Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Is Spirituality about Seeking Joy?

 Many people, especially those attracted to New Age type spirituality, think it is. It's all about replacing the stress and antagonism in your life and your relationships with love and peace and joy. That's a reasonable motivation but it is not what the true religious life is about at all. It is, when you come down to it, rather self-seeking, is it not? Everyone wants to be happy. There's nothing wrong with that, but the spiritual life is about growing in the love and service of God and that does not, in this world, necessarily include personal happiness.

We should certainly have an open  and positive attitude and a cheerful disposition. Nobody is inspired by a long face and a miserable approach to life. However, if we take to the spiritual path for reasons of personal emotional satisfaction, which is basically what people mean when they talk of love and joy, we might find we eventually come to a brick wall. Not at first but sooner or later. Then we can only preserve this love and joy by talking about it to others but we need the energy from those others to maintain our 'high'. This is not the way forward.

The material world is not meant as a place of spiritual fulfilment. It is a place of learning. The saints were often people who suffered a great deal but they did this with the love of God in their hearts so they suffered joyfully if one can put it like that. But they suffered. They were not bathed in peace and joy all the time and often not at all. They took up the cross and that is what we are expected to do as we mature in spiritual understanding. To be brutally honest, love and peace and joy are for beginners, those who must be drawn to the spiritual life with sweets*. Then it's down to work and the work might be hard. God does not want people after their own pleasure. He wants those who are prepared to suffer and sacrifice. For this is what real love is and this is how real love is proved.

* When I wrote this it rang a bell and I remembered something the Masters told me which I put in my Meeting the Masters book. As it's relevant to the present subject I will add it here.   

We pay you the compliment of assuming you no longer need to be fed sweets in order to make you behave. Do you think that the spiritual path is the path of pleasure and self-gratification? Do you follow the path for what advantages it brings you or because it is the way of truth? Let me tell you that if someone is given constant ecstasies they are unlikely to make further progress and could well slip back. They will become attached to these feelings and see no reason to go any further along the way. Many people have become stuck at a certain stage of the path thinking they have reached the end. 


ted said...

Could we infer those that do the deep inner work of repenting is its own form of sacrifice and suffering, albeit it brings joy on the other side?

William Wildblood said...

I would say so, yes, ted. Repentance is a kind of stripping away of dross and fakery which we are all coated with. This stripping away hurts or does if it's done properly. But then we are cleansed and that cleansing brings true joy. Mind you, it's not a one-off process as far as this life is concerned. It's an ongoing thing.

I do like your raccoon picture!

jaxx said...

New Age = worship of sex.

William Wildblood said...

jaxx, that's certainly a big element of it.