The greatest happiness

If (name here) is the soul’s fulfillment, it represents the greatest joy, the true happiness. And if this is so, we’d choose it over everything else – almost without choice.

Thus the way to correct behavior is not to focus on behavior, but to find a goal whose nature will enliven us to make the choices leading to it. It is a backward way to approach self-perfection, but far more likely to succeed because it is inspiring, and never dispiriting.

For example, you can learn how to sail by reading a book; you can learn it from a class. You can even go out on the boat and have someone teach you. But no matter how much you learn, it’s still just knowledge without a goal.

If you fall in love with sailing, however, and feel the taste of the sea in your heart, you might long to go deeper into it. You’d want to learn about the boat and the sea intimately. You would naturally start doing whatever was needed to enrich your connection, not just your knowledge and your skills. (All of which are a means to the goal, but fade away as you near its presence).

In other words: If the heart is dry and ready, find a match. Everything else makes much more sense after that. To do the opposite, to make choices according to an idea of something we haven’t seen, is too difficult. If it does work, it’s the grace of God: Perhaps all that effort can spark love after all – yet even then, what causes the real transformation is when the fire catches, and not the efforts made up to that time.

So the willingness of the heart, it’s yearning: this is the key. Whatever we understand or think about the goal – until we’ve tasted its waters – is only preparation and delay.

This is my doctrine of “no shoulds”: If we bend our lives according to an idea of what should be, and not because we yearn for something higher, what do we have? Without the heat of such love, what can sustain our victory in this wintery night?

And the corollary of the doctrine: What will kindle this spirit is worth every consideration; because light can find its way out from a lantern, whereas a wonderfully wrought lamp, without flame, benefits no one.