Where is happiness?
I WENT to visit a friend in a mental hospital recently. She had experienced great tragedy in her family. We talked about God, the Bible, eternal life. She said that she now realizes that happiness must be more than simply relying on other people to give us what we're looking for. I could tell that she was well on the way to recovery. We all have the right to pursue happiness. Most would agree that it is a feeling of completeness, of peace and contentment. But many disagree as to the means of achieving it.
Christ Jesus not only challenged but refuted the assumption that happiness is to be founded on a material basis. He once told a parable about a rich man who built large barns to contain all of his possessions, believing this would ensure him a life of comfort and pleasure. But then in the parable God speaks these words to the man: ``Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?'' Jesus' comment was ``So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.''1
Because, as Christian Science teaches, God is Life and God is Spirit, happiness is spiritual. It's not a product of the fleshor of worldly riches. Because material pleasures can be empty and fleeting, they guarantee no lasting satisfaction. The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,2 talks about happiness in these terms, using the synonym Soul for God: ``Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul. Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man. We cannot circumscribe happiness within the limits of personal sense. The senses confer no real enjoyment.''3
The resources of Soul are available to each one of us. We find and take advantage of them by learning more of who we really are -- the children of God's creating -- and by expressing our true nature more fully. Our real, spiritual individuality actually reflects Soul, universal and impartial Love. It includes all good right now. Therefore we all have the God-given ability to express the divine nature in individual ways and to receive the blessings that God alone can impart.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised that those who are humble, repentant, meek, righteous, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and self-sacrificing are blessed.4 This is the kingdom of heaven, the happiness, within. The Glossary of Science and Health defines heaven as ``harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul.''5
The rich man in the parable sought happiness from without. He thought that indulging the physical senses was the way to happiness. But self-indulgence, self-seeking, self-satisfaction, are all that results from the misconception that man is a physical being, a mortal in need whose life and assets are material and may at any time run out. ``Higher enjoyments'' alone satisfy and are found by indulging in ``the fruit of the Spirit,'' which St. Paul says is ``love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.''6
The ``cravings of immortal man'' are truly satisfied as we let God's will be done and love with a Christly love. Through prayer we find ways to fulfill these unselfish aims and ambitions, and so receive the blessings that are ours by divine right. This is looking in the right direction for happiness -- and finding it!
Luke 12:20, 21. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Scienceand Health, pp. 60-61. 4See Matthew 5:1-11. 5Science and Health, p. 587. 6Galatians5:22, 23.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: I have set the Lord always before me....Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalms 16:8,11