Looking for Happiness
By Thomas Keating
Our spiritual journey does not start with a clean slate. We carry with us a prepackaged set of values and preconceived ideas which, unless confronted and redirected, will soon scuttle our journey, or else turn it into pharisaism, the occupational hazard of religious and spiritual people.
The developmental character of human life has become much better known in the last hundred years, and it has enormous implications for the spiritual journey. Our personal histories are computerized, so to speak, in the biocomputers of our brains and nervous systems. Our memory banks have on file everything that occurred from the womb to the present, especially memories with strong emotional charges….
We may not remember the events of early childhood, but the emotions do. When events occur later in life that resemble those once felt to be harmful, dangerous, or rejecting, the same feelings surface…. The human heart is designed for unlimited happiness–for limitless truth and for limitless love–and nothing less can satisfy. We travel down various roads that promise happiness but can’t provide it because they are only partial goods. Since the emotional programs from early childhood are already in place, our search for happiness in adult life tends to be programmed by childish expectations that cannot possibly be realized….
We come now to the heart of the problem of the human condition. Jesus addressed this problem head-on in the gospel. What was his first word when beginning his ministry? “Repent.” To repent is not to take on afflictive penances like fasting, vigils, flagellation or whatever else appeals. It means to change the direction in which you are looking for happiness.
Source: Invitation to Love