Friday, October 11, 2013

Words, Words, Words from the Buddha and the Bible

"Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." Buddha

Modern scientists have done extensive work on cognitive dissonance and the problems that develop when a person's words and actions are at odds with their deeds. When a person values helping others and their deeds don't express that value, then unhappiness and serious psychological dysfunction are the result. When a person's words and deeds match their values, happiness and mental health are the result.

That idea of a mind/body connection, which science is just now proving exists, has been around for a long time. It made sense 2,500 years ago and makes sense today.

A couple of Bible verses, one from the Jewish scripture and one from the New Testament, express similar thoughts.

"I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live..." Ecclesiastes 3:12

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26

Of course, James doesn't refer to happiness explicitly, but that connection between what we believe and what we do is clear enough. What is the point of faith if it isn't acted out in deed?

Cognitive dissonance, indeed.

There's also Gandhi's oft-cited quotation: "Happiness is when what you say, what you think, and what you do are in harmony."

So there you have it. Four of the world's major religions all saying basically the same thing: do good, be happy. 

Here's something to think about on a lovely autumn day...or spring day if you're in the southern hemisphere. How are you living out your values in word and deed? How are you doing good? Who benefits from your good? Do you need to do more good in some way? How might you go about doing good deeds in keeping with your fundamental values?

As always, I appreciate your comments and sharing!

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