2003-04-12-Grateful Enjoyment vs. Hedonism

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Topic: Grateful Enjoyment vs. Hedonism

Group: SE Idaho TeaM

Facilitators

Teacher: Daniel

TR: Bill K.

Session

Opening

Daniel(Bill): Be at peace, my friends. I am Daniel. Let us pray.

To You Who made all that is, but most importantly " Father" to all Your personal sons and daughters; to You, great Creator, we turn our hearts of gratitude and worship. We call You, "Father", "Great Parent", "Unfathomable Love", "Perfect Graciousness", for that is how we experience You in our souls. May Your nature continue to fuse with our human nature so that the two together can become one perfected pinnacle of joyous creativity! Tonight, my friends, may our hearts melt to each other with no barriers or misgivings present. Put aside all things and let us endeavor to do the will of our Father, our Brother, our Mother, our Sister. Amen.

Daniel(Bill): This is Daniel, your teacher, your friend, your guide, and your joyous companion. Your hymn says, "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all!" I wish tonight to focus our attention on the experience of grateful enjoyment.

Lesson

Hedonism

"All things bright and beautiful, all things wise and wonderful", do you not harmonize with those thoughts? Have you not experienced a sense of awe, of the majesty, of the perfection, of the works of our Creator as you look at everything around you: yes, creatures great and small, other people, your brothers and sisters, and the very universe of universes which stretches out in incomprehensible majesty in the night sky when darkness is allowed to illuminate the heavens? Grateful enjoyment comes from the knowledge of who you are and how you fit in to all that is.

You live in a society where the quest for enjoyment is frenetic, frantic, and frustrating. People often chose the pathway of hedonism, to indulge the senses, where, " if a little bit is good, a lot more is much better", is the philosophy. But, as you know, this pursuit of pleasure, in and of itself, is a dismal failure. One sensation has to be followed by at least as much, in terms of energy discharge, to keep the excitement going. So, some people become adrenaline addicts. In their search for pleasure they totally turn inward to their own nervous system. This happens also with substance abuse, as you know. Grateful enjoyment is quite different. It comes from knowing who you are and how you fit in with everything that is. When you know that you are a son or daughter of the Creator of all, then you know that you have a primary connection to the Source of reality. Primary, I say, rather than marginal, secondary, provisional, conditional, maybe this and maybe that, or most discouraging of all, only an accidental connection. A primary connection means you are of the same substance. You are a person from the Father of personalities and you have a part of your Parent in you, the prepersonal Thought Adjuster/Controller. Consequently, because of your primary connection with your Source, our Father, you then have another primary connection; and that is with each other. You are truly brothers and sisters, not because you are "homo sapiens", but because you are children of God.

Stewardship

Knowing this fact of your sonship/daughtership as children of one Parent makes the rest of creation friendly. It gives you something of the feeling that native people have where they recognize their kinship with all living things. The understanding of that kinship is a different explanation in native religion as expressed in its mythological stories, but the sense is correct. The other aspect of the sense of connection with nature that traditional authoritative religions recognize, the stewardship aspect, then becomes more humane. Stewardship has been conceived as ownership, with the subsequent belief that the earth and all other living creatures on it exist for the purpose of satisfying the desires of homo sapiens. What I am suggesting is a different concept of stewardship, more like the stewardship of the oldest person in the family, who wisely administers the resources of the family for the benefit of everyone. Grateful enjoyment of the earth, of creation, of your relationships with other people, comes from this perspective. You are not apart, separate from everyone else and self sovereign. Rather, you are connected to everybody as brothers and sisters and to the rest of creation as caretakers. Your role is to take care of it, not to exploit it and destroy it. Grateful enjoyment, seen in this context of beneficent stewardship allows you, then, to harmoniously use the resources of this planet.

Gratitude, Moment

Grateful enjoyment allows you to interact with other people with the recognition of your family connection, so that you are not "us and them" or you against the world, but you are within the fabric of humanity. It allows you to transcend ruthless competition, in fact, to abhor it. I am not saying you cannot have some friendly competition that is governed by honorable rules, as in games such as the Olympics, etc. But to cast everything into the framework of a war, as your culture currently is doing, is to deny your connection with other people and the rest of creation. Wars are fought between adversaries. Wars are not appropriate ways to relate within the bonds of family structure.

In grateful enjoyment, the enjoyment comes as a result of the gratitude, which comes as a result of understanding who you are and how you fit in to everything that is. The other aspect of grateful enjoyment is the result of the ability to "live in the moment". For it is only in the moment that there is enjoyment, real, vital enjoyment. True, you can pass a great deal of time thinking about past enjoyable moments. In this process you are rewinding your tape recording back to a previous time of moments where the enjoyment occurred. And even if those previous moments of enjoyment were also recollections of previous moments, eventually you will realize that all original enjoyment began in "the moment". It is obvious in a child, for children are not reminiscing on the past. They are in the moment, enjoying being alive. It is in the "moment" that you experience connection with other people, not in remembering the past or planning for the future. In the "moment" the ever present "eternal now" is the potential for enjoyment.

Therefor, if you are looking for grateful enjoyment, what I am recommending is that you first of all recognize what you can be grateful for: who you are, and how you fit in. Then, with that knowledge supporting your understanding, you can make an effort to block out the past and put aside the worry of the future, and perhaps, even allow the present to be humorous... [Ed. Note: Bill, the TR, has just knocked over his glass of water while gesturing] . ..as, indeed, is Isaac's second spilled liquid during a meeting bringing humor to his mind. (Laughter)

Today I am a grateful person, for in my morontial life, which you will one day share, I am constantly amazed how what I thought was such a wide and complete perspective can suddenly be greatly expanded. What I have told you in words is only a very diminished and limited attempt at what I now experience. My friends, I have met ascendent mortals from other places, with totally different histories from my planet of origin, not the least of which is my experience on this planet of yours. So, my experience goes greatly beyond yours at this point. My gratitude to be one of God's sons knows no bounds. My gratitude includes the fact that I have been given this charge with you, that I can sit down with you, my little brothers and sisters, with my arm around you all, and say to you, "Oh, my friends, let's enjoy life! Be grateful for what you are and what the universe is like that you are born into. Be grateful that we shall ascend to our very Parents, Themselves."

I will stop now and we can discuss this, or you can ask me questions, if you wish. The floor is yours.

Dialogue

LaReen: Daniel, I appreciate this lesson tonight. I have been feeling disconnected spiritually for a week, now. I guess the bottom line, that it comes down to, is remembering who I am, where I came from, and where I am returning home to.

Daniel: Yes, my dear. That is the most important thing that you can know: to know yourself, who you are, where you came from, and where you are going, as you say. In that understanding you then know also how you are related to everyone and everything else. I am glad that my words have been helpful to you, yes.

LaReen: Thank you.

Daniel: You are welcome.

Virginia: Daniel, this lesson reminds me of a saying that one of my friends gave me, "Gratitude is the key to abundance". I think that when you start being grateful, you realize how much you really have. And I am not talking material things. I am talking about that which LaReen mentioned, that we are children of God and we are on our way to Him.

Daniel: Exactly! That is the key to abundance, the key to enjoyment, grateful enjoyment. Both of you have stated the point I was trying to make. Thank you for your contributions tonight.

Guilt

Bob D.: I think a lot of the struggles that I have is in trying to let go of the past and recognize the present. I constantly struggle with not being a good dad and treating my kids right and what needs to be done for my family. Also, my service projects become scattered. But what I have the biggest struggle with is some guilt for when I don't do things exactly the way I should, and when I behave poorly, one way or another, as in selfishness or speaking harshly with my kids or being argumentative with my wife. When I come for that stillness I have a hard time letting go of that sense of inadequacy, of being able to handle it all. I am looking for any insight you can offer as to how, besides the words, "let go" and "recognize the present and what we have"...how do we learn to move beyond our perceived or actual failures that have already occurred?

Daniel: My friend, your words are greatly appreciated for your dilemma is the human dilemma. (Chuckles from the group) Therefore, what you have said touches everybody. You used the word, guilt, so let me talk about that. (More chuckling)

Bob D.: I know what the Urantia Book says about guilt and how it is not that worthwhile. But I have a hard time still getting past it. (Cackling laughter from group member)

Daniel: And so does this TR, and so do you all! I am not going to give a dissertation in answer to your question, but it would be a good topic for a major presentation in the future, however. Rather, I will try to summarize for you what may give you some assistance.

The textbook (The Urantia Book) does say in several places that the direction that you are heading is more important than where you are. It also says that the key to spiritual growth is sincerity, sincerity, and more sincerity.

First of all, the experience of guilt needs to be framed in a positive manner for it is an indication of your moral awareness. If you did not experience guilt then you would be sub-human. So, the fact that you experience guilt is a good thing. It means you are a normal human being. There are people that don't; who can only be described as sub-human. But I won't get off on that.

The second thing about guilt is that it is mostly the result of breaking the taboos and the mores of your culture which are internalized as conscience. And you must always remember this, for the mores and taboos are relative. There is a difference between a sense of guilt and a sense of separation from your spiritual Source. The guilt of cultural taboo breaking and the violation of mores has a different feel to it than the darkness that results from a fully conscious refusal to do the will of God by embracing what you know to be wrong beyond cultural relativism, or by rejecting God in His divine Presence. So if guilt means you are human and is due to breaking the rules of the culture, it is different than the results of sin and iniquity. What you are describing does not sound like sin or iniquity, but rather the conscience of a highly principled, highly moral individual, who is somewhat of a perfectionist, and who is harder on himself than he is on others. You are like children learning to walk. You stand up and take a few steps and fall. Now, think about it, does a little child struggle back to their feet with an apology on their lips? A child doesn't waste time feeling guilty about making a mistake, about being clumsy at walking.

You have taken on a major change in your life, my friend! You are a father and a husband and at the same time, still a human being. With these other people to interact with constantly when you are in their presence, life is much more complicated than when you were alone with your own thoughts. The opportunities for failing to do as well as you wish you could are simply much greater. Okay, you know all this. What to do about it?

Here is where you have a choice. You can waste your time feeling badly about the things you have done. That is one choice. Or, you could make sure that you make apologies and amends for things that you would like to do differently. Apologies by themselves are not sufficient. Amends require changes.

Bob D.: That's where I struggle the most...making the changes and not repeating the behavior.

Daniel: If you can lighten up your self criticism and accept that you are going to make mistakes, then what you have to do is not waste time feeling guilty but get up, do your amends, and think about the patterns that are bothering you. See if you can figure out anything causal that can be discovered in those patterns that you haven't understood before about yourself. Once you have figured that out, if you can, then you have a new basis to proceed. You also have a very loving and intelligent spouse. She, undoubtedly, is an assistant to you in these matters, for that is the benefit of a good partnership marriage. You can assist each other in your growth. She may be able to help with patterns. Finally, talk with your Thought Adjuster and try to resolve any residual guilt feelings before you fall asleep each night. You will sleep better and it will put a limit on that kind of struggle. You see, it isn't God in you Who is struggling to forgive you. (Chuckling) It is you who are struggling to believe in the generosity of God within. But if you intend to grow, Bob, it is not where you are but the intention to move forward which is the important thing. Have I given you any help here, my friend?

Bob D.: Yes, you have. Thank you. To be able to focus on the patterns and behavior and to find the relationship to the behavior and some of the circumstances that I am going through.

Daniel: You will have to go back into your childhood.

Bob D.: Oh, I know that. I have been contemplating what affect that has on current behavior characteristics.

Daniel: Um Hum.

Bob D.: I appreciate that.

Daniel: You are welcome. (Pause) Well, if there are no further questions let us stand again and hold hands. Klarixiska desires to give our final prayer.

Closing

Klarixiska(Bill): Our Father, our Mother, we are Your children. May Your peace, devoid of disharmony, but full of joy, comfort, and compassion so fill our lives that it crowds out all anxiety, suppresses all ego centered anger, and keeps us ever mindful of who we are as we relate to the rest of creation. Send these, my dear brothers and sisters, to a new day tomorrow, after a good night's rest. May their eyes be open to see the beauty that surrounds them. May their hearts vibrate with the truth that they know. May their lives display the goodness which results therefrom. In the name of Michael. Amen.