Thursday, October 4, 2012

Source of joy

Joy does not come from external things. External things contain no emotions. Joy comes from inside and is projected onto external things. That is why external things sometimes seem to make us happy. Increased happiness, therefore, comes from improving one's inner life, not from acquiring more external things. Studies show that after a year or so, people who won the lottery are no happier than they were before. The only way to get more happiness from external things is to improve your inner life. This applies to all external things, including human relationships

However, while external things are not the source of joy they can be the source of misery. External influences can disrupt and poison your inner life. So it is important to avoid negative external influences or situations as much as possible

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bending knowledge to the rule of right reason

Old style Christian language is pretty harsh by modern standards, full of judgement and harsh words. A lot of people are turned off by it and some turn to Buddhism. But, as Dali Lama says, it is essential to make peace with your own faith. The key is to understand it in context. That is, to read in assumptions about the context in which the writer was operating. For example, I assume that a Saint or deeply religious person believes that the most important thing is love or compassion. Religious texts should never be treated as a collection of factual statements, everything needs to be interpreted.  Your "religion" in my opinion is not base on what texts you read but how you interpret texts. Here are some excerpts from the Imitation of Christ (book 1 chapter 3) concerning the value of knowledge, along with my interpretations

Verily, when the day of judgement comes, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; nor how well we have spoken but how religiously we have lived

Gaining knowledge or understanding is not the point. The important thing is how we live and the effect of our actions on others. To be compassionate and to act compassionately is the point

Learning is not to be blamed, nor is any mere knowledge of a subject, since this in itself is good and ordained by God.

However, learning and knowledge is a good thing as it makes us less ignorant and less confused.

A good and devout man first lays out inwardly the works which he is to do outwardly.
Neither do they draw him to the desires of a vicious inclination, but he bends them himself to the rule of right reason

A good person evaluates his or her ideas before acting on them. They do not use knowledge to harm other people or put themselves above them. Instead, all knowledge is processed according to how it can serve the goal of compassion, or deepen our understanding of compassion.

This is an example of how I bend things, and if I can't bend it that way I reject it, that is the basis of my "religion"