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Please note that I’m not referring to momentary happiness from distractive actions, like narcotic or alcohol consumption: I’m referring to excessive happiness that arises, from birth of a child, or success in career, which are not unwholesome in themselves.

Socratic/stoic tradition identifies intense pleasure as a nail that rivets us with the desire of the body, and causes cyclic rebirth again and again. To remain detached, the stoics say we should never give full license to the appearance of happiness, and should not allow our pleasure to go as far as it chooses: instead we should check it, and curb it. For example they say, when kissing your child, to remind yourself that he who you love is mortal and momentary, you should say with a lisping voice, "tomorrow you will die"; and to a friend also, "tomorrow you will go away or I shall, and never shall we see one another again".

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The Buddhist tradition arose before the Socratic/stoic tradition and, since Greeks were very interested in Buddhism, it is likely the Socratic/stoic tradition was influenced by the Buddhist tradition. In other words, what is written in the question is essentially Buddhism. The following links are merely a small sample of similar Buddhist teachings:

Kisa Gotami was the wife of a wealthy man of Savatthi. Her story is one of the more famous ones in Buddhism. After losing her only child, Kisa Gotami became desperate and asked if anyone can help her. Her sorrow was so great that many thought she had already lost her mind. An old man told her to meet Buddha. Buddha told her that before he could bring the child back to life, she should find white mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. She desperately went from house to house, but to her disappointment, she could not find a house that had not suffered the death of a family member. Finally the realization struck her that there is no house free from mortality. She returned to the Buddha, who comforted her and preached to her the truth. She was awakened and entered the first stage of Arhatship. Eventually, she became an Arhat.

Kisa Gotami


210. Seek no intimacy with the beloved and also not with the unloved, for not to see the beloved and to see the unloved, both are painful.

211. Therefore hold nothing dear, for separation from the dear is painful. There are no bonds for those who have nothing beloved or unloved.

Piyavagga


Now at that time a certain householder's dear & beloved little son, his only child, had died. Because of his death, the father had no desire to work or to eat. He kept going to the cemetery and crying out, "Where have you gone, my only little child? Where have you gone, my only little child?"

Then he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him, "Householder, your faculties are not those of one who is steady in his own mind. There is an aberration in your faculties."

"Lord, how could there not be an aberration in my faculties? My dear & beloved little son, my only child, has died. Because of his death, I have no desire to work or to eat. I keep going to the cemetery and crying out, 'Where have you gone, my only little child? Where have you gone, my only little child?'

"That's the way it is, householder. That's the way it is — for sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are born from one who is dear, come springing from one who is dear."

Now at that time a large number of gamblers were playing dice not far from the Blessed One. So the householder went to them and they said: "That's the way it is, householder [said the gamblers]. That's the way it is. Happiness & joy are born from one who is dear, come springing from one who is dear."

So the householder left, thinking, "I agree with the gamblers."

Piyajatika Sutta


Then Sakka, ruler of gods, and the divine King Vessavana had the venerable Maha Moggallana walk all over and explore the Vejayanta Palace: "See, good sir Moggallana, this loveliness of the Vejayanta Palace! See, good sir Moggallana, this loveliness Vejayanta Palace!"

Then the venerable Maha Moggallana considered thus: "This spirit is living much too negligently. What if I stirred up a sense of urgency in him?"

Then the venerable Maha Moggallana performed such a feat of supernormal power that with the point of his toe he made the Vejayanta Palace shake and quake and tremble.

When the venerable Maha Moggallana knew that Sakka, ruler of gods, was stirred to a sense of urgency with his hair standing on end, he asked him: "Kosiya, how did the Blessed One state to you in brief deliverance in the destruction of craving? It would be good if we might also get to hear that statement."

Good sir Moggallana, I went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, I stood at one side and said: ‘Venerable sir, how in brief is a bhikkhu liberated in the destruction of craving, one who has reached the ultimate end, the ultimate goal, one who is foremost among gods and humans?’ When this was said, good sir Moggallana, the Blessed One told me: ‘Here, ruler of gods, a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering/attaching to".

Cūḷataṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta


(1) Bhikkhus, when an uninstructed worldling meets with gain, he does not reflect thus: ‘This gain that I have met is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change.’ He does not understand it as it really is. (2) When he meets with loss … (3) … fame … (4) … disrepute … (5) … blame … (6) … praise … (7) … pleasure … (8) … pain, he does not reflect thus: ‘This pain that I have met is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change.’ He does not understand it as it really is.

Gain obsesses his mind, and loss obsesses his mind. Fame obsesses his mind, and disrepute obsesses his mind. Blame obsesses his mind, and praise obsesses his mind. Pleasure obsesses his mind, and pain obsesses his mind. He is attracted to gain and repelled by loss. He is attracted to fame and repelled by disrepute. He is attracted to praise and repelled by blame. He is attracted to pleasure and repelled by pain. Thus involved with attraction and repulsion, he is not freed from birth, from old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish; he is not freed from suffering, I say.

Lokavipatti Sutta


With contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one delights in it, welcomes it and remains holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust lies within one. When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one sorrows, grieves and laments, weeps beating one’s breast and becomes distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion lies within one. When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one does not understand as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance lies within one. Bhikkhus, that one shall here and now make an end of suffering without abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, without abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, without extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, without abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge — this is impossible.

With contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one does not delight in it, welcome it, and remain holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust does not lie within one. When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one does not sorrow, grieve and lament, does not weep beating one’s breast and become distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion does not lie within one. When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one. Bhikkhus, that one shall here and now make an end of suffering by abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, by abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, by extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge — this is possible.

Chachakka Sutta

  • The story of Kisa Gotami etc. doesn't seem to me to be an example of censuring oneself when excessively happy. – ChrisW Jan 3 '17 at 22:59
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    Possibly however it establishes a easy to understand foundation for the other teachings. The questioner did ask about children. – Dhammadhatu Jan 4 '17 at 0:26
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Instead of (or, perhaps, as well as) censuring "happiness that arises without right view", Buddhism maybe praises "happiness that arises with right view": including for example Sukha and Pīti.

I'm not sure that the "censure" you mention is distinguishable from right view: right view will tell you that, right view is the view that, things are impermanent.

I think that Buddhism warns against "attachment", Upādāna, and to that extent it might be be analogous to the "nail that rivets us with the desire" which you mentioned. According to The Twelve Nidanas, feeling is a prerequisite for craving, which is a prerequisite for attachment.

So far as I know, Buddhism doesn't "censure" by saying e.g. "don't be too happy". It says that "the all" which we experience is the result of contact between things (sense-objects) and our senses (including "ideas" and "mind" as a sixth type of sense-object and sense-organ), and that such contacts are impermanent (and that it would be unfortunate to become attached to them).

  • Thank you for your response Chris, What I mean by “censure” is nothing but to recall a right-view whenever we feel delight, and my questions is specifically for ethical delight excluding both aesthetical delight we get through our senses as expresses in Potaliya Sutta and delight from non-ethical action that I alluded on my question. – user10552 Jan 5 '17 at 11:44

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