Archive for the ‘secret of life’ Category

Coda: happiness today

December 20, 2011

Grades in. Time to exhale.

Soon as I pushed the “submit” button yesterday, I received a query from one of our public information officers:

Since you taught a class on “The Philosophy of Happiness,” would you have a moment to respond to this reporter? His deadline is 1 p.m. Central Dec. 21.

The reporter’s questions:

What constitutes happiness today? It used to be about the American Dream, but that concept is slipping away. Are we happier today than we were? Why or why not? How is happiness sought after differently today than, say, 50 years ago? Why are we less happy?

My off-the-cuff reply:

I teach a course on the philosophy of happiness at Middle Tennessee State University. For what it’s worth, my impression is that students increasingly pursue happiness as an inner transformation, an adjustment of aspiration away from success defined strictly in material terms (what philosopher William James called the old American worship of the “Bitch-goddess Success”) and towards a greater appreciation of the transience and fragility of life. I detect a shift of values, a heightened interest in pursuing work and relationships that are personally meaningful.  Students in my classes exhibit more interest in a spiritual search for enlightenment (Buddhism is hot, especially in the hands of western converts like Matthieu Ricard), and I detect new receptivity to the perspective of a Bertrand Russell in his 1930 book (way ahead of its time in some ways)  “The Conquest of Happiness.” Russell pointed out that happiness can be conquered if we’ll acknowledge how indifferent the large universe is to our small everyday concerns; then, and only then, can we hope to rise abo ve them.

I don’t know if we’re less happy now, but I’m pretty sure we’re less glib about the meaning of happiness than those earlier generations for whom it was imagined to be readily available for a price. The old line about fools who know the price-tag of everything but  the value of nothing definitely applies.

I guess that’s as good a coda for “Happiness & the Secret of Life” as I’m likely to produce.

Now what? Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi and Winifred Gallagher say it’s as important to devote purposive forethought to our leisure, as to our work. So I’m turning my serious attention today to finishing The Art of Fielding. Then, The Swerve. Then, ho-ho-ho, it’ll be time for some serious last-minute holiday shopping.

 

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The secret is bright

December 6, 2011

It’s the last day of class in SOL. If we’re going to nail down “the secret of life” we’d better do it now.

Actually I think we’ve identified many secrets, exposed many strategies. Matthieu Ricard’s (& HHDL’s) Buddhist path undoubtedly holds great promise for many. Others will prefer Bertrand Russell’s rational conquest, Jennifer Hecht’s de-mythified pluralism, or even Barbara Ehrenreich’s anti-brightness campaign. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

Next time this course comes up in rotation I’ll try to scratch deeper, with the likes of Sissela Bok’s Exploring Happiness and Owen Flanagan’s Bodhisattva’s Brain. And maybe we’ll go back to originals like Epicurus, Montaigne, Hume, and James. I’m open to suggestion.

But, I still don’t expect ever to get better insight into the way of happiness than that offered by the Pythons. This is no substitute for the full course, not even the full five minutes, but I think you can bank on it. The secret of life?

Well, it’s nothing very special. Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.

Oh, and one more thing (Ms. Ehrenreich notwithstanding): always look on the bright side of life, and have them sing it at your funeral.

Don’t worry. Be happy.

No stuck-up sticky beaks here in our classroom

December 2, 2011

I love days like yesterday: wall-to-wall final report presentations, every one of them thoughtful and enlightening, preceded by quality time with Younger Daughter (home on a sick day, asking for a story) and capped with an excellent James tutorial.

In SOL, Bonnie reported on grumpy Eric Wilson’s contrarian stand “against happiness.” Melancholy has its place, he says, especially other people’s melancholy. It’s “the muse of great literature, painting, music, and innovation,” a “wellspring of creativity.” I was reminded of Peter (Listening to Prozac) Kramer and his counter-contrarian screed “against depression.” And of Lou Marinoff’s Plato, Not Prozac. Can philosophers ever replace drugs, at (say) $75 an hour? I don’t have my philosophical counseling license yet but I’m still willing to give it a shot, if anybody wants to give me a hire.

And you might, if you heard Erik’s catalog of Celexa side-effects:

Abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, diarrhea, drowsiness, mouth, ejaculation disorders, fatigue, impotence, indigestion, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, painful menstruation, respitory tract infection, sinus or nasal inflammation, sweating, tremor, and vomiting, Amnesia, attempted suicide, confusion, coughing, decreased sexual drive, depression, excessive urination, fever, gas, impaired concentration, increased appetite, increased salivation, itching, joint pain, lack of emotion, loss of menstruation, low blood pressure, migraine, muscle pain, rapid heartbeat, rash, skin tingling, taste disturbances, visual disturbances, weight gain, weight loss, and yawning.

Ah, the miracle of modern medicine. But I think I can get most of those on my own for free, without a prescription.

Rebekah talked about self-help, to which she confesses an addiction even though she knows it doesn’t really “help.” Specifically, Scott Berkun’s Mindfire challenges us to “learn from your mistakes.” I’ve learned a lot. Seriously, as James says in “Will to Believe,”

Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf. At any rate, it seems the fittest thing for the empiricist philosopher.

Connor reported on Andrew Newberg‘s neurotheology. Are some people simply born to believe? And some of us not? And does the putative existence of a “G(od)-spot” in the brain discredit or strengthen religion’s credibility? What if peyote activates it? (“If you really want to see God, try some of this.”) We may need to talk some more about that on Tuesday.

Asiyah’s report in H1 on Anne Rice’s vampires took me one step closer to understanding the strange world of the undead (and of the living who find it so compelling). Who knew there were Existentialists and Stoics among the bloodsucking crowd? Guess I’m naive. They’re everywhere. [“Monsters We Love“]

Shannon’s discussion of linguistics and the philosophy of language clarified the pragmatic approach: why we communicate matters at least as much as how, and ambiguity makes interpersonal life richer and more interesting. Wish we’d talked more about puns, and those things… what do you call them?… that are the same spelled backwards and forwards? (“Notlob? That’s not a palindrome!”)

Tim told us all about Auguste Comte’s positivism. Was he also in charge of the sheep-dip? No, that was Bruce.

And then Matthew and Dean and I had a nice discussion about “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life,” as the Philosophy Club across the hall rolled a screening of “Life of Brian.” (What have the Romans ever done for us?”)

All in all, it was a day of philosophy in middle Tennessee the way it was meant to be: no stuck-up sticky beaks here, just Pythons and happy collaborators.

So: when we hire new Bruce to teach comparative religion, in the next month or two, we’d better take care. And ask the padre for a prayer.

“The most important thing”

November 22, 2011

It’s a pot luck class today in SOL: those of us with For the Benefit of All Beings will finish it, others will bring whatever they please. You never know what you’re gonna get.

First, though, a bit of good news. I revisited our school’s curriculum committee Friday afternoon. The results this time were quicker and happier than back in April: Philosophy of Happiness now enjoys a permanent designation of its own, and a place in the course catalog as “PHILOSOPHY 3160.” The committee also approved PHILOSOPHY 3310, Atheism and Philosophy  (Catalog descriptions).

So it’s official:  happiness endures.

We’re reading the Dalai Lama because several of us thought he had sharp insights into happiness to share. And he does. [Quotesmoremore] The “secret” is to live with kindness and compassion “for all beings,” and to understand that no “single source” can make us happy.  But the personal pursuit of happiness is not “the most important thing”:

We are all here on this planet, as it were, as tourists. None of us can live here forever… So while we are here we should try to have a good heart and to make something positive and useful of our lives.

In their different ways, all of the authors we’ve read this semester– Ehrenreich, Ricard, Hecht, Russell–  have said roughly that. I cited Bertrand Russell in CoPhi yesterday in the course of making a very similar point. “Happiness is none the less true happiness because it must come to an end.” It’s no more an illusion than life itself is an illusion. Of course that’s something we’ve been trying to clarify, with our Buddhist readings this semester. DL says elsewhere (in Universe in a Single Atom, or Meaning of Life, or Art of Happiness…) that Buddhism’s claim is not that life is an illusion but that it’s like an illusion. Hmmm.

Anyway, my position is that we should do all we can to extend, enrich, and intensify life on our planet, and fill the interim with happy purpose. We should set goals and strive to achieve them, as the cartoon I posted yesterday implied. Our goal should be to make it real, and enjoy the pursuit. There’s finally no other cure for birth and death than to enjoy the interval. (GS)

Yesterday’s conclusion fits today’s text even better: the future of life need be no illusion, and the vitality of our interest in that future will be as real as we choose to make it. The “good real things of life–work, love, children and play”– may just be good enough.

Whether we live just a few years or a whole century, it would be truly regrettable and sad if we were to spend that time aggravating the problems that afflict other people, animals, and the environment. The most important thing is to be a good human being.

Our happiness is inseparable from our goodness, and that’s bound up with the happiness of all beings. We’re here for the sake of one another, not strictly for ourselves. HHDL’s wisdom, finally, looks much like Mr. Einstein’s. “Strange is our situation here on Earth…” Happiness is within our grasp. Guess we should be grateful.

roads to freedom

November 18, 2011

In a silly mood this morning, for some reason. Speaking of J-P Sartre’s Roads to Freedom, 

Marie was noting, in connection with yesterday’s SOL discussion of the Dalai Lama and the question of emptiness at the core of human existence, that Sartre wrote (and wrote and wrote) of “the desire to be good…or if you prefer the desire to be god”…

Well, as Woody Allen said: I gotta model myself after someone.

Sartre was wordy. Did anyone ever write more about Nothingness? But he was very terse when Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion crossed the channel to ask him about freedom.

patience, attentiveness, unreality

November 17, 2011
The book we voted more than a month ago to read in SOL has proved mysteriously elusive for many of us. Not for me, though, amazon delivers. So I have a few thoughts, and more than a few questions, about the Dalai Lama’s prescription for happiness. Mostly I need to understand why he repeatedly speaks of the illusory nature of existence when he really seems to mean its transitoriness and ephemerality. “Everything, whether friendly or hostile, is an illusory display.” Why do Buddhists treat impermanence as unreality? (And why has wordpress removed all my carriage returns?!)
His call for patience, the only force strong enough to neutralize corrosive anger, is particularly fortuitous. (I suppose I can live without carriage returns.)
We must make an effort to remain in a relaxed state of mind. Because unless we get rid of this unsettled feeling, it will feed our hatred, causing it to grow and eventually destroy us… we have to make a great deal of effort to obtain happiness, while suffering comes naturally. (But) A wise person can achieve happiness…
And suffering’s not all bad anyway, it helps us “lose our sense of self-importance” and gain greater compassion for others. Isn’t that really the goal here: lose the self-importance, retain the compassionate self?
Marie writes:
If we perpetuate the notion we are independently arising phenomena, it is not possible to reflect on our emptiness. Instead of looking inward at emptiness, we see a mental projection of the “I”. If we reflect on our own inherent emptiness, much of the daily attachments we form to people and things we deem tantamount to happiness can slowly dissolve. Attachment to our own conceptions of things is the cause of afflictive emotions. As the Dalai Lama frames it, attachment will lead us to afflictive emotions, as if by a ring in our nose.
That’s very well put. I still struggle, though,  with understanding whose conceptions of things I should attach to, if not my own. No one’s? Is that because “attachment” is inherently distortive and misleading? And is my emptiness not filled by precisely those attachments to people (and maybe some things) that have personal importance to me?
In chapter 2, DL says human life is a “fortunate rebirth.” I don’t buy reincarnation (is he selling?), but I’m pleased with “fortunate.” He’s no pessimist, if you can trust the adjective. I’m puzzled, though. I thought it was the ultimate object of Buddhist practice to put a stop to those fortunate rebirths, always a harbinger of suffering.
Nagarjuna said it was ignorant to believe that phenomena are real. DL elaborates: “all concepts, including that of emptiness, must be abandoned.” That would just leave percepts, but they’re not “real” in Buddhist terms.  Where are we now to stand? “We should never go contrary to common sense,” but we’re really not in Kansas anymore with all this talk of  rebirth and unreality coupled with a repudiation of the conceptual tools required to elucidate our meaning.
No matter, “may all beings be happy” is a wonderful affirmation, as is the will to “be good people and good examples.” Likewise, the caution to be careful, not squander our days, not feed negative emotions.
What, though, of the repeated judgment that “all phenomena, outer and inner, are like a dream or an illusion”? Like? Or just are? But not all phenomena are as illusory as others.
Attentiveness and mindfulness tame the drunken elephant of the mind. They reinforce the selflessness of regarding oneself as a ghost, haunting a world where we and our associates and loved ones are “entirely devoid of reality.”
In the very next statement, DL says “Human life is a unique and favored opportunity.” I think so too, but I don’t have the problem of reconciling that view with the dearth and hollowness of reality. What does it really mean to say that we lack an essential core or underlying essence? When Sartre and the existentialists say it, it’s an  injunction to do something, create an identity, inhabit a persona. But that would be inimical to the Buddhist program of displacing  substantial selfhood, it seems.
I once wrote this, and have been trying ever since to understand what’s wrong with it. I hope the class will help me with that today:

It’s not enough to be “present” in some Zen-like fashion of transparent and selfless purity at our most compellingly significant experiences; we must bring ourselves, our persons, our peculiarities and idiosyncracies, our histories, and our anticipated futures—in a word, our subjectivity—with us to our most transcendently stirring moments. Only thus may our lives accumulate concrete significance in their particularity. The purity of pure experience is not that of renunciation in the eastern sense, of personal desires and attachments. James was quite at home with the idea that we are the particular bundles of wants, preferences, valuations, and (especially) experiences, and actions that uniquely individuate each of us. As they change and grow, or stagnate, so do we. The
people, places, and things to which we sustain voluntary attachments are the most important constituents of our respective identities. To renounce them, or detach from them, would be to die.

Put less dramatically, I wonder how it is that we can “be master of ourselves,” “appreciate others’ positive deeds,” and the like, while fully regarding ourselves and them as “self-less apparitions.”
I await further enlightenment.
But let me close this post on a note of appreciation for one very practical piece of wisdom from HHDL I intend to continue following:
We should lie on our right side, with our head toward the north, as did the Buddha when he passed into nirvana, and be ready to rise promptly in the morning.
I’m ready!

HHDL & something completely different

November 15, 2011

Our assignment in SOL today is to find something relevant pertaining to the Dalai Lama and share it. Here’s my choice, HHDL in London a few years ago. Isn’t that John Cleese, 20 seconds in, appreciating the DL’s pluralistic observation that Buddhism is not for everyone (but neither is Christianity, et al)?

There’s a wealth of relevant stuff out there, online and in print. Check out the “Night-Stand Buddhist” site for more suggestions.

Those of us with the Dalai Lama’s book in hand have the alternative assignment of reading and posing questions about the first three chapters. Circumambulation, mentioned briefly in chapter one, is the topic I’m most intrigued by. It’s a ritual practice intended to facilitate or “fabricate” an enlightenend state of mind and feeling more conducive to selfless and compassionate Buddhahood, and it largely involves walking around in circles.

To circumambulate literally means to ‘walk around.’ The principle involves making a clear and conscious connection with something that is regarded as special. This is often a physical object but it could also be a person. In a religious context ‘the thing’ would be seen as especially related to or embodying the transcendent qualities aspired to. In a more mundane situation one could go round a dwelling say as part of a blessing. Buddhamind

Great! I’ve been practicing this one unwittingly for years, though usually without explicit thought of any sacred foci. The circuit around Radnor Lake might be an occasional exception there, like Thoreau’s Walden perambulations.

More typically, my circles tend to meander in wide and mostly-random spires. Nor do I walk in robes, or in a pack. (Can a peripatetic fly solo, or with canines?)

But this begins to answer my old perplexity: why must effective meditation be zazen, “seated”? Evidently it needn’t be, though the blog Zen Man Walking indicates that the seated form has its special dispensations.

My own contemplative nature, though, is best activated by slow and steady motion. In my experience the mind is most calm and clear at about 4 mph. As the Buddha said, “to walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” Good shoes don’t hurt either.

changing our ways

November 10, 2011

We begin the Dalai Lama today in SOL, but we don’t all have the book our class voted to select, For the Benefit of All Beings, in hand yet. So, we’ll just read around on the New York Times Dalai Lama “Topics” page today. In particular, his op-ed pieces: “Our Faith in Science”  and “The Monk in the Lab”. Journalism has its limitations, though, so we might also want to  check out BuddhaNet.

JMH’s last words in Happiness Myth were “other ways to see things.” “Change our way of seeing things” are among HHDL’s first in Benefit. No coincidence. Both authors are concerned to displace easy assumptions about how to live well, and do it by urging us all to pay closer attention with fresh eyes.

The DL urges as well that we “reflect on impermanence,” but of course he got where he is today because elder Buddhists decided he was a very old soul.

The spiritual and state leader of Tibet was born in 1935 to a peasant family in northeast Tibet. At age 2, he was identified after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama as the 14th reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion.

Seems to me we mortal skeptics have a lot more impermanence to reflect on. I for one would love to look forward to more spins around the wheel, but it all sounds pretty sketchy. Past and future lives? I’ve got my hands full with just the one, this morning.

Buddhists think we’re all on a merry-go-round called samsara, floating through a succession of lifetimes in “bondage” to the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. To get off the wheel, break out of the circle, earn our release, we must seek enlightenment and stop sowing the karmic seeds that supposedly keep us stuck.

Reincarnation. Quite a concept, not so scientific. But the DL says

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.

And,

It may seem odd that a religious leader is so involved with science, but Buddhist teachings stress the importance of understanding reality, and so we should pay attention to what scientists have learned about our world through experimentation and measurement.

Paying attention is not a one-way street, though.

Similarly, Buddhists have a 2,500-year history of investigating the workings of the mind. Over the millenniums, many practitioners have carried out what we might call ”experiments” in how to overcome our tendencies toward destructive emotions.

We can all learn from one another, if we’re open and eager, and we don’t have to convert to Buddhism to do it: that’s the promise. Let’s look & see.

Buddha’s BrainContemplative ScienceQuantum & Lotus

take the weather with you

November 4, 2011

Nice reports yesterday from Connor in SOL, on SAD, and Tim in CoPhi on Social Constructivism. Then, a fun James tutorial with Matt and Dean. It was one of the best classroom days we’ve had all semester, a great day to be indoors while outside was all wet and grey and blustery. November had to arrive eventually.

And therein lies an important “secret,” for those of us who consider ourselves prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (itself a social construct, not universally acknowledged but readily invoked by the likes of Connor and me on days like yesterday).

It’s more trick than secret, really. The trick is simply to notice and then exploit the emotional inversion triggered for some of us by the short damp dark days of November and December, to turn it around and to accentuate its positive aspect. In my case, it began early yesterday morning, as the rain swirled, when I talked myself into curtailing my morning walk and tucking into the grading pile instead. Each graded paper, as it hit the “finished” pile, then became a mood-booster.

Next I reminded myself how much I enjoy a nice hot herbal tea this time of year (and no other). The English tumbled to this trick a long time ago, didn’t they? “Zen” is my tea of choice, and it’s a pleasure.

On other dank days I’ll hit the gym in gratitude (and defiance of JMH’s contempt). Artificial gratitude, perhaps, which will vanish in an instant if I notice the skies outside brightening unexpectedly while I’m sweating through a timed aerobic session on the cross-trainer or stairmaster. But when the weather outside is frightful the gym cheats and cancels much of my inner gloom.

Best trick of all: really throw yourself into the parlor mood of sprightly indoor talk. That happened in all three classes yesterday. Can’t wait, now, for another day just like it. Those who don’t get SAD, who genuinely don’t get it, say it feels “cozy” to be inside looking out, on such days. Exactly so.

There’s plenty of historic wisdom to draw on here. For instance,

Live each season as it passes; breath the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Thoreau

To be interested in the changing seasons is, in this middling zone, a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. George Santayana

Remember when old December’s darkness is everywhere about you, that the world is really in every minutest point as full of life as in the most joyous morning you ever lived through; that the sun is whanging down, and the waves dancing, and the gulls skimming down at the mouth of the Amazon, for instance, as freshly as in the first morning of creation; and the hour is just as fit as any hour that ever was for a new gospel of cheer to be preached. I am sure that one can, by merely thinking of these matters of fact, limit the power of one’s evil moods over one’s way of looking at the cosmos. -William James

Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you. Jimmy Buffett

Mr. Clemens said everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it. Here’s what you can do: boil some water, grade some papers, make a new plan, construct a new interpretation. And if all that doesn’t work, spring for the light box.

bodies R us

November 3, 2011

As noted the other day, I think Jennifer Hecht is right and Descartes was wrong: you are not in your body, you are your body. So it really matters what you put into it, how much you work it and with what frequency, and with whom you allow it to mingle… (continued)

More on JMH on bodies and happiness in a bit, but I want to begin out-of-body.

This body spent an instructive evening plopped in front of  PBS last night, with important (if somewhat elusive) implications for our discussion of what it can mean to be an embodied intelligence in the cosmos. First Brian Greene explored the mysteries of “dark energy” and space-time. We’re not in our bodies, nor are we in a void or a vacuum. There’s a there there, and 70% of the dark stuff remains uncharted. Does it harbor the secret of life, the universe, and everything? At a minimum it harbors a challenge to our smug certainties  and reminds us that whatever bodies are and whatever space is, they’re cut from the same fabric. And, for all we know, we might be holograms. Oh, Doctor.

Then, NOVA tackled the legacy of Steve Jobs. It ran an old clip of the young, bearded Jobs noting that most of what we call “life” was contrived by men and women mostly no smarter than you and me. For him that insight was an irresistible invitation to create something new under the sun, to make a contribution, to add his own intelligence and  ambition to the mix. That’s a much more profound secret than the oonception-production order of the iPad.

The documentary made clear that this remarkable man could be remarkably difficult, unreasonable, even cruel to associates. He was not a saint. But what a contribution he made, what “insanely crazy” transformative waves of happiness he created. His biggest secret: set goals every day, and work for them like there’s no tomorrow. One day you’ll be right.

The moral? An emphatic answer to Prufrock: Yes! Dare to disturb the universe. How should you presume? How can you not? Space and time can sometimes be made to bend to the will of a happy man or woman who sees things differently. They’re the ones who change the world.

Now, back to JMH. She’s another insanely crazy (in a good way) original thinker, philosopher, poet, historian, culture critic, wit… but I couldn’t disagree more with her stance on exercise. She notes but looks askance at a claim I can confirm at first hand, emphatically:

the effect of regular exercise can be as dramatic as the effect of taking antidepressant drugs.

There’s a well-kept secret for you, thanks to the culture of pharmaceuticals and its cozy relationship with medical science. It works, it’s proven, it doesn’t require an expensive gym membership.

Yes, exercise strains the body. But, “damages the heart and increases anxiety” too, for most of us? She’ll need to be more specific to persuade me. My hour a day on the hoof (and just occasionally in the gym) has only strengthened my heart muscle, and given heart in all the good figurative ways too. It’s what holds anxiety at bay, lets me eat stress for lunch, allows me to function more or less like a semi-competent human being. 100-Up

But ok, that’s me. We’re all different, we’re all individuals. Got it. I still think she’s off-base.

Exercise can make some people feel good, and it makes some people blissfully happy. Yet, on a daily basis, many of us make ourselves happy by not exercising.

We all have our days, but those who make a habit of not exercising are experiencing a fool’s happiness. IMHO. But I’ve been reading Sarah Bakewell’s Montaigne too. Que sais-je?

As for sex, The Art of Massage is not really about happiness, with all its precise and clinical manual/digital instructions. Pleasure, maybe. Sometimes. But external views of sexuality– porn, we call that– aren’t usually sexy. In matters promiscuous and casual, I for one am glad the Woodstock generation grew up. And I would say that even if AIDS and STDs were entirely eliminated. But I wouldn’t want to be “heavy-handed” or impose my own “beliefs about what we ought to be doing.”

Maybe our relatively more buttoned-down, post-Woodstock era does “allow more room” for happy sex.  But maybe, too,  you do just have to try some insanely crazy things, if you really want to make a difference.