I Have Enough: A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life
Lama Marut explains that the quest for happiness starts with radical contentment: being truly satisfied with what we have.
In “A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life,” Lama Marut introduces a simple set of exercises that offer a revolutionary, and yet wholly practical, approach to creating and sustaining happiness in a frenetic modern age.
ATRIA BOOKS / BEYOND WORDS PUBLISHING
Transform problems into opportunities; set yourself free from fear and anxiety; unburden yourself of past resentment; create an action plan for true happiness. In A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life (Atria Books/Beyond Words Publishing, 2012), Lama Marut voices the next generation of spiritualism by addressing today’s need for fearless honesty, practicality and simplicity, and offering meditations and action plans designed to incite true, unpackaged happiness. The following passage is from Chapter 1, “Burning With Desire: Consumerism and Its Alternative—Radical Contentment.”
I grew up in a religious household. My father and grandfather were both ordained Baptist ministers. Our meals and bedtimes were occasions for prayer, Mom led us in regular Bible study, and the family went to church all the time—three times a week, at least (Sunday morning’s traditional service, Sunday evening for “youth group,” and Wednesday evening for some long-forgotten reason). And nobody was that happy about it.
We kids didn’t want to go. We had to take baths and put on uncomfortable clothes and were precluded from watching television or playing with our friends during the time we were in church. So we were all crying. This irritated our parents, who were not only unhappy with us kids but, soon enough, were fighting with one another.
Then we’d get to church and we’d sit for an hour and a half in those intentionally uncomfortable pews they make especially and only for churches and synagogues. Dad more or less immediately fell asleep; the kids fidgeted the whole time; and Mom stayed busy trying to contain the fidgeting kids. Everyone was looking at their watches to see if it was almost over yet. We could hardly wait until the religious part of the week was finished so that we could go back to the more enjoyable aspects of our lives.
What’s wrong with this picture? Something was seriously askew. Why, if the purpose of religion is to bring contentment, happiness, and joy, can the practice of religion seem so tedious to so many of us?
Religion is not supposed to be mind-numbingly dreary. If the goal of a spiritual life is to bring its practitioners to happiness, the means to that goal cannot be to make them as bored and uncomfortable as possible until—presto chango!—suddenly somehow everyone’s joyful.
I know that everyone’s experience of religion was not like the one I had growing up. Once or twice a year, we got to go visit our sister congregation in the African-American community. It was eye-opening to me to see people having fun in church—singing, dancing, shouting, and waving their arms in the air. They even had an expression for it: “Get happy.” As in, “We go to church to ‘get happy.’” I remember thinking, “How come we can’t have fun in church like they do?”
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