate with. You want to make Yourself better, accept Yourself or change habits, live better, improve Yourself and life for Yourself or those You love? Or be simply be self-accepting, satisfied and happy with who and where You are?
It all starts within You.
"Know Thyself" (from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi)
The "hedonism" in Rational Hedonism is not to be confused with narcissism. Narcissism is self-destructive, personally deceiving and goes beyond "self-esteem". Narcissism promotes undeserved self-admiration, materialism, entitlement, the inability to accept the blame for personal failure, the inability to accept criticism and other viewpoints without an invalidating or aggressive response. Narcissism is an ugly result of the "self-esteem" movement.
Hedonism, as understood in Rational Hedonism, is based on hedonistic philosophies, beginning with Democritus, followed by Epicurus. Compared to narcissism, these refreshing views include moderation, pleasure and happiness found through virtuous living - valuing family, personal close friends, personal integrity and passion for what you do.
Rational Hedonism advocates taking care of your body, the temple which houses the essence of you. It supports size acceptance, but with the recognition that excessive over-indulgence of the pleasures of life are actually counterproductive, and that physical and mental activity are essential to a longer, more active, happier and healthier life.
Rational Hedonism recognizes both man and woman's natural inclination for pleasure, together with their intelligent nature. The search for happiness and pleasures, appear simple enough to understand, but where has the intelligent part of our nature gone concerning them? Instead, our Society is obsessed with money (preferably without working), being thin and "beautiful", having the latest sports shoes, cell phone or gadget. Media and advertisers make billions keeping You feeling dissatisfied and unhappy.
Giving in and buying is a quick fix no-win scenario and usually a let-down. There's always something newer and better. Pleasures, like orgasms, are wonderful for an immediate "high", but You soon find Yourself let down and wondering (if You got what You thought You wanted) why hasn't it made You happy ?
Rational Hedonism has continued to quietly grow as an unpromoted religious movement, however, it does not seek out tax-exempt status. Tax exemption is overused and abused by theistic churches.
(More on that HERE)
No R.H. Celebrant or Garden Officiant will ever ask for a "tithe" or pass-the-plate- style offering. That tradition comes from the Roman-originated churches.
Personal monitory gifts for services rendered are between the the client and Celebrant or Officiant. They are responsible for claiming such on personal taxes. While anyone following the tenants, maxims/virtues, foundations and beliefs may claim the title, "Rational Hedonist", only legitimately recognized Celebrants or Officiants through the Leadership Council will be able to provide official paperwork from organization headquarters, verifying they have a thorough understanding of the ancient teachings, history, philosophy, celebrations, etc.
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