How do you feel when you are living at your best? Here are some words recently gathered from a group: happy, relaxed, unshackled, free, empathetic. We want all persons to live at their best more often, for longer periods of time, and for that best to become even better. We know the alternative: the light of truth is partially eclipsed, and unbeautiful emotions impede our effectiveness.
The premise-hypothesis of working with Living in Truth, Beauty, and Goodness is that we can learn to live divine values of truth, beauty, and goodness in ways that help us with all our worthy goals.
Living the truth encompasses the truths of material fact, intellectual meaning, and spiritual value.
But some material facts are ugly and cruel. When we consider the urgent ecological, social, economic, and political concerns that affect people near and far, we may wonder how a philosophy of living can help equip us to minister in love and mercy and to work toward justice? In Deity, truth consorts divinely with beauty and goodness. How can we practice these values in our earthly environment of material facts?
Beginning with fact, science is a first step into truth. “Scientific living is the virtue or excellence of being responsible to fact. To love intelligently, to communicate mercifully, to apply justice fairly, we need to understand facts” (LTBG 28).
When we understand facts in terms of causes, and causes in terms of the Creator’s enormous project of evolution, we are wiser and stronger, better able to stay open to the divine energies that nourish us and better able to serve others.
Working with a multidimensioned [scientific, philosophical, and religious] concept of evolution leads us to calm down, seek the long-range view in any situation, temper spiritual idealism with scientific realism, study to know the proper sequence of events, discern what projects are timely [and urgent], and be patient with the long-term gradual unfolding. When we find ourselves in a decline, we work to slow it down. When we can lead an advance, we do not get too far ahead of those we hope to lead. The reward for scientific living is that when we act in accord with universe law and the wisdom of evolution, we gain stability and power. A philosophically and spiritually expanded concept of evolution can symbolize this entire philosophy of living.” (LTBG, 15)
If we choose to read this book as an opportunity for personal growth, we adapt selected ideas from Living in Truth, Beauty, and Goodness and apply them to whatever issue in our lives would be both psychologically reasonable for us to deal with presently and would give us the greatest leverage as we move into greater experiences of freedom, happiness, unshackled living, and empathy.
For example, here is my project as I practice with my current class what I am inviting them to do. Since I am embarking on a very new career as a leader, not only a teacher, and since I realize something of the magnitude of the transformation ahead of me before I can become effective in my projected future responsibilities, my project has an overall goal which I express by titling it “The love of a leader.” Truth, beauty, and goodness—unified—are equivalent to love. This broad goal gives me room for the varied unpredictable adjustments that are needed from one day to the next. The next layer of my project features two specifics: courage (I seek more consistent courage and a finer quality of courage) and counsel (moving beyond my tendency to do all my planning as a solitary leader). The third layer of my project is quite particular: to transplant the psychological methods I discovered in Marshall Rosenberg’s impressive and highly recommended book, Nonviolent Communication, into the garden of my own philosophy and practice. Last week, I read this book as the scientific living component of the project; this week, for the philosophical living component, I will interpret the key meanings in that book and transplant them into the garden of my own philosophy of living. And my spiritual goal is to abide in worshipful communion. And I have two relationships in which I have begun to practice these emerging skills. It is a learning curve.
Happy loving and learning!