Its begins in one sense with Aristotle’s observation that all men by nature desire knowledge. It would have been easy to label myself as this or that with certain goals and a particular belief system and then let time pass while I acquire a bunch of stuff until I die and hopefully realize the reward of my faith at some future moment in time. Nah. There’s more here than meets the eye I think.
I have taken the “here I am what am I to make of it” question seriously for a long, long time beginning when God told me to relax when I was eight and continued when my teacher, Ben Wilson asked me in Sunday School in 1964- “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
My faith started giving me my reward the first instant I knew I had it and continues to grow therefore I will be faithful to the faith that has been faithful to me. I hope yours has served you equally well wherever your faith resides. Eternity began for me in my own subjective way when I exercised its option and so I don’t worry about it anymore.
I am both a man of faith and a man of reason, an impossibility I’m told by both absolute Theists of whatever persuasion and pure Objectivists alike, but I have managed to coexist in the presence of my spiritual alliance with God and my philosophical relationship with humanity. I don’t feel divided at all in my allegiance, just diversified. I can’t divorce myself from faith when reasoning and from being reasonable when exercising my faith.
Like Meister Eckhard the Dominican mystic (or Eckhart dealer’s choice), I have unified vision of spirit and mind, “The eye, with which I see God, sees me; my eye and God’s eye is one eye, one seeing one realizing one love.”
Once I left the small town of my youth, I have discovered that I can travel to many places without ever losing or having a desire to loose my citizenship or my identity. No matter what I do, I am still a Southern Boy with a taste for fried food and banana pudding and sweet tea.
But I must have my adventures. I am far too inquisitive I suspect and I cannot withstand the amusement of checking things out, like Curious George “who is a monkey, and all monkeys are curious. But no monkey is as curious as George.…George could not resist.” My mom always said I had an itch that I just couldn;t scratch. Maybe.
You see in my opinion, the real reason people are always stressed about the way other people act and are therefore very quick to rebuke them for their “irritating” activities and beliefs is that by accusing the “others” for how they feel at the moment it sets up a comfortable position that becomes a lifelong maxim for many. It translates to “any negativity in their life is always the fault of someone or something else.” Like the truth-seeking troubadour, who “stepped on the pop top and blew out his flip flop” and sang that some people say there’s a woman to blame but found out differently, my motto like he ultimately concluded when I screw up is: It’s my own damned fault.
To make this long story even longer, I can not pass up the many opportunities, here, there, and everywhere to figure out what God wants me to do about the one person I can truly begin to know and who is responsible for his own state of mind, me.
So far, I have arrived at the meaning of my life as being love, forgiveness, and having fun creating positive effects (stuff) and experiences. These are qualities I associate with God and so when I say “I exist for God’s good pleasure” I am saying I exist to love, forgive, and produce in like manner which equates in the material world to Tom Jefferson’s enlightened way when he declared that we all have the inalienable (unchallengeable) right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (retranslated from its original expression property). As Bastiat would say, “Life, liberty and property do not exist because men made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place. Freedom returns one to the original order of things.
You see all institutions of men were a result of the original Raison D’être, that classic French phrase which roughly translates to mean “reason to be.” I like that old tradition of naming your farm or ranch and I have dubbed my home Raison D’être. It is a daily reminder to me to explore the far reaches of being alive. It also helps me to remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
So I have had a few bloody noses, financial set backs, pain and fear along the way like Helen Keller who taught, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” The Chinese say that the “miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water; but to walk on the earth.” It’s what earthlings do. In the end no matter how far I travel in body or mind and spirit and no matter how hard I keep trying to verbalize it, I return to the simple theology of Meister Eckhard yet again and it seems to be the best.
“If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”