“This virtue of the great and the small, which always makes us look at the horizon. What does magnanimous mean? It means having a great heart, having greatness of mind; it means having great ideals, the wish to do great things in response to what God asks of us. (It means also)……..to do well the routine……daily actions, task, meetings with people –doing the little everyday things with a great heart open to God and to others.” Pope Francis, June 07, 2013
Today’s entry inspired by reading: the Church of Mercy by Pope Francis. Rating: 10
Surely your head is nodding yes to a life of Magnanimity guided by your spiritual, religious, or philosophical ideals. Meaning, even if you are not Catholic, you can draw from the Pope’s message to apply everyday actions to your idealism while keeping your eye on the larger picture. It is not that easy in practice. Is your personal creed grounded and guiding you daily? Is it pliable enough for self-correction as your wisdom grows yet rooted enough to remain focused on the horizon of your life journey? Where do you draw meaning from in your life today? Tomorrow?
In a recent training on the DSM V (Diagnostic Statistical Manual – the bible of Mental Health disorders) Dr. Karnik, Ph.d spent an inordinate amount of time on the human condition. The eleven major organ systems (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnjmrrQ6xOs) of your body and the inner psychological internal world and its conflicts immersed in a world of 7.3 Billion people with a history of 6000 to 7000 wars make it hard to pinpoint the cause of mental anguish and discontent without even touching the spiritual dimension. Perhaps though, our evolution has brought us to a place where spiritual awareness should and can be the guiding principle? (This sidesteps religiosity and its abuses, misinterpretations, and all too human application). Can life’s real meaning be solely derived from our limbic system primal drives (survival, seek pleasure, and avoid pain)? Dr. Karnik applies these drives to addictions and the addicted person seeking the “right thing in the wrong place.” Addiction, at its heart is a person seeking to obtain and maintain the Cortical lottery: bringing the brain to its peak pleasure point, as much as it can stand, and staying there (http://www.happinesshypothesis.com/beyond-gethappy.htm).
Unfortunately the thin line between that point and death is very fine and the pursuit of that goal ultimately leads to the opposite result – abject misery. The treasure chest of addiction can be quite broad: substance use disorders (including ETOH/Nicotine), Gambling disorders, Behavioral disorders (sexual addiction, work addiction, gaming, Facebook, fantasy, stealing, risk taking, coin collecting, etc). Fortunately we can enjoy pleasure in many of these areas legally and without negative repercussions if they remain in their respective place and time commitment relative to your life’s purpose! Back to being Magnanimous!
Everything you do small and large should in some way support your purpose and your view of the horizon. Defining that purpose takes time and perspective and the shape of its expression may change over time. Your job will probably change many times over in your life time. You may even change your career a few times. Your hobbies and entertainment will vary as well. Underneath all this distraction is the real you that relates to other people, to animals, the planet, the unknown existential spiritual realm, and yourself.
This is where mindfulness and spirituality come into play. It is easy to suffer and be discontent amidst the distractions of life, the limits of our physical body, and the pulls of the limbic system drives without being mentally ill or disturbed. You can still be pretty unhappy. You do not need to be an addict to find unhappiness. Spending time on being aware of yourself and your motivation for life can distil life imposing on you anxiety, misery, and suffering. You will still have anxiety, misery and suffering! However, these experiences will be relegated to their respective place and time commitment relative to your life’s purpose. Sound familiar?
Where your time is spent and is it spent wisely? I turn my worries over to action (if some action is available) and to prayer when events are outside my sphere of influence. I am not an evangelist, though I am Catholic. I am not purporting to tell you “the way” to spiritual enlightenment. I am saying to find a “way “to avoid the entrapments of the meaningless, of materialism, habituation, and other frivolities of life. I have wasted a great deal of time in my life on such things and pray others do not have to endure the same mistakes.
The metaphysical term love is the goal I have found sustains me. Appreciating others and the gift of love in all its shapes, colors and sizes is profoundly rewarding. Reading of heroic acts of love and self-sacrifice of others is inspiring. Avoiding self-contempt is also worthwhile when falling into the trap of comparison to the truly gifted. And forgiving self and others is a compassionate, mindful practice. I often self-deprecate myself which could be mistaken for seeking approval or a reverse lack of humility! The truth is I have an awareness of my faults and misgivings of which there are many, and I am sure, many of which I may not be aware of or have yet to commit.
I pray for anyone who reads this that you live a magnanimous life filled and informed by your personal purpose, surrounded by people of like mind, and blessed by God’s grace.
Catholic reference on prayer and meditation: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p4s1c3a1.htm
P.S. Catholics do not own the market on mindfulness. There is the rich tradition of buddhism and secular mindfulness meditation practices as well. Personally I think they all lead to the same place….but of course, being Catholic I recommend my faith!