Beliefnet
Your Best Life Now

“Because I’m happy…clap along…” Pharrel Williams sings it.

“Because I’m happy…clap along…” Miss America sings it.

“Because I’m happy…clap along…” We all sing it.

Frankly, I’ve heard the popular song so much on the radio and television, I’m ready for a new song. Which IS the problem with this kind of happy. Even the song gets a bit annoying after you’ve heard it a million times.

“Because I’m Happy…Clap Along If You Feel Like…

It’s the message, however, I’m thinking about this morning. The message of happiness.  Have you paid attention to the lyrics? Oh, I know the tune is rhythmic and it’s hard not to “clap along” as it plays. But how true are these words?

Because I'm Happy...Clap Along

Because I’m Happy…Clap Along

Happy, bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
Love is too happy to bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
I said bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
Love is too happy to bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
I said

Really? Nothing can bring you down? I beg to differ.

In spite of how much you clap along and pretend all is well, you don’t live very long before you discover, sometimes painfully so, there are lots of things that can bring you down…steal your happiness…end the clap along feeling you felt for a while.

Everything we feel, including the happy, clap along kind of joy, is “for a while.”

Which is what the Buddha was trying to tell us, when he spoke of “suffering.” He wasn’t just being a realist, a party pooper, a depressed, negative “rain on your parade person.” There are those kind of people around. He was simply reminding you of the nature of reality. Everything is temporal. Happiness…the kind Pharrell sings about…the only kind most of us know about…is transitory. Like the proverbial butterfly. It shows up. We feel good. And, just about as quickly, it flitters away and the search for it starts over again.

Which is why Jesus, my spiritual teacher, said also, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). But, for centuries now, we Christians have mistakenly thought what Jesus was saying is “I am that abundance…that life.” So, we bow down before him and pretend that what he wanted then and now is our worship, knowing that what I’m really saying is, “I am the way of happiness…just as you are…that goes beyond the shallow, temporary pleasure-making ‘Because I’m happy…clap along…’ kind of pursuit…even religious pursuit today. Just bow down to me and presto you’ll be truly happy.”

You really think that’s what Jesus wanted?

Really?

Then, why was he always pointing beyond himself? You cannot find what you want…happiness…in any person, place, or thing. That was Jesus’ real message, wasn’t it? And, the message of virtually every spiritual teacher in history. But then, if you knew that history, you would know this.

People are looking still for what cannot be found. Many will say in hopeful innocence, and sometimes blind arrogance, “I have found it!” That was even an evangelistic campaign when I was a young Christian. We ran around shouting, “I’ve found it!” and not a one of us had a clue what it was we had found.

Jesus! Happiness! You cannot find either.What you find is at best a temporary, fleeting feeling you have to prop up every so often with all kinds of religious fervor to maintain the illusion you’ve actually found something.

Well, you can continue to play this game if you’d like. But, if you’re willing to listen…and I know many of you are…I would suggest that happiness – the kind that does not come and go with worship or anything else – isn’t something tangible…it is who you are already. You actually cannot even talk about this kind of happiness, which is why I hesitate to say much here. When you experience this happiness, for example, almost all the talk about it ends. It has to end. Anything you say about it diminishes it.

What I’m saying is that happiness is a little like trying to talk about God. Once you do, you’ve just diminished the subject. The Subject.

Why?

How do you talk about that which no word, however lovely, could ever describe? It’s like trying to describe to a blind person what the pedals of a red rose look like. Or, a fall sunset. Or, the stars that blanket the heavens on a cool, clear night.

Jesus did not want people walking around bowing down before him as if they were supposed to think of him as some god or even that he thought of himself in this way. And yet, this is precisely what we’ve done to him.

Why?

Isn’t it because we all want something we think we can sink our proverbial teeth into and satisfy the inner longing…the inner illusion…that we’ve actually got it now?  We’ve found it! The emphasis being on we have found it?

This is what causes religious divisions…even the religious wars. We’re so happy about the happiness we’ve found, we’ll argue and fight about it…hell, we’ll even kill if necessary to prove to others just how much joy we’ve found…just how much truth we possess…just how right we are and wrong you are…just to prove the much happiness our version of happiness has brought to us.

If you’re thinking only radical fundamentalist Muslims are willing to kill to prove they’ve found it and we haven’t, then you don’t know much about Christian history…our violence, our bloodshed, our Inquisitions, and often in our history against the very people who today make war against us in the name of the happiness they’ve found in their religion.

Need I say more? Only to those who don’t know history. Or, are too lazy to learn it.

You miss the point of Jesus’ life if you’re still lost in the thought…in the illusory belief system that makes of him and his message some kind of god you’re supposed to lift up instead of follow after. Jesus pointed to the heavens and people have made a shrine of his finger. I’ve written about this elsewhere if you’re interested.

Then, they spend their lives worshiping the finger and secretly wondering why all this religious stuff we talk about in church really hasn’t done for them what they had hoped.

Organized Religion: Why People are Leaving the Church

Which is just another explanation for why so many are walking away from organized religion. They’ve wanted to walk away for a long time. Fear…pressure…the thought of being alone if they did…the desire to avoid judgment from others…or, maybe just because they’ve wanted to maintain the illusion that they’ve “found it” – whatever the reason, they’ve stayed.

But no longer.

Now that others are leaving, they’ve found the courage to take their happiness pursuit somewhere else.

Wherever you are, I have a message for you…a word to the wise, I hope. I can only hope. But there is a mystery here and in it is a liberating truth too mysterious for me to either understand or explain.

But I’ll try my best.

Jesus once said, “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden for years in a field. One day, a trespasser stumbled upon it. He was ecstatic – who wouldn’t be? – what he found could not be taken from him…

It was more than he had ever found in his churchgoing.
It was more than he had ever discovered by believing in his religion’s beliefs.
It was more than he had ever unearthed on his own.
And, it was infinitely more than anyone else had ever been able to give to him.

So what was this “Kingdom of God?”

The Kingdom of God

Oh, the church wants you to believe it was the Church itself.

Yea, right! You want to believe that nonsense? Have at it! Go ahead and sing, “Because I’m happy…clap along” to hymn number…but then, if you’ve not found that traditional worship makes you very happy, why not try our contemporary worship service? That’ll do it for you. After all, even Jesus thought hymns sucked.

Enjoy the search.

Others will tell you the “kingdom” is where we’re going! Ah! That’s a nice illusion. Since we cannot find it here, maybe it’s there! So we build fantasy kingdoms in our illusions of the after life. We make authors into millionaires reading their fantasies of Heaven Is For Real! in hopes maybe it really is.

When you’ve finally exhausted yourself in the search for what is NOT searchable or findable, I have some good news for you. There is really no need to search. You cannot find what is not lost. Give up the fanciful looking, hoping, seeking, desiring, or worse, stop the “I’m certain we’ve found it” charade – that’s the worst sort of delusion, isn’t it?

People only shout and sing “I’ve found it” to silence the inner fear they haven’t! I’ve written about this, too, in The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God.

When you’re ready to end the pursuit, in that release, a new kind of faith is born in you. Not another belief system. No, for that, you’ll have to enroll in a religious instruction class to find out what you’re supposed to believe in order to be happy. What I’m talking about is surrender instead. But not “Surrender to the Lordship of Christ!”

Amen! That’ll do it. Whatever in heaven THAT means.

Nope, I’m pretty sure that’s just another illusion of control to gain what cannot be found, to claim what cannot be contained.

I’m talking about giving it all up instead. When you have decided there is no need to search any longer…to try harder and harder still…then, and only then, you’ll find yourself doing just as the man did in the parable Jesus told: He just quickly, but quietly, “proceeded to sell everything he owned to buy that field” (Matt. 13:44-46).

If you’re still looking for this field…well, you’re still looking for the field. You’ll settle for “because I’m happy…clap along if you feel…” kind of transitory happy, which you and I both know is like sitting before a nice, satisfying meal. It taste good for now, satisfies me now…but, dammit, I know I’m gonna be hungry again tomorrow. And, again, the next day. And, so goes the never-ending madness.

I suppose you’ll just have to wait until you stumble.

But the good news is…you will stumble.

I promise.