Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | January 25, 2010

Day 8: You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure

According to Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life, the first purpose of your life is bringing enjoyment to God. We do this through worship, and he proceeds to explain worship as much more than church liturgy. He says we are “hard wired” to worship, that it is a lifestyle. It is not for our benefit, but for God’s. He quotes David in the bible: “I will thank the lord at all times. My mouth will always praise him.” Another scripture quote: “Whether you eat, drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. In Warren’s matrix, we fall in love with Jesus and think about him all the time the way we would a girlfriend or boyfriend, and take everything in our ordinary life, working, eating, walking, interacting, and place it before God as an offering.

His question to ponder: what common task could I start doing as if I were doing it directly for Jesus.

I have an ongoing schtick at work where I encourage my workers(they are quite the evangelicals) to sell shoes for God!

But, this mindset is very contemplative, very zen, very taoist. It is a recognition of the divine in the ordinary. It is a lesson I learned early on in my catholic upbringing and in college catholic circles. To develop that mindfulness, and to live every moment as holy, as special, as sacred.

It’s difficult when the pressures of the temporal world exert themselves in the process. It’s not enough for the worldly that you sell shoes, but you must do it in a particular way, you must try to gouge the customer a bit, you have to meet selling criteria, and you have to comp to LY so help you God! A true contemplative can’t live this way. A contemplative lets go of the temporal measures of what he/she does, and just is. It is difficult to approach the temporal with the conteplative approach because the temporal powers don’t get it. They don’t see that you are allowing the world to arrange itself, that you are allowing the earth to spin on it’s axis. They think that if you follow the corporate plan you can somehow get the earth to rotate backwards for a while.

The foundational caveat to a zen way, of course, is that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and not slacking off or using zen as an excuse to slack off or be a lazy bum. We do what we are supposed to do, with a sense of responsibility, discipline, joy, creativity, love and compassion, and then we let the chips fall where they may. This takes great faith on the part of the contemplative, because you really don’t know where the chips are gonna fall.

The last comment I’ll make in this post is, many people see an unresolvable dichotome between living your life for God’s purpose, and living your life exactly the same way as a taoist or zen or tai chi person–with a sense of the ineffable, of the Way, of an awareness of the numenous. I personaly, have been living a life that integrates my catholicism with my tai chi–not that I do tai chi with catholic theology superimposed–but that, as Thomas Merton wrote extensively about, there is a kinship among contemplatives, despite tradition.

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