Religion isn’t meant to be all ‘feel-good,’ is it?

08/18/2012 12:00 AM

08/17/2012 10:11 PM

Worship God first

The Rev. R.L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Kansas City, Kansas: Religion is hard to define, and therein is the problem. Man sees religion in many different ways and cultures. As Christians we see the mandates of the Bible as the source of our practice and worship. It teaches that the right relationship with God is redemptive. It teaches that the right relationship with our fellow man is beneficial. It teaches that the right relationship with nature is rewarding. We spend a lifetime trying to make it balance. We should spend all of our time making those relationships work.

When we view the “feel good” side, we are looking for a self-satisfying experience. What the Bible teaches is that the worship of God should be predominating in the life of an individual. Many examples from the Bible teach us that God desires our life to reflect good moral standards. God wants man to see him as the one who provides and grants privileges. We are drawn to God and we worship him. We should look for more than just feeling good. We should be informed and instructed in life. We should be warned of the consequences of our choices. We can live better lives as we become committed to the ways of his word.

We should be kind to others first

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: Feeling good can come from different sources, but generally all fall within one of two categories. The first category, known as hedonistic pleasures, is the one we are most familiar with, such as material possessions, money, cars or even a beautiful day. In today’s age of pervasive media, we are constantly bombarded by messages that tell us we will be happy only if we have the latest gadget. There is nothing wrong with hedonistic pleasure, as long as we recognize that they are impermanent and will not last.

Another way to state your question is: “What are the sources of genuine happiness?” Most religions emphasize ethical conduct, kindness, compassion and being of benefit to others as sources of genuine pleasure. Genuine happiness comes only from within. The 8th-century Indian saint Shantideva said, “All those who suffer in the world do so because of a desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others.”

Therefore, regardless of your faith, what is most important when searching for genuine happiness is being a kind, compassionate person while trying your best to be of benefit to others. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “My religion is compassion.” If you allow kindness and compassion to be your religion, then you will not only feel good, but you will also have found genuine happiness.

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