The inner voice of morality and the meaning of life

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The French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously stated that morality is our following the voice of nature within us. This inner voice is often drowned out by our passions, our pride or other destructive forces of egoism and evil that lurk in the darkness.

If we choose to quench this voice of nature that many call the conscience – our inner awareness of what is right and wrong – we will miss the mark and fail to attain a life of meaning. Thus, the path to redemption and a healthy, meaningful life is to retain an intimate contact with the heart.

This view penetrates several of the world religions – the essence is to try to bring man closer to the spiritual realm and communication with God. There man will be able to find a deep sense of inner balance, satisfaction and peace that will enable him to do what is right: We are to love one another.

The world is governed by quite remarkably specific principles. These laws of nature apply to everyone, whether we believe in them or not.

For example, Buddhism teaches about the four noble truths, that all things are temporary and unsatisfying, yet still we cling to them. Once we choose to stop the greedy cravings for more and rather follow the path of selflessness, we may lessen our suffering – and bring more joy to the world. The rise of cravings is the proximate cause of the rise of suffering, explains Buddhism. This is a fascinating view that uniquely correlates to genuine Christian teachings.

Buddhism speaks at length about the poisons that destroys the human mind. These may be defined as envy, greed, lack of sexual control, gluttony, hatred, anger, arrogance and ignorance. If one allows these vices to gain ground, man will destroy himself.

Likewise, Christianity states that the meaning of life is to bring love as God is love, and therefore warns of the destroying effects of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony and wrath as described in the book of Proverbs, chapter 20: haughty eyes that look down on others and think too highly of oneself, pride instead of humility, a lying tongue that makes a person impossible to trust or hands that shed the blood of the innocent. [Duane A. Garrett, “Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary,” 1993.]

The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus said that humans strive to minimize pain and attain a pleasurable or rationally good life. He warned extensively against overindulgence, as he stated that it would lead to more suffering. Self-control causes you to refrain from acting on that which will produce more pain – even if it seems pleasurable at the moment. Self-restraint helps you make the right choice and choose that which will benefit you in the long run.

This is the genuine goal of religion, which seeks to advise man as to what is the best path in life. I am not referring to the hypocritical, fake religion Jesus, the world’s most celebrated spiritual leader, attacked fiercely during his lifetime, but to genuine spirituality and humility in search for God, the Creator of all things.

Billy Graham, one of the most balanced Christian leaders, if not the most important Western spiritual leader in our age, explained in a sermon from 1957:

“The Christian faith is vertical – Thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, but also horizontal – love thy neighbor as yourself. When your heart is right, you have the ability and the capacity to love your neighbor properly.” He defines the heart as the center for the moral, spiritual and intellectual life of a man, the seed of a man’s conscience and life.

Graham talks about pride quite harshly: “More people stay out of the Kingdom of God because of pride than any other sin. You are too proud, you do not want to humble yourself, so you rebel. It is a humbling thing to come to the foot of the cross and repent of your sins and receive Christ, but no man shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he comes. There must be a self-emptying, a self-crucifixion. … The only remedy that the Christian faith prescribes is to give one’s life to Christ for him to place in it a new heart. He demands that you deny self, take up the cross, take up His unpopularity, take your place with him in suffering. In turn, he will make you a new man.”

The goal is to find the meaning of life.

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