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Finding Ultimate Meaning

May 15, 2012

One of the greatest challenges is how we measure ultimate meaning in our lives. Society in general has often done this through gross domestic product, a measure of societies’ output. You might have read about the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron deciding to create a new index, a national happiness index.

It is a fascinating idea: that there are both qualitative and quantitative ways to measure the happiness of society. In an article by Roger Cohen, he suggests that there are indeed ways to measure happiness. These are the values he suggested: love and friendship, family relations, employment level, monetary wealth, material fulfillment, clean air, release from stress and pressure, and many other such values. The fascinating thing about Cohen’s article is that it says nothing whatsoever about religion and ultimate values. It all made me think where has religion gone wrong? If there is anything that addresses ultimate values shouldn’t it be religion? Apparently the short answer for some is that religion has nothing to do with it.

I would beg to differ. To my mind nothing is more important to finding a fulfilled and meaningful life than turning to religion. After all, religion seeks to answer the
unanswerable questions of life. After the basic human needs of food, shelter, and sexual gratification where do we seek meaning? Clearly there are many varied religious answers to finding meaning and fulfillment; however the important thing is that there are many answers.

Might I suggest that we consider the question when have we been the happiest? What have truly been the ultimate moments of your life? Was it perhaps the birth of a child, or a lifecycle event much anticipated such as marriage? Perhaps it was a warm spring afternoon when you were blessed to be able to walk barefoot in our shimmering sand. The feel of the Gulf of Mexico’s kindly waters and the reassuring rays of sun warming our weary bodies can bring an ultimate sense of calmness and serenity. When one opens one’s eyes to God’s eternal blessings, at that moment everything seems possible, and the gross domestic product seems about as irrelevant to our happiness as any government statistic ever created. Open your eyes to God’s blessings, and observe carefully. Just perhaps it might affect your personal happiness index more than any other value.

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  1. Michael Brown permalink


  2. Michael Brown permalink

    Thanks, Rabbi!

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