Health & Happiness
The following principles have been found to
be universally true and are agreed on by all major spiritual traditions.
Recognition of a
All the spiritual traditions point to one truth – a
Life Force permeates all of creation; a Supreme Power orchestrates the symphony of life and determines the overall
path of history. An ultimate Oneness subsumes all things within it. This Being is the source of all things as well
as personifying an unconditional love that embraces everyone without discrimination. In special moments we can
sense this mysterious Presence around us and within us. In times of hopeless helplessness, this Power becomes the
only source of rescue and deliverance after all human attempts have failed. (For biblical references see Ps.
104:24-30; Isa. 46:9-11; John 11:25; Acts 17:25-28; Rom 4:17; 2 Cor. 1:7-10; 1 John 4:8,
Appreciation for Life,
Contentment and Gratitude
Each of us was born and one day will
die. Between these two extraordinary events is the mysterious process and precious opportunity we call “life” – a
wonderful experience to be enjoyed and a great enigma to be solved. Our nature consists of more than just the
physical, and life should be a journey of self-discovery which in turn would lead to a heartfelt appreciation – a
deep gratitude for being here at all. Every experience can be valued when it is understood in the context of the
whole life process – even the “bad” experiences play an integral part in the unfolding of our lives. So be deeply
thankful for all of life’s wonders – your loved ones, special opportunities, health, wealth, success, the
surrounding beauty. All of these are however also transitory, so while fully appreciating them, avoid becoming
overly attached. Being without strong attachments will help us accept the losses in life with greater equanimity.
(For biblical references see Eccl. 12:7; Zech. 12:1; Rom. 8:28-39; Phil. 4:11-13; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Tim. 6:8; Hebr.
12:1-13; 13:5; Jas 4:13-15.)
Acceptance and Submission
All spiritual traditions emphasize the
importance of humility – acknowledging our personal insignificance before the awesome Lifegiver. Although we think
we are in charge of our lives, in reality we are not. We do not choose to be born or when we will die, neither our
bodies, personal gifts or idiosyncrasies, as well as much that takes place in our lives. Also important therefore
is an attitude of acceptance that whatever happens to us is within the will of God – this will enable us to give up
our personal agenda. Our inability to accept experiences that seem to be against our self-interest results in
suffering. Acceptance allows us to glimpse the Oneness of Life – that all is working toward a greater overall
purpose. At a point, suffering will force us to reach beyond an intellectual understanding of God to the experience
of love. Only the power of divine love can transform suffering into something meaningful. Ironically, it is through
submission that we find spiritual freedom. (For biblical references see Luke 14:7-11; James 4:1-16; 1 Peter
The saints and sages agree that love is the key for
humans to transcend the self and find spiritual meaning in life. At the heart of all spiritual traditions is a
universal principle of reciprocity – the Golden Rule – that encourages us to treat others as we would ourselves
wish to be treated. The universal rules of morality help people live together in harmony. With love as an
underlying motive, one will naturally act towards others within these parameters. Another universal law is that if
we treat others well, life will treat us well – paradoxically, only through selflessness will we find personal
fulfilment. Conversely, if we act selfishly, we will suffer. (For biblical references see Lev. 19:18, 34; Matt.
19:19; 22:39; Acts 20:35; Rom. 2:14-16; 13:8-10; 2 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 5:13-14; 6:8-9; Jas
The spiritual path is a process of weeding out character
flaws and cultivating wholesome personal qualities of love and selflessness. Most spiritual traditions teach a
combination of personal effort and reliance on God’s grace in mastering our egos. (For biblical references see Rom.
3:23-28; 7:14-25; 8:1-13; Gal. 5:16, 25; Eph. 4:14-15; Col. 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18. Rev. 2:7, 11, 17,
Faith is believing in the love of God even when times
are bad; confidence that there is meaning in the seemingly meaningless; deep trust in the purpose of God and its
outcome. The perception of any event depends on our thinking about it – nothing is negative or positive in itself.
Therefore if we view life in a faith-filled, positive way – as a gift of God through which a higher purpose is
being worked out – we can make the most of whatever happens. Faith and positiveness are also an antidote to fear
and worry – stultifying emotions which can keep us from full participation in life and poison our appreciation of
the miracle of existence. While life often seems a serious business, it can also be good to lighten up and see the
humour of our predicament. (For biblical references see Acts 20:22-24; Rom 8:18-39; Phil. 3:7-11; 4:4-8; 1 Pet.
Life can be seen as a process of gradually
expanding our awareness. We all start out as confused and egocentric, so it is inevitable that we will make
many mistakes. Therefore, it is important not to judge others for their mistakes, but to reach out with
forgiveness. This is an act of great generosity for it involves loving the unlovable, accepting the
unacceptable, and seeing our enemies not as intrinsically bad but as tragically trapped in deception and
suffering through their selfishness. (For biblical references see Mic. 7:18; Matt. 6:12-15; 9:2-6, 36;
13:10-13; 14:14; 18:21-35; 20:34; Mk 1:41; 11:25; Luke 6:37; 17:3-4; 23:34; Eph 4:32; Col.
The spiritual path is the process of understanding of
and moving toward a union (oneness) with the divine. Since everything in life is impermanent and fleeting,
the spiritual masters encourage investing less energy in material pursuits, but rather seeking higher values
– the ultimate reality, which transcends death. The path to God also requires the ability to embrace paradox,
such as being detached as well as fully present in the drama of life, making our own effort as well as
relying on grace, differentiating good from bad but going beyond both. (For biblical references see Ps. 37:4;
Matt. 6:33-34; 19:29; Mark 10:29-30.)
Timothy Freke, Encyclopedia of Spirituality: Information and Inspiration to Transform Your
Life (Sterling Publishing Company, New York,