I recently decided to write a book about happiness, which is definitely not all too uncommon these days. I am planning to offer it for free as an e-book, but I found myself having to start from scratch. Here’s the introduction:
Originally, I started out writing this book without ever having any intent of mentioning Jesus. Just a few days before I decided to completely revise this e-book, I had ordered some books and the first one to get shipped out is titled ‘In The Footsteps Of Jesus’. I took it as a sign. And it got me thinking, “How can one speak about happiness and ultimately not credit Jesus as the source?”.
Too many people automatically think of religion and all the discrimination and ugliness that has come forth from it when they hear that name. I myself am not religious and so I can understand where opponents of religion come from, but I ultimately let go of my objections.
As I thought more and more about it, I found one side of me fighting for not mentioning the name Jesus and instead going for descriptions like, “You can reach the source of endless happiness within your heart at all times.” It seems a decent enough advice, but then you ultimately end up asking what the source of that happiness is. If it really was you, then would you be able to reach out to it as if it’s something outside of you? Could it really be that there is a hidden part of you that emanates bliss without you being aware of it until you search for it? If it can be there without you being aware of it, whether that’s during great or awful moments, isn’t it something outside of you? And if so, what is that source?
If I were to say something like “the Universe”, then it seems something very vague and too open to many interpretations. If I wouldn’t name the source, then someone could accidentally reach out to something spiritually harmful. One could reach a void and mistake the absence of feelings as bliss or connect with a negative feeling they mistake for true happiness, which is really not all too unlikely if one is going through trying times.
Now imagine if I use the term ‘God’, then that would immediately spark a much clearer idea of what kind of source we’re dealing with, but then you’d end up with all kinds of different interpretations, both good and bad.
I could go for a figure comparable to Jesus, like Buddha for example, but I feel like Buddha can be associated with the concept of bliss coming forth from the absence of suffering with too much emphasis of putting an end to suffering to reach happiness, distracting from the act of reaching out to the source of happiness. That doesn’t mean that Buddhist concepts are bad to use as guidance towards true happiness, but I’m not sure if they would guide every individual to that true source of happiness.
So then why as a non-religious person did I decide upon Jesus being the source of happiness? It all has to do with how He is perceived. If you were to follow a biblical description, you might say Jesus is the same entity as God, but I personally prefer to make a distinction between the two. He lived among us as a craftsman (with the Greek term τέκτων meaning both wood-worker and stone-worker, His profession is up for debate) and He was familiar with human hardship. Jesus, as a living man, is more associated with love and with wanting to share His love, whereas the term ‘God’ is often interpreted as an entity unfamiliar with human hardship and harsher in judgment towards humans.
What really helped me decide to mention Jesus as the source of happiness is Bruce Marchiano’s portrayal of Jesus in the movie ‘The Encounter’. He manages to portray Jesus as someone who loves unconditionally and truly suffers when others suffer. That’s the kind of source of happiness I am trying to refer to. And it’s the interpretation of Jesus that I would like to use in this book.
©2016 Didier Strijdonk