1.14.2011

On Contentment

As some may well know, Port City has begun it's annual My One Word campaign and it entails much reflecting.  Essentially one must choose one word about which he needs to do much in the following year.  Rather than doing nothing about many things we opt to do much about one.

While living in Korea and perhaps for many years before, I have found myself looking very far ahead--often missing the present.  This year is the start of a new phase when I can be more intentional about finding contentment in present circumstances.  Last year I chose "discipline" and while I still have much to learn I have gained much and hope to see it become more a part of my character over the coming years.

Contentment, then, can be defined as "the quality or state of being contented", or for a more meaningful definition: "satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else" (Dictionary).  Wikipedia defined it as "enjoyment of whatever may be desired," which sounds strange when we apply it to what some other groups seek after...Santosha, which is one of the Niyamas of Buddhism calls for not coveting more than you have (Santosha, Niyama).

An example, which I really like from the Bible comes from Philippians 4:11-12:
11Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be (R)content in whatever circumstances I am.
 12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going (S)hungry, both of having abundance and (T)suffering need.
Conclusion
You know, it looks like a lot of people out there agree that contentment is important, but I don't see it as the whole point of my life.  Being content won't save the world it will just help us all to get along a little better since we're not trying to grab what our neighbors have.  The wikipedia article goes on to say, truthfully or no: "Contentment is the goal behind all goals because once achieved there is nothing to seek until it is lost."  While it may not necessarily represent all groups within Buddhism it's interesting that it is raised to such a high level.  If I have misinterpreted this then I hope someone will clarify it for me!

This year I hope to continue with exercises in discipline and add to that this year's word, contentment, and try to enjoy what I've been given now.  I don't think that's the goal of life, and I think that Jesus preached a very different gospel than merely being happy, or being content for the mere sake of being content.  I think it much much more simple if you can imagine that--being content in God. 

I'll end with this quote that is not exactly what I've been talking about but it's close enough.  I think it gives a comical ending to all of this:
The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them. 

--G.K. Chesterton

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