The Abundant Life
Whether you consider yourself a 'religious'
person or not, just by growing up in a Christian country you have
probably been exposed to the words of Jesus: 'I came that they
might have life; and have it more abundantly.
The abundant life is what everyone dreams
of: a good life Here and Now. Jesus came to give us that abundant
life. He came to make us free. This was not a promise of Heaven
or of some far-off land in the sky, but of life as we know it
Here and Now. We are like any other animals. To have abundant
life, we must be free, we must have food, and we must be able
to reproduce our kind. Yet so many 'Christians' have settled for
the belief, 'It's OK if we're miserable in our lives on Earth
because after we die, everything will be beautiful and abundant
in Heaven.' We can have Heaven here on Earth. If the old saying
'We live in Hell' is true, we can also live in Heaven.
No wonder modern man gradually began
to turn away from religion and spiritual promises to find a better
life. At one time, there was a belief that Reason could bring
a better life; at another time education and literacy; to some
the answer is science and technology; for others an overgrowing
economy; and to a few only a revolutionary change in the political
and economic system will ever bring an abundant life.
But recently people have been turning
to meditation, astrology, cults, psychology, encounter groups,
trying to bring out the real person within. There is a growing
belief that to have abundant life, we must understand ourselves.
We believe this can best be done through meditation.
Of course, every person has their own
idea or fantasy of what abundant life is. To a person who is sick,
abundant life is good health. To a poor field worker, abundant
life would be a steady job and a nice house and car. For a poor
student, it would be to get smarter and more intelligent. To a
guy working in a factory, abundant life would be getting out in
the country and working in the open air. Many young people would
like to be able to travel all over the world and constantly have
new experiences. While to an older person, security and a good
steady income he didn't need to worry about would be the ideal.
A lot of couples dream of being able to get along with each other
without fighting and arguing. And children think abundant life
would be more freedom to do whatever they want. Everyone tends
to think of abundant life in terms of what he lacks right now.
Wherever we are, we want to progress on to something else. We
don't seem to ever be satisfied.
So for most people, abundant life is
not a static thing that they can just draw a picture of. It is
a process of constantly advancing in every area of life: health,
intelligence, marriage and family relations, material prosperity,
peace with the world, energy to get things done, satisfaction
with themselves and their level of consciousness. Every step forward
is a blessing.
Now there is debate as to whether a
person can ever be completely satisfied and fulfilled in this
life. The yogis, Zen Buddhists, and people of that general philosophy,
believe that by not being attached to the things of this world,
by not identifying with their own desires, they can come to a
state of mind where they can be happy no matter what experiences
come their way. They can learn to accept changes without identifying
them as positive or negative. In that state of mind, just existing
would be all the abundance they would want.
Some Christians, also, believe that
merely by accepting Jesus, they will be blessed with a "peace
that passeth understanding," and from then on their lives
will be perfectly abundant.
If you are in one of these conditions,
if you are totally happy and satisfied that you are living the
abundant life right now - then this course is not for you. But
if you are not quite satisfied, if your life is not progressing
in the way you want it to, if your plans always seem to fall through
or you're always tired or you're stuck in a job you can't stand
or you're always fighting with your wife or husband or kids, or
you just look out at the world every day and feel like: This is
really a terrible mess and I can't do anything about it - life
you want to live more abundantly - then read on and see if some
of these ideas won't work for you.
Going back to the different ways people
have tried to get an abundant life, we first look at religion.
Christianity, in the teachings of Jesus, has some of the highest
and most beautiful ideas ever conceived of: to love everyone,
to share all our material things with each other, to ask for anything
from your Father and He will give it to you just as He feeds the
swallows and clothes the lilies of the field.
But how many Christians do you know
personally who are peaceful and loving, who share all they have,
who don't judge or condemn, who simply through faith have all
the material abundance that they want?
I don't think there are very many. Not
necessarily because the Bible and the teachings of Christ were
wrong. But because most people don't really understand them.
Now in this course we will be using
the Universal Translation of the Bible because I think it makes
the message more clear to people. Most people who are trying to
get the good life by being 'religious' are not really being fulfilled,
because they are going along with what the Churches are telling
them to think. And most churches are more interested in proving
their way is the only right way than in giving people a better
life. As we said earlier, they just teach people to wait until
after they die.
So a lot of people began to think that
education was the answer to a better life. The government got
into the business of providing free education for everyone and
then of making it required and gradually adding more years until
now most states make children go to school for at least 12 or
13 years. And yet it is the young people with the most education
who are rebelling the hardest against the system and saying the
schools are irrelevant and not teaching them anything that is
really useful in their lives. They may get a certificate that
helps them get a certain kind of job; but even college diplomas
don't guaranty jobs anymore. And certainly a lot of educated people
are more miserable than anyone else. They have read a lot of books
and know a lot of information. But they don't know anything about
Other people say that science and technology
and all our new computers and medical advances and labor-saving
devices are going to bring an abundant life for everyone. Well,
there are some amazing things we have today that no one even dreamed
of a hundred years ago. But people are still starving; mental
illness and depression and tension are increasing. Some of the
experts say that we are suffering from 'future shock,' which means
our bodies are getting sick and even dying because the stress
of so much change is more than they can take.
We also know that for every problem
our technology solves, it also creates a new one. It does a lot
of work for us but work requires energy and now that we are so
dependent on energy outside of ourselves, they say we are running
out. The medical researchers have come up with cures and vaccines
for many of the worst diseases of the past, but new ones just
take their place. And we still haven't solved the problems of
unemployment and taking care of the increasing numbers of old
people. Our chemical fertilizers put out more and more food on
the same area of land, but now we are discovering that the soil
is being destroyed and turning hard and that the pesticides are
killing field workers directly and indirectly killing wildlife
all the way up the food chain and entering human bodies. Our automobiles
and airplanes take us wherever
we want to go with little work on our
part at incredibly fast speeds. But they also pollute our air
so that it burns our eyes, destroys our lungs, and hangs over
our cities in an ugly dirty brown glob.
Other people believe that economic growth
is the answer that if our corporations keep expanding and producing
more and more goods and providing more and more jobs so everyone
can buy those goods, that eventually everyone will have abundant
life. But we already have enough food in the world to feed everyone,
if it could just get to them. And enough TV's and cars and plastic
fantastic gadgets. But look at the surplus food going to waste.
Look at our garbage dumps and junk yards. We are already producing
way more stuff than we can possibly use even though we throw things
away that are still useful and buy a new wardrobe, car, TV, and
set of furniture and appliances every year.
The revolutionaries believe that we
do not distribute our abundance properly. If we turned it all
over to the people, and everyone worked to the best of his ability,
and everything was given to whoever needed it, we would all share
in the abundance. But there is no country in the world where this
is being done. It doesn't matter whether it is the commissars
in Russia or the Boards of Directors of the big corporations in
America. The people are not in control; someone else decides what
gets produced and who gets it.
There is a dream men have always had
- no matter what country or time or religion they were in - that
they could learn to live together in peace and harmony and all
work for the good of all with no outside control or force. But
so far that dream has not been fulfilled on this earth. In every
place where people have given up their personal ambitions for
the 'good of the State' it has been under some kind of force -
either physical, guns, or mental as in brainwashing of indoctrinating
children in the ideas of "nationalism' and "patriotism.
So what does that leave us? Is abundant
life on this earth impossible as many of the Church people tell
us? Can a man only hope to grab as much of the pie as he can for
himself and forget about everyone else? Some people are content
to think so.