Principal Doctrines, decoded

  1. Do not cause trouble for yourself or for others. This lets you be free from anger and bias. These are signs of weakness.
  2. Death is nothing to us. Once we become dissolved atoms, we don’t experience anything. We’re gone. Why worry if you can’t experience anything?
  3. Maximum pleasure is feeling no pain.
  4. Even the worst pains do not last long. In the long run, life is more pleasant than unpleasant, even if you have a nasty disease.
  5. You have to be good to be happy. You have to be happy to be good.
  6. It is good to be protected from other men.
  7. Some people want to be famous so that they can be independent. If that worked, I would approve. But I doubt that fame leads to independence.
  8. All pleasures are good. Most pleasures, however, lead to disturbances that are worse than the pleasure. Stay focused and do not get caught up in the pursuit of these pleasures.
  9. If pleasures added up, then pleasures would never differ from one another. We need some pain to feel pleasure.
  10. If wealth made people unafraid of death, disease, famine and war, then wealth would be good. If wealth taught people to be satisfied with a simple life, then I could not complain. But it does not.
  11. We developed science to get rid of our fears of death, disease, famine and war.
  12. You can’t enjoy wealth or security if you don’t understand science.
  13. Wealth and power lead to security to some degree. But a quiet, solitary life is the best way to be secure.
  14. You want much, but need little.
  15. Being good means you won’t have to worry. The evil must worry.
  16. When needs are gone, bodily pleasure is just an assortment of minor variations. Mental pleasure, however, reaches its limit when we look back on how worried we were about those needs.
  17. Your mind can limit your wants. You only need a little, but at first, everyone wants an unlimited amount. Stop worrying about the future. Try not to want the things you do not really need, and you will find you will not need to try everything. Limiting wants removes worries of death. And remember: even when you are dying, life is still pleasant.
  18. You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you can get what you need.
  19. You do not need something unless you are in actual pain when that ‘need’ goes unfulfilled. If you are not in pain, then get rid of that want.
  20. Friends will protect you against insecurity.
  21. There are three kinds of want:
    1. Natural and necessary,
    2. Natural and unnecessary, and
    3. Neither natural nor necessary.
  22. Don’t be dumb: if you aren’t in actual pain without something, you don’t need it. You just think you do. Of course, many people go through much trouble to get things they don’t really need.
  23. ‘Justice’ is really only a contract that I won’t hurt you and you won’t hurt me.
  24. If you didn’t get it in writing, it is your own fault if you got ripped off. Don’t blame the other guy.
  25. There is no one perfect set of laws. There are many imperfect systems of justice.
  26. There is nothing inherently wrong with breaking the law, but it will make you unhappy because you will be afraid of getting caught.
  27. The same thing can be just and unjust in different places.
  28. If a law never led to happiness, it was never just. If a law stopped leading to happiness, it stopped being just.