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 themselves.
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.
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