April 12, 2010
Good And Healing
Neil F Neimark MD
All forms of healing (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) ultimately require us to wrestle with the question of who we are and what we were put here in this world to do.
In that decisive match, we eventually discover -- that without some belief in a power greater than ourselves that requires goodness, justice and ethical behavior from us -- we can never find meaningful answers to who we are and why we are here.
In fact, when we say that life is meaningless, it implies that nothing we do makes sense, that our actions and efforts are worthless, insignificant and inconsequential.
Can you imagine playing a game of basketball without a hoop to shoot at? The game would be rendered meaningless. The same is true of life. Without a spiritual hoop to shoot at, there can be no sense of meaning in our struggles, no worthwhile goal to pursue, no point to it all.
The very essence of the body/soul connection teaches us that we must direct our physical body to drive the ball down the court in order to score a basket at the spiritual hoop. This is what lends purpose and meaning to our lives - connecting our body and soul.
Where is this spiritual hoop we must aim for? It is found in absolute values of ethical monotheism, i.e. in a Judeo-Christian ethic that teaches us right from wrong and good from evil.
When we have no absolute goal to shoot for, the game of life is a free-for-all with no rules to govern on-court behavior, no referees and no possible way of scoring a victory.
If we make our choices only by what feels good or right in the moment -- we end up shooting at a hoop that is randomly shifting location, based on what is popular, in vogue or politically correct at the time. We can never score significance in such a game.
Meaning can only derive from something solid, lasting and eternal. We cannot derive meaning from that which is transient, temporal or constantly shifting. We may enjoy temporal pleasures and transient beauty, but that enjoyment can never lead to lasting significance.
To live a meaningful life, we must connect body and soul, joining together our ordinary activities and need to make a living with the higher spiritual values of goodness, kindness and participation in helping repair that which is broken in the world. That is what scoring a victory at the spiritual hoop is all about.
In our search for meaning, we must openly examine the choices we make and the consequences of the actions we take or fail to take. We cannot be driven by what feels good to us in the moment, but rather, we must struggle to be good.
What does this mean? It means that we cannot base lasting significance and meaning on what feels good. It must be based on what is good, i.e. doing the right thing even when it doesn't feel good; fighting evil and injustice even when it is inconvenient to do so. This is where true meaning comes from: in connecting our ordinary secular outer life with our extraordinary spiritual inner life by doing that which a kind and just God requires of us.
Remember the wonderful story of the three bricklayers being interviewed outside a newly built cathedral? The first one, when asked, What are you doing here? replies, Can't you see? I'm sweating and toiling and building this cathedral, brick by brick.
The second bricklayer, when asked the same question, replies, Can't you see? I am laying these bricks day after day so that I can make a living to put food on the table for my family.
Then the third bricklayer, when asked the same question, humbly replies, Can't you see? I am helping to build a cathedral where those who are in need can come to find help.
Three different men performing the very same task: each one of them having a very different inner life.
When we direct our outer activities towards the inner spiritual hoop -- towards what is lasting and meaningful -- we score a victory in the healing game.
Till next time, be well. In body and soul,
Neil F. Neimark, MD