Are our happiness goals ambitious enough?
Whether clutching contentment or ruing a lack of it, it’s helpful to know that there’s a higher, more secure happiness available. The human quest for happiness often remains on the level of seeking experiences or possessions that may or may not be attained, and if attained, are vulnerable to changing conditions. Many of these things are wholesome and legitimate aspirations, such as home, companionship, and career. But above and beyond these, and able to help form the shape they take in our experience, is a more spiritual happiness that we can both aspire to and attain. It’s one that’s inherent in a timeless truth we can grasp and demonstrate: God is real and good, and our life is actually spiritual, drawn solely from this divine source of all goodness.
Here’s a description of this God-sourced happiness from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy: “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love” (p. 57)—that is, born of God, divine Spirit, since, as the Bible says, God is Truth and Love.
This understanding of God’s nature defines our nature, since we are each the spiritual expression of God. So, we include qualities born of Truth, such as honesty and integrity, and of Love, such as compassion and forgiveness. If such qualities are key to our happiness, this indicates that a higher happiness is one that reaches beyond a personal sense of well-being to a genuine desire to benefit others. The sentence from Science and Health following the earlier description affirms this selfless nature of true happiness and highlights its scope: “It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” Now that’s ambitious!
What kind of happiness is it that we share with all humanity?
It’s found in the divine goodness that already belongs to all humanity, as revealed by Christ—the spiritual idea of all that Spirit, God, is and does. When we are mired in everyday problems or face deep challenges, this spiritual awareness might itself feel like a distant aspiration, even a false promise. But at every moment it is our God-reflecting mentality. By contrast, the pleasures and pains of material sense, unaware of Spirit, lack the truth they boast of. No matter how convincing a material sensation feels, it’s drawn from a mortally mental source that is itself unreal, as Science and Health explains: “That matter is substantial or has life and sensation, is one of the false beliefs of mortals, and exists only in a supposititious mortal consciousness” (p. 278).
Jesus proved that there’s an infinite distance between material sensation and our spiritual identity as God’s expression.
When the conviction is insistent that life and sensation are in matter, we can dig deeper and recognize the falsity of the consciousness that believes in material suffering and sensual self-indulgence, because neither is the Christly thinking that reflects God.
The master demonstrator of our true Christliness, Christ Jesus, showed that no matter how vivid the evidence of material ills or the lure of sensuality appears to be, no matter how long such evidence has endured, it must yield to a clear understanding that Life is Spirit, God. Jesus proved that there’s an infinite distance between material sensation and our spiritual identity as God’s expression. In healings such as the restored health of a man bedridden for decades and the spiritual transformation of a woman who had long lived an immoral life, he demonstrated that enduring health and joy constitute our very substance. From the perspective of the “supposititious mortal consciousness,” such qualities are temporary, at the mercy of matter’s conditions. In the Christly view of our spiritual identity, however, they are established forever in our oneness with infinite Spirit.
While this seems to present to human consciousness two conflicting perspectives, Christ, the true idea of God, lifts us above the false concept—life in matter—to see divine Life as our sole existence. Then the lie of competing views dissolves into the truth that there is but one view: the spiritual. When healing results from this shift in thought, the happiness that ensues is neither transient nor selfish. It’s of lasting and all-blessing benefit as a breakthrough proof that God is the only true Life of all.
In this divine Life, we have happiness that’s forever pure and secure and requires no ambition to attain it. It’s a quality we forever include and exude as God’s reflection. So, in seeking happiness, we’re never truly looking to gain a personal blessing, but rather to prove in our own lives a goodness that’s ours because it’s everyone’s—and that we contribute to evidencing as everyone’s to the degree that we prove it as our own life and nature.
So here’s to our goals always being spiritually ambitious, and to being ambitious enough to seek not only our happiness but the happiness that is universal and eternal—to understand and demonstrate the happiness that belongs to all, on behalf of all.
Tony Lobl, Associate Editor