Impure thoughts – Are there really any?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

impure thoughtsI wonder what you feel more strongly about. Impure thoughts or impure environment? Perhaps you are occupied by smog, land surfaces contaminated by industrial waste, plants and fish harmed by untreated chemicals discharged into lakes and rivers, or human disturbance caused by noisy construction or transport near residential areas?

Or perhaps what concerns you more than the physical environment is the social climate in which we live. Political coverups, corruption in high places, decline of professional sportsmanship, and huge disparity between the rich and poor. Your own list may be longer. For when we have an ideal then we realise how far reality falls short. When we have a sense of what is good then we notice what is bad. Don’t we hope for unspoilt land for human habitation, water courses teeming with healthy fish, fairness in public discourse and decision-making showing respect and care, untarnished by greed, and unsullied by envy?

Just as there is impurity around about us are there not also impure thoughts in  individual thinking? A letter in the Times newspaper from a woman in North Yorkshire explained that having loaded some software on her computer to protect the visiting grandchildren from porn, she found that as soon as she tried to buy undergarments on-line by typing the word “knickers” a strong message appeared rebuking her for searching for salacious content!

This notion of impure thoughts of salacious content might be strange to those who do not agree about what can be unethical in sexual conduct. This is not to say that a healthy appetite is bad but rather that when we start to crave for such things then we are subject to less than pure habits of thought. The binge eater as well as the sexual addict spring to mind.

I suspect people don’t always recognise what I see as impure thoughts encountered in television video, film, and novels. But are not greedy intentions, and craving for sexual gratification regardless of human relationship two examples of impure thinking?

Whenever anyone starts to lay down the law about what is right and wrong, pure and impure thoughts then there is a natural human tendency to resist and rebel. But sometimes don’t we need to see what is bad before we fully know what is good? To experience what is impure before wanting to be pure?

Writing in the Daily Mirror newspaper the journalist Fiona Phillips told the story of when her two boys then aged seven and five were mucking about on the computer. They typed in the word ‘booby’ into Google and what they then saw made them gasp out loud. It was a vile sado-masochistic mutilation scene. It is of course a tragedy that young minds were exposed to such behaviour.

Perhaps some adults need to be shocked by the extremes of impure thoughts  before they realise the importance of pure motives. More decency instead of vileness, more caring rather than hurtfulness, more love rather than cruelty.

I would suggest that focusing on what is good makes resisting what is bad a lot easier.

“The more we reflect on the notion of purity, the more we realise how imperfect our best emotions are.” (H.T.Hamblin)

But it seems easier to define the absence of pure thought than its presence. Most  dictionaries define purity in terms of absence of impurity eg uncontaminated, unmixed, unadulterated.

What we need also is a definition that focuses on its positive meaning. I suspect the dictionary writers had a problem in doing this for purity is a spiritual concept and as such is ineffable ie difficult or impossible to put into words. Never mind here goes!  What about exemplary, complete, pristine, clean, virtuous, modest, wholesome, healthy? Are these qualities what purity implies?

You may have heard of the following saying:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matt 5:8)

Yet they might wonder is it really possible for anyone to become more pure? The religious answer is yes there is a process of purification. It is symbolized in the ritual of baptism which is washing to make us clean. Bathing in water may wash off the sweat and grime but
Christ is saying what needs to be made clean is also the inside of the person.

Perhaps we all need to clean our impure thoughts within. This means being on the watch for those thoughts that seem to arise from out of the ether. Thoughts of resentment, envy, immoral sexual desire, greed, and so on.

An academic researcher found the remains of a medieval backgammon set on the site of the first motte-and-bailey castle in Gloucester. It was made of red deer bone, decorated with pornography, drinking and feasting. He seemed to think that the former owner of the set smashed it up, threw it in a rubbish pit and retired to become a monk in Wales.

I strongly believe that just as impure thoughts seem to come from nowhere they can also leave – as long as we consciously turn our back on them.

“Whatever a person carries out from himself cannot be good since it has come from self, an impure and most unclean origin. From that impure and most unclean origin no good can possibly emerge, for the individual is thinking all the time about his own merit.” (Emanuel Swedenborg Arcana Coelestia 874)

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problem

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on13th May 2012CategoriesEthics, Private EthicsTags, , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , ,  Leave a comment

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Punishment of hell – Can this be real?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

punishment of hellThe idea of punishment of hell seems unbelievable because these days we are less likely to see good and evil; no black and white, only shades of grey. People say if human beings are inherently good, then just take them away from a bad social environment, treat disease, or give them what they need, and they will be happy and useful.

If doing bad things is caused by environmental circumstances rather than individual moral choice, then surely an eternal punishment after death would be unjust? And if you balk at the idea of evil then you may dismiss the idea of hell and the punishment of hell.

What to do with criminals

But who would disagree that there are villains around stealing, embezzling, and murdering? Is their crime always just as an uncomfortable complication in human relations rather than as an offence against a standard of right and wrong, good and evil?

Kinds of evidence about an afterlife

There is some evidence about the afterlife in the remarkable similarities in the way the near death experience is told by many individuals. Also there are the accounts of modern mediums of what they have been told by spirit communicators about life after death.

This information tallies with the meticulously written up reports of the eighteenth century writer Emanuel Swedenborg about his own psychic experiences of what he termed “the spiritual world” which lasted during the last twenty-seven years of his life.

A punishment of hell witnessed

Swedenborg describes one of his psychic visions. He saw inside a building where there was a court for a judge. A certain person came along who is described as ‘a lover of self’ and sat on a kind of throne. He believed he was admitted into the place so he might be the judge.

There was a crowd of people there who went around the throne, some crawling underneath. As a consequence the spirit became invisible. The crowd made fun of him, by sitting near him and over him.

At length the judge came along and sat down. His cheeks became fiery and we are told that this was a sign not only that he was the judge but also that he would administer judgment.

He inquired whether anyone had committed evil. Some were arraigned and sentenced to punishment – what might be called a punishment of hell. The rest were commended and let go. The judge tolerated everyone making fun and having their jokes, only they must not do wrong to anyone.  They were afraid of him because of his power. If you treasure peace of mind, such a bedlam can perhaps be described as a hell.

No punishment of hell for crime committed on earth

This and many other experiences convinced Swedenborg that, in the next life, no-one suffers any punishment of hell for crime done in the world. Punishment and the fear of punishment is only used when needed as a deterrent if spirits were to deceive, steal from or abuse their companions with more evil intent than they did before their bodily death.

Some religious writers have spoken about infernal torments in hell as the stings of conscience on the part of remorseful souls when they are convicted of sin. However Swedenborg says people who have led spiteful and selfish lives may have regret for getting found out but no repentance because they have no real deeper conscience about right and wrong, other than concern about how they are viewed by others.

Swedenborg compares a heavenly state of mind with a hellish one. The former is an attitude of ‘turning the other cheek’ and ‘loving one’s enemies’. However the latter is an attitude of ‘an eye for an eye’ and getting even with one’s foes. This then he says is really the punishment of hell. If, and only if, a malicious person does something horrid towards another individual beyond what has been done to him, he is immediately open to punishment or persecution from other spirits who do so with impunity.

Apparently fantasy can be a punishment of hell. Swedenborg observed proud spirits filled with their own importance as academic scholars. They lived in underground libraries wanting to be left to their studies and to escape responsibilities of life. But as they read, the candles went out!

Another proud person had contempt for others and became inflated like a balloon that grew to fill the universe – until he had no place to go!

Swedenborg was repeatedly told by evil spirits that “they would rather a thousand times live in hell than out of it.” Nowhere else could they indulge in their sole delight, which was to see others suffer and thus boost their own sense of importance. Nowhere else could they escape the light of truth, which spoiled their selfish plans and dispersed their cherished fantasies. For them to be allowed to enter heaven would be more aversive and unpleasant than whatever punishments their hellish companions could administer.

Swedenborg claimed that punishment of hell applied in the next life do not go on continually for ever. They are not retributions for sins committed on earth, but disciplinary reactions to criminal acts that selfish and cruel people commit in hell. Thus punishments in hell cease when external order has been restored.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

 

Posted on30th December 2011CategoriesEthics, Private EthicsTags,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,,  Leave a comment

Sell your soul – Could you do it?

Posted on24th November 2011CategoriesEthics, Ethics & Politics, Private EthicsTags, , , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Sexual imagery – Too explicit these days?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

sexual imageryWhen it comes to discussing sexual imagery in the media, society as a whole tends to take polarised views. Emotive language is used by those on both sides of the debate – one side being labelled as narrow-minded, prudish and moralistic and the other as being decadent, indecent, and exhibitionist.

Attitude to explicit sexual imagery

Those with a more balanced perspective use more moderate language. They ask whether a relaxed attitude, towards public display of explicit sexual imagery, simply amounts to being liberal, open-minded and tolerant. But they also wonder if sexual explicitness is to do with a lack of spiritual awareness about the deeper significance of the sexual relationship. Are we pushing permissiveness too far?

Public sexual imagery has become more explicit

Whatever your view of the rights and wrongs of the situation, there is no doubt that sexual imagery is becoming increasingly overt in the western world. We have started to see the sale of sexually suggestive clothes for children. In Britain the television programmes that people have traditionally watched as family viewing, such as talent shows and soap operas, are starting to push the boundaries of acceptability by including more sexual imagery and suggestiveness.

The rapidly changing technological environment has its benefits in so many ways but has also made the seamier side of humanity inescapable. Sexual imagery  showing provocative dress and intimate contact are being used not only in the content of television programmes, music videos, websites, magazines and newspapers, but also by the commercial world through advertising and marketing.

Boundaries between sexual imagery and soft porn?

There has been a blurring of boundaries between ‘adult soft porn’ material and the mainstream. More television drama and movies depict sexual intercourse as entertainment

In a sense the exercise of sexual freedom means people can be more honest about who they really are; no longer forced to pretend to want to act in certain ways. Many are exercising freedom to express what they want.

Today, those who believe that human beings are sufficiently mature to be trusted with how to live their lives — the right to make choices, not necessarily the best ones — support permissiveness. Liberals support the right to choose because they believe that it is only through having to make choices that people gain the maturity that is needed to conduct their private and public affairs.

Effect on children of sexual imagery

Although there is currently insufficient evidence to prove conclusively there is harm to children caused by an openly sexualized society, the ‘Letting Children Be Children’ Report by the Mothers Union, points out that this does not mean that no harm exists.

According to their research nearly nine out of 10 parents surveyed agreed with the statement that ‘these days children are under pressure to grow up too quickly’ with the pressure to take part in a sexualized life before they are ready to do so being a major factor. Sadly, some parent contributors even felt that there is ‘no escape’ and, for children, no ‘clear space’ where they can simply be themselves. It would seem that many mass media editors are out of touch with concerns of parents.

Attitude to sexual imagery reflects one’s view of sexual relationship

People may ask:

  • Isn’t sex a basic drive that needs to be satisfied, just like hunger and thirst?
  • Isn’t sexual expression one of our inherent freedoms?
  • Isn’t sexuality a way of expressing our unique individuality

To answer yes to these questions may be correct but it is to miss the point, for it ignores the sense of purity, innocence, and decency with respect to a valued sexual partnership. And so how one views sex seems to go to the heart of the matter. Some would say that it is pleasurable experience that can be enjoyed in its own right. For others it is also a way of forging intimate connections. And yet others feel that it is delightful expression of love in a monogamous relationship perhaps leading to procreation.

For Swedenborg sexual union ideally mirrors what he termed ‘conjugial love’, an exclusive close relationship between a man and woman that enables love and wisdom to act together fully in their lives more so than either partner could achieve alone.  And so Swedenborg recommends sexual restraint, modesty and purity of thought.

A deep desire for the success of a one to one relationship means not wanting to hurt your partner by having sexual relationships outside the partnership. According to this view, sexual pleasure can increase alongside the growth of deeper happiness if we do not permit ourselves infidelity. Also if we avoid loose sexual conduct and smutty thoughts about someone. Likewise a Buddhist precept is to avoid sexual misconduct.

Most what I call ‘sexual disorder’ involves error of judgment, human shortcoming, going astray, acting contrary to Divine order, and failing to follow spiritual principles. I believe such behaviour is associated with ignorance, or self-interest and may result in skin-deep pleasure that cannot last.

Spiritual order in moderation and self-control

The argument is that living in spiritual order is being in a better position to receive heavenly influx. It enables people to experience the depth of joy and fulfillment. There is a parallel between order at an individual level and the degree of social order within a group or community. All people ideally need to live in external order.

Brian Kingslake a student of Swedenborg’s writings once wrote:

“The Epicureans in ancient Rome, who made the search for happiness their goal and were the experts on the subject, found that permissiveness was not the solution to their problem. If they over-ate, they got indigestion; if they over-drank, they got a headache, which were far from being happy states! And if they had too much sex, sex ceased to give them pleasure. Their conclusion was that moderation and self-control were necessary if you were to enjoy life to the full.”

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on21st June 2011CategoriesEthics, Private EthicsTags, ,, , , , , ,, , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , ,, , ,  Leave a comment

Right from wrong – Should we try to tell?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

right from wrongTabloid newspapers are popular. They love to be judgmental and cast blame. Yet we disapprove and adopt a very different ethos where telling right from wrong is seen to smack of being judgmental. In post-modern Britain, discrimination is out and tolerance is in. Anything goes these days as long as it doesn’t cause harm.

Corporate ethics telling right from wrong

On the other hand, over the last ten years or so there has been a big growth of corporate ethical statements and codes of practice. This may be all about gaining customer confidence. But is it not also a genuine attempt at seeking guidance for telling right from wrong in tricky commercial and professional decision making?

Distinguishing right from wrong in personal choices

In your private life, you are faced with numerous dilemmas – emotional, financial, domestic – and it can be hard to know what is the right thing to do. Some of these decisions have profound implications for the quality of one’s own as well as other people’s lives. To allow a sexual relationship to start, to communicate private information about a friend, to prioritise career over family or the other way around, not to mention the tricky issues of telling right from wrong in relation to abortion, divorce and voting at elections.

Many people do not think in terms of morality yet they feel that decisions should be made on the basis of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Those, who deny there are any personal rights and wrongs, nevertheless, emphasise the ideals of love, holism, and self-improvement. And even criminals usually acknowledge their crime is wrong deserving punishment if they are caught.

So the question remains just how does one know what really is right and wrong?

Do values determine the way we tell right from wrong?

Although some people might think that a moral or ethical code is simple, it is often a complex definition based upon underlying values. What is right or wrong in a specific situation is one thing, but one’s values identify what should be judged as good or bad. These personal and cultural ethics may reflect religious doctrines, political ideologies, aesthetic theories, or just social norms. They guide what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, and constructive.

Some dress-codes may simply be conforming to social etiquette but yet reflect something that is valued. Wearing the colours of your sports team alongside your fellow supporters is what one’s mates do to express raw tribalism but it is also expressing the value of communal belonging.

Is telling right from wrong just a matter of social convention

Some social scientists argue that what is convention / custom /social fashion can be the determining factor in deciding what is right. They say there is no correct definition of right behaviour, and that what is morally right or wrong can only be judged with respect to particular socio-historical contexts. Doing one’s duty, and fulfilling one’s obligations may reflect a higher value but it might just be conforming to the notion that it is right if in your culture, society says it is right.

Yet some values appear to run deeper than others and have a more universal meaning and thus can be seen as spiritual. Wearing dark clothes at a funeral in many cultures expresses the value of respect for the emotional needs of the bereaved and the dignity and solemnity of the occasion.

Can spiritual values guide right from wrong

Another example of a spiritual value is the ‘golden rule’ that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. This ethic of reciprocity was present in certain forms across the ancient world and can be found in all the world’s major religious traditions. For example the Buddha made this principle one of the cornerstones of his ethics and loving the neighbour is central to Christ’s message.

Strangely this principle of reciprocity is also seen as the cornerstone of a scientific theory that denies any moral truth. Many evolutionary biologists say its function is typically to ensure a reliable supply of essential resources, especially for animals living in a habitat where food quantity or quality fluctuates unpredictably. Reciprocity is shared, for example by all mammals living in complex social groups (e.g., wolves, coyotes, elephants, dolphins, rats, chimpanzees).

Learning right from wrong in  childhood

A particular moral code may be fallacious but everyone has to start somewhere in the growth of understanding about how to live life. People can believe in the moral precepts associated with their religious upbringing. They may believe it is right if God says it is right. After all the kind of moral rules contained in religion prohibit murder, adultery, theft and false witness. These precepts are incorporated into the civil law-code in all the countries of the world because without them no society could hold together. Other people take their lead from the views of respected political leaders, parents and friends.

However usually, after absorbing the views of those whom are admired, the individual begins to consider and reflect for him or herself about right and wrong. And this means choosing what underlying things about life are the most important. What should rule one’s decisions – lifestyle considerations that represent one’s idea of the good life?, aesthetic values?, social standards?, economic ethics?, political ideals? or spiritual principles? Where do you get your own moral judgments from?

Enlightened understanding and telling right from wrong

Often words limit the perception of truth, which is beyond words. It is entirely possible for an individual to be a genuine seeker after truth, gradually building up his or her own spiritual philosophy with enlightenment from within. This means perceiving what is right inwardly from the light of the spirit of truth that is with them and not just taking on board the views of others.

According to Swedenborg, enlightenment comes to those who have a love of what is really true wherever that leads them. We need to use our rational faculties and the knowledge we gain from others but most of all we need to sense and learn to rely on the divine spirit of truth within the human soul.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on17th June 2011CategoriesEthics, Private EthicsTags,, , , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  Leave a comment

Sexual culture — how to live in it?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

sexual culture

‘Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised’ said  policeman PC Michael Sanguinetti in Toronto, whilst advising students about safety on campus. In so saying he unleashed a storm of outrage. Hundreds of scantily clad young women took to the streets in North America carrying placards ‘My short skirt and cleavage have nothing to do with you.’ ‘It’s my hot body: I do what I want.’ But just how should men and women conduct themselves in the Western world’s sexual culture?

Our sexual culture

These days flaunting oneself seems to be the norm. Our sexual culture is a far cry from the days before feminism when women were supposed to repress their sexuality and act all demurely. But does modesty have to be completely thrown out of the window?

Of course the ‘slut walk’ marchers have a crucially important point. As one placard says ‘Sex is something people do together – not something you do to someone.’ They are  challenging the attitude of our sexual culture that women are sex objects, that ‘women ask for it’, that men can do nothing other than act on impulse. They are saying rape is a terrible crime.

Attitudes to rape

Justice minister Kenneth Clark found out to his cost, just how serious a crime rape is considered to be in our sexual culture, when implying there can be less serious kinds of rape. When asked about the average rape sentence, he explained: “That includes date rape, 17 year-olds having intercourse with 15-year-olds”, adding that the tariff for “serious rape” was much longer. He was talking about a proposal to halve prison sentences for those who plead guilty early. He later clarified his position by saying all rape was serious. But he had well and truly put his foot in it by the way he expressed himself such is the sensitivity of the issue.

Ethics of a sexual culture

Is the spirit of the protesters’ message all about men taking responsibility for their own behaviour and about valuing sex as part of a human relationship in a sexual culture rather than only  a bodily pleasure?

If so, such a point of view is echoed in the value of virtue reflected in the ethical guidelines of the great religions.

The marchers seem to be implying that sexual signals have no meaning in the world of human interaction. Some feminists claim that all men are rapists. This is clearly not literally true although probably many men can be tempted by sexual signals to take the sexual initiative. For what other reason does the prostitute wear low cleavage and sluttish garb if not to attract sexual business? Are these marchers in denial about their responsibility in arousing desire? The individual who leaves their front door open should not be surprised if a burglar takes the opportunity to help himself to their belongings. Has the person who leaves valuables showing in the parked car not any responsibility for facilitating a higher likelihood of car theft?

If women think they can dress sluttishly, why do feminists object to Miss World contests and to scantily dressed page three girls? The answer seems to be that they are showing their right to dress as they like in revealing what they want. But people express their right to drink as much as they like and vomit all over the street. Having a right to do something is not the same thing as exercising that right responsibly.

Spiritual perspective on sexual culture

Men are not all rapists or car thieves but who could claim never to act badly whatever the circumstances one finds oneself in? In saying their Lord’s prayer, Christians ask not to be led into temptation. This raises a question for everyone. Just how susceptible are we all to criminal impulses? Perhaps more so than it is comfortable to assume.

The spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about sexuality and the ideal quality of love that can unite a couple as one in heart, mind and body – a quality he termed the ‘conjugial’ relationship. Swedenborg lived in the 18th century before feminism and before a sexual culture. However what he said is as arguably as relevant today as it was 300 years ago.

He compares a natural love of people of the other sex with a spiritual love of one person of the other sex. In other words he says that although we have a natural desire for sexual contact with many people – something we have in common with most animals – nevertheless we are able to rise above our natural animal desires to love only one person in a continuing sexual relationship; something only we as humans can achieve.

One common notion in feminism is that sexual attitudes in society can change as a result of changes in sexual politics; that it is mainly a matter of social norms. However, from a spiritual angle, we get an additional perspective – that of individual freedom and responsibility for healing and self-improvement.

Swedenborg wrote of this spiritual perspective in terms of overcoming temptation; a dynamic process that is central to personal change. According to his view, part of this process is our resistance to unacceptable impulses that come from we know not where but which should be acknowledged and faced. For we are all capable of turning towards what is destructive of the good life. We are all fallible and susceptible to falling for the excitement of the moment that can have serious consequences for the well-being of others.

A need for personal transformation implies something bad associated with us that needs to change. The area of sexual behaviour is no exception to this general condition we all find ourselves in. Don’t we all have a responsibility not to throw temptation in people’s way?

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on23rd May 2011CategoriesEthics, Private EthicsTags, ,, , , , , ,, , , , , , ,  Leave a comment

Money – What attitude to take to it?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Morocco is a country where a lot of people live on the bread line. It is common for a picture of the king and his wife to be hung in people’s homes and from some outsider’s viewpoint it would appear that the royal family is often idolized.  Yet, we cannot help noticing the way the rulers of this and some other Arab states like Qatar and Kuwait — not to mention Saudi Arabia — have been amassing money for themselves. Mohammed VI of Morocco has been said to amass a fortune of $2.5 bn from the phosphates found in the Western Sahara which account for half of world reserves. Other rulers have based their wealth on oil.  Are such rich people happy and contented with the opulence they can afford?

moneyDo we feel indignation or perhaps a secret envy towards them? What attitude should we take to money?

Dreaming of money

When one is hard up, buying a lottery ticket and thus dreaming of untold wealth has its attractions, even if in one’s heart of hearts one knows there is virtually no chance of winning. A bit of harmless fun. Or is having a pleasing fantasy any different from coming out all guns blazing to make money and lots of it?

It is widely thought that the current economic recession in the United Kingdom — at least in part — has been brought on by reckless bankers still enjoying bumper bonuses. It may be just ‘childish foot-stamping’ but these say they want to move abroad because of the 50% top rate of tax they are paying.  Money seems to be a more powerful lure for them than the attraction of living near family and friends and one’s own community let alone the notion of banking integrity. Perhaps this is why they were attracted to working in the financial industry in the first place.

One could ask provided one earns enough money for one’s basic needs, why should it bother one if another person happens to be earning more?

Money and social status

I, for one, feel uncomfortable where the private affluence of the few is flaunted in the publicly seen poverty of the many. Can this not be seen in the ostentation of the ‘nouveau riche’ compared with poorer housing, medical and educational facilities available in the public services?

On the other hand, arguably unless they had a profit motif where would our entrepreneurs come from; where would our start-up businesses develop?  Just how money orientated can one be without it amounting to grasping opportunism? For how many of us is the amount of wealth we have of more significance than the use to which it could be put or by what means it was acquired in the first place?

Love of money

You do tend to get a lack of human warmth where people are too busy making money to make themselves agreeable. How could such people accept the notion of heaven which is one of sharing and doing things for the sake of others? This could never be comprehended by those who love themselves more than others and who are greedy for gain.

Swedenborg describes a group of people who had died. They had expected the happiness of the heavenly paradise to consist of magnificence, splendour and boundless wealth. They were allowed to experience exactly what they had imagined heaven to be like until they were sick of it and begged to leave!

How much better if people were prepared to be untroubled by any lack of possessions. The tradition of those from isolated rural areas can be to restore their energies by spending time living simply without expensive modern conveniences close to nature and far from the maddening crowd.

Often people say that it is a fallacy that the way to happiness is the acquisition of more and more money. Money itself may be a good thing, but no wonder we remember that the love of money is said to be the root of all evil.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

30th March 2011Categories Ethics, Private EthicsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment