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CHRISTIAN HAPPINESS QUOTES
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HEALING PATH

 

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PURSUIT  FOR HAPPINESS

By Basilius M. Kasera
 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Dedication
Preliminary
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Conclusion

 

 Dedication

    I would like to dedicate this book to all my friends who have been the greatest encouragement in my life. Thanks for believing in me even when nobody did, you are friends from heaven. There are things we may not always agree upon but that’s fine, I like it when there are people who think differently from me. You guys are amazing – may God bless you!

    Thanks to all the people who have positively contributed to my life in any form. Especially those of you who were “kicking” me to complete this book. Without your support, this book is supposed to be just a dream in my mind. As we look forward to more printing, you are the people who will make these writings famous and useful. This book I give unto the Namibian people as a gift that they will be blessed as they page through it.

    A special tribute to my late mother Maria N. Musunga, I wish to have known you. It was probably meant to be – it’s sad that you didn’t live to see or witness this work. I’m proud that you were my mother and I don’t regret that fact.

 

 

Preliminary

    The search for happiness and meaning are things, which lie at the core of every human heart. Both philosophy and psychology over the years has battled to explain these entities that underlie the human existence. The question for meaning is increasingly surfacing in the modern generation and people want answers to the questions of – who am I? Why am I here? Where do I come from? What is the meaning of life? And where do we go from here? Admittedly, these questions have led humanity to many alternative activities in order to find happiness and meaning. These activities include but not limited to Religion, Pleasure, Materialism, Knowledge, Money, and Power.

    In my opinion, and for the purpose of this book, these are the main activities, which people seek after as methods of attaining happiness. I do not know of anyone regardless of their illiteracy that desires to be constantly unhappy – even the cruelest of humans find at least “illusory” happiness in their atrocities if not happiness by their own definition. Not that I justify their atrocities but in their eyes they find a form of happiness in inflicting pain upon others e.g. a serial killer or a psycho that is on a spree of killing people finds a form of satisfaction or happiness – though this maybe debated as a disadvantaged mental disposition.

    Every human being desires to be happy in one way or another i.e. each finds something wherein they may find and define some kind of happiness and satisfaction. Most of our actions are motivated by the mere purpose of wanting to attain happiness in the end. The woman that desires her freedom and personal happiness will sacrifice her unborn baby by aborting it. Though some of the human acts may be defined as evil or immoral, the motivating factor still remain that they want to have happiness as the chief end. For example, a Don Juanist may find his happiness in the company of prostitutes, which will in turn be wrong in the eyes of a monk or a nun, priest, pastor, guru, rabbi etc. The Nazis found at least some sort of happiness in their mission of exterminating the Jews, which in turn was called as atrocities against humanity by the human rights activists. Fundamental Moslems find some sort of happiness in their executions of suicide bombings worldwide, which are appraised as terrorist activities by the political analysts of the West.

    Yet in all these people find some sort of “happiness” and a sense of meaning or purpose for their existence. We are going to look at the above-mentioned activities to find out whether our happiness is in them or is it to be found somewhere else other than in these activities. Is our happiness dependent on the things that we do or is it to be in something much greater than ourselves? Do these activities give us happiness or are they just glimpses of what happiness “might” be? Is our meaning to be interpreted by what we do? What gives meaning to life?

    We hear our youth saying constantly that, “I just wanna be happy for all my life, whatever will make me happy I will do, I just wanna be happy.” Everybody wants to be happy sometimes even at any cost as long as it will bring happiness even if it is just temporary i.e. even if it is just obscure happiness. This search for happiness and meaning is driving many people to some of the unimaginable practices in life e.g. adventure through bungee jumping, sky diving, mountain climbing or being a street fighter, just to find something to define oneself.

    There is surely emptiness in man that needs to be filled, but can he find a substance that is both in quantity and quality large enough to fill the infinite emptiness of his soul. This remains the daunting task to man’s intelligence and efforts. Does he have the answer in himself or must it be provided to him from outside? Surely man is not left alone to grabble in the universe as some kind of a cosmic orphan. Even in the event of a century that is loaded with much insecurity, despair, doubt, ethical debates, life threatening circumstances, economic inequalities, fear, financial crises, political chaos, skepticism, ideological wars, and many more confusions; an answer still remains to mankind. 

    Something can be done about the present situation of humanity we are not left alone to plunge into hopelessness. There is a Guide in the universe that directs the course of humanity and there is an answer to man’s situation.

 

 

Chapter One

Religion

Religion places us at least on a temporary parole from the sense of feeling guilt, weakness, hopelessness, fear, and insecurity of life after death etc.

    With the increase of religious freedom, the 21st century has been booming with new religious movements. There is a fast growth of cultic movements all over the world with the purpose of giving happiness and meaning to the seekers’ lives. In Africa with the increasing political, economic, and social upheaval, religion seems to provide answers to a desperate human race. People go on mountains, cross rivers, make sacrifices, consult dead spirits, visit shamans, wear amulets, chew herbs from witchdoctors etc with the promise of finding happiness, material prosperity, rest, and peace for their lives. As long as it promises them happiness they will do anything to experiment (ethical or unethical, religious or profane), all they want is to find happiness and meaning.

    Many people claim to have found satisfaction in religion even if it is only in terms of private perception and such satisfaction would by their own conclusion be interpreted as happiness. Personality cults create a sense of self-awareness and the discovery of one’s potentials and supernatural abilities. Acceptance in cultic groups gives people a sense of belonging and reason for living. For example a transcendentalist1 finds happiness out of the “experience” of being in touch with the “supernatural self” and cosmic oneness and the belief of having found God; at least the nominal-Christian finds some sort of satisfaction in the fact that they attend church and pray occasionally; the Jehovah’s Witnesses find a form of satisfaction and meaning as they forcefully try to evangelize everyone, as doing this adds credit to their “eternal salvation”; hypnosis “discovers” the person’s apparently hidden doubts, insecurities, emotions, and even secret knowledge and powers; the animist finds meaning in the rituals of his worship and without it life carries no meaning; and the Muslim from the extremists wing feels a sense of satisfaction when carrying out suicide bombing in the name of Allah and the termination of the infidels.

    All these things are motivated by the sense of trying to find happiness, meaning, relieve from condemnation, and the ponderousness of life. Religion places us at least on a temporary parole from the sense of feeling guilt, weakness, hopelessness, fear, and insecurity of life after death etc.

    The search for a standard that is consistent at all times drives us to seek for help from some powers much higher than ourselves and it is believed by some that that power is in self-discovery (humanism, new-age and many other eastern religions believe this). At least the hyper-faith movements provide apparent permanent solutions through positive confessions, naming and claiming, and financial seed sowing as a way out of financial difficulties (even if it is just illusive in character). 

    Those that are caught up in all these religious activities wish to attain the ultimate level of happiness and meaning in this life i.e. it serves as a security measure against unhappiness and misery in life. Religion offers some guarantees for the afterlife happiness e.g. reincarnation for the Hindus and eternal life in paradise for the Muslims with many pleasures including a couple of virgins.

    In man is a natural inclination of desiring for eternal happiness and for some religion gives them a glimpse of this eternal bliss. Thus, man’s search for meaning and happiness stretches beyond just the now, he wants to have it also in the afterlife. Is it not impressive when the Buddhist monk has dedicated the whole of his life to religious activities and living in the temples of Buddha? Out of sincere ignorance of heart the Roman Catholics embrace wax candle lightings, veneration of angels, dead saints and images, the Mass as a daily celebration, Worship of Mary as the "mother of God", the doctrine of purgatory, kissing the pope's foot, Temporal power of the pope, worship of relics, holy water blessed by the priest and fasting on Fridays.

    The question remains that, how can things of such great dedication lack to contain any form of happiness or lack in defining the meaning of life? There should be some degree of happiness and meaning even if it were just imaginary or temporary? There must be some sort of driving force that sustains them to carry out these religious rituals or activities. There must be some kind of stimulus that keeps them going or something that they are pursuing to achieve (illusory or real).

    Since religious activities places a person in a position of being in touch with the spiritual world, people find some sort of satisfaction for being able to switch into another realm separate from the physical.

 

The shortcoming of Religion

    Well examined we find that religion cannot offer the happiness that man is seeking. For happiness to exist in such an environment man has to constantly be involved in religious rituals in order to maintain it. Thus, in religion people become happy without being happy; it offers mechanistic happiness – a happiness that one has to evoke. This would mean that the Muslim can only be guaranteed of eternal happiness by killing and dying for Allah (as with what is happening amongst the fundamentalists in the world); the Jehovah’s Witness has to live under the constant proclamation of their doctrines in order to at least have an interpretation of meaning or reason for living; and there must be a continuing program for hypnosis to keep on freeing the memory from unpleasant thoughts and fears in order to keep the happiness.

    Any religion based on simply man-made philosophies must continue to find newer methods to reinvent the wheel of its changing truth along with the changing human cultures and surroundings. With the failure in man’s religion to provide standard objectives of verifiable truth, it leads us to conclude that happiness cannot be found in such inconsistent systems that are by the way still developing. It cannot define for us the meaning of our lives by engaging us into programs and activities. For religion to be able to produce factual happiness there must be at least some quantifiable standard test that it has past.

    Religion that is based on just man-made philosophies and practices is not true religion and it cannot produce happiness or give the meaning of life. Thus, our happiness is not in man-made religion that can only make us happy as long as we are within such environments. True happiness can only spring out of a Source that is present at all times and at all places, that is, no matter where we go this happiness has to be with us and the meaning of our lives cannot be removed no matter of where we happen to find ourselves.

    Ultimate happiness and meaning of life is not achievable through mere philosophical religion, and any religious group that makes such claims is giving false hope to its followers. Religion that is primarily for the reason of personal happiness and not salvation is false religion. As it is taught by many hyper-faith teachers that one has to be constantly happy as a sign of continuous victory in life and circumstances. Such theories overlook the real need of humanity – that of reconciliation to God. Ultimate happiness and meaning can only spring out a relationship in which God reveals himself to man not the other way around. We cannot find God – for such a God will not be able to save us, as we are the ones that must invent things to evoke his activity. We may search after God but we cannot claim that we found him, for the human mind cannot understand how God is revealed just through mere religious rituals. A God that is found by man will be man, this will in turn make us humanists.

    It is required that we have faith upon the witness of scripture or the Bible in order to know God. Man is not in need of rituals he is in need of a relationship. Man doesn’t need a guru, he needs Yahweh. Man doesn’t need a religious leader he needs the Creator. Your search for meaning in religion can never be satisfied as long as the efforts depend on you. You need to trust in the redeeming grace of God for he cannot be appeased through religious activities.

    Man in himself does not have the will and simple desire to choose God’s ways and this answers to what Jesus said: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”2

“The world has many religions; it has but one gospel.”3

 

Chapter Two

Pleasure

There is no amount of pleasure that will compensate for man’s inner emptiness or the vacuum in his soul.

    Pleasure can be defined as comfort, delight, enjoyment, luxuriation, delectation, pleasantness, sexual pleasure etc. It characterizes a profound desire that comes through certain activities that stimulate our feelings. Though this is hard to define at least every human being that I know desires to experience this ecstasy at one time or another be it through food, sports, partying, sex, hobbies etc.

    I listen to instrumentals or soft music (African Jazz) in the evenings, it eases some of the tensions of the day as I rest my body on the bed and slip into the dream world. By my explanation that would be pleasure to me, it gives me some sense of satisfaction. I do some physical exercises and take vitamins for the strengthening of my body’s immune system. That is pleasure in my definition because I feel a sense of satisfaction.

    But in our society with growing Hedonistic4 tendencies, pleasure has become the center of acquiring happiness and defining life’s purpose. Many forms of pleasure seeking are being discovered and invented by the day. Many of them are determined by personal interpretations i.e. it is wrong or right according to the individual’s interpretation. This would mean that homosexuality, voyeurism, adultery, gluttony, pornography, drunkenness, premarital sex, and orgies etc are determined by the individuals involved as wrong or right. Thus, the judgment of morality is left to those involved to judge for themselves. As long as the individuals involved in the acts find some sort of happiness and meaning it may as well be justified as right because it makes them somehow happy.

    Our generation is filled with party throwing than any other that has lived before us, all in the name of seeking for pleasure. The alcoholic finds some sort of happiness in dosing himself with whisky daily as this helps him escape some of the realities of the problems he encounters in life. The depressed man finds some sort of happiness in the pleasure of having sex with any woman that will be available just to ease some tensions in him.

    In search of relieve from inner and external tensions we are trying all that we can to ease ourselves. For example, hallucinogenic drugs in nightclubs and streets have become a modern form of pleasure for many young people. All they want is to fill that emptiness inside them with something. 

    If pleasure is the thing that brings us happiness, what happens if the things in which we find pleasure become defective in their nature and detrimental to our health or otherwise? For example: What happens to the happiness of the alcoholic if he discovers that the liquor he has been taking is actually poisonous? What happiness remains for the glutton in the time of scarcity? What happiness remains to the free sex advocate when HIV/AIDS hinders the process of sexual encounters with many partners? What happens at the point when a revolution begins to demand for changes on our pleasures because of the society’s beliefs, modern technological demands, religious factions, and political tensions, will there still be happiness left?

    Somehow, life comes to a break indicating that pleasure will not constantly give us happiness and it cannot define the meaning of life. For sooner than later we all enter the boredom paradigm i.e. we desire for things so much just to have them and discover that they are not articles of the desired happiness.

    The same thing that gave us pleasure and at least temporary happiness is soon replaced with something newer and more promising if not merely just by appeal rather than in quality. Thus, the old sex partner is soon replaced with a newer one that seem to be more promising in body features, walks, voice tone; the old brand of wine is replaced with the newer that has a more attractive color and design and; our taste for food is soon replaced by the competition of Chinese and Western food etc.

    The more pleasure we seek the more we are to face up with disappointments on the way when we discover that all the happiness we obtained through our pleasures were built on foundations of clay. Everything begins to crumble and all the activities of pleasure begin to leave us with defects in body, mind, and spirit. Our eardrums are left with hearing aids by loud music; free sex leaves us with disease in our bodies; pleasure for food leaves us with exogenous obesity; drugs leaves us with damaged brain cells; our hearts are left in pieces as we fluctuate from one relationship to another seeking for sexual satisfaction.

    We discover at the end of our pseudo panorama of pleasure that we are left with what we cannot catch or have at our disposal as part of our possessions – WIND.

 

Is pleasure wrong?

    Would this mean that to have a good time in life is wrong? No. It is healthy when the husband decides to take his wife for a special treat on a Valentine’s Day (whatever that means); a group of young people calling for an outing or camping filled with fun and games; listening to heart soothing music and dancing to the beat of grooving music; a bike-ride after good rain showers all these are good things. However, when they become the modes for seeking meaning and identifying happiness, they become mere foundations of sand, which in turn make them meaningless.

    When we take pleasure in things that are demeaning or anti-social they are not only wrong when they are excessively used, any pleasure that goes against our conscience enslaves us to guilt. What justification is there for voyeurism, pedophilia, child or adult pornography, homosexuality, hallucinogenic drugs? Even if these pleasures were to be politically declared as natural, majority of people would detest such acts not just by reason of religious conviction but by moral judgment, they are unacceptable!

    There is no human society that agrees with that kind of pleasure to the full even where Christianity has never been accepted, they have always been rejected. For pleasures of this kind result into psychosomatic illnesses e.g. emotional instability, guilt, dependency, obsession, and poor mental judgment and the deadening of one’s conscience.

    If we are to build our lives merely on pleasure, we are heading for disaster. For pleasure at some point in life comes to a standstill or replaced, in itself it has no ability of making us happy. Our happiness does not only depend on enjoyment of all the good things or in whatever our senses desire, for there are restrictions that govern all enjoyment. Thus, pleasure is but temporary and one cannot build life on such an inconsistent system. After we wake from the sleep, in which we have been enjoying our pleasures we are faced with the reality of our unhappiness. So pleasure cannot compensate for the gap of unhappiness and meaninglessness that lies deep within our souls. There is more to the soul’s cry than trying to fill it up with all sorts of existing pleasures.

    There is no amount of pleasure that will compensate for man’s inner emptiness or the vacuum in his soul. You cannot hide behind pleasure as having found the happiness and meaning of life. Pleasure is vanity and I think the earlier one comes to this discovery the better:

I said in my heart, Come now, I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also was vanity.

 

 

Chapter Three

Materialism And Possessions

A lifestyle merely defined by material possessions is self-deception…for one creates now a problem of how to maintain that lifestyle, daily getting filled with the fear of losing everything and not knowing how to face up to the embarrassment.

    Striving for private economic freedom has made us aware of our need for stuff but it has also turned us into its slaves – the very opposite of what was to be achieved. In this system men/women find their happiness merely in the gathering of stuffs, which in turn would show their prestige, achievements, wealth, and economic stability over others. It is a happiness that is defined by having what someone else doesn’t have and possibly definition of life.

    In addition, one must have what those who are considered to be in the upper class have. It somehow boosts a sense of personal security and comfort but, can it offer a permanent solution to the quest for happiness. Having a collection of stuff gives a sense of superiority, power, and being in “charge of life.” However, I doubt that it can serve as a remedy against meaningless and fill the gap of unhappiness in us. 

    There are so many searches for stuff, stuff and stuff. But these stuffs are not guarantees for a permanent solution to the emptiness of the soul. For after having obtained whatever material thing we want, we become bored that these things don’t really have what we are looking for and we seek to replace them with something more promising. So the cycle continues without the end we are looking to achieve.

    A young man finds contentment in the number of automobiles parked in his garage and backyard; a young lady finds happiness in the constant collections of jewelry in her safe; a housewife finds happiness in the collection of expensive furniture of all sorts in her house; and a lonely woman finds happiness in constant shopping of clothing from all famous boutiques and designers. Young girls (at least in the context of my country) give themselves over to sex just to have material stuffs because they feel inadequate and unhappy for not having some of these “luxuries.” Yes almost every modern youth wants to have a mobile phone, a laptop, a home theater system, a flat screen TV set, own apartment, a flashy sport car, a high powered sound system, the latest fashion clothing, and a long collection of sport clothes brands etceteras.

    Any happiness that is solely determined on the ground of one’s possessions is false, for such happiness can be lost with the loss of possessions. Such form of happiness must be fought for in order to have it i.e. no matter the cost as long as they sense an appearance of happiness.

 

Materialism’s Inadequacy

    With the promotion of materialism as a form of attaining happiness and a newer definition of prosperity in the West, the chances of identifying empty spaces are enormous. I remember the experiment in my science class in high school we were to compare a needle and a leave under a microscope. The smooth look of the needle was a horrible sight under this device while the leave that looked so deformed and “shapeless” had a beautiful pattern and links. Thus, there is a deception behind trying to find happiness through what we possess, it look so appealing but its closer look shows a lot of emptiness. When happiness becomes nothing more than an acquisition of stuff, morality is cast out of the window and we no longer care on how we have to be happy as long as we feel happy even if it is just for a moment or on the expense of someone.

    This would mean that the business executive must cheat in his pricing, falsify his importation records, evade the payment of government taxes, and bribe the customs officials, as long as he is happy in making more money, he doesn’t care of who will suffer of his actions. The housewife that admires expensive furniture must find ways of enrolling her children in poor schools just for her to remain happy in her pleasure of furniture collection. The young girl that wants recognition amongst her peers must sell her body for money in order to have expensive stuffs, as long as she is happy in being recognized it doesn’t matter to her on how she goes about attaining that happiness.

    Does the collection of stuff fill the real need of unhappiness that we feel deep within our souls? Does the reality of our inward need for recognition and satisfaction disappear because people begin to notice us by what we have? Definitely not! The collection of stuff is but a cover up and we are not facing the real unhappiness within us.

    A lifestyle merely defined by material possessions is self-deception and leads to depression, for one creates now a problem of how to maintain that lifestyle, daily getting filled with the fear of losing everything and not knowing how to face up to the embarrassment. The reality of our unhappiness and need to be happy does not disappear by being noticed by others. Material stuffs are not a haven of safety not to mention happiness and meaning. These are things that are here today and gone by tomorrow with fire, theft, garage sales upon our death, flood, some through misplacement, lost of job and business etc.

    Materialism is rather a weak foundation on which to seek and establish happiness and the meaning of life, for it is but momentary. It is not happiness by virtue but by achievement, this would define materialism and possessions as Inadequate Sources Of Happiness. It makes us feel happy without us being happy i.e. we live with a supposed sensation of happiness, which is there just temporarily because there is something that keeps it going.

    Such an understanding of happiness is established on the grounds of narcissistic philosophies which by interpretation would make it virtuous by personal preference but not by the law of conscience and moral judgment. There is no honorability in such establishment of happiness as it is a disguise of a person’s disillusioned life as they try to achieve satisfaction through materialism.

    Dear friend there is no amount of stuff collection that will satisfy you. Jesus was well aware of this when he said: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?5 It is a losing game you are playing for it’s a run after emptiness and a vexation of your soul.

    You don’t have a material problem, if it were so, all your possessions would have solved your feeling of meaninglessness and unhappiness. You need a spiritual solution and that you can only find in Christ Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”6

    Don’t look for the peace, happiness, and meaning that only God can offer through materialism. You need more than a chain of possessions for you are more valuable than that – you need God to fill the blank spaces in your soul.

 

 

Chapter Four

Education & Knowledge

The disadvantage is that one’s knowledge must be constantly compared to the ignorance of somebody.

    “Strange how much you've got to know before you know how little you know.”7

     I’m a knowledge hunter and I at times feel like an information factory. Over the years, I’ve done reading in Philosophy, Theology, Politics, History, World Religions, Psychology, few Mystic books (out of curiosity) etc. I regularly serve the internet for information, visit libraries, I read for fun just for the sake of gaining knowledge. It is true that I know a lot in comparison to many of those in my age group. I grew up reading books with heavier subjects since primary school, I’ve read books more than some of the people who are in their seventies at the moment. I probably became old before my time with information that’s why some call me “Professor.” So I’ve been in search of knowledge since a tender age but I never found a degree of happiness in my search for knowledge and I doubt whether my happiness lies within the knowledge that I have.

    Education interprets one’s level of intelligence or smartness. It creates opportunities for better employment and income level. Yes, we can go about boasting on how much we know and everyone that is less knowledgeable will admire us for being well-informed in the matters of life. The person that is the only child with education in the family feels happy for such prestige. The philosopher that constantly wins public debates feels happy over such victories.

    The disadvantage is that one’s knowledge must be constantly compared to the ignorance of somebody. Thus, we become happy not because we ought to but because we have great amounts of data in our heads more than somebody else does. This leaves us in the blind spot of not being able to notice that there are those that are more knowledgeable than we are. In turn, our happiness is swept away the moment we are exposed to someone more knowledgeable than we are.

    By such definition, happiness does not spring from our hearts but simply from our heads. Seeking happiness through knowledge creates a platform of searching for what we cannot have – it is a chase after emptiness! We will interpret happiness by what we know and unhappiness by ignorance. A conclusion of that kind will throw us into the hands of information seeking for the rest of our lives just to sense happiness and meaning.

    But what happens to our happiness in the time of retirement when we do not have the strength of searching for knowledge as when we are young and energetic? Would this mean the pressing of the suicide button as an exit from the unhappiness of not knowing? By conclusion, we will reach a debate that knowledge is emptiness for at the end of the day the philosopher dies unhappy; the professor commits suicide and some end up in mental institutions because of depression.

    Thus, happiness is not in knowledge or education, for happiness that is interpreted by the amount of data we have is not sustainable happiness, for it will go away during our old age and in case of amnesia. Happiness is born of the heart not the head, the head make us understand the happiness in the heart not the other way around. Again, like the rest of the former foundations knowledge is good but cannot bring us happiness. True knowledge is that which must be born out of a personal encounter with God through Jesus Christ. Only knowledge of this kind will produce meaning and happiness in the knower.

    If knowledge was the ultimate key to happiness self-educated people like myself and many others would have been the happiest people on earth. Our universities and colleges would have produced the happiest people and they would have been the institution with the greatest moralists on earth. As good as education and knowledge can be it still cannot make us happy or give us the meaning of life. We need more than great amounts of data, we are more than just facts and information factories. Our education does not interpret our purpose for existence and it is a weak foundation on which to establish our happiness. We need meaning to our life and satisfaction of the soul. The restlessness of our souls is a cry for something more profound to the human senses and a search for something much higher than knowledge. It is a cry to God who is the only one that can fill the enormous gap of the soul.

    Education is good in the development of our minds but it cannot lead us to the answers the soul needs. Education can answer arithmetics but our lives are more than mere mathematical formulas and scientific experiments. Our need is more than just a search for information it is rather a search for transformation of heart and a cry for God.

 

 

Chapter Five

Money & Fame

No true and permanent fame can be founded except in the labors which promote the happiness of mankind.8

Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.9

    Many individuals today strife to be amongst the world’s richest and famous people. They define their existence by their titles, interpret their happiness by their bank accounts and their meaning is in their achievements. The despair that comes with the constant demands of daily living drives us to trying newer and easier means of making a living if not money as the ultimate goal for relieve from economic insecurities. This is not to say that money is bad rather it is good for the meeting of our needs and the creating of comfort for our lives on earth.

    A teenage girl came to my office so I may help her out with her school assignments – she looked around my office well furnished and spacious. She just could not keep her excitement next she said, “it must be nice working for your own money, and you must be quite happy, isn’t?” She continue, “I wanna be an astronaut so I can make a lot of money, for the more money I have the happier I will be.” The rest is but a story. Her idea of being happy was grounded in that one must have a lot of money in order to be happy in life. Since money answers almost to everything imaginable in our world, it can get us cars, houses, take us places, get us friends even if they are just casual pals, and make us gain recognition in the society etc.

    If there be anything that is searched more than all other things - it’s money. Some believe that money makes the world go around and – there is some truth in it but not absolute. It is because of money that husbands spend hours at business and little time with their families as long as they are bringing money home. It is because of money that young girls/boys have sexual relationships with elderly persons. It is because of money that people wake up every morning to go to their work places and even cause them to do more than one job. So, in that sense, it really makes the world go around!

    Money is essential in the meeting of our basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter etc. However, to some it is a source by which they define their happiness. Happiness by their definition is “make a lot of money as long as you can.” Theirs is a philosophy of living to make money i.e. it is vital and without it, there can be no definition of happiness or a reason for living.

    There are people that believe that money cannot be placed in the simple box of “good” it should be labeled “vital” for without it there can be no life. For them to say money is good is a deliberate grammatical error of undermining the importance of money. In their experience, money makes them happy so it is vital for without it there can’t be any true happiness. By interpretation, it would be that “the lack of money is the root of all unhappiness,” so you have money and all your sorrows will be gone. For this, many people will do almost anything in their power to have money even: robbery, tax evasions, drugs and human trafficking, steal, kill, witchcraft, divorce, and marry a rich person etc.

    If happiness through money is defined through the above mentioned things than I don’t desire to have money. If money has to force us to do what is hurtful to others just for us to be happy than that kind of happiness will by nature not be consistent for the motives are dangerous and life threatening.

“Money is an article which may be used as a universal passport to everywhere except heaven, and as a universal provider of everything except happiness.”10

    Whoever made this statement must have had an understanding of the invaluableness of money when it comes to the essential things of life. As powerful as money can be it is only powerful to tangibles but as for matters of the soul, it affords nothing. It is sure that very few amongst the world’s wealthiest men and women are happy, they have “all” the money, but they can’t find happiness. What about our music superstars who many end up as drug addicts as they try to seek confidence and most of all happiness? If the happiness that comes with money and fame is that of buying drugs, divorcing countless times, multiple sex partners, cheating, and killing than money becomes nothing more than a curse to the human race.

    However, it is necessary to understand that money and fame cannot give us the happiness we are looking for. Monetary-happiness11 is an illusion i.e. it is not just temporary happiness it is in reality non-existent. “It's good to have money and the things money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.”12 How many people will take such advice to mind? For some have lost families, friends, peace, good character because of money. So ask yourself, is money really worth sacrificing all these things? Happiness that comes through money is what I term excitement similar to the one a person has when they are intoxicated. After a time they are faced with the realities of life and the serious and important things that we cannot meet through money.

    Fame and money are not security measures against sadness and the meaninglessness of life, they do not bring us to the state of inner well-being. Thus money is good but not for bringing happiness, it is essential in trading but not for the matters of the soul. Money is necessary but not vital by definition i.e. we can live without it, still be happy, and be satisfied with life. Fame is good but it is a wrong foundation upon which we are to seek meaning and happiness. Both of these entities are temporary and are easily lost or replaced and they don’t define us in the slightest measure. We may be rich and famous but poor and unknown by God:

“You say 'I am rich and have grown rich, and I want for nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked! Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold which has been refined by fire, that you may grow rich; and white robes, that you may be clothed and your shameful nakedness be hidden; and ointment to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”13

    God does not regard you by your money and fame, if your heart is not opened to him you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked sinner destined for eternal damnation. Friend don’t be deceived by the riches of the world for they will not buy you a place in God or heaven. Now is the time to give your heart to him. Riches and fame will all remain here on earth on the day you will have to face up with God on the Day of Judgment.

    Don’t sell your soul to the little and temporary pleasures that money can buy, search for the satisfaction and salvation of your soul. Now is that time you have to make an intelligent decision to be saved!

 

 

Chapter Six

Power

We cannot define the meaning of our lives by the amount of power vested in us.

    Power comes in different forms it can be political, economic, social, and religious etc it is a great thing and many people wish for it. As a child and as a teen, I desired to have absolute power. For me having power was to dictate people’s lives, set for them what to do according to what I wanted, and to make them feel that I am in charge. I wished to subjugate the rest of humanity under my power. I look so gentle today but I used to be rough too (I don’t remember how many fights I’ve had all my school life) fortunately I had both intellectual and physical power. This kind of thinking was inevitable when I look into the history of the kinds of books that I read (Marxism, Socialism, Joseph Stalin, Hitler’s philosophies etc). I always wanted power especially whenever I read the books on African History and how the White man oppressed the African – I wanted power over the White man. To the extend that even in heaven I would have set a criteria by which the White man were to enter. Such an ideology of power is foolish!

    The drive of power is in every human being and for some it is a way of gaining or finding happiness. The African president who feels that democracy is too liberal and wants an autocratic government; the psychologist who wish to tell his clients what they must do without them asking any questions; the pastor that want his members to yield to his authority without questions; the manager that threatens to fire his secretary unless she have sex with him; the chief executive officer who files false accusations against a promising senior staff member. All these are displays of power and for some people they find happiness in being powerful over the others even if power is abused as long as it accomplished one’s ends.

    Power-happiness14 is popular among those who like to see everybody in their environment subjected to their authority. They enjoy people around them stressed because of their presence. For them that defines their happiness for example Caesar Nero15 found happiness in the execution of the Christians because of his power; Hitler found happiness in his mission of exterminating the Jews through gas chambers and the concentration camps; Idi Amin of Uganda found happiness in the butchering of his own people; Tojo Eiki found happiness in his attack on Pearl Harbor; and Robert Mugabe found happiness in his removal of White farmers from the farmlands. All these are acts of power because one can pull some strings and make them dance to your beat but they don’t necessarily interpret the meaning of life and happiness. By definition the ideology behind such acts is, “power makes all right.” What they do must always be interpreted as correct or else one will upset them for questioning their actions.

    Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin had power but I doubt if they were happy or found the meaning of life. Like with the rest of many dictators they were all paranoid leaders ruling with iron fists just to secure their own regimes. This kind of power is exercised on the expense of human dignity just to achieve selfish ends. History clearly teaches us that many of the most powerful people have always ended up abusing the power vested in them by inflicting pain on their subordinates.

    The cruelest things have been performed in the name of power. Jezebel had innocent defenseless prophets killed because she had power, David had Uriah killed because of his wife. Many people are seeking political asylums in the world today because someone in power is after their lives.

 

Power’s Weakness

    When we use power as a source for attaining happiness, we are not just being illogical but living under deception. Power is good in that it makes one feel in control but it does not give one the capacity of being in control of happiness. Power that is used for oppressing others results into foolishness rather than positive outcomes. We can be powerful and still be unhappy or powerless and be very happy. This is not to say that power causes unhappiness for there are powerful people who are happy and powerless people who are unhappy. But when we try to define our happiness and meaning of life by the amount of power we have, we turn to be miserable human beings.

    To have power is not necessarily to have happiness. It is insanity to rejoice in the miseries of others and it is pure inhumanness to exert control over others as though they were not free agents. We cannot be happy by making others unhappy – it is a wrong way of attaining happiness. Happiness is obtained in the kindness we show, healthy relationships we build with others, helping those who are weak etc. I have not heard of a dictator who has been mentally sane – too much power to man leads to abuse of that power and to the destruction of fellow man.

    Power does not last forever, so how can we expect to get happiness from it? This would mean that our happiness exists only as long as we have power, the moment we do not have it we must plunge into the ocean of sadness and depression. One cannot say, “I’m happy because I’m powerful,” for that would be happiness based on a wrong foundation. People come in power and they are again removed from it – thus it is a temporary position and one cannot build your life upon it. We cannot define the meaning of our lives by the amount of power vested in us. Power can be taken away from us at anytime in different ways, therefore we cannot build our lives upon it and seek the definition of our existence through it.

    Any form of power upon which we rely to define our happiness and meaning of life will lead us to frustration at the end of the day. By the time we turn around to discover that all we have gained in the process are enemies and our lives are at the verge of extinction and we will not have enough time to clean up all the mess we’ve caused in the process. Therefore, enjoy your time of power to help those you can but don’t make it a foundation upon which you would like to acquire happiness and meaning of life.

    Remember that one day as powerful as you may be you will appear before the Supreme Omnipotent God to give account. On that day, your power will be as the strength of an ant before a giant. Human power will not justify your way to heaven or you cannot manipulate your way there unless you have surrendered to the saving power of God through Jesus Christ in this world. A storm is coming against which you will not be able to stand by solely relying on your human strength. The only security you can have from God’s judgment is when you repent from your sinful ways and allow him to the Lord of your life.

    On that day kings, presidents, masters, slaves, servant, civilians, rich, and poor will kneel alike before the throne of God. There will be not exemption i.e. there will be no distinction between dignitaries and ordinary citizens. The judgment of the Almighty will not be partial it will be against all. Now is the time for you to invite this Omnipotent God and surrender your power to him.

 

 

Chapter Seven

Wherein Is Our Happiness?

“There is nothing in the universe that can replace our holes of need for happiness and meaning except God.”

    All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. They will never take the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves. And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions.16

    I’ve always wondered whether we do have any happiness of our own that is consistent at all times and at all places. Is it not a sign that man in himself does not have what it takes to be happy and define the meaning of life? If he had what it takes to be happy he needed not to use the camouflages of money, power, pleasure, knowledge, materialism, and religion. These things in my opinion indicate that the happiness of a man’s soul does not lie in himself i.e. man cannot cause himself to be happy. Happiness that comes from these sources cannot be relied upon in building a sustainable happy and meaningful life. In other words, the source of human happiness must come from somewhere outside the human sphere. Without taking you through a mental cruise of wondering what I want to say let us reach to the morale of this writing.

    We do not determine our own happiness we acquire the happiness but it must be acquired from a Source outside the human sphere of reasoning. So since the human system of becoming happy is not coherent we must import our standards for attaining happiness and meaning by using rules and principles that are outside of us but hidden in the Person of God.

    My view is that our happiness must be based in a person rather than in something. There can be no true happiness outside of God, the only happiness we will have would be “secondary-happiness.”17 For the Bible has an answer on how we can be happy, God spoke out of heaven and he gave instruction that if it is heeded it will take many out of their cycles of unhappiness. He said: "This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him."18 This Son of God gave instructions on how we could be happy without trying to find happiness and meaning and in things in all wrong places. And I believe that the desire to be happy which our generation seeks in things is hidden in the words this man spoke some 2000 years ago:

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

  • Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied.

  • Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted in the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”19

    In the rest of the remainder of Matthew chapter five Jesus continues to give solutions or advice that if these things are practiced man will experience happiness. Secular Humanism has taught us that we are self-sufficient, good by nature, that we do not need God, and if there is any God than we are the God that we are seeking. The reality confronts the humanist, as he cannot sustain his own life as aging is catching up with him and everyday of his life is walking him closer to the grave. He becomes depressed that he has no control of his aging body and approaching death.

    The atheist is faced with the reality of the inadequacy of the philosophical system he is trying to present when he can no longer reason beyond the supernatural. He is frustrated that his answers are moving in circular propositions and there is no progress to his ever changing but never growing theory. The atheist stands in the position like that of someone denying their own sanity in the court of law just for him to be acquitted of his crimes.

    Still at the end of the day, the truth remains that we cannot hide from the need of God in our lives. For there is no other true source of happiness besides him. Man’s own solution is to find happiness in something, but the divine plan it that man would find his happiness in Someone. We are not in need of a material solution we need a spiritual solution to our dilemma of unhappiness and dissatisfaction of heart and soul. There is nothing in the universe that can replace our holes of need for happiness and meaning except God.

“But God gives proof of his love to us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”20

    The happiness that man is looking for in things is secured in the finished work of God’s Son on the cross of Calvary. In him dwells the fullness of God’s purpose and the solution to human unhappiness and he gives the invitation saying:

"Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."21

    The rest of our souls is what we need not the indulgence of our flesh. Here is a free offer to attaining happiness and meaning of which no one or nothing can take away from us. It is only with Jesus that a yoke is said to be easy and burdens light i.e. with the taking of Jesus we are not carrying burdens but happiness that is eternally guaranteed. Our true happiness is in having discovered the eternal happiness, which God offers through Jesus Christ. In this life, our happiness in Christ is the reflection of the eternal happiness. This happiness lies in the saving power of God through Jesus Christ, without the forgiveness of sin, happiness cannot be achieved in this life or in the life to come:

“Happy is he who has forgiveness for his wrongdoing, and whose sin is covered.”22

    We all need the forgiveness that God offers through faith in Christ Jesus. He does not need the appeasing through sacrifices of animals etc, he wants the sincere repentance of our hearts. We must turn to God not because we want to be happy, we need to do so because he is our destiny and by his plan, we ought to be happy. As Blaise Pascal stated that:

“What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”

    Thus the happiness we are seeking through sex, alcoholism, money, religion, fame, education, materialism, pleasure, drugs, gambling etc can only be truly found when we come in true union with our Maker. “Man's ultimate happiness lies not in this life.”23 We need ultimate happiness not temporary excitement which is here and gone by tomorrow. In God, we discover a glimpse of that eternal happiness through our confession of sin and accepting his Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.

    There is no source whatsoever that will grant man the happiness and meaning he is searching for in this world. None of our sciences (sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, medicine) can offer comprehensive permanent solutions to this search for happiness and meaning. No degree of clever language can find a definition enough to satisfy our search for meaning and reason for living.

    There is no ark that will rescue humanity from life’s gloom, inadequacy, and meaninglessness except that which God has already provided. The invitation to you my readers is that you will find Jesus Christ today and run to him for salvation from the present distresses that life presents – he is the only sure guarantee against meaninglessness.

 

 

Conclusion

“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.” C. S. Lewis

    All of the activities I’ve mentioned in this book appear to be weak foundations. They are full of shortcomings and loopholes and cannot be set as foundations upon which we can or could build happy and meaningful lives. They barely can sustain us even for a while thus:

  1. Religion is based on human efforts to seek and define God

  2. Pleasure is circumstantial i.e. it’s here today and gone tomorrow,

  3. Knowledge and education is a flop our universities have not been able to become morally the most upright institutions after all the vast amounts of information giving.

  4. Power serves as a cover up for our own weaknesses – we make decisions for situations but we still recline to despair and meaninglessness

  5. Money answers to many things but cannot answer our quest for meaning or purpose e.g. who am I, why am I here and what is after this life.

    They are all weak foundations to define our lives and cannot give us the happiness we need. Satisfaction can only be found in Jesus Christ. You may protest that “it’s religion!” No, in Christianity God comes down to men and women to save them, in religion men and women invent ways they think will win them God’s salvation. I answered the teenage girl that came to my office that afternoon that “only God can make you happy,” she looked at me so surprised that I mentioned God. I could see by her expression that she had no clue of what I was talking about – still with many questions. I couldn’t talk long to her since we were already done with the assignment and I had to complete my monthly reports.

    Only God can give you the happiness and meaning you are seeking! It is either to take God’s offer or plunge into the ocean of meaninglessness and apparent happiness. It is either you take God’s solution to the emptiness of your soul or live to face him on the Judgment Day. Salvation time is now friend – Jesus Christ said:

“See, I am waiting at the door and giving the sign; if my voice comes to any man's ears and he makes the door open, I will come in to him, and will take food with him and he with me.”24

      It’s a matter of eternity my friend that I’m talking about. Whether you believe it or not the now will soon be gone and you will open your eyes right in front of God to give account of your life – what will be your answer? Your debates and philosophy will be of no use at that moment, as the proof of God’s will be right in front of your own eyes.

 

 

Endnotes
 

1 A person who adheres to a system of philosophy that emphasizes the intuitive and spiritual above the experimental and corporeal.
 

2 John 15: 16 NKJV; 6: 44 KJV
 

3 George Owen
 

4 Devotion to elaborated sensuous pleasure especially of good food and drink
 

5 Mark 8: 36 KJV
 

6 John 14: 26
 

7 Anonymous
 

8 Charles Sumner
 

9 Thoreau
 

10 Unknown
 

11 Supposed happiness by the amount of money an individual has.
 

12 Lorimer
 

13 Revelation 3: 17, 18
 

14 Supposed happiness as a result of wielding power over others.
 

15 Roman Emperor notorious for his monstrous vice and fantastic luxury (started a fire that destroyed much of Rome in 64) but the Empire remained prosperous during his rule (37-68).
 

16 Blaise Pascal in Pensees (Thoughts) 1660, (Book: Section VII, Part I: Morality and Doctrine)
 

17 Afterthought happiness not the initially designed.
 

18 Luke 9: 35 Montgomery’s New Testament
 

19 Jesus Christ, the Savior and Son of God born in Bethlehem…his life and sermons form the basis for Christianity (circa 4 BC - AD 29)
 

20 Paul a Christian missionary to the Gentiles; writer of many Letters in the New Testament, Romans 5: 8
 

21 Jesus Christ, Matthew 11: 28-30
 

22 David, the 2nd king of the Israelites; as a young shepherd he fought and killed Goliath; he united Israel with Jerusalem as its capital; many of the Psalms are attributed to David (circa 1000-962 BC).
 

23 Tomas Aquinas, Roman Catholic Church Italian theologian and Doctor of the Church who is remembered for his attempt to reconcile faith and reason in a comprehensive theology; presented philosophical proofs of the existence of God (1225-1274).
 

24 Revelation 3: 20 Bible in Basic English

 

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