If we are going to seek happiness, as we are all compelled to do by our very nature, we ought to know what constitutes it. Just as a man cannot effectively reach a destination without knowing that it exists, or where it is and where he is in relation to it, so we cannot find or obtain happiness if we have no idea, or a wrong idea of what it is. The same may be said of peace of mind and heart: if we do not know what it means to have them, or what to do in order to obtain them, it is morally impossible to do so.
To say these are deep subjects is to put it mildly; still, they are so fundamental to our nature and the very raison d’etre of our existence that they cannot be quite so difficult to understand or obtain as we are often inclined to think. Look at it this way: if we do not breathe, we die. If we do not drink water or eat food for too long a time, we begin to grow weak and die. These basic functions are as easy as they are necessary. In fact, breathing isn’t even voluntary, although breathing deeply and well, just as eating well, takes some degree of recollection and purpose.
Loving is similarly easy; the heart is made to love. We only get ourselves into trouble because, all too often, we make poor choices when it come to the objects of our love. That subject, however, will be left to another blog entry. For the present, let us look at happiness and peace of mind and heart.
I will not be proving God’s existence via these brief blog entries. There is no shortage of material, online and otherwise, that can help any sincere seeker find what he seeks.
What is peace of mind? What is a mind? Human beings have what is called a composite nature. We are a composite of body and soul. The former is mortal; it can and does decompose, breaking down into its constituent parts. The latter is immortal (which is not the same thing as eternal); it has no parts into which it can break down. Our bodies have senses and passions, etc., making us, in a way, like unto the animals. Our souls, which need the assistance of the body to function, have two principal faculties: the intellect and the will. It is our immortal souls, our intellects and wills, that make us like the angels and, in a way, like God Himself. This is why Aristotle’s definition of man is “rational animal.”
As an aside, animals and even plants have souls, too. All living things have a soul, which is nothing more than a principle of life. When we consume plants or animals by eating them, it is their vitality that we seek to transfer to ourselves. We don’t eat inanimate object precisely because they have no life principle, no soul or “anima.” Only human beings have souls that are rational and immortal, but that is a subject for another time.
Our intellects are created, but they are a true reflection of the one, supreme, uncreated Intellect which we call God. Everything is what it is precisely because God made it so; things are what they are because of the Divine Ideas with respect to those things. I did not make myself; no contingent being created or sustains itself. What does “contingent” mean? Well, in this case, it is distinguished from “substantial” or “necessary.” God cannot help but exist; we, however, could cease to exist just as easily as we exist. Our grip on existence is rather tenuous. We are contingent in the sense that we depend on another, in this case God, for our very existence. If God stopped thinking of me, I’d literally cease to exist. As for God’s uncreated intellect and my created intellect, His intellect IS truth and mine is made to know the truth which He IS. The more I grow in the knowledge of God, the more perfect my mind becomes and the closer I get to realizing the purpose of my having been created. I can choose to rise to this sublime purpose; I can also choose not to do so. This is what free will is all about. I cannot reach my destination, so to speak, without God’s help, but He will not force me to do so.
Peace of heart is the fruit of living a life that is in harmony with God’s designs in my regard. I can KNOW His will, but if I fail to DO it, I will not only not have peace of heart, I will be miserable to whatever degree I am out of harmony with God’s will.
God’s mind is THE source and measure of all truth. God’s will is THE source and measure of all goodness. If I bring my mind and heart, my intellect and will into harmony with God’s, to that degree I will be happy and at peace. To whatever degree I am out of harmony with God’s mind and will, I will suffer the negative effects.
During these dark times at the close of the Age of Materialism, the vast majority of men are not only out of harmony with God’s mind and will, most of us do not even have the first clue about the cause of our suffering. With seven billion people going in as many different directions, doing more or less whatever they desire even when it is at variance with what their Creator desires and knows to be good for them, is it any wonder that there is so much confusion and anguish in the world? If we don’t know what God desires for us, why not ask Him? If we do, we will find out that His terms are not so very daunting as we are sometimes told or inclined to think. He made us to be happy and our hearts yearn for happiness, but it is a happiness that no amount of created goods can ever provide.
Most of us are, somewhat naturally, afraid to look behind the proverbial door of God’s mind and will, much less to enter therein and allow ourselves to be purified and made one therewith. We are afraid that we will “lose” ourselves. The only self that we will “lose” is an illusory fabrication of our own making that does nothing but get in the way our becoming all that we were created to be — and it is a tremendous blessing to lose it! It is only when we lose, when we begin to strip away the false self that we are able to find and become our true selves and, as a result, find real, lasting happiness. Some readers may recall a song from the 1980s or so which had a line that spoke of “looking for love in all the wrong places…” Well, most of us fritter away a lifetime looking for real love and deep, lasting happiness in all the wrong places. We can only find true happiness and peace of mind and heart in God. Many of us tend to ridicule such an idea; deep down we all know it is true.
This is, as stated, a very deep subject. It is also very simple: shut out the worthless, distracting noise of worldly cares and go to God each and every day, even if only for 15 minutes each morning, and He will, little by little, perform unspeakably wonderful things within your mind and heart. He does all the hard work; our part is relatively easy — show up and keep showing up for our daily appointments, if you will. Godspeed.