back to some basics

David Richo has a BOOK out: The Five Things We Cannot Change: And The Happiness We Find By Embracing Them (Shambala, 2005). He claims that there are certain facts of life that we cannot change, unavoidable “givens”. They are:

1) Everything changes and ends,
2) Things do not always go according to plan,
3) Life is not always fair,
4) Pain is part of life,
5) People are not loving and loyal all the time.

I so appreciate these points. They are a sobering tonic in the face of all the syrupy platitudes that seem to abound today, especially in Western Christianity. Many refuse to go here. In the words of Jack Nicholson, “we can’t handle the truth!” But we must go here to get to the joy we all desire. Karen Armstrong asserts:

“All this world’s faiths put suffering at the top of their agenda, because it is an inescapable fact of human life, and unless you see things as they really are, you cannot live correctly” (The Spiral Staircase, p. 272).

I truly believe that this is where we need to begin. Back to the basics!

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26 Replies to “back to some basics”

  1. Wow, that’s a book?

    I’ve been holding back, it’s time for me to start shopping my manuscript, “Pets and People Die But You Only Bury One In The BackYard” around.

    I suppose it’s important to remember that the obvious to me isn’t the obvious to everyone. That’s pretty critical in leadership. But with those chapter titles I can appreciate the author of Hebrews frustration that people haven’t quite moved on yet.

    Sorry to be all ‘Simon Cowell’.

  2. Similar are the “truths” in buddhism- that pain, hardships, old age and death are facts of life.

    Reading the works of Helen Keller lends one to realize that for all the pain we suffer, there are some who have struggled hugely against remarkable difficulties- these people are often very eloquent about the simple joys of life, and not brought down by the small nigglets. Are they stepping stones or stumbling blocks?

    What do you call this mix of sobering tonic and syrupy platitude?
    Are you working up to another whiskey joke?

  3. Okay… Brian first, then Sandy! Brian: you can’t be serious!! I know you must know how difficult it is to get people to consider the “inescapable facts”. I know you must… because you’re being Simon Cowell and joking around. And Sandy… I think Richo bases these 5 points on the foundations of Buddhism.

  4. Ya! Like Joel Osteen, when he says, in his book, You Best Life Now:
    “God wants to make your life easier” (p. 38). We all know he can’t be serious. Certainly he’s saying that tongue-in-cheek!

  5. Speaking about handling the truth, I am always surprised at the lack of desire for truth by some christians – the (literal) word of the Bible is good enough and they are not prepared to entertain a rational examination of the logic of it all. In fact some become indignantly defensive and intolerant. I find this very sad and in some cases deeply offensive. Why is that? What are they afraid of? If truth is the goal, is not a diligent and logical search for it, the right thing to do?

  6. Ahhhh Grasshopper…snatch the pebble from my hand!

    Another life lesson: “Don’t eat prunes when you are famished!”

  7. Jake, everybody has a different reason for wanting the truth but avoiding the search. Some have watched people drift far from home and get shipwrecked in the ‘logical search’, others, as David says Jack say, “can’t handle the truth” and everywhere in between.

    David, I’m sort of kidding.

    John, I see your pebble and raise you a fly with my chopsticks…
    My next chapter submission: “Yellow Snow: not as tastey as you might think.”

  8. Truth is complex, but so simple, even children get it! One of the best conversations in the bible was Jesus and Pilate.

    “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

    “What is truth?” Pilate asked.

    Ahhh, there is the question of the day! Not just the question, but the answer!

  9. John,

    Your reply is rhetorical b.s. You missed my point all together. When I refer to “truth” I do not mean the mystical “truth” touted in a fuzzy and haphazard way by religion, but real truth arrived at after careful analysis of facts and evidence. A scientific method type truth if you will. A truth that is lacking in modern christianity. I know very few christians who are prepared to subject the “truths” of the Bible to a scientific analysis to really test – to the extent that we can – the veracity of what it says. I refer specifically to such very fundamental questions as the existence of God, the creation of the world, miracles, etc.

  10. rhetorical bs? that comment sounds alot like the ones after i preach on a sunday.

    jake dude….relax … i wasn’t dissin at all …. I’m not the scholar in my family…Dave is! I’m just the youngest bro who threw a comment in about truth.

    By the way, I still think the pilate asked a good question!

  11. Fair enough. I just have little tolerance for what I perceive as circular b.s. I guess.

    When you say Pilate asked a good question, which question are you referring to? Whether Jesus is a King or what truth is?

  12. John, I read John 18:33-38 and I ‘think’ you are giving it too much artistic licence. I don’t recall Jesus ever saying that he was a King, anywhere.

    Here is the text:

    33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

    34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”

    35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

    36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

    37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

    38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

    I think that when Jesus says “for this I was born”, the ‘this’ referes to “to testify to the truth”, not that he is a king. I think the Greek text confirms that interpretation.

    As to Pilate’s question, “what is truth”, it is unclear to me what the purpose of this question is, as Jesus does not reply, and Pilate then apparently tells the Jews that he can find no fault with Jesus.

    It seems to be perhaps an introspective assessment by Pilate?

  13. hey, i’m not even the artist in my family … Dave is! So, the artistic licence was a fluke, but thanks for the comment.

    Didnt mention he was a king?

    “Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. 12When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.” matt 27:11-12

    Things that make you go … hmmmm

  14. That is the NIV version – not very scholarly and full of artistic licence.

    Previous versions are not as convincing on this point:

    “And Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked Him, saying, Art thou the king of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when He was accused of the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.”

    See also Mark 15:1-2:

    “And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and Scribes and the whole Council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. And Pilate asked Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews? And He answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.” (KJV)

    I think you will find that scholars on the topic of Jesus generally agree that Jesus never suggested he was the son of God or that he was a King.

  15. OK…well…I sayest and believeth he was the King!

    Jesus does mention many times He has a Kingdom.

    If someone has a kingdom….does it make him a king?

    By the way…where is everyone? Dave? Are you out “loafing” around?

  16. I thought this discussion started off about pain? What was that sign that Pilate had nailed on the cross? Who asked to have it taken down? Everyone there seemed to know what Jesus was stating! There was pain for you and I. I don’t know how anyone can read the scriptures and not understand that pain, self inflicted and hit with, comes to all in this life.

  17. We all suffer. For example, Jake was gonna help me fix something on my web site a month ago! How I suffer…

  18. I shall relieve your suffering – be patient my child. I refer you to points 2,3 and 4 above – my delay is good for you! It makes you a better human!

    BTW, it is opinionate, not opinionize.


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