(The following is an excerpt from the essay "Cultivating Functional Lives" which is published in my book "Of Paradise Despised... and lives that bought into a lie". Visit www.figtreeenterprises.com for information on all my published works.)
The cultivation of openness is, on the one hand, a function of the things we do to expose the precariousness of our own existence. We initiate that task by truthfully dis-investing ourselves of lifestyles and habits that definitively under-develops us. On the other hand, it is also a function of our willingness to engage in the lives of others in a liberating way. That is to say, in ways that builds them up. Ultimately, it is that dynamic process through which Love works its will through us to heal the wounds, and fill the void in so many hopeless lives.
The cultivation of functional lives is an individual responsibility, but it is essentially a collective pursuit. We fail in this pursuit when we behave as if we can accomplish this in some kind of paradigm that reeks of isolationism. No man is an island. We stand up by raising others up. This demands a realistic openness to the essential dynamics of our collective experience. It necessitates a critical awareness of our cultural habitat, and a spiritual perspective that is inclusive of our collective well-being.
On the journey of self-discovery, we necessarily find each other. That is how it is. That is how it should be. Our destinies are inextricably interrelated. The secret of our happiness lies in the realization of our common humanity. Balance is found when we see the relationship between our good, and the common good. We come to realize eventually, that our materialism is actually our spiritualism turned on its head. Obtaining bread for myself may be a material issue; feeding the hungry is definitely a spiritual pursuit.
So, how do we realize true functionality in our lives? How do we get to that place of supreme balance? I have no new answers to these questions, because I truly believe that the old answers work. Accept responsibility for your destiny. That destiny is not inevitable. If you need to, you can turn around and go in a different direction. The road you are on leads somewhere; if you do not look forward to ending up in that place then stop. There are many junctions in our experience. Stop. Look. Listen. Go in a different direction. Head in a new direction, to a better place, somewhere that is more in keeping with your truest desires. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Service is the truest expression of any real love. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Take care of the afflicted. Encourage the broken-hearted. Set the captive free.
I am here to proclaim the good news that the time has come when we are required to take responsibility for our lives. This requires a sense of industry. Each one of us is expected to engage in the necessary work of creating the life we want. The great news is that when we do, we will find that fulfillment that has been our greatest desire.