Ikigai – A Canticle of Reality (6)


For ikigai sincerity, jeopardy is necessary.
For ikigai enlivening, challenge is necessary.
For ikigai at all, bliss is necessary.



Ikigai is Japanese for “reason for living.” Ikigai is the inspiration to be alive.

For ikigai sincerity, jeopardy is necessary.

A feeling of investment and sensitivity to loss – a sense of jeopardy – makes living seem real. Conversely, witnessing without attachment renders living dreamlike.

A salient difference between a dream and living is control. You have no control over a dream. You simply witness dreaming.

By contrast, living is a struggle for control. You may be thwarted. Self-control is essential to achieve desired results. Struggle itself – the felt risk that you may not succeed – makes living seem real.

For ikigai enlivening, challenge is necessary.

Meaning is an inner assignation of significance. The mind discards what has no potential meaning. Meaning is measured by attention and memory.

What grabs attention is beauty and utility: aesthetic and functional. Interest is quickly lost in that which is easy to appreciate or simple to use.

What takes cognition keeps attention. It is challenge that retains interest. The gratification of achievement is only felt by overcoming difficulty. Victories are won, not given. Achievement enlivens ikigai by bringing joy.

For ikigai at all, bliss is necessary.

Consciousness is an interested observer. Consciousness wants to be entertained. Enjoyment is the root of desire.

Consciousness judges what is given to it via the show called perception. Consciousness expresses its approval with joy.

What motivates the will to live is the desire for joy. Bliss is a pervasive undercurrent of joy mixed with contentment. Bliss inspires ikigai.

Complex life evolved on Earth from the symbiotic joining of 2 distinct prokaryotes. A bacterium agreed to reside in and work with an archaeon. Such cooperative cohabitation (mutualism) to cellular complexity independently occurred many times in Earth’s life history.

Symbiotic union was based upon trust. The archaeon had to trust that its bacterial partner would be reliable and vice versa.

From this union of prokaryotes arose eukaryotes. At first there were only single-celled eukaryotes, though many of them had bacterial symbionts. Then eukaryotic cells decided they could trust each other. Multicellular organisms emerged.

As with the original union of prokaryotes that created eukaryotes, multicellular life evolved via specialization in cell types. From this tradition evolved highly complex life, including plants, fungi, and animals.

Trust between cells was essential for adaptation to the specialized cellular complexity that characterizes multicellular life. The root of that trust was ikigai.

If cells readily surrendered their lives when stressed, they would not be reliable partners. Resilience is integral to reliability. Resilience comes from will to live. Bliss underlies ikigai.