Sunday, August 10, 2008

Published 3:37 PM by with 2 comments

What Do We Really Want?

There was such a good article in today's church bulletin that I had to post an excerpt from it here. It's from "Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing", by Peter Kreeft (1980). I've been thinking about it all day, and I hope it will provoke as much thought in those who are tolerant enough to read my blog : )

"There is a very old wisdom, quite out of fashion today, that says we are not supposed to be happy here. In fact, no one is really happy here, and the "pursuit of happiness", which the American Declaration of Independence declares one of our "inalienable rights", is in fact the silliest and surest way to unhappiness. This is a wisdom...not just from the past but also from within, from the soft spot in us that we cover up with our hard surface, from the vulnerable little child in us that we mask with our invulnerable adult. Our adult pretends to want pleasure, power, wealth, health, or success, then gets it, then pretends to be happy. But our child knows what we want- nothing less than infinite joy- and, as children, we know we don't have it.

No one is really happy. The phenomenon is universal, not peculiar to some temperaments, for it is not a matter of temperament or feelings, which always undulate like waves. (We are all somewhat manic-depressive.) Beneath this surface, beneath the waves of satisfaction alternating with dissatisfaction of surface desires, the deep hunger of the heart remains unsatisfied. ...It is precisely when life treats us best that the deepest dissatisfaction arises. As long as we lack worldly happiness, we can deceive ourselves with the "if only" syndrome: if only I had this or that, I would be happy. But once we have all our thises and thats and are still unhappy, the deception is exposed. That's why rich and powerful modernity is not happier than previous cultures. That's the answer to Freud's question: "Why aren't we happy?"

Our greatest bitterness comes not only in the sham sweetness of riches and power but also in the middle of our truest earthly sweetness: hearing a symphony, seeing a sunset, complete sexual love. It is highest life that sets us longing for something more than this life..."

Also, there was an awesome quote in church today, by Confucius. "There are three ways to wisdom. The first is by reflection, and that is the hardest. The second is by imitation, and that is the easiest. The third is by experience, and that is the bitterest." Then my pastor added, "but I would also add that wisdom gained by experience is by far the most precious".
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