Monday 8 January 2024

How to live with a positive, light-hearted, fearless, and serious attitude - as modelled and taught by Jesus

If this mortal life is everything, and is terminated by death and the destruction of ourselves eternally; then this mortal life is worth nothing beyond our current feelings. Because if only this lifespan matters, then significance reduces to here-and-now satisfaction merely; and a "delusory" happiness of intoxication or disease is as-good-as "real life" - because only our now-feelings matter.    

But if real life lies after death, beyond death; and when this life after death includes the annihilation of our self, our distinctive nature and consciousness - then our personal mortal life is a waste of time, and (rationally) we should try to die as soon as possible

If this mortal life is a kind of examination leading either to eternal reward or eternal punishment; then this mortal life is by-design a miserable trial of existence, essentially negative - which implies a hostile or indifferent God (and is is reasonable to expect such a God to provide an eternal reward?) 

So; if these world pictures eliminate positive meaning from this mortal life. So; what would it take for this mortal life to be meaningful, to have positive goals? 

We need to be concerned about this life and world - not indifferent. There must be something positive to gain from life. And this life must potentially make a difference - not just in the moment or over a finite lifespan, but lastingly - indeed forever. 

Life after death needs to be everlasting and our life, a life where we remain our-selves; and when we carry forward into eternity the benefits of whatever positive experiences and lessons we have learned in this mortal life. And this post-mortal life needs to be our choice - we can have it if we want it. 

How would this expectation of this kind of post-mortal life (call it Heavenly Resurrected Life) affect this mortal life? - because it surely would affect this mortal life to live in expectation of Resurrection to heaven and knowing that our positive learning from experience would enhance our lives eternally... 

I think this would lead to a positive and ultimately light-hearted attitude to the experiences of this mortal life: our current experience potentially matters forever, but it is not everything. 

We can embark upon this mortal life in a spirit of Trial and Error, Learning and Repentance

But what trails are worthwhile, and which errors are valuable (when repented) rather than corrupting and destructive?

The answer lies in motivation. When we are following our good motivations, with goals intended to yield positive experiences of potentially eternal value; then errors and bad outcomes are OK. 

After all, there is no safe path through life - because it always ends in death; and often in decline, degeneration, disease. Especially in the Fourth Gospel, Jesus seems to advocate and model a serious but positive, and never fearful, attitude to this mortal life. 

The point is that an attitude of confident expectation of resurrected Heavenly life should (logically, if sincere) lead us to be bold and care-free in tackling our own life with a spiritually ambitious attitude. 

If we take our risks, make our mistakes, experience adverse consequences from the right motivations; then we will be able to recognize and repent our sins, and learn what needs to be learned from whatever happens (pleasant, boring, or horrible)... 

Then we are leading life in the same kind of fearless, positive, serious attitude that seems to have been most characteristic of Jesus, and his teachings; and is underpinned and sustained by his promises. 

Note added: I get frustrated when the debate about an Afterlife is confined to the broad categories of survival of something beyond death - or not. Because it makes a Huge difference what "something" of our mortal selves is posited to survive death, in what conditions it survives, what the surviving entity does after death - and what implications this something-survival has for mortal life. Modern people are often uninterested by the question of afterlife, because of their implicit understanding of what this afterlife would entail and what it would imply. In other words; there is an unexamined but inbuilt assumption that an afterlife would either make no meaningful difference to this life, or would reduce or abolish the significance of this life. And that is indeed true for some conceptualizations of afterlife. But not true (I believe) for the Christian afterlife - at least not as I understand the Christian afterlife (also as described in the Fourth Gospel) - although I am quite prepared to admit that many or most self-styled "Christian" concepts of afterlife are indeed futile or negative, for one reason or another. The main question is whether we passively accept one or other of the standard "Christian" understandings (as expounded by one or another of the modern churches); or whether we actively seek a Christian understanding from and for our-selves. My point in the above post is that the IV Gospel understanding of Christian afterlife is one that gives a positive meaning to this mortal life -- Indeed, I believe it is the one and only concept of the human condition among all the religions, philosophies, and ideologies that does explain and sustain a positive mortal life.    


cecil1 said...

I find it strange that you say most modern people are unconcerned with the afterlife. What gives you this impression? Most people I know seem to be very aware of it (not in an obsessive way -- as I'm under the impression was in the Middle Ages for example), but more in an awareness of the continuity of this life with the next. It defines one's relationship with God. I always took it for granted almost that this was axoimatic to the Christian outlook in the West on a religious and cultural level.

That may be a function of one's social/religious setting, but death and its meaning is always a topic in popular culture on some level, isn't it?

I suspect it has changed focus but the serious privations of constant starvation, disease, and imminent death from even minor ailments put a focus of this before the 19th century that can be ignored at least somewhat now.

But in terms of the signifance of an afterlife, isn't continuity of the soul, with a continuity of remembrance and identity the key to a meaningful life NOW AND in any afterlife? Isn't THAT what MUST survive if it is to have any meaning. One's body can change dramatically in this life, but that doesn't preclude a continuity of the soul/consciousness. And when it is lost or greatly diminished as in some medical diseases, its return is always the necessary condition to say the person has been restored.

IF not, who exactly will be there to experience it, or remember? Do atoms remember their past 'lives' as molecules in some complex organism?

Juan Gustavo Peña said...

I think you have well captured the essence of Ecclesiastes 3:12-13.