For hundreds of years, for Rational Hedonists, the chambered swirls inside the nautilus shell have symbolized closing the door to the past, moving on and the continuity of life in the face of trials and tragedy.
It is thought that Aristotle was referring to the chambered nautilus when he wrote in his book, "Historia Animalium" regarding cephalopods.:
"There is another that is found in a shell, like a snail; this never comes out, but remains in the shell as a snail does and sometimes puts out its tentacles”
Because the fishing industry in the the Greek islands are located in the Mediterranean, and as a result of Alexander's push through much of the known world at the time, many strange treasures and creatures filtered back to Athens.
Much of what is known about the living nautilus has been learned in the last 25-30 years. Although they have been successfully mated in captivity, the first hatched nautilus to survive doesn't seem to have happened until 1990.
Nautilus are not like the vast mussels, oysters, clams, crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, shrimp, prawns) or even the family of cephalopods (octopi and squid), of which it belongs. All of these other creatures are harvested in fairly large numbers and able to sustain stable populations.
Not so the nautilus. It does not even mature enough to reproduce until it is fifteen years old and then perhaps a dozen eggs take nine months to a year to hatch, then must survive being eaten or captured for the shell for fifteen years in order to reproduce itself. It is being over-fished in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Guinea and other areas in flooding the market - all for its shell. Because of the long time before reaching sexual maturity and egg maturity, a creature that has been around since before the first dinosaurs and survived whatever killed them off, is not surviving man's desire for ornamenting himself with its shell and disappearing in alarming numbers.
As Rational Hedonists, we do not need the nautilus shell. What has always been important to us is the symbol, what it represents, which can just as easily be conveyed by creating artistic reproductions through the medium of jewelry (metalwork), woodwork, painting, computer graphics, etc. We have the ability to convey the image and its meaning without stripping the creature of its life and shell simply to adorn ourselves or remind ourselves of pushing forward after hard times. We are better than that. We do not need useless trophy kills, nor do we need to support the industry encouraging the poor to bring an ancient species to extinction.
Tradition is not reason enough to continue promoting something which is wrong. During our annual international online conference (December 2013), it was decided to separate from our past and no longer promote buying nautilus shells as a symbols within Rational Hedonism, and instead, begin using the already extinct ammonite shell or other artistic materials and expressions of a nautilus shell.
A symbol is just that, representing an idea or concept. Many of us already have nautilus shell necklaces, what is done is done; we are not about looking back. But from this point on, if, due to a death or a life changing move, you find yourself shopping for yourself or another, there are less fragile alternatives such as wood, silver and gold nautilus designs depicting the chambered swirl. If the traditional gift of a cut shell is still desired, use the fossil of the already extinct ammonite- there is some beautiful ammonite jewelry.
In the same way living coral and animals with ivory are now protected, we discussed supporting adding the chambered nautilus to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). There is also an independent website, SavetheNautilus.com started by two young boys dedicated to raising funding to support further fact-gathering research regarding the nautilus population.
The timeless nautilus lazily swam in the oceans before and during the dinosaurs, even surviving the cataclysm that wiped out the dinosaurs, safely buried under its blanket of deep water.
Now all it needs to do is survive us.
Let the ancient nautilus keep its shell, that is all it has. We humans are capable of finding creative alternatives.
Saying the word "hedonism" to most people most likely invokes the mental images of sex, food,
and decadence, not necessarily in that order. Yes, Rational Hedonism includes the oral, culinary savoring of good food, but the "Rational" part means being aware of what you are stuffing in your face and stomach.
Rational Hedonists don't have to be Vegan, Vegetarian or Organic -- although many are -- while
others eat any place from Taco Bell, McDonald's or KFC and everything in between, to the finest restaurants.
Sure you are the god of your world, you eat what you is pleasing to your palette, but being
in charge of your life means being a wise Ruler; you get only one body, one time around at life,
and Rational Hedonists want it to last as long as possible and keep it all in good working order.
Although difficult to do all at once, one thing a Rational Hedonist should be aware and over
time, eliminate from their diet are oils (such as soybean-which suppresses your thyroid and lowers your energy levels, vegetable and palm) that have been hydrogenated and partly hydrogenated in foods. This process creates something that doesn't exist in nature.
Seriously, these have no place in any humans' food.
In the past, our ancestors got essential fats and oils needed for brain development, warding off
disease, and "lube" essential functions in the body from the fish and animals they ate. Oils to
cook with, such as olives, were pressed and used quickly before going bad. All these were
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) - good, natural fats our bodies need and even crave.
Our food troubles began when we ceased to have farm-based societies and stopped living off the land, and began to migrate to ever-growing cities. Most pioneers and early European Americans used bear, pig or other animal fat but although even up until 1920 most of these fats eaten were saturated, such as butter and lard.
With the onset of answering the need of feeding all these people packing into cities, to have a longer shelf life and keep the foods from aging or going bad and smelling, the process developed of subjecting fat or oil to tremendous heat and hydrogen bubbles forced under pressure into the boiling fat molecules deliberately processed to have a "new", extra hydrogen molecule forced into shapes they were never designed to be in, which makes them more saturated (indigestible and an unnatural form). These are, in effect, poisonous to your body.
The fatty acids in the oil then acquire some of this hydrogen, which makes it denser. The very stuff that thickens with the consistency of margarine or butter and known as Trans-Fatty-Acids, and is the stuff you are eating in store-bought cookies, munchies such as potato chips, doughnuts, pastries, snack cakes and lots of candy.
But these Trans-fats fat have not been "Trans-formed", they have been "De-formed". Trans-fats are poisons to our body, just like arsenic or cyanide. They interfere with the metabolic processes of life by taking the place of a natural substance that our bodies can process and need and crave (Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) found in fish, meats, butter), that perform a critical function. Our bodies have no defense against trans-fats, because they never even existed in our two billion years of evolution before modern food technology -- so we have never had the need or the opportunity to evolve a defense against them or cope with them. And by the way, when you see the terms, mono- and di-glyceride-- these are also hydrogenated oil products.
All of these lower our bodies' natural ability to fight off disease attacks (such as cancer), weakens cell walls and compromises cellular structure; accelerates tumor growth; thickens and clogs artery walls causing heart disease (approximately 30,000 deaths a year), damages blood vessels; raises blood sugar levels and helping cause weight gain, high cholesterol and diabetes; interferes with the absorption of the essential fatty acids and DHA our bodies need, impairs brain function and damages brain cells accelerating or causing Alzheimer's.
There are countries where hydrogenation is outlawed, why is diet and fat conscious America so complacent?
The World Health Organization tried to outlaw this ingredient decades ago in the 1950's. Doctors, researchers and scientists blatantly warn about the detrimental health effects of trans-fats. Even when trans-fats are in certain foods, the FDA allows it to be labeled on the ingredients, zero, as long as it's less than .05%, fooling people into thinking it's healthy.
It's no wonder that America is experiencing epidemic levels of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
Partially hydrogenated oils are not only alien and incompatible to our body's system, but kill you in the long run by producing diseases like multiple sclerosis and allergies that lead to arthritis and all the while, causing relentless weight gain.
A pleasurable Rational Hedonistic lifestyle includes the Epicurean tradition of preparing and savoring fresh home cooked meals you love, slowing down in order to enjoy them with the conversation and laughter of friends and family.
A Rational Hedonistic lifestyle is about enjoying all aspects of life, which one can not do with a life cut short due to serious health problems or drunken recklessness. Cut out the drive-through fast foods and frozen prepared food bursting with dangerous hydrogenated and partly hydrogenated additives that are destroying your body. The "Rational" part of Rational Hedonism is about using the wonderful mind you developed to continue learning and make informed choices - not hard to do in instant-internet-access via cell phones and tablets.
Much of the above information was taken from here and here.
We receive many comments, roughly 90% are supportive and complimentary and require no response, 5% are questions which are distributed amongst a volunteer team who respond publicly for the purposes of this blog, the rest are an untidy hodge-podge of miscellanea.
We do not generally display individual questions, or respond personally to questions or comments, but on 12-20-11, this “challenge” was received and passed on to someone more than “adept” with R.H. information.
"I wish to debate the nature of your movement with the most adept 'rational hedonist' you have on-board... I feel there are contradictory arguments put forward even in your most basic descriptions about your alternative to major religions, maybe we can discuss the philosophical nature of your movement? "
In response to this I am going to address three points.
The first is, while this person's comments listed the required e-mail address, it was apparently not an actual working e-mail addresse. Two e-mails were sent to this person's e-mail address, on 12-28-11 and 1-06-12 with no acknowledgement.
This person apparently had enough free time to Google the magic words leading him to our little piece of the net, was intrigued enough to “call us out” in our space; his request was passed on to someone more than merely “adept”, who on his own took time out from a busy career and real life in general to attempt personal contact.
Secondly, for a Rational Hedonist, a crime/sin was committed. This person wasted the respondent's time. Rational Hedonists put a high value on each wonderful moment of life we have. No one around here is wringing their hands, threatened or agitated and needing to justify ourselves to people “out there” who don't agree with rationally hedonistic principals and lifestyles. You either “get it” or you don't. No one here is going to expend negative energy or waste time defending ourselves, or give Rational Hedonism a bad name by slinging mud with the playground bullies. There's an “X” on your upper right screen, if the freedom of Rational Hedonism offends, that's your exit.
Thanks to the internet and the social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as forums, blogs, and anyone-can-create-websites, everyone can rant or blog their vapid thoughts, dirty laundry, their daily life, to literally a world audience. If this person wants their own soapbox, it's easily available, no need to dirty up our pool.
For Rational Hedonists, life is what you live when you turn off the computer. If you're so obsessed with posting everything you do on Twitter and Facebook via your phone or tablet when you're away from your computer, and actually care about the opinions of dozens of “friends” you have never met, you are a compulsive life reporter, not a life liver. These are the people with huge egos – thinking everyone out there is actually interested.
That is why most Rational Hedonists are out there (not online) living busy, happily content, gratifying and indulgent lives, and when we want company, choosing those with whom we surround ourselves, who share our passions and make us feel good. For some of us web nerds, our pleasures come from critical thinking, writing and communicating ideas, which is why we are here, volunteering our time.
But I digress.
The third point is this blog is a tool to share information on rationally hedonistic viewpoints. We are not trying to win anyone over, proselytize or steal anyone away from wherever they are at, we are not arguing or debating or trying to prove anything. In fact, if one is so easily swayed, they are probably not a Rational Hedonist. We do not waste our creative energy seeking out forums to attack theistic religion, Atheist and Humanism organizations are much better equipped. Our way is simply another way of seeing things, it's philosophies and teachings older than Christianity, as valid as other religions. Nevertheless, this “challenger” received a very amiable response, but because he apparently gave a “dump” addy, we are choosing to show part of the response is below, as a third and final attempt for contact, this time with a real e-mail address.
Thank you for your interest!
I was asked to respond to your comment made on our media information website, Rational Hedonism, wherein you stated: ....................................
.......... While who is the "most adept" may be debatable, and I do not actually intend on getting into a battle of words and semantics with anyone, I am willing to answer and attempt to better clarify for you specific questions and "contradictory arguments" brought up within the website; it is a work in progress and perhaps better clarifying for you will help us better clarify in our writing for others.
For the sake of being able to attempt to answer you specifically and in a direct manner, please keep each point/argument brief and precise.
An honest discussion, questions attempting to clarify or better explain possible unclear writing on the website, exchanges of ideas -- all will be acceptable, unless it deteriorates to personal attacks, threats or religious rants indicating a personal agenda.
That's it. We are done with using this blog for personal answers. We have a long list of topics more relevant and of interest to us to post. Our lifestyle website, Shameless Passion, will be serving to post comments and questions from readers, as well as responses. This blog is getting back on track to its original purpose.
Warning: In the future, if we find we cannot contact you via the e-mail address given, we claim the right whether to post your question or comment without your permission for our own purposes, or deem it unworthy of any response.
The following was sent in from a reader's who posted this on their personal blog last year on another website; any changes were made by the author. Reprinted with permission.
Yes, I'm a Rational Hedonist, I am the center of my world, and an atheist when it comes to any external deity. And I know that Christmas is that season of giving and unselfishness and giving -- to others ... But ... BUT ...
I love Christmas! I love the hunt on Black Friday, I love that the prices go down to what they ought to be the entire year – I'll usually buy myself a few things along with odds and ends on sale for others. I just like being out and soaking up all that energy.
Who cannot love the lights, the whimsical displays, the decorations and food, and .... presents!
I get happiness at knowing I got someone that one thing they mentioned months ago and watching that light in their eyes, the look on their face as they look at me with disbelief. Yes, I listened and remembered. Damn, I'm good!
Does it bother me to say, "Merry Christmas?" .... Nope, not at all.
And maybe what I'm actually saying is, “Merry Kris-mas”? As in, Kris Kringle, not that "other" guy!
Most of the customs and traditions of Christmas actually pre-date the birth of Jesus, but that's the holiday's name, and it's pretty far removed from its original point, starting from the time when Constantine melded "barbaric" winter solstice type traditions with newly forming Christianity, trying to unify the Roman Empire under a universal religion. Until the capitalistic Americanization of Christmas exploded with the marketing strategy of Santa's appearing in department stores, Hallmark, and Coca-Cola reconfiguring the image of Santa, in other countries, Christmas was pretty much a Dickens's "A Christmas Carol "/"God Rest Ye Merry. Gentlemen" quiet collective mixture of British, Germanic, and Nordic traditions.
I'm not a "Bah-Humbug"-ger, I don't feel the need to argue anyone's belief that Christmas is Jesus' birthday when odds are, realistically, if the man existed historically, he was born probably late summer or early fall .... and that if Christians are so offended by the paganization and commercialization of the holiday, it could have been moved to another date - one without presents or lights, just quiet church-time reflection, but come on, it is when it is, mixed together with a little bit of this and that, it's colorful and fun, so lighten up!
I do things my way of course. I have my artificial palm tree with colored blinking lights, my sexy high-heeled-boot stocking (size large for extra stuffage space), because Santa knows where all the naughty girls live!! I'm going to enjoy the parties, and the gifts, the lights, colors and fun of the season - matters not to me what is being celebrated - Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice/Yule .....
Political Correctness? Offensive to some? I certainly don't say it to everyone; but f I see some sweet older lady wearing ornament earrings and a green sweatshirt depicting a Christmas tree surrounded by dancing Santa and reindeer, I think it's a safe bet I can't go wrong saying "Merry Christmas!".
I don't have to be a "downer" or grinchy, or an intellectual snob during the only time of year it seems to be mutually agreed upon for people to be nice to and think of each other. And hey, people want to give you something, they struggle wondering what to get you, so don't be shy about hinting or flat out telling folks know what you want!
Have fun enjoying with family and friends!
Responding To A Question Regarding a Universal Symbol
"I look forward to seeing the growth of the RH movement as a natural, and instinctively righteous alternative to other world religions. And while I do like the suggested symbols of the RH, I'd really like to see one, universal symbol of the belief. Pride, after all is one potent motivational tool for helping others to see their truths in themselves. And symbol of RH is a symbol of our ability to love what matters most, ourselves, and that is something to be very proud of." ~~ P.P.
Thank you for taking the time out to respond and for your comments!
We appreciate hearing from others. Unfortunately, due to the amount of emails received, R.H. Leadership is seldom able to respond one-on-one to every email.
You stated: "And while I do like the suggested symbols of the RH, I'd really like to see one, universal symbol of the belief."
The symbols are simple in that they serve as a "blank page", expressed in the way Rational Hedonists interpret and choose.
It is one of the things that frustrates and confounds those who try to make one thing work for all Rational Hedonists.
Rational Hedonism is not a "herd" religion. It is older than Christianity. The name alone represents a banner of imagined decadence and sin to the majority.
Not everyone wants to rally around the same colored flag and march to the same music; One might not even get many Rational Hedonists to show up to the rally. The need to belong to a group tends to defeat the idea of individualism. While there are no "churches" per se, what you'll find instead are Rational Hedonists gathering within special interest groups designated into "Gardens" (in recognition of the famous Gardens of Epicurus); and the various life and seasonal celebrations that bring any group together.
As you are aware, the two primary images recognized by Rational Hedonists are the hand and fingerprint. They were not designed to be "catchy" as we do not proselytize. However, the hand can be presented in a variety of ways -- holding a hammer symbolizing building, a quill or artist brush for creativity, molding clay, comforting a child, surgeon's hands, ...any stylistic elaboration is purely the whim and fancy of individual personal taste. What is important is that the hand is recognized, but the diversity of what it can do is as varied as those who put it to use in their lives. I have seen women wear necklaces of a Victorian-style gloved hand holding a rose or birthstone.
Finger and thumbprint jewelry are very recognizable among Rational Hedonists as they are uncommon among the general public as jewelry pieces, the thumbprint usually the preferable as humans have the opposable thumb.
The nautilus shell is meaningful to those who have gone through life changes, sometimes given as a necklace at the death of a loved one, moving to begin a new job, etc. Others like it as it represents to them that every day is a new adventure, full of possibilities; what happened yesterday is passed and over. The owl has always been seen as a symbol of wisdom, and belonged to Athena, goddess of philosophy and wisdom - appropriate.
The peacock feather and it's colors were suggested (representing pride) as Rational Hedonists in the U.S. and England chose a peacock feather and color motif for their weddings, then gained acceptance amongst non-R.H. weddings and became a popular theme amongst wedding planners.
At one time, there were suggestions of using a "brain" symbol (!) representing the "rational" side, but R.H. is not merely a cerebral religion. While it does expect free, imaginative thought, it is what one does with that creativity and ideas that ultimately make a difference in your life, as long as you understand that the things that are meaningful and most important and symbolic to you may not be to another.
" And a symbol of RH is a symbol of our ability to love what matters most, ourselves"
True; Self-Pride is at the core.
You are welcomed and encouraged to create a symbolic representation meaningful to you, to incorporate that which represents You within the recognized symbols. This is why "charm" bracelets and necklaces are very popular among R.H. ladies - the opportunity for self-expression in displaying interests, travels, and cherished things.
There is currently work being done on what will be a more socially interactive website: Shameless Passion.
If you do choose to follow through on your artistic talent to create your own interpretation and suggestion of a universal symbol for Rational Hedonism and are agreeable to having it shown publically, please notify the Celebrant staff overseeing Shameless Passion, I know they were planning a photos page.
Thank you again for your interest!
"Overindulgence and excess beyond Your ability, or what Your body or financial situation can handle is not rational."
Falling for Holiday Hype Won't Make You More Happy
Everyone buckle up, the winter holidays are rushing towards us, and we are once more being taken for a circular carousel ride amidst a breathtaking whirl of flashing lights and music. Technology is changing so fast with tablets, cell phones, more memory for more apps, 3D, and the quest for faster, more colorful.
Playing on the very realistic truth and fear by consumers of something being outdated within weeks of purchase is reflected in the Best Buy Commercial (shown below) where a woman, upon hearing a presenter saying, " ... everything else is obsolete", cries out in anguish, "But I just bought this one!" Best Buy claims "We feel your pain" and they and a few other stores are introducing "Buy Back" programs, planning to bank big on this syndrome, of course you have to pay extra to belong to such a program, before getting only a portion of the value credited to your new purchase.
Like the extreme lottery winners soon find out, having all the money and most up-to-date "toys" you can want, does not make you happier. While before, perhaps just earning the money for a new car would have been satisfactory, suddenly being able to purchase six cars feels empty. The truth is, you adapt to what you have, and the more wealth and material possessions you accumulate eventually you take it all for granted as you adapt to the idea of money being no object.
So much for having it all. So what does make people happy?
"In the United States, the very poor are lower in happiness but, once a person is just barely comfortable, added money adds little or no happiness. Even the fabulously rich -- the Forbes 100, with an average of over 12.5 million dollars -- are only slightly happier than the average American" [p. 53 Authentic Happiness, Seligman]
Neither apparently, does being good looking or living on a beautiful tropical island. Glitzy magazines and television have a lot more to do with our perceptions of the rich, beautiful and famous having a more glamorous life, but the reality is the glamor often hides the real life doubts, problems, and pains of an ordinary life behind the scenes not photographed as evidenced by financial, personal and family problems.
A scientific study was conducted by Robert Biswas-Diener as he traveled across the world through some of the poorest areas. Based on the results of interviewing 31 prostitutes and street dwellers in Calcutta, India, and 78 homeless in Modesto, California, he found that while overall life satisfaction on the streets of Calcutta is slightly negative (1.93 on a scale of 1-3), in many areas of their life, satisfaction is high: morality (2.56), family (2.50), friends (2.40), and food (2.55).
While you might think the well-being of the homeless in America would be better, the differences actually favor India. Among the 78 street people in Modesto, CA, the average life satisfaction is extremely low (1.29), markedly lower than the Calcutta street dwellers (1.60). There are a few areas where the satisfaction is moderate, such as intelligence (2.27) and food (2.14); but most are "distressingly unsatisfactory" - income (1.15), morality (1.96), friends (1.75), and housing (1.37). [pp. 53-55 Authentic Happiness, Seligman].
While people living in poverty have a worse sense of well-being than the more fortunate, even amidst great adversity, poorer people can find much of their lives satisfying. Once basic needs are met, the important things that make people happy, the things that even the poorest in Calcutta, India may know and Americans may have forgotten, is what the Greek philosophers taught, and is making a comeback through Rational Hedonism. The quality of one's life is really about a strong personal belief system, creating your own pleasant environment, and surrounding yourself with those you love who care about and support you (a rich social network, whether friends or family).
Happiness and life satisfaction is not really affected by more money and more things once you are comfortable. More materialistic people are not happier, because they can never be satisfied. The more, the better you have, you adapt, then want something else. It may actually be more difficult for Americans to find real happiness, being bombarded from never-ending hints from media of what we should expect, how we should look, what we could have, how to file a lawsuit or get a loan or trade in what we have to get better.
Muting ads between television shows is pleasantly ... quiet.
Turning off the background chatter of television until a program you actually want to watch is even better.
As for the breath-taking and rapid technological changes, Time Out. As with anything, buy what you like and/or need if you can afford it, and then ... simply enjoy it. Do NOT compare it with what other people have. If you just bought the last model, or the one before that, does the newest really have that many newer features you must have? The one you just bought is the one that just a week ago was the one you were proud and pleased to have, and still has (nearly) the best features you wanted. It still does what you bought it for.
You aren't going to win the always-have-the-most-up-to-date in the technology world. Before you can get all your old stuff transferred and learn to navigate, something else will come along. Don't be a part of that never ending carousel and enjoy what you have, and by the time it's worn out, you'll be back into the market for the newest, new thing. An example is the evolution of the cell phone. It's come a long way from just having a simple, portable means of communcation. Now they have GPS, we watch movies, surf the net, shop and do our banking and credit card transactions on them. The latest (at the time of this writing) phones talk and suggest things to us.
In the midst of the flurry of holiday gotta-haves, a Rational Hedonist focuses on his/her own wants and needs, NOT being a part of "herd" mentality or insecure comparing to others; freeing their mind from worry and negative thinking; looking around and finding happiness with his/her surroundings - an imaginative or calming environment they love to live in, reflective of their personality; developing close relationships with those they chose to surround themselves; enjoying and recording any number of beautiful, wonderful moments of the season; good food; and knowing in his/her heart what truly makes them happy, probably something small and with personal meaning, or it may not be any physical thing at all. (Hint: And it probably isn't what the media is is trying to sell).
"He who dies with the most toys, wins" ?
The truth is:
"He who dies with the most toys, still dies"
You can't take it with you.
Enjoy what you have.
Do Rational Hedonists (with ancient Greek philosophical roots)
Hedonism is all about enjoying the pleasures of life! What's not fun about:
the Smell of Autumn,
Beautiful Days, and
Candy, Candy, Candy?
It doesn't matter if you call your Fall Fest "Halloween", "Samhain", or "Harvest Festival", what's important is taking time to breathe it in, take part, enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of October!
Seriously, folks ....
The "Rational" part of "Rational Hedonism" is about thinking for yourself, making your own decisions. Most intelligent people can separate themselves from good-natured, creepy fun, and ancient, superstitious practices and medieval paranoia, along with a generous sprinkle of Roman Catholic presto-chango "what-was-good-is-now-evil ...poof" fairy dust that suddenly made Halloween a Gateway to Hellfire and Damnation.
Lighten up, folks.
Regardless of how or why it started way back when, or what it might represent to whom, what it is now is a time of Fun!
To Read about the origins of Samhain/Halloween, as well as this article in its entirety on our developing website, Shameless Passion, please CLICK HERE!
Life's End Part 1
The question of what happens when a person dies is usually enough to attract interest and attention, and many different religious groups bank big on selling their "Get Out of Hell Free" card. All that hype and enthusiasm and guilt-mongering bases itself on one major premise, that hell is real. All things being equal, it also depends on heaven being real as well. In fact, much of the anxiety of dying comes from these beliefs, lurking in the back of people's minds thanks to cultural beliefs.
A Rational Hedonist is the god in his or her own world, master of their destiny who is so involved in living fulfilling lives that death is not dwelt upon. Rational Hedonists have Memorial or Remembrance Ceremonies, not funerals.
However, a few things should be made clear/pointed out.
While those who believe in gods believe the "spirit" leaves the body and soars off to some place, a Rational Hedonist believes the personality, the individuality of a person, is housed in the brain. This is why brain damage or diseases such as Alzheimer's rob family members and close friends of their loved one. The memories, personality, and recognition of the things the person once loved or disliked, in essence, what once made them their unique self, Gone. And if all that is the individual character is indeed housed in the brain, then it stands to reason, upon death of the body, the brain also ceases to function. No working brain, no more person. While for those left behind, this is a time to grieve; after all, there will never be exactly that person alive in the world again. But for the one who dies, what awaits him?
And that's not a bad thing.
"Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo" = "I was not, I was, I am not, I don't care."- Epicurus
For you to have an eternal "soul", you'd have to have existed eternally back into the past before you landed in your body. But no, people don't remember anything until after they're born. Life is for enjoying and experiencing, making memories not just for yourself but for those who will be left behind when you're gone. And when you once again no longer "are", you won't be cognizant or know it anyway. our consciousness is identical with the physical structure of our brains, and so will cease to exist when the brain ceases to function. Death might be something to be feared if the body had continued awareness, but as the brain is deprived of oxygen, dies. then disintegrates, there is no experience of suffering or even pleasure.
"The point here is that a change in structure invariably brings a change in function. If human
consciousness is a function of the brain and sense organs, then the death of the brain and
sense organs will obviously bring a cessation of consciousness. We lose consciousness when we
sleep. We lose consciousness after a blow to the head. Is it really so difficult to accept that
we lose consciousness after our brains and bodies are totally destroyed?" --- David Mills
"I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I
regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no
heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the
dark." --- Stephen Hawkings
"I firmly believe that, if we ever fully realized the fragility of life and the finality of death, we would never speak a word of anger or impatience to anyone close to us in our lives ever again. Such an epiphany might have other beneficial effects as well. It might help us realize that there are more important things than money and material gains." --- From Ebon Musings
"I say that I am not afraid of death. This does not mean that I will welcome it, only that I hope to accept it peacefully when the time comes. But, some might ask, can I really draw comfort from such a belief? Wouldn't it be more reassuring to believe that I will continue to exist even after my physical dissolution? In fact, I do believe that - in a sense.
Compared to the great vastness of the cosmos, the ocean of deep time, my individual existence is a blip, a bubble in the foam on the surface of a flowing river. I am a momentary arrangement of atoms and molecules - an arrangement that lives and moves, to be sure, an arrangement that thinks, laughs, appreciates beauty, dreams, and loves - but a mere arrangement nonetheless, a transient state, an ephemeral gathering. Soon the blip will go out, the bubble will pop, the arrangement will dissolve, molecular bonds released by entropy. My consciousness will cease. But the molecules that once were me will still exist. The atoms that made up my body - iron, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, all the heavy elements forged in the crucibles of dying stars - will remain. Liberated from their temporary home, they will rejoin the rest of the planet, taking new shapes, finding new arrangements, becoming part of other life. I will become merged with everything.
I will become part of the trees that grow wherever my ashes are scattered, joining the ecosystem of the forest. I will be in the slow green heartwood of the trunks as they patiently tick off the centuries, in the buds that burst forth in spring and in the leaves that explode with color in autumn. I will be the sparkle of sunlight on the surface of a flowing mountain stream. I will sink into the earth and mix with the groundwater, eventually flowing back and rejoining the ocean where all life on this planet ultimately began. I will be in the waves that crash on the shore, in the warm sheltered tidal pools, in the coral reefs that bloom with life, and in the depths that echo with whale songs. I will be subducted into the planet's core and join the three-hundred-million-year cycle of the continental plates. I will rise into the sky and, in the fullness of time, become dispersed throughout the atmosphere, until every breath will contain part of me. And billions of years from now, when our sun swells and blasts the Earth's atmosphere away, I will be there, streaming into space to rejoin the stars that gave my atoms birth. And perhaps some day, billions of years yet beyond that, on some distant planet beneath bright alien skies, an atom that once was part of me will take part in a series of chemical reactions that may ultimately lead to new life - life that will in time leave the sea that gave it birth, crawl up onto the beach, and look up into the cosmos and wonder where it came from.
And the cycle will begin again. " --- Ebon Musings
The last two quotes are from Ebon Musings, and this excellent, thoughtful blog can be seen in its entirety here.
A word still guaranteed to catch attention . . . .
And when the word "Hedonism" is brought up, even pre-empted by "Rational", what comes to thought in many people's minds are wild orgies or someone who goes from one sexual encounter to another.
Both are examples of quick insta-hedonistic pleasures, not long-term, life-enriching changes of behavior for a happier life.
Sex is easy (It is relationships that take communication, willingness, patience, and hard work). Humans are hard-wired with millions of sensory nerve cells in your skin alone, all designed to bring pleasure through physical touch and sensual stimulation. Even baby boys quickly discover "playing" with themselves. Parents and society are very quick to scold and teach that this is bad and/dirty.
There's nothing wrong, perverted, shameful, guilty, or sinful about masturbation. It's not a "dirty" word.
It doesn't mean you're a sexual deviant. In one national study, 95% of males and 89% of females reported that they have masturbated. (And the rest, ya gotta figure, are liars!) It's a great way of relieving sexual tension and frustration that builds up.
Rational Hedonism allows for sexual freedom (as long as the "rational" part is in there to protect against STDs and unwanted pregnancy), exploration and play for consenting legal-aged adults, BUT, it also allows for the freedom for those partners who strongly love and are devoted and bonded to each other to stay loyal and monogamous. It also allows for someone who does not have a strong sex drive, to not feel guilty about that either. Sexual freedom is not a buzz word meaning to be obligated to have all the sex you want with multiple partners .... it is also the freedom to be devoted to one, or free to not have sex at all.
The biggest and most important celebration and holiday for a Rational Hedonist is your birth-day.
Birth was your beginning, time and history began for you, the start of your special time in the world to fulfill the culmination of thousands of years of a genetic mixing bowl of intelligence, creativity, and special abilities. It's about remembering the special day of your arrival, a celebration of all you've done and accomplished. There is certainly nothing wrong with accepting compliments or patting yourself on the shoulder with deserved self-pride for where you're at at this point, looking back as to how far you've come, celebrating and enjoying the good things and meaningful friends in your life, as you are surrounded by those friends, significant others, co-workers, both family and adopted family; or choose to have a few hours of quiet reflection and "you"-time.
It is a day to treat yourself to favorite pleasures both small and large, self-indulgence and giving yourself royal treatment even if it's just this one day a year. Buy something you want that no one else would know.
Your birthday cycle repeats a yearly spiral that repeats that special energy that was you the day you were born and coils around again and again, each year with added wisdom, knowledge and creativity -- our true New year.
G.K. is currently the official Spokesman representing Rational Hedonism online; an Ordained Celebrant (not "celibate"!) with R.H. and conducts or advises others with Weddings, Civil Unions, Remembrance Ceremonies (both people and pets), Adoption and Naming Ceremonies; and conducts "Garden" Parties for Rational Hedonists throughout the United States.