What makes us happy?
When we speak of happiness we think in general of the extent to which our needs and aspirations are met. These are predominantly of a material nature. Thus, the greater the fulfilment, the happier we should become. It then follows that the happiest people should be those endowed with the resourcefulness and adeptness to maximise their material and financial resources. But is this really so? Does an increasing fulfilment of these aspirations not also lead to further demands in a never-ending spiral, culminating in physical and mental exhaustion as well as the inability to actually enjoy what one has because there will always be something better and newer on the horizon?
We all are aware of people who seem to have it all, but are nevertheless plunged into neuroses and depression even to the point of suicide or who take refuge in alcohol or drugs instead. They thought that they could find happiness in money and property, fame or earthly honours but were disappointed by the result, since those things alone could not give meaning to their lives. Instead of considering these feelings of inadequacy as a ‘wake-up call’ to change their way of thinking and make a new start, they have concluded that life is absurd and meaningless anyway and might as well be ended or at least made ‘bearable’ by alcohol, drugs or wild parties which, in the end, will have the same result, because, as they say, life has no meaning! They lament: To die old or young, what is the difference?
By Anaclet Irunt
(This article is in two parts; the second part appears in the next issue of the magazine.)
This is not meant to infer that one should shun material goods and live in poverty if one seeks spiritual values. Even the loftiest aspirations must be underpinned by solid material foundations, otherwise they will come to nought or become dependent upon the generosity of others. They may thereby become subject to the wishes of the donors, thus possibly compromising the original aims. The admonition by Jesus pertaining to material goods – you cannot serve God and money – is a simple statement that one should not amass material goods for their own sake and especially not to convulsively cling to them, that is, to become their slave! But it should not to be taken as a general prohibition of the possession of wealth if we wish to serve God, since our earthly needs must also be taken care of and the neglect to do so will have dire consequences for our lives.
Thus, happiness on earth also necessarily includes the satisfaction of our material and earthly needs, but these alone will not bring happiness, because true happiness involves simultaneously satisfying a type of need other than the material and earthly, that is to say, the needs of the spirit.
However, the satisfaction of this other type of need is gained by experiencing our surroundings to the point where it touches our spirit, not merely the outer layers of our existence, thereby animating it and making it more mobile. This will automatically lead to spiritual growth and enhanced consciousness of the self, thus of the perception of ourselves as unique individuals, endowed with freedom of choice but also aware of the responsibility this entails because we really do reap what we sow, even if this may not happen immediately. At some time we will be unequivocally confronted with our past actions and suffer under them if they have been bad or enjoy the proceeds if they have been good. This also leads to happiness as we learn to discern which path to take or, if already on a given path, whether to proceed further along that path or turn back if it is leading us astray. The terror of being on the wrong path will give way to joy once we have found the right way.
In his Grail Message, Abd-ru-shin (Oskar Ernst Bernhardt 1875-1941) states that the human being originates as an unconscious spirit spark or seed in the spiritual realm, which is situated above the world of matter (consisting of the physical universe as well as the so-called beyond or ethereal world), and should return there as a fully conscious spirit personality after its wanderings through all the material worlds. If they are on the right path, human beings could savour true happiness in the process of becoming self-conscious, and they could attain this in dense matter, including the earth, in accordance with the Laws of Creation: ‘It is only in the field of matter that such a seed-germ of spiritual substantiality can develop into a self-conscious human spirit, much the same as a wheat seed will grow in the soil of a field into a ripe ear of corn.’ (The Grail Message – In the Light of Truth, Lecture: ‘Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do!’ Volume II). Thus, just as an earthly journey can be a delight in itself, not just the destination, so also the path to consciousness of self can already engender happiness provided that the path taken is the one that will lead to the longed-for goal. In order to do so, it must conform in every way to the Laws of Creation, that is, to God’s Will.
Thus, the self-awareness, that is to say, spiritual maturity gained, permits us to consciously enjoy the benefits and happiness that God gives, already here on earth and later on in the ethereal world as we ascend towards the spiritual realm or heaven, where we are to enjoy eternal bliss, not in resting or in a state of nirvana, but in unceasing joyful activity, provided we live according to His Will. All this is simply to say that God does not want human beings to suffer. The doctrine of suffering taught in some circles was born from a distortion of the truth. Indeed, even when it is a karmic redemption, it is not the suffering itself that takes away the sin; it is necessary that the human being concerned recognizes consciously that he deserves this suffering and changes his life so that it conforms to God’s Will. Only then can the fault be redeemed. God desires the happiness of human beings, so He is not and cannot be the cause of the misfortunes of this world. We must therefore look elsewhere for these!
The barriers to achieving happiness
Three main causes for the misfortunes of the world can be identified:
– Overconfidence in human possibilities
– Abuse of power by human beings
– Deformation of the path prescribed by God to find happiness
Overconfidence in human possibilities: Whether as individuals or collectively, human beings are, in one way or another, in search of happiness and progress on earth. To achieve this, humanity relies only on its human and intellectual possibilities. Thus, on the collective level, we have social and economic systems such as capitalism, collectivism and the rules of international finance. The capitalist system is based on private ownership of means of production and exchange and has generated a lot of hope in the world. But today, with all its economic and financial crises, there is a widespread belief that this system has failed because it could not eliminate poverty on earth and has made the gap between rich and poor even wider. In economic terms, the system is flawed, and spiritually, it is a failure because spiritual laws are not taken into consideration at all.
Economically, the capitalist system is flawed for several reasons including:
- It cannot achieve the social optimum because the focus is exclusively on maximising profits as well as minimizing taxes; it only targets the satisfaction of needs expressed by the market, often generating these needs itself if they did not previously exist. There are many needs of our society which come into conflict with this system, such as the protection of the environment, the proper management of non-renewable resources, the reduction and recycling of waste as well as the need to support the less fortunate in our society.
- The engine of the capitalist system is ‘growth’, that is, increasing output and profits year by year ad infinitum. This is nonsensical on a finite planet with finite resources!
- Perfect and fair competition cannot be achieved at present because the ‘playing field’ is not level. A country which mandates fair wages for its citizens in addition to providing a decent social safety-net cannot compete against low-wage countries where workers work long hours in appalling conditions for a pittance. Although support for a ‘fair deal’ for these workers and farmers amongst consumers in wealthy countries is growing, it is still not sufficient at present to force wholesale change. As past experiences have shown, high tariff barriers are not the answer either, because industries so protected tend to become lazy and inefficient.
- These inequities contribute to a concentration of business ownership, as do manipulations of the stock market, which ultimately destroy competition. (Companies often ‘buy out’ competitors and suppliers in order to gain a competitive advantage and to safeguard supply arrangements, resulting in the consumer being left with less choice). Self-regulation has failed because the rules are set by vested interests for their own benefit. Government regulations and tax laws to counter the flaws in self-regulation can often be circumvented by relocating ‘offshore’ either physically to a less developed country or for accounting purposes, to a tax haven.
Spiritually, the capitalist system fails because it is based solely on the satisfaction of material and earthly needs and desires and uses as its executive instrument only reason or rationality, that is to say, the intellect, which is an unsuitable, inappropriate and inadequate instrument if all decisions are left to it alone. This is because it will ignore any spiritual consequences, since it lacks the capacity to comprehend these. The capitalist system would work much better if people realized that they must reap what they sow, both materially and spiritually, also in business transactions, and that ‘giving and taking’ must always remain in equilibrium. If it was made mandatory also under earthly laws that the owners, directors and shareholders were held personally responsible for the activities of their businesses, especially with respect to others as well as to the environment, to a far greater extent than is the case today, then entrepreneurs, directors and investors would be far more circumspect in their decision-making and the investment of their capital.
The same is true of the collectivist system based on collective ownership of means of production, and which gives the state the power to manage the entire national economy by planning. Like capitalism, collectivism seeks to satisfy only the needs of a material and earthly order. This system had promised to liberate the workers from capitalist exploitation, but it turned into a machine of deprivation of individual liberty. People were imprisoned or even executed for speaking their mind or trying to leave and, thankfully, most of these regimes have since collapsed because they either became untenable and simply expired or were overthrown by popular revolt.
Thus, all actions and interventions of men, whether of the right or left, all their attempts to prop things up are only patchwork, repeated mending of a dying system based on materialism, which, as is well known, has engendered misery, frustration and suffering, and will never be able to bring true happiness on earth. This is in spite of the massive interventions by both governments and central banks, costing billions of dollars, not to speak of the billions that need to be allocated to disaster relief on an ever-increasing scale. It is as if Nature itself, which we have abused and exploited for so long in the name of profits and progress, is rising up against us! However, the idea hardly comes to anyone to think that the bankruptcy of humanity could come from the non-observance of the Laws of Nature, Laws of Creation, that is, the Laws of God. Today, across the world, there are a few scientists who are beginning, if shyly, to wonder if the barriers blocking the path to happiness do not come from the rejection of the spiritual by human beings! This is perhaps what had made the French writer and statesman Andre Malraux declare that the 21st century will be a century of the spirit or it will not be at all! That is why it is necessary to engage a profound reflection in this area. But this will not happen until people begin to realize that a human being is more than his body and his brain. There is also his spirit, or better said, man is spirit and works in coarse matter by means of an instrument of the same species, namely the body with its brain. Today, in some circles, to be considered a man of value it is necessary to demonstrate a sharp rationality and especially to avoid speaking about the spiritual and about God. (These self-styled apostles of atheism call themselves “Brights” but are spiritually the dimmest of all!) How on earth can we hope to solve the problems of humanity as long as we continue to excise such an important dimension of man, namely, the spiritual one, even amid an acclaimed search for objective truth? We must study the whole man, without excluding other dimensions, the effects of which are clearly visible but do not fit into the ‘model’ of the human being we have created for ourselves. We want to apply a material and earthly tool to meet all human needs while the most important part of the human is his innermost core, which is spirit. And this spirit needs a ‘sui generis’, which cannot be satisfied by terrestrial and material means. When you go to the river to scoop some water, you do not use a shovel to do so, but rather a container. The same is true of spiritual needs: the instrument must be compatible with the subject.
The failure to take account of this other (spiritual) dimension and disregard for the Laws of God leads straight to a serious error with disastrous consequences in which humanity is mired. Thus the author of The Grail Message draws our attention to this in these terms: ‘That which in recent times you could have already seen clearly enough if you had only wished to do so – the failure everywhere of all efforts to avert the decline which has already set in – should have been a warning to you to turn back while there was yet time! And at last to think about examining yourselves! But men neither hear nor see; despair drives them ever more frantically to the belief that help can come through their own abilities! But I say unto you: He who does not stand and work in the Laws of God will no longer receive help from the Light.’ (The Grail Message – In the Light of Truth, Lecture: ‘The Recognition of God’ Volume III)
Abuse of power by human beings: The second cause of misery on earth is the misuse we make of the power granted us by God. This power is only lent to us, it does not emanate from us. We therefore have to render account for its use or misuse to Him who grants us this power. That is the responsibility that we all have to bear. This power enables each human being to be the architect of his own happiness or unhappiness and collectively, that of the whole earth. Man has freedom of choice in how he exercises his will, be it in thought, word or deed, but has no control over the consequences, once a decision has been made and carried out. These consequences will be determined by the strict consistency of the Laws of God namely by the Law of sowing and reaping. Mankind as a whole have sown discord and strife and must therefore reap misery in the reciprocal harvest.
Man has two types of volition at his disposal: the volition that springs from intuitive insight and the thought volition seated in the brain. The intuitive volition is able to create forms in ethereal matter, which have a powerful influence on like-minded individuals both in the positive and negative sense, contributing to both deeds of madness and sublime acts of kindness or selflessness and can outlive the person who originally created them. These are the ‘works’ which await us when we pass over. On the other hand, the thought volition emanating from the brain is much weaker, but can, nevertheless, create havoc if allowed too much traction, especially through a homogenous reinforcement by similar thoughts. Good thoughts, on the other hand will in the same manner facilitate peace and harmony. Science has already studied the power of thought and conducted experiments on the transmission of thoughts as well as their action on plants an so on which confirm their existence.
However, if the phenomenon is generally accepted, its explanation remains unclear. Only the Grail Message explains clearly that the forms produced by intuitive volition are endowed with an enormous power due to this type of volition being able to tap into the Divine Power that flows through Creation. The link of intuitive volition with this neutral power also imbues forms generated by this volition with ‘a life of their own’, able to influence everything in dense matter, either in a positive or malevolent way according to the type of the volition, thus making powerful contributions to either happiness or misery on earth. Humanity has a vague knowledge of this, as we often speak in terms of demons of hatred or demons of jealousy or of confronting one’s demons and so on. Unfortunately, mankind has been abusing this power for thousands of years by their evil volition, which explains the abundance of evil and the collapse of everything on earth. We are reaping the harvest of what we ourselves have sown over the course of millennia.
Thought volition, on the other hand, does not have the ability to make contact with this enormous neutral power. It gives rise to weaker thought forms that are not equipped with a self-active core but are nourished directly by the person who generated them as well as those with similar tendencies. However, evil thought forms can nevertheless be extremely dangerous when unleashed on individuals as well as on large groups. This can be observed at demonstrations or even football matches where heated arguments or spirited barracking can easily turn into violent confrontations causing serious injuries and extensive damage to property. Afterwards, many people are extremely remorseful and cannot understand what drove them to do such things. In a moment of weakness, they were ‘carried away’ by the thought forms of violence and confrontation which converge on such events.
Deformation of the path prescribed by God to find happiness: The Grail Message reveals that the spirit in man is connected to his physical body at the solar plexus. In Creation the spirit in man must exert itself in order to mature and for this man must follow the path set by God. To do this the spirit uses the cerebellum, which serves as a bridge to the body with all its senses via the frontal brain, for the purposes of realizing its aspirations materially on the earth plane. Thus the correct path to anchor spiritual volition into matter is spirit-solar plexus-cerebellum-cerebrum-voice or limbs. The reverse path beginning with the five senses will impress upon the spirit the experiences or impressions gained on the earth plane, which in turn act as impulses or catalysts for its further development towards maturity. Thus, according to the Will of the Creator, all human activity must be caused and driven by spiritual impulses and the earthly impressions and experiences gained thereby be fed back to the spirit. This will naturally put him on the path to happiness as ordained by God. However, the essential prerequisite for this is that all links in the chain described remain healthy and vigorous. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case with man. Succumbing to the temptations of Lucifer, man one-sidedly favoured his intellect which is seated in the cerebrum or frontal brain to the detriment especially of the cerebellum, which became stunted through neglect so that it can no longer fulfil its intended function as an instrument of the spirit to convey its volition to and to receive impressions from the earthly body. For it is only when this link is fully functional that human activity is spiritualized and bears fruit in abundance. The situation now is, metaphorically speaking, that the spirit is imprisoned in a sack which is tied at the top so that it is no longer able to impress its will upon its surroundings nor can it receive impressions from the outside world. Instead of becoming more and more active as it deals with the challenges of a life on earth, it is in danger of falling asleep, which will, if not reversed, lead to the extinguishment of spiritual consciousness. All the more so that, in accordance with the laws of evolution, this condition has now become hereditary. Thus every child is born with an over-developed cerebrum and a stunted, dysfunctional cerebellum. This brings with it the danger, but not the inevitability, that the child becomes totally subservient to the earthly intellect upon reaching adulthood, especially if its education is also predominantly intellectual, making spiritual progress extremely difficult if not impossible.
The Grail Message clearly states, however, that man can blame neither God nor Lucifer for his failure. God’s Laws were proclaimed to mankind many times through prophets and wise men through the ages in various countries as well through the Son of God Himself. Lucifer, on the other hand, as the Grail Message further explains, resides outside of Material Creation and therefore cannot force man to do anything he himself does not wish to do. He can only entice and he targeted womanhood first of all, knowing all too well that success here would bring about the fall of manhood as well, as a matter of course. The Grail Message goes into detail as to why this is so and also explains the true differences between the male and the female in their nature and activity; the reproductive organs of the physical body being characteristics peculiar to this body only and not the defining factor overall.
Humans then gradually became the men of intellect they are today. They began to consider knowledge gained by intuition, that knowledge which is characterized by the immediate perception of truth without the aid of reasoning, as fantasy, sorcery, or vulgar empiricism. They became materialists and as a result were cut off from God. It was the most serious error of man, resulting in unfortunate and incalculable consequences, namely:
– Lack of spiritual activity, or lethargy of spirit, caused the cerebellum to atrophy and, coupled with one-sided exertions of the intellectual faculty, caused the frontal brain to over-develop, which now makes a spiritual awakening all the more difficult because the cerebellum, the link of the spirit to the day-consciousness of the body was rendered almost useless by this wanton interference in the natural order.
– This condition became hereditary, as the one-sided development of the brain is transmitted to each child at birth, which constitutes a danger to every human being born on earth.
This is how, having ruptured the contact with the source of life and happiness, the human being failed in his mission. All blessings, all the radiation coming from the Light as well as joy and peace which should have to come down to earth through man no longer found a passage or opening. Thus, having raised their intellect to the rank of master, humans started to follow the broad rod of instincts and ease and caused dysfunction in the chain of their instruments, thereby distorting the way prescribed by God for their happiness. That is why, in view of the chaotic situation of our planet, the author of The Grail Message stigmatizes the causes in these terms: ‘You men indeed do not realise the danger in which you stand, and it will already be too late for many when you now have to recognise it; for they no longer have strength to shake off this lethargy which has caused such frightful harm. In connection with all the evils of mankind I must for this reason ever again revert to their actual cause – the domination of the intellect, and connected therewith the spiritual indolence which has come about as the immediate consequence.’ (The Grail Message – In the Light of Truth, Lecture: ‘Believers merely out of Habit’ Volume III)
Faced with such a situation, the true seeker wonders how he will pull through!
The second part of this article ‘Conditions for achieving happiness and progress in the world’ appears in the next Issue of the magazine.