Saturday, June 21, 2014
What will make me and you happy?
The Dali Lama said that the meaning of life is the pursuit of happiness. Great! I think he is right as far as he goes, but the bigger question, of course, is what will make me happy?
In our capitalistic society the answer is money and things. Most people in America worship Mammon. The religion of America is materialism. Walmart, Target, and the malls of America are America's cathedrals where people go to worship. Black Friday is the holiest of the holy days of the year.
Has materialism made us happy? Up to a point, but then banality sets in and even worse our possessions own us, we no longer own our possessions and we suffer the side effects of environmental degradation and divisiveness between the haves and the have nots.
Rev. Galen Guengerich's eighth chapter in his book, God Revised, deals with the question of ethics and is entitled, "How We Should Live: The Source of Ethics". He writes, "In a secular age, the process of establishing ethical standards is more complicated than opening a book of scripture or doing what seems right in our own minds." p. 155 So what should be the basis of an ethical code which guides us in how to live the good life? Guengerich reviews some of the ideas which have come down to us through history and then writes at the end of his chapter "The key to doing what's right is to focus not on fear but on the calling." p.172
He writes a little further, "How do we decide what we ought to do in a particular situation? What values do we use to set our moral compasses and from where do these values come? To answer these questions, we turn to the ethics of gratitude." p.172
I don't know how Guengerich arrived at the conclusion that the ethics of gratitude is the answer to the question of where our values which inform our ethics should come from. Maybe we will learn more in his ninth chapter where he seems to intend to address this question.
My answer to the question of where our values which inform our ethics come from is Jesus, The Holy Spirit, the Muse, Mother Nature, Cosmic Consciousness, Higher Power, Tao, Great Spirit, Spirit of Life, whatever, whomever you want to call it. The moral compass comes from within informed by the without. The moral compass ultimately is Love. What would Love have us do? The question's utility is based on our purity, our ability to chose between the ego, and what A Course In Miracles calls a "Miracle". The "Miracle" is a shift in perception from the ego plane to the spiritual, to the plane of Love. The fourth principle of the Principles of Miracles is, "All miracles mean life, and God is the Giver of life. His Voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all you need to know." T-1.I.4:1-3 God's voice is always there talking to us. The question is whether we are tuned in and open to hearing it? Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. People who are pure of heart live examined lives. People who are pre-occupied with the ego live lives of drama.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7 - "Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." It seems that the key, here, is in the presence of mind to ask. It would seem to me that the basis of this purity of heart is humility first, along with self awareness, then perhaps gratitude, but first comes humble curiosity, inquisitiveness, innocence of wanting to know God's will for us.
So, I am worried that Rev. Guengerich takes us down the wrong road. We shall see. I think gratitude is important and a contributing aspect of important values that inform our ethical code for how to live the happy life, but I think first comes humble curiosity and willingness to do God's will and not our egotistical own.