HAPPINESS

HAPPINESS
A Sermon by Rev. Daniel W. Heinrichs
Preached in Boynton Beach, Florida, March 10, 1991

“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146: 5).

Happiness! What is happiness? People throughout the world are searching for it, yet few find it. Why? The answer is that few people know what it is, and still fewer know how it can be attained. Usually, when we desire something we know what it is that we want, and if we have a strong enough desire for it we discover the means of acquiring it. But happiness that which people desire above all else they find the greatest difficulty in achieving. They pursue it in a thousand ways, and the more furious their pursuit, the more it eludes them.

The truth is that as long as people set happiness before them as a goal, whether in the guise of wealth, fame or security, they will not attain it. Happiness has nothing to do with objects or places, space or time. People often think: “If I only had a house of my own I would be happy.” Or, “If only I earned double my salary I would be happy.” Or again, “If I could live in such and such a place I would be happy.” The attainment of such objectives cannot bring happiness. It may bring momentary pleasure or delight, but they do not lead to lasting satisfaction and happiness. It is not the place nor the condition but the state of mind alone that can make anyone happy or miserable. And it is in this that so many people err, and it is on this account that there is so much dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the world.

The end of creation, we are told, is that people may live in happiness to eternity. This is the end of the Divine love (see Canons, Lord VII, 10a). The nature of love is that it desires to give of its own to others and thus make them happy. God therefore created mankind as the object of His love, that is, He created mankind so that He could communicate His love to them and make them happy to eternity. Since this is the Divine end and purpose in creation, it follows that happiness can be attained only by the reception of the Divine love. The angels, who enjoy happiness so great that it cannot be described, perceive that all happiness comes from the Lord (see AC 32:2).

Happiness, therefore, flows in from the Lord into the human soul. But the delights of the soul are imperceptible, for the soul that inmost receptacle of life from the Lord is above man’s consciousness. As the love descends, it becomes more and more perceptible. The delight of the soul is felt in the mind as happiness, in the sensual degree of the mind as delight, and in the body itself as pleasure. Internal happiness the happiness of heaven consists of all of these, but not from the last alone, for it is transitory, and when sought as an end in itself, inevitably leads to unhappiness (see CL 16:2).

The fact is, while people live in this world, they cannot experience heavenly happiness in its fullness, not even if they are regenerating. But they can experience a general delight which we call happiness. The reason for this is that while we live in the world we are greatly concerned with worldly cares and anxieties, and these prevent heavenly happiness, which is deep within us, from fully manifesting itself. For when this happiness descends, it becomes mingled with natural cares and anxieties which reside in the lowest planes of our mind, and thus it becomes a relatively obscure delight, but still it is a delight within which there is real happiness (see AC 3938:7).

It is a law of order, inherent in creation, that perfection increases toward interiors and decreases toward exteriors. For confirmation of this principle, consider, if you will, the structure of the brain and the nervous system relative to the structure of the skeletal system of the body and the muscles, or the structure of the atom as compared to that of a molecule. It is because of the operation of this law that we cannot experience heavenly happiness fully while we live in this world, for we live on a lower or more external plane of consciousness.

Nevertheless, there are three successive planes or degrees of the natural mind: the rational, imaginative, and sensual; and as we advance from the sensual through the imaginative to the rational, our perception of happiness may increase. Therefore the Writings say that intelligence, wisdom, love, and the resulting happiness are what constitute angelic perfection (see HH 34). It is from this principle also that the delights and pleasures that arise from worldly possessions, or the indulgence of sensual appetites, give only momentary satisfaction (see AC 7007:2, 6481).

In self-love and the indulgence of the bodily appetites there is something delightful and exhilarating which so affects man’s mind that one supposes such pleasures and delights are happiness itself. But happiness that depends on self-satisfaction cannot last, for concealed within self-love is hatred against all who do not contribute toward one’s own supposed happiness. Such hatred may not be consciously perceived as such, but it ultimates itself as bitterness, envy, jealousy, discontent and cynicism, which are diametrically opposed to happiness. Also, hatred, when manifested in its extreme forms, leads to revenge, deceit and cruelty, which are destructive of all happiness (see AC 1594).

We would also note the teaching that true and lasting happiness is not spontaneously received, for happiness cannot be exquisitely perceived unless one has experienced unhappiness, and one’s perception of happiness is according to the degree in which he has been in the opposite state. The perception of the contrast between happiness and unhappiness extends one’s limit or capacity for experiencing happiness (see AC 2694:2). Here is eloquent testimony to the mercy of the Lord. He turns what is negative in life to our eternal advantage if we permit Him to.

It is a fact that the Divine Providence of the Lord directs all things. All who are in the stream of Providence, who are those who trust in the Lord and attribute all good to Him, are carried at all times toward happiness whatever may be the temporary appearance; and because they inwardly trust in the Lord they have peace.

Those who do not trust in the Lord ascribe everything to human intelligence and ingenuity, and what they do not ascribe to these, they ascribe to chance, fate or fortune. Those who trust in chance, fate or fortune, or in their own cleverness, can never be sure of anything; hence they have no peace, contentment or happiness, but are restless, discontented and unhappy (see AC 8478:4).

The Lord loves all people, and from love wills good to them. As the Lord does goods, which are uses, mediately through angels and people on earth, therefore, to those who perform uses faithfully He gives a love of use and its reward, which is happiness (see CL 7:5). The Writings state that “angelic happiness is in use, from use, and according to use” (AC 548). Happiness is the fruit of love and service. It never comes and never can come by making it an end. It is because so many people fail to understand this reality that there are so many frustrated and unhappy people in the world.

There can be no happiness in idleness, nor in social interaction only, nor even in being loved, if these are indulged in for the sake of one’s own enjoyment. Such a life does not have use as an end, and is therefore not receptive of love and happiness (see SD 3617). Happiness comes from use. It consists in activity. It is a running stream and not a stagnant pond. There is a certain latent vein within the human heart which draws the mind on to do something. By activity the mind tranquilizes and satisfies itself. This satisfaction and tranquility produce a state of mind receptive of a love of use from the Lord. With the reception of this love comes heavenly happiness (see CL 6e).

Use, in the most ultimate form, is the faithful, sincere and diligent performance of the work of one’s employment. When a person loves use and expresses that love in earnest activity, the mind is kept from dissipating its energies and powers by wandering about drinking in lusts that flow in through the body. A preoccupation with sensual pleasures and purely natural delights scatters the truths of religion and principles of morality. On the other hand, earnest activity of the mind in the performance of the uses of one’s employment binds truths together, and thrusts aside illusions, falsities, and vain imaginations (see CL 16:3).

The happiness of angels arises from the fact that they earnestly desire and delight in the happiness of others. The happiness of heaven consists in the fact that all the angels communicate their happiness to others, for they desire the happiness of others more than their own. Those who seek only their own happiness, since they communicate no happiness from themselves to others, automatically exclude themselves from heaven because their sphere is contrary to the sphere of heaven (see SD 4593). Happiness comes as a twin; all who would enjoy it must share it with others.

The perfection of heaven consists in the fact that every angel is different from all others, and the happiness which flows in from the Lord is received by each according to his or her form; thus it is changed according to the quality of the angel who receives it. Since all angels desire above all things to communicate their happiness to others, the happiness of heaven increases as the number of angels increases.

Happiness may be compared to an electric current. In the case of electricity, the current proceeds from a generator as its source, and is conveyed through wires to ground. When the current is broken by turning off a switch, the electric current does not produce any effect. The fact that it does not produce any effect does not mean it is not present in the wire; it merely means it has ceased to flow. When we turn on the switch, we complete the circuit and then the desired effect is produced.

Happiness, like a current, proceeds from the Lord and is received in the interiors of every person. When a person performs uses for others from a desire to make them happy, then the current flows down from the interiors of the mind into the realm of consciousness, and then it is communicated to others. As the current of happiness passes through the plane of man’s consciousness, it is perceived variously as joy, delight, contentment, peace and happiness.

However, if one does not perform uses for others from a sincere desire to make them happy, but instead seeks one’s own happiness, then the current is stopped up in the interior and subconscious realms of the mind. The current is switched off and cannot be consciously perceived.

If we seek happiness for its own sake, we will not find it. But if we seek to be of use, if we love duty and faithfully perform it for the benefit of others, then happiness will follow as the shadow comes with sunshine.

If we would be truly happy in this world, and lastingly happy in the world to come this is what the Lord wills for us and created us for we must first of all acknowledge the Lord as the source of life, love and all happiness. Secondly, we must trust in His merciful providence, which ever bears us toward eternal happiness; and thirdly, we must perform uses for our fellow human beings from a genuine desire for their happiness. “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Amen.

Lessons: Psalm 146, John 13:1-17, AC 454 and 549

Arcana Coelestia

454. Some think that heaven consists in a life of ease in which they are served by others; but they are told that there is no possible happiness in being at rest as a means of happiness, for so everyone would wish to have the happiness of others made tributory to his own happiness; and when everyone wished this, no one would have happiness. Such a life would not be an active life, but an idle one in which they would grow torpid, and yet they might know that there is no happiness except in an active life. Angelic life consists in use and in the goods of charity; for the angels know no greater happiness than in teaching and instructing the spirits that arrive from the world; in being of service to men, controlling the evil spirits about them lest they pass the proper bounds, and inspiring the men with good; and in raising up the dead to the life of eternity, and then, if the souls are such as to render it possible, introducing them into heaven. From all this they perceive more happiness than can possibly be described. Thus are they images of the Lord; thus do they love the neighbor more than themselves; and for this reason heaven is heaven. So that angelic happiness is in use, from use, and according to use, that is, it is according to the goods of love and of charity. When those who have the idea that heavenly joy consists in living at ease, idly breathing in eternal joy, have heard these things, they are given to perceive, in order to shame them, what such a life really is, and they perceive that it is a most sad one, that it is destructive of all joy, and that after a short time they would loathe and nauseate it.

549. The angelic state is such that everyone communicates his own bliss and happiness to others. For in the other life there is a most exquisite communication and perception of all the affections and thoughts, so that each person communicates his joy to all, and all to each, so that each one is as it were the center of all. This is the heavenly form. And therefore the more there are who constitute the Lord’s kingdom, the greater is the happiness, for it increases in proportion to the numbers, and this is why heavenly happiness is unutterable. There is this communication of all with each and of each with all when everyone loves others more than himself. But if anyone wishes better for himself than for others, the love of self reigns, which communicates nothing to others from itself except the idea of self, which is very foul, and when this is perceived, the person is at once banished and rejected.

THE AFFIRMATIVE AND THE NEGATIVE

THE AFFIRMATIVE AND THE NEGATIVE
A Sermon by A Sermon by Rev. Daniel W. Heinrichs
Preached in Boynton Beach, Florida October 21, 1990

“And the people contended with Moses, and spoke, saying: `If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! Why have you brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness that we and our animals should die here?” (Numbers 20:3,4).

Our text records one of the many instances of the Israelites’ adopting a negative attitude toward the leading of the Lord through His appointed leaders during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. In spite of the fact that they had frequently witnessed great miracles done by the Lord through them, such as the plagues in Egypt, and the dividing of the Red Sea, and had daily proof of His loving care in the manna given them from heaven each morning, they still persisted in doubting the power of the Lord and the wisdom of those chosen by Him to lead them.

As each hardship and inconvenience arose, they complained against the Lord and argued with Moses and Aaron. They were willing to accept these men as their leaders only as long as things were going well with them and were in accord with their wishes, but they had no steadfast confidence in the Lord’s promise of guidance and protection, nor in the judgment of Moses and Aaron the men appointed by the Lord to lead them out of bondage, to the land promised them by the Lord.

Their resentment at every hardship they suffered was so great that they forgot the cruelty of their slavery in Egypt, and mistakenly supposed that they would have been happier if they had remained there. Their attitude toward the leadership which the Lord had provided for them through Moses and Aaron was so negative that the Lord literally had to lead them with a “strong hand.” He had to perform open miracles continually in order that they might be persuaded to continue on their journey and not return to their former state of bondage.

It is obvious, if one stops to reflect, that no worthwhile achievement can ever be realized as long as a group of people adopts such a negative and distrustful attitude toward their leaders. If every apparent shortcoming or action or policy is called into question and criticized, then that unity which can lead to progress and achievement is lacking.

In the eyes of Israel everything that did not please them every hardship was the fault of Moses and Aaron. They kept asking themselves when things were not to their liking: “Why did we choose to follow them? Why did we accept their leadership? Things were better with us before they came into our lives.” “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? … Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, `Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:11,12).

As one reads the record of Israel in the wilderness, as recorded in the Scriptures, it becomes obvious that the difficulties that they encountered and the hardships they suffered were not the result of Moses’ and Aaron’s poor leadership, but rather their failure to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to accept the leadership which the Lord provided. The history of Israel in the wilderness testifies to the fact that the success of any worthwhile endeavor can be achieved only where there is an affirmative attitude on the part of all toward the goal itself, and confidence in those whose responsibility it is to lead to that goal.

This is true spiritually as well as naturally. Our spiritual goal is heavenly life a life of charity and use. The Lord’s Divine Providence ever leads us toward this goal through the Word (Moses) and the teaching and leading of the priesthood (Aaron). If we wish to attain the goal of heavenly life, then we must trust in the Lord’s Divine Providence. We must believe in His Word and be obedient to its teachings. We must have confidence in the teaching and preaching from the Word, for these are the Divinely provided means leading to that goal. If we approach the means with a negative doubt, calling into question every teaching that does not agree with and harmonize with our preconceived ideas and proprial inclinations, we cannot reasonably expect to achieve the end in view a life of charity in the kingdom of the Lord.

It is important, therefore, that we approach the things pertaining to spiritual life with an affirmative attitude, with confidence that the Lord is actively guiding us along the way, and providing for us those circumstances and situations which will promote our happiness and success. If we approach our spiritual journey toward the heavenly Canaan in this spirit, then we are assured of reaching our destination, and we will experience ever-increasing delight in the way that leads to it.

The Writing tell us that there are two principles, one of which leads to all folly and insanity, and the other to all intelligence and wisdom. The former principle is to deny all things, or to say in one’s heart that we cannot believe before we are convinced by what we can grasp and feel. This principle leads to all folly and insanity, and is called the negative principle. The other principle is to affirm those things which are of doctrine from the Word, or to think and believe within oneself that they are true because the Lord has said them. This principle leads to all intelligence and wisdom and is called the affirmative principle (see AC 2568).

This teaching makes it clear that our whole life, both here and hereafter, depends upon the principle from which we begin, and on our attitude toward life and its various problems. It is pertinent that we inquire into these things with ourselves. What is our basic attitude toward life? Do we tend to approach things with a negative, doubting attitude? Or do we approach things positively, with trust in the Divine Providence? As we focus our minds on these things, we should bear in mind the great importance of formative childhood states when the tender vessels of the mind are soft and pliable. The attitude which a child gradually develops toward parents, teachers, the Word and the church are the formative force in later attitudes in adult life.

From angelic remains every infant and small child begins with a completely affirmative attitude toward parents, and it is the responsibility of parents and later, teachers to foster and preserve this innocent trust and confidence of the child. As the child grows older and develops a greater independence of thought, his affirmative should be gradually bent away from the person of his parents and teachers to the office or use of the person, and ultimately to the Lord and the truth of His Word, which are the origin of all uses and the source of all authority.

This formative period has a profound effect upon a person’s development. We read: “Man is in a varying state, and thus in the world of spirits up to adult age; afterward, he is, as to his soul, either in heaven or hell, since his mind is then constant and rarely changed, although this does occur with some” (SD 5167).

The force of this passage is that when a person reaches adulthood, his basic character and attitude toward life has been established and is unlikely to be radically changed in later life, although it is admitted that this is possible. This surely indicates that we must make a serious effort during a child’s formative years to instill and establish an affirmative attitude toward the Lord, His Word and the church, an attitude which, if properly established, we can reasonably hope will remain throughout life.

The principles and attitudes that we as individuals have are essentially those which have been instilled in us by our parents and teachers, but they have yet to be made our own. Upon reaching adulthood a person either develops and enters interiorly into the good attitudes of childhood, so that they become part of his character, or rejects them and allows a spirit of self-centeredness and self-confidence to determine his general attitude and approach to life.

In early adult life there is a strong appearance that a person’s deepest thoughts and principles are the result of his own study, investigation and experience. A person regards them as rational conclusions based upon his experience and reflections upon it. Actually, however, within and guiding the person’s reasoning are the affections of his life’s love. And these affections, unknown to the person, turn his thoughts to favor that which is in agreement with them. Thus it is the affections of man’s love which are gradually developing within him an affirmative or negative attitude toward the authority of Divine truth.

We read: “Those who are in doubt before they deny are they who incline to a life of evil; and when this life carries them away, then insofar as they think of the matters in question, they deny them. But those who are in doubt before they affirm are they who incline to a life of good; and when they allow themselves to be bent to this by the Lord, then insofar as they think about these things, they affirm” (AC 2568, emphasis added).

A person whose affections are centered in self becomes, in time, interiorly arrogant. Such a person tends to think, in whatever situation, that his perceptions and views of things are right, and he is intolerant of those who see things differently. In this state it is very difficult for the person to see what is true, either in the Word or as manifested in life’s situations; for this requires humility and a willingness to be taught and led, which, in such a state, the person does not possess. This is especially the case in regard to those truths which disclose the person’s evils.

But when there is an effort in the will to place the neighbor’s good on the same plane as one’s own, that is, when there is an inclination to a life of charity and good will toward the neighbor, then there is a ready disposition to see and understand truth, even when it is contrary to one’s previous conception of things. It is this affection the affection of charity which makes it possible for one to confirm with oneself an affirmative attitude toward all that the Lord reveals, and which enables a person to see the truth in ever-increasing light, and to be willing to follow it into a life of charity toward his fellow men.

Let us hope that such a sound foundation has been laid during the early years of our lives. And let us always strive to adopt an affirmative attitude toward the truth of the Word and the leading of the Lord through His church Moses and Aaron for these are the Divinely provided means by which the Lord leads us away from slavery to our selfish loves, and the fallacious appearances engendered by them, represented by Israel’s slavery in Egypt. It is through persistent effort throughout life that the Lord can instill such an affirmation of truth that we willingly follow the Lord even when the way is difficult and things are not as we conceived that they should be in our former states of ignorance and self-centeredness.

When life does not unfold as we would have it, when our perceptions of truth differ from the way in which the Lord is apparently leading us, the spirit of negative doubt tends to raise its head. Like the Children of Israel in the wilderness, we are apt to chide with the Lord (Moses and Aaron), query the teaching of the Word and the leading of the church, and ask why following the truth should lead us into states of conflict and deprivation of joy. Confidence in the Lord’s leading is weak at such times, because our loves have not been made firm by a life of obedience to Divine law. When life’s situations confront us that are not to our liking, we are apt to rebel; we are tempted to depart from a spirit of affirmation to one of negative doubt.

We need to renew continually our hope and trust in the Lord’s Providence and leading. If we do not, then we, like the Children of Israel, are in danger of losing our spiritual heritage the happiness that comes from a life of charity toward the neighbor. We read: “The evil spirits who are with people during temptation and induce it, strongly inspire negation, but the good spirits and angels from the Lord in every possible way dispel this state of doubt, and keep the person in a state of hope, and at last confirm him in what is affirmative” (AC 2338).

If our hope is fixed in the Lord with confidence that He can and will lead us, then our faith in Him is so confirmed and interiorly implanted in our lives that the attacks of the hells, seeking to inspire negative doubt, cannot shake it. Just as the Lord miraculously gave His people water out of the rock, so may we have confidence that He will ever give us understanding and strength from the rock of Divine truth, that we may enter into the security and blessings of heavenly life.

“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation” (Psalm 25:4,5). Amen.

Lessons: Numbers 20:1-11, Matt. 8:1-13, AC 2689:3,4

Arcana Coelestia 2689:3,4

That it may be known who those are that can be kept by the Lord in the affection of good and truth, and thus be reformed and become spiritual, and who those are that cannot, we will briefly state that during childhood, while being for the first time imbued with goods and truths, everyone is kept by the Lord in the affirmative idea that what he is told and taught by his parents and masters is true. With those who can become spiritual, this affirmative is confirmed by means of knowledges (scientifica et cognitiones); for whatever they afterwards learn that has an affinity with it insinuates itself into this affirmative and corroborates it, and this more and more, even to affection. These are they who become spiritual in accordance with the essence of the truth in which they have faith, and who conquer in temptations. But it is otherwise with those who cannot become spiritual. Although during their childhood these are in the affirmative, yet in the age that follows they admit doubts, and thus trench upon the affirmative of good and truth; and when they come to adult age, they admit negatives, even to the affection of falsity. If these should be brought into temptations, they would wholly yield; and on this account they are exempted from them.

But the real cause of their admitting doubts, and afterwards negatives, is to be found in their life of evil. They who are in a life of evil cannot possibly do otherwise; for as before said, the life of everyone is his affection or love; and such as is the affection or love, such is the thought. The affection of evil and the thought of truth never conjoin themselves together. With those in whom there is an appearance of this conjunction, there is really no such conjunction, but only the thought of truth without the affection of it; and therefore with such persons truth is not truth but only something of sound, or of the mouth, from which the heart is absent. Such truth even the worst can know, and sometimes better than others. With some also there is found a persuasion of truth, of such a nature that no one can know but that it is genuine; and yet it is not so if there is no life of good: it is an affection of the love of self or of the world, which induces such a persuasion that they defend it even with the vehemence of apparent zeal; nay, they will even go so far as to condemn those who do not receive it or believe in the same way. But this truth is of such a quality as is the principle with each person from which it starts, being strong in proportion as the love of self or of the world is strong. It indeed attaches itself to evil, but does not conjoin itself with it, and is therefore extirpated in the other life. Very different is it with those who are in the life of good. With these, truth itself has its own ground and heart, and has its life from the Lord.