February 2013

Aspire to attain only that which is permanent— God’s love
IN A RADIO interview, the former prime minister of Australia, a Catholic, asked the former Pope in Rome: “How would you describe the world at the moment?” The Pope replied, “(There is a) globalization of superficiality.” I thought that was a great description. This is such a superficial world right now, full of desires and saddled with discontentment. And if I’m not following God’s truth, it will infect me. What is contentment? It is the sign of a soul who is living God’s truth. Contentment is a state of fullness and self-acceptance, and also an incredible state of wisdom. The mind isn’t seeking, searching, looking, wanting. It doesn’t matter if I make a mistake; everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t matter if I’m criticized. It doesn’t matter if I fail in something. What matters is, I remain in the dignity of who I am, a self-realization that prevents circumstances from controlling how I feel about myself. Contentment is also the sign of a soul who has absorbed true love. When the heart is genuinely full of God’s true love, what more can anyone need? When all other desires stop, I feel fulfilled. Without the experience of this true love, one is easily shocked and disturbed by the scenes of destiny. If I try to control the outcome of events and things don’t turn out the way I planned them, I am overcome by anger and frustration. One who is content, moves on. The contentment that the world is used to is conditional contentment, one with a lot of sub-clauses and fine print. It is contentment sought from external attainment—from one’s job, wealth, relationships. How does that work? When my job is doing okay, I’m content; and when it’s not, I’m discontent? When my wealth and relationships are okay, I’m good; and when they’re not, I get frustrated? So, I’m like a puppet dancing to the tune of situations, extremely sensitive to the external atmosphere. That is conditional contentment. There’s also superficial contentment—or contentment based on subtle desires. Oh, we have a shopping list of them. For example, “If you show me respect, I’ll be content. And if you don’t, I’m going to feel all these negative emotions that are the opposite of contentment.” Years ago, we did a successful program in Australia. Thousands turned up. We had this huge crowd for a whole day in a university. Everyone was very high. Our guest congratulated everyone, saying, “What a wonderful program!” But, she added, “If no one had come, would you be as happy as you are now?” So I need to check: How much is my contentment based on results and outcomes? Or am I a fully contained system that doesn’t dance to the tune of situations? This is what God means when He says we should be content. The knowledge-full soul is in a state of completion. I should always be having those very sweet feelings of being satisfied and fulfilled, and therefore not looking for anything elsewhere. Sometimes, old weaknesses create discontent, too, even while I’m working on them. For instance, I have observed that trying to live up to an image creates great discontent. People say it’s human to want to look good. But looking good is often not enough; there is still so much wanting, internally. For me what helped is saying to myself that I am a work in progress. I have left the shore of the Old World, and now I’m paddling my boat to the New World. I’m not yet there, so meanwhile, the wisdom in contentment is seeing how far I’ve come, rather then how far I still have to go. The seed of discontent is self-rejection, that little voice that puts the self down and fuels feelings of hopelessness. One should be very gentle with the self. Any tendency to criticize the self merely results in weakness. People have long defined themselves by what they do, rather than who they are. Until I have a clear definition of who I am, I will always be looking for something. Thus, contentment is also a state of being. If I’m not clear about who I am, I will try to copy, or be, someone else. I should know that God comes to make me the best of me; I don’t have to look at anyone, or everyone. Only then can I recognize my own specialties, what I do best—but also what I can’t do as well as others, so I can be happy for them to do it. This is also success—feeling happy for others as much as I do for myself. It’s when I have absolutely no jealousy toward others; and I have such deeprespect, that I do not compare myself to them. I step into my own value; I don’t look at others. I accept my part and everybody else’s. I am content with everyone. Contentment is the best gift I can give to anyone, because many are not satisfied with themselves. When someone comes in front of me and I am able to give them love, respect and contentment, I uplift them as well. The greatest disservice is being discontent with other people. It is easy to get affected by one another—questioning the other’s behavior, why things went wrong, complaining verbally or mentally. When I’m deeply happy with who I am, I will accept anyone and everyone. This acceptance is the most valuable support I can lend to other souls at this time. One soul’s part may be sweet; another’s, not so sweet; yet another’s, even bitter. I cannot interact only with the sweet ones, and reject the bitter ones. Even the wealthy and powerful can be incredibly discontent. I can share with them my contentment by not getting drawn into their sorrow, not taking any part of it. If I do, it’s going to be my sorrow, my problem. Contentment is having a heart so full of God’s love, that nothing can penetrate it—not scenes of events, not other people’s behavior. I have what I need and nothing can take me out of that place. I have attained that which is permanent: God’s knowledge and virtues. Nothing else will measure up. –Charles Hogg

Becoming content:

Manage Your Anger, - March 10, 9 am to 4 pm, Sunday Easter Retreat: Forgive and Let Go, - March 28 to 30. 4 pm Thursday to 4 pm Saturday

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