What is a Proper Life? [My Sunday Sermon for 11.17.19]

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The origin of my suffering was the pursuit of a life without pain. Acceptance of the element of chaos within every moment of my life taught me that I cannot build castles and towers of Babel to remove myself from pain. Pain is my teacher and should be befriended and listened to so that I might grow. A modest life in tune with nature seems to me to be the path or way. A life of poverty has been instructive to me.

One might ask “how do you know what is modest?” If you are not lying to get wealth through manipulation or directly stealing wealth, then you can do as much with your time as possible to build defenses against calamity. Unfortunately, our American lives are built on stolen wealth, and that wealth should be returned so that our lives are closer to Earth and closer to pain.

Our cultural notion that a “primitive” life, close to the Earth is a miserable existence is so baked into our collective consciousness here in the West that we cannot imagine a simple, anarchic existence of living in tune with nature. The very influential philosopher Thomas Hobbes described the primitive existence of humans as “nasty, brutish, and short.” And yet, now we have constructed lives that are nasty, mind-numbing, and longer.

Within our beings is a plant called wisdom. In order for that plant to grow, it needs to be watered by the tears of pain and lighted by the sunlight of humility or it will never mature. This is the present that we find ourselves in, a present without wisdom because we have vanquished pain and eschewed humility.

This life exists so that we might grow from children into adults. There is a seriousness that needs to be achieved in order to live a fulfilled life. That is my experience. Seriousness saved my life. Life need not be serious all the time of course, but until one can look life starkly in the face and have true acceptance for one’s part in what’s gone wrong and be able to make changes to correct the situation, you are not there. You can live without wisdom, but you will miss the point entirely and probably will need to distract yourself with shiny things until you die, unfulfilled.

1 comments on “What is a Proper Life? [My Sunday Sermon for 11.17.19]”

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