The church has set itself up as the broker of prosperity and happiness in this life, and of eternal delights in the world to come. That’s a strong selling point. If you do it the way the church tells you to do it, you’ll have it made. And, if you don’t have it made yet, it’s only a test to see if you are really deserving of having it made. Just believe, and, eventually, you will have it made. Oh, and drop those coins in the offering plates, children, as evidence of your faith and dedication.
It’s a scam.
Life is a simple matter of being alive. And we all are only one slight perspective shift away from being alive. The perspective, of course, is the one Jesus had regarding what is important and how to live in light of it. It’s about being true to yourself within the context and circumstances of your life. Bringing your best to bear upon the moment of your living. Living toward the good in ways that express what is deepest, best, and truest about you. Relishing the wonder of the experience of life. Seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, intuiting, sensing, imagining, creating, wondering, playing, laughing, loving… with the true good of all in mind, at heart.
Here’s the deal. Life, true life, joyous life, abundant life is the difference between Mary and Jesus on the one hand (And the Mary can be his mother or Mary Magdalene, call her his true love if you would like), and Adam and Eve on the other. If you comprehend the difference between Mary and Jesus and Adam and Eve, you understand the nature of life and what you have to do to be fully, completely, absolutely alive. And, if you don’t get the difference, sit with these people until the difference begins to dawn. I’ll give you a hint. Being alive is about being true to yourself without living with an eye out for what’s in it for you.
Being alive is about living with yourself at the center without being self-centered. Jesus always did exactly what was “Jesus.” But, he never did it with himself in mind. He did not live to secure the advantages, to enjoy the boon, to get all that he could get out of being alive, and he got all that could be gotten out of, or squeezed into, being alive. He and Mary would have never stood with Adam and Eve and said, “You know. I’ll bet that if I eat this fruit, I’ll be happy forever.”
Being alive is about enjoying the gift of who we are and what we love, and sharing the gift with those about us, with all of life, without trying to parlay it into double and triple what it is. “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands.” Saul has to understand that’s the way it is. Saul can’t be jealous because his gift isn’t the greatest gift. Saul has his gift, and David has his. The gift is to be enjoyed and shared, not despised and rejected. The gift is always who we are and what we love, and it is to be used in the service of the good, in the service of the way of God, without trying to use it to achieve our own good.
Whose good is served by the good we serve? How good is the good that serves our own good at the expense of everyone else’s? When we begin to wonder, “What good does it do me to serve the good?”, we have wandered away from the way. “What’s in it for me?” “What am I getting out of it?” “When will it be my turn?” are questions that lead us away from the way.
We are here to serve the gift. To serve the good, the way of God, with the gift. The gift is who we are and what we love. There is nothing beyond the gift to get. The “getting,” such as it is, is in the realization, the expression, the offering, the sharing. If we can give the gift and “make ends meet,” that’s as much as we can ask. The idea of “getting ahead,” and “having it made” with “all our worries” being “over,” is incompatible with, and contrary to, the way of God. We are here to serve the gift, not to be served by the gift. Serving the gift is all we get. That’s all there is. The gift is its own reward. If we cannot be happy with that, we cannot be happy.
All of this meshes rather well with the Zen idea of being aware of, and taking care of, the moment of our living. “Eat when hungry, rest when tired.” “When you’re doing the dishes, do the dishes.” We simply bring our best to bear upon the moment of our living and let that be that. We give the gift to the moment, without expecting to get anything from the moment beyond being able to offer who we are and what we love to the moment.
This also meshes with the Buddhist idea of karma. We get what we give. We create the world we live in. What goes around comes around. We reap what we sew. What goes out comes back. The quality of our life depends upon the quality of our focus, of our intention and desire. Giving the gift is its own reward.
Life is about receiving the gift (of who we are and what we love) and giving it, sharing it. If we want more than that, we are standing with Adam and Eve, and we have our reward. If we are quite happy with that, we are standing with Jesus and Mary, and we have our reward.