Love and fear of God: Prerequisites to happiness

How is happiness a function of love and fear of God?

Fear is an emotion of contraction; love is an emotion of expansion.

The statement “I have enough” indicates fear of God because the conscious recognition of our limited ability to understand why we’ve been given this much and no more is an expression of the power to withdraw and limit ourselves in our consciousness and say, “What I have is enough and I don’t want any more.” If the limitation is felt only as resignation, this is not true self-limitation and therefore does not express fear of God.

The feeling of pleasure extending into everything I do have indicates love of God because it expresses the expansive human capacity to infuse every aspect of life with pleasure.

The rabbis of the Talmud said that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov “had everything” and therefore

a) They enjoyed the taste of the coming world in this world

b) They were free of any kind of pleasure-seeking attitude that would seek the satisfaction of more and more urges out of the sense that what is, is never enough

What is the relationship between these two statements that cause the rabbis to say that both pleasure and freedom from insatiable urges stems from “having everything”?

The feeling of “Whatever I have is enough” leads to the feeling of pleasure in everything I do have.

The spirit of the person loves God. The body needs discipline. When the body says “enough” to what is, the spirit is free to enjoy what is. The coming world is not only a future world “to come” but a world that comes to us in this world.

When we can live with a quality orientation to life as opposed to a quantity orientation and accept the physical limitations of what is, we can bring spiritual pleasure into physical parameters. We thereby gain the acquired taste of spiritual bliss in physical pleasures!

Footnote (sort of):

Fear of God: We needn’t be afraid of the concept. Both love and fear are a function of our recognition of God’s greatness. Our capacity to love comes from our inherent resemblance to God. Our capacity to fear comes from our fundamental distance from God.

As Huston Smith writes in Forgotten Truth: “As much as we yearn for a God who resembles us, such a God could never satisfy us completely: we know ourselves too well. It is a truism that a God we could comprehend would not command our worship. If he could be squeezed into the miserably inadequate vessel of our minds we would not avert our eyes – no shudder would run through us; there would be no horror religious, no religious awe.” (p. 53)

Fear is a function of our essential smallness and God’s absolute Otherness. I am already essentially spiritually distant from utter spirituality (God) and I am therefore afraid of doing anything that would distance me further, that would cut me off from my life-source and alienate me from God, from the world and from self.

Consciousness informs conscience of the nature of my responsibility. Fear of God prompts the body to act in response to this awareness. Love is a function of our inherent closeness and longing for connection and it prompts the spirit to act.

Worship of God with fear alone is an empty shell of rituals where the body submits but the spirit is not on board. Worship with love alone is not worship at all. Only love and fear together bring body and spirit together.

In human relationships we make boundaries with the intent of protecting the relationship and we recoil from doing anything that would jeopardize the relationship.

Fear in relation to God has the added element of willingly accepting and embracing God’s limitations on us out of recognition that we would not comprehend on our own the need for those particular limitations.

Here we are not talking about the subject of worship but of life experience. What are the spiritual and material gifts that I’ve been given? Just as in worship is composed of performance of physical acts (out of awareness that God is God and I am me) on one hand and participation of the spirit with joy and enthusiasm on the other (constituting fear and love), so too is this true regarding life experience.

On one hand we accept the gift in its necessarily limited form. On the other hand we receive it lovingly and joyfully and experience the pleasure of this gift with our spirit.

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