“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Good and bad aren’t absolutes. They are beliefs, judgments, ideas based on limited knowledge as well as on the inclinations of our minds
The situation we always live in is like that of the wise Chinese farmer whose horse ran off. When his neighbor came to console him the farmer said, ‘Who knows what’s good or bad?’
When his horse returned the next day with a herd of horses following her, the foolish neighbor came to congratulate him on his good fortune.
‘Who knows what’s good or bad?’ said the farmer.
Then, when the farmer’s son broke his leg trying to ride one of the new horses, the foolish neighbor came to console him again.
“Who knows what’s good or bad?” said the farmer.
When the army passed through, conscripting men for war, they passed over the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. When the foolish man came to congratulate the farmer that his son would be spared, again the farmer said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”
When do we expect the story to end?”
from Buddhism Plain and Simple, Steve Hagen.
A somewhat different version of this post was published previously.
I used to get calls from a sort of friend of mine. I call him a “sort of” friend because he only called when he wanted to complain about how terribly the world was treating him — or, as my friend Todd says, to “vomit on me.” Always problems; never solutions, and this had been going on for years. We all know folks like this, in and out of the program. Continue reading
Every addict I’ve ever met has, in one way or another, had the same answer to his or her own happiness: If (he) (she) (they) (it) (the world) would just do things our way, that’s what would save the world and make us happy.
Those of us with fake self-esteem (the noisy ones) let everyone else know our solutions. If we’re the doormats — the ones who always seem to get hooked up with the noisy ones — we may not explain it to the world, but we still have our own ideas about what would “fix” our problems. All of these visions of The Way Things Ought To Be (TWTOTB) have one thing in common: they all depend on things outside ourselves, “the things we cannot change”.
The big problem is that things outside ourselves are often under the control of someone else, and some things, at least in theory, are under no one’s control — certainly not ours. Just as there can only be one boss in the workplace, whose ideas of TWTOTB most likely differ from ours and who may not want to listen to our counsel, so can there only be one, or at most a few, winners of the lottery. If we pray to win the lottery we are, in effect, praying for millions of othe people to lose. Many of those may need to win more than we do. Disregarding the likely failure of a millions-to-one gamble to provide a solid financial future, most folks of our kind who have won have failed to prosper regardless of the millions of $$, ¥¥, €€ or whatever, and such windfalls have been the downfall of many an addict. Continue reading
Reinhold Niebuhr is known for ideas that were highly influential in Christian theological debate during the early 20th Century, but as far as alcoholics and other addicts are concerned, his restating of a basic philosophical truth in the Serenity Prayer is a life preserver in the roiling sea of life.
Too many recovering people give only lip service to the prayer. In most of our fellowships, if we attend meetings regularly, we recite it at least a few times a week. The question is, do we listen to what we’re saying? Continue reading