Author Archives: oliver

God’s Great Commandments (Part 6)

As discussed in my previous post, to find eternal happiness we need more than Faith. We need Hope.

Hope, like Faith, is a virtue given by the grace of God. Hope takes us along the journey to happiness with God. Hope emanates from the will. It is the courage to accept the Faith knowing that following Jesus will not be in vain. Hope is the desire to be saved by Faith in God by fighting the good fight, staying ever alert, sacrificing when necessary, and living within your means.

The virtue of Hope in the spiritual world is similar to the virtues of Courage and Temperance found in the everyday world. It is courage and temperance that allow us to fight the trials of the adventure to seize the gift for society, moving forward to happiness in this life. And it is the virtue of Hope that allows us to remain faithful to the road to future happiness in the next life, as expressed by Jesus.

The following picture beautifully illustrates the grace of Hope. The travelers exhibit a calm sense of purpose and resolve that the road that they have embarked upon earlier will hopefully lead to future happiness.

The group is emerging from an eastern light into a western darkness; a snarled broken tree depicts dangerous roads ahead.  Daniel Boone represents the protector who is leading the group through the adventure with great assurance.  He is the grace of Hope that the group will eventually find bliss and happiness at the end of their journey.  He represents the second supernatural grace: the comforter, the assurer of their Faith, and the promise of happiness nurturing the faithful travelers as they follow the road to happiness.

But, happiness requires more than a knowledge of God (Faith) and the assurance that the path chosen by God is indeed the correct one (Hope).

More to come!

God’s Great Commandments (Part 5)

So, Jesus tells us that the first commandment is to love God with our heart, soul, and mind. Firstly, to love God requires Faith. If you do not have faith in God, or you believe that God does not exist, then you need not go any further (after all, how can you love God if there is no God). However, even if you have no faith I suggest that you read on – your life might just be improved anyway.

Faith, is a virtue given by the grace of God – it can not be achieved with one’s own efforts. To receive faith requires that you be open to accepting it, that you be humble and ever vigilant. It requires that you be educated by your parents, the church, and others who are looking to help you find such faith.

Faith emanates from the mind. It is knowledge that there is a God. The virtue of Faith in the spiritual world is similar to the virtue of Prudence or Wisdom found in the everyday world. It is prudence or wisdom that allows each of us to recognize the call to the adventure (the adventure leading to happiness in this life). And it is the virtue of Faith that allows us to recognize the call to follow Jesus (the call leading to happiness in the next life).

You are probably wondering what faith looks like. Well, the picture below is one of the best depictions of faith that I have ever come across.

This painting presents a girl who appears to have made her decision to accept the grace of Faith and travel upward and away from her friends to the right.  This is a clear depiction of the grace of Faith, represented by the sunlight bathing the girl in warmth.  The sunlight denotes a supernatural protective power of destiny and the promise that paradise will not be lost.

But Faith alone is not enough to find happiness. We need more – coming shortly.

God’s Great Commandments (Part 4)

So, we have Jesus, philosophers (Aristotle), theologians (St. Aquinas), modern psychologists (Maslow), the myths (Campbell), and the masters of the fine arts, all pointing to the meaning of life being to find happiness. And, that the road to such happiness in this life can be found in the loving of one’s neighbor or, to put it differently, the helping of one’s neighbor to flourish in life.

However, loving one’s neighbor or helping one’s neighbor to flourish is not an easy task – it requires lifelong effort and sacrifice. It involves preparation for the adventure, recognition of the call to the adventure, the courage to accept the call and fight the trials to capture the gift that was the intent of the adventure. Only then, if successful, is the gift presented to one’s neighbor (family, community, or society) helping them have a better life. In return, the reward for such a successful adventure is personal happiness.

And what is this personal happiness? What does it look like? The great artists and the myths show us this state of happiness. The teachings of the philosophers, theologians, and the modern psychologists reinforce what the artists and the myths portray. In essence, happiness is a state in which the successful adventurer is flooded with peak experiences, feelings of self-actualization (which is nothing more than no further needs or desires in life – life is complete), and the ability to move freely between the spiritual and the everyday worlds. No more striving, no more searching, each day is met with experiences and moments that are rarely revealed to those who have not found happiness.

And, what about Jesus’s teaching of God’s second commandment being to love your neighbor? If this command is fulfilled, happiness is reached. And the outcome of the successful adventure is the fulfillment of this second commandment – the lives of one’s neighbors and family have been enhanced. For those who have fulfilled the second command (those who have reached the end of the adventure) the reward could be nothing but “heaven on earth.” And “heaven on earth” could be nothing more than what we have learned from the great thinkers and artists mentioned above: a flood of peak experiences, no further needs or desires in life, no more striving or searching, and the ability to move freely between the spiritual and the everyday worlds.

The final aspect of happiness being the ability to move freely between the spiritual and the everyday worlds is what connects us to the first great commandment – love of God.

More to come!

 

 

God’s Great Commandments (Part 3)

In my previous two posts I discuss the two commands of God found in the New Testament: 1) love God, and 2) love your neighbor. Matthew’s gospel states that these are the two greatest commandments of God and upon which everything else rests. If so, then why does the rest of the New Testament exist? Why not just stop with the two commandments? There are two very good reasons.

Firstly, we read the New Testament to be assured that Jesus is the Son of God. We read of His life (especially His birth and death), His teachings, and His miracles. It is these readings that give us the comfort and the faith that Jesus is the Messiah and that the two great commandments (and other teachings) that Jesus states are to be trusted as the true road to follow for happiness.

Secondly, we read the New Testament to be inspired by the disciples of Jesus. These are men who walked with Jesus and who developed the faith to follow his teachings. It is important to witness how these men were changed by following Him. The readings regarding the lives of the disciples prove the confidence and hope that following the teachings of Jesus will lead to happiness.

It is in my book that you will find the teachings of great philosophers, psychologists, and mythologists. They provide abundant support from different disciplines; support that reinforces the second of God’s commands. Also, my book presents great works from the masters of the fine arts to provide the confidence and hope that the great teachings do in fact illustrate the road to happiness in this life.

The same great thinkers and great artists are once again called upon, along with one great theologian, to provide evidence supporting God’s first command. It is this evidence that highlights the road to happiness in the next life.

As you will see in my book, the roads to happiness in this life and the next life commingle with each other to form just one road to twofold happiness – the same road described by the two great commandments over 2000 years ago!

God’s Great Commandments (Part 2)

In my last post I began discussing how St. Matthew’s gospel verses regarding God’s command to love God with your whole mind, soul, and heart is the road to happiness in the next life. Traveling this road to eternal happiness is made possible by the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. And if the grace of Charity is received then the two previous virtues of Faith and Hope fall away and only Charity remains.

What about achieving happiness in this life. Well, the same St. Matthew’s gospel verses mention that God’s second command is to love your neighbor as yourself. This second command is the road to happiness in this life. Traveling this road is made possible by the cardinal virtues of Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, and Justice. And if the virtue of Justice is earned, then the three previous virtues of Wisdom, Courage, and Temperance fall away and only Justice remains.

The virtue of Justice is not meant to be thought of in a legal sense but in terms of caring for others or helping others to flourish. In fact, if you alter the second command of “love your neighbor as yourself” and instead have it read as “help your neighbor to flourish” then you have the road to happiness in this life as expressed in my book.

So there you have it: God’s command to love God is the road to happiness in the next life, and the command to love your neighbor is the road to happiness in this life. Taken together, you have the Road to Twofold Happiness. What could not be any clearer: God wants us to find our own happiness and his two commands give us the proper road to proper happiness.

 

God’s Great Commandments (Part 1)

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

The above Bible verses from St. Matthew is one of the most important verses from the Bible and the one that perhaps best describes most eloquently the road to twofold happiness.

Within these short five sentences lies the true path to twofold happiness – happiness in this life as well as happiness in the next life.

Jesus first tells us that the road to happiness in the next life is to love God. This is accomplished through the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. It is through Charity (by way of faith and Hope) that we love God and are awarded happiness in the next life.

Jesus tells us that this is the first and greatest commandment. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that this happiness with God is the passing perfection of happiness in this life.

So, we have the road to happiness in the next life being found through the graces of Faith, Hope, and Charity. It is through these graces (that each of us must be open to receiving) that we reach the love of God, which is the surpassing perfection of the road to happiness in this life.

But what do the versus above say about the road to happiness in this life?

More to come in the next post!

Normalcy and Serenity Now!

If you are like me and wondering what has happened to the world, you can take great comfort in reading my book.

Surround yourself with great thinkers from the present and the past to bring normalcy back to your life. At the same time, reach serenity through great art, music, poetry, and dance.

My book is the anecdote for dysfunction in our institutions and a guide to you future happiness shielding you from the dark and bizarre world around us.

Journey Versus Adventure

In my book I talk about how the road to happiness is composed of the Journey and the Adventure. The Journey comes first and entails education, skill development, social interaction, and the testing of one’s resolve in life (occupation, family, volunteerism, religious practices, etc.). If the Journey is successful then the individual will achieve something equal to or close to the “good life.”

Also, it is expected that someone who has lead a successful Journey will have developed the cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. These virtues make us better people and allow us to move forward and consider the Adventure.

The Adventure follows from the Journey and is nothing more than the calling to begin a new road to capture the gift that you were sent to find and to return to the everyday world with the gift intact. The cardinal virtues mentioned above are required to see and stay on the new road until the gift is captured and presented to those friends, family, and society back in the everyday world. At that moment, happiness in this life is finally achieved.

The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity are necessary to continue the path of the Adventure to beyond happiness in this life and to the final end of happiness in the next life. Moreover, while the three theological virtues are not required for everyday happiness, their presence makes achieving happiness in this life more likely and perhaps easier to achieve.

So, you may ask – “In a nutshell, what is the Journey?” The answer: The Present You.

And, you may also ask – “In a nutshell, what is the Adventure?” The answer: The Future You, if offered and accepted.”

So What Does the Nation do to Promote Individual Happiness?

Achieving happiness in our lives requires each of us to accept the call to Adventure and complete that Adventure over time.

In completing the Adventure we not only reach individual happiness but we help in the flourishing of society.

Our nation needs to ensure that as many individuals as possible accept and complete their Adventure so as to aid in the flourishing of society.

For each of us to accept and complete the Adventure four essential virtues are needed: 1) wisdom, 2) courage, 3) temperance, and 4) justice. Wisdom is needed to recognize the Adventure, 2) courage is needed to accept the Adventure, 3) temperance is required to avoid laziness and other temptations while completing the Adventure, and 4) justice is required to return from the Adventure and deliver the captured gift that was the reason for the quest. It is this gift that aids in the flourishing of one’s family, community, and nation.

So where does one find these virtues? It begins with the nurturing of one’s family. Aided by the freedom from crimes, famine, wars, disease, and other outside forces, the family can educate and prepare its children to be a functioning member of society. Once prepared for society, the individual can pursue “Flow activities” as he/she becomes a member of society. It is during these many Flow activities that the individual becomes integrated into society: develops friendships, completes one’s education, enters competitions, finds a respectable occupation, and begins to save for the future of his/her family and retirement.

The government, workplace, and other institutions must safeguard against any impediment to Flow. It is the desire for Flow and its rewards that is the reason that such activities are pursued. It is these activities that contribute to the development of the virtues needed for the Adventure.

So, our nation must be mindful of the importance of Flow in developing the virtues which are then relied upon in the Adventure to seize the gift that is to aid in the flourishing of society and lead to happiness in the individual. Our nation must do its best to protect the family and allow the mature individual to pursue the many Flow activities that will develop and strengthen the virtues needed by those few who will be called to the Adventure.

One final point, it is equally important that our nation be vigilant for the successful Adventurer who is seeking the return back to the everyday world with the gift intact. Without the “love of neighbor” recognizing the efforts of the Adventurer in seizing the gift, society will lose an opportunity to flourish. While not required to reach happiness in this world, religious practices contribute greatly to the development of the virtues and to a far greater degree than might be expected, and help in accepting the returning Adventurer with the captured gift.

It is our nation’s responsibility to 1) safeguard the family in its preparation of its children, 2) ensure that all prepared adults have the opportunity for unimpeded Flow activities that contribute to the development of the virtues needed to accept the call to Adventure (including freedom of religion), and 3) be vigilant in recognizing and welcoming the successful Adventurer back to the everyday world with the gift captured for the benefit of society.

Artists and Twofold happiness

The great masters of the fine arts understood very well the concept of twofold happiness. They knew that an individual who has achieved happiness in this world has reached self-actualization with the gift of peak experiences. The same individual has also vanquished all human fears and desires with no further needs.

The same great artists also knew that those who have achieved happiness in this life are able to pass back and forth between the everyday world and the spiritual world. The artists knew that this ability to exist in the two worlds is only achieved by those who have reached happiness in this life – a state reached by capturing and delivery a gift for the betterment of one’s community or society.

And, the actual seizing of the gift for the common good is the action that is encouraged by the graces of Faith, Hope, and Charity. These three graces are the virtues that lead the individual from happiness in this life to happiness in the next life – with the connection being the adventure to deliver the captured boon or gift for the benefit of others.

While it impossible to depict visually what happiness in the next life looks like, the great artists come very close, as close as they can, to capturing true happiness.

Take a look at the following painting by the French painter Degas.

The ballet master is self-actualized exhibiting peak experiences. He has no further needs or desires. He exists in two worlds – the everyday and the spiritual (none of the students is looking at the master – at that moment he exists in a separate spiritual world. More importantly, he is able to deliver to the girl ballerinas his education and compassion for the study of ballet. Even the dancer in the middle of the painting is estactic – the music is not even playing at that moment captured by the painting. And we will never know if the girl completes her “en pointe” successfully (it is hidden by the girl’s tutu in the foreground): but it doesn’t matter.

The point of the painting is not the dancing ballerinas but the depiction of twofold happiness – a depiction that is at the far boundary of artistic greatest. What we are witnessing is the closest that anyone can illustrate of happiness in this life (the everyday world) and happiness in the next life (the spiritual world).