Vitality, Beauty, Community

The three components of human happiness are vitality, beauty, and a sheltering sense of community. We always start by relying on ourselves and looking for these three things in power, order, and fellowship as the world understands them. Failing to find them there, we eventually seek them in the only way that makes sense–in Being, which transforms, fulfills and brings us to new life.  ~Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, Zen and Us

I am so happy to find the source of this idea! For years, I have had it written down as “vitality, beauty, and a sheltering sense of community, rather than power, order, and fellowship,” without attribution. As I was rereading Dürckheim last night, there it was!

I love this book. Originally published in West Germany in 1961, it discusses what Zen has to offer the rational West. Dürckheim emphasizes that Zen is Being, is experience, and experience only. He says, “This doctrine is not a philosophical theory of being, and has nothing to do with metaphysical inquiry, but expresses an inner experience–the experience of Being, which we ourselves are, in our true nature.” I thought of Bill’s wonderful haiku in response to a recent post: reading about Zen, grasping it intellectually, is not Zen.

Anyway, the notion of “vitality, beauty, and a sheltering sense of community” as components of happiness seems right to me, and also the idea that they are often sought, but not to be found in the usual power, order, and fellowship that society offers. What do you think?


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