The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Ordering Chaos

In the past two days, I've had two separate friends relate to me their personal frustrations of feeling spiritually dry. I have experienced that same feeling throughout various periods of my life. We all go through deserts spiritually; we feel empty, without energy to follow through on our good decisions; we will to do them, even desire to, but it seems to require more strength than we can provide. Sometimes it overflows into physical exhaustion or wears on us mentally, stressing us out.

There is an interplay between our mind, will, and emotions. No one can endure strain in one aspect without it straining the others. Our lives and our selves are integrated. The public interferes with the private, the business with the personal, the actions with the beliefs with the choices.

With all these interactions, this interplay of outside with inside, and soul with spirit, we must find a way to order our lives and our selves. A way that doesn't diminish us, exhaust us, ruin us.

For me, I have found that the constant search for fulfilling experiences proves most draining. Seeking fulfilling emotions, being driven to find happiness in the form of pleasant feelings, does the exact opposite. I find myself despondent, disengaged, poor. In a good book called Renovation of the Heart, the author wrote that Feelings are good servants, but terrible masters. That is certainly true in my life.

CS Lewis reasons that man's rational capability is an anomoly that cannot be explained by naturalistic causes, and therefore speaks to the existence of and is a result of supernatural causes. It is a kind of miracle, he believes.

I gladly stand on these men's shoulders to argue that our rational minds can grasp truth and provide good guidance to our wills and emotions. There are important other aspects regarding that truth, what it is, and what we value in light of it. I think that the knowledge we grasp is as important as how we order our lives. Each, without the other, will continue to leave us drained. Like everything else, it is an integration, a mutual dependence, a balance between extremes.

This is nothing new though: sages of old said just as much. Buddhism, here, has an eight fold path, which, when subjected to real truth, can be useful in ordering ourselves.

Right Understanding (or Right View, or Right Perspective)
Right Thought (or Right Intention, or Right Resolve)
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Right Effort (or Right Endeavour)
Right Mindfulness - the practice of being intentionally aware of his or her thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present moment.
Right Concentration