The Road to True Happiness
1. The end of feeling secure
Is there anyone for whom the daily existence is absolutely stable, completely happy? If a person were to answer this question honestly and sincerely on the basis of his own experience or that of others it would have to be: “No!” People are not happy. They are sometimes happier than at other times, but it is not any stable feeling of security or state of happiness.
This instability finds expression in as many ways as there are people. It can start as early as childhood. A little child may be born to good and loving parents, nursed and cared for under the most wonderful conditions and thus apparently have the very best possibilities for experiencing a happy childhood and start in life. But suddenly the mother dies, and the father remarries; and with the new stepmother conditions in the home are changed. The time before the mother died will seem as a lost happiness for the child; it cannot develop a good and confident relationship with it’s new mother and it feels that it’s security in life is gone. The atmosphere in the home has been poisoned. There may be many reasons for this. It may not be the fault of the stepmother. For the child it may mean a certain distortion of its attitude towards life, a negativity that will follow it the rest of its life, if it is unable to overcome it. There are many other ways one may lose the feeling of security and happiness in childhood. When people view their childhood as an especially secure and happy period of their life, it is often because it stands out as a radiant contrast to events in their later life, with insecurity, pain and disappointment.
2. No man is immune to unhappiness
Many people feel security and happiness for a while when they are in love, engaged or on their honeymoon. This happiness may be of shorter or longer duration. but then it may break down. The cause may be death, illness or an accident, or one partner falling in love with someone else, or something else entirely. No matter what the cause, the feeling of security and happiness is gone. Catastrophe, sorrow and pain have taken its place. These factors are often followed by fear and mistrust of everything and every one and disappointment in finding that the happiness could not last. Older people who have had a relatively happy existence may also be hit by grief and misfortune in their old age. It hits much harder if that person has led a pampered existence.
Who can be sure that he is completely invulnerable, completely tree of or immune to misfortune? No one can be sure. Some think that wealth and power protect them and they fight to attain these benefits. But sooner or later they come to the realization that happiness cannot be purchased and that the one who seems powerful, confident and great is exactly as powerless as everyone else in life’s manifestation of fate. The millionaires and billionaires and whoever in other ways are the “great people” of the world must also experience the feeling of insecurity, e.g. by the fear of suddenly no longer being great and of losing their power and position. The lifestyle of such people often exposes them to fatal illnesses much more easily than people who cannot afford to eat and drink so much. Their idleness or contrarily their overexertion to stay on top causes bad nerves, also producing illness. Finally wealth and power cannot relieve anybody of sorrows experienced in relations with family and friends, who die suddenly, unrequited love, disappointment over the children and much more. The wealthy have their sorrows and worries and the less well off as well as the poor have theirs. Some have the misfortune as a sudden breakdown, others slide in to it little by little, but no one escapes experiencing it in some way.
3. The apparent injustice of life
But what about people who consider themselves saved or holy? Are they an exception? The exception is not that they avoid misfortune, sorrow and suffering. Even if they go to church every Sunday, take communion regularly and in other ways follow the dogma and prescriptions of a church, a sect or religion they are still as likely to be among the patients in the hospitals as their “unsaved” or “sinful” fellow citizens. And does not even a believer in time of distress say: “Why should this happen to me?” He thought that he could feel secure in his “holiness”, but he experienced something quite different. And then the question is if he can avoid becoming bitter.
Life would be most unjust, as many people think it is, if belonging to a certain race, a faith, a social group, a particular age group or sex would predestine some people to be happier than others. But that is because they see and evaluate conditions from a momentary situation, the causes and effects of which they do not know. The world is not unjust! No man experiences more suffering, pain and sorrow than any other, even though it may appear so. To understand this is a part of the road to lasting happiness. But there is more to it than that! Is it really possible for man to achieve an existence without sorrow and suffering, without disappointment and bitterness, without sickness, privation or pain? Yes, it is possible! And it is also possible for the individual to start right now to create that condition, i.e. to create the causes that will effect such a condition sometime in the future.
4. A growing knowledge of cause and effect
Terrestrial man in general and researchers in particular know a great deal about the relationship between cause and effect. It is just such knowledge that helps separate terrestrial humanity from the animals. But terrestrial man’s knowledge of cause-and effect-relationships - also in regard to scientific knowledge - is still very scant. It is concentrated in small local areas and in the relationship to physical matter. It is, how ever, a start, and when man has had enough experience, it will go far, indeed, it will actually lead him to the experience of true happiness.
It may sound strange, when one thinks of the same humanity’s present situation when wars, revolutions, abuse of power, murder, crimes and all kinds of mental aberration are more rampant than at any time in history. But who has created the cause of these conditions? Terrestrial human beings themselves have done it. And who is capable of creating causes that will result in completely different and new conditions? Also terrestrial human beings themselves. But one cannot expect them to do it. One cannot expect that the Russians, Americans, Chinese or any other people suddenly will be interested only in creating peace. No, one cannot, even though the statesmen and politicians say that that is what they want. But is the situation hopeless then? No, there is not only hope, there is certainty that mankind will emerge from all its misfortune and pain and suffering. People in general are just not able to see it and know what they should do; they are still without knowledge of the laws of life and thus of the causes that will bring the peace and happiness as effects. They have certainly been told, not least by Christ who, with his life and his death and with his example has shown them what is the way, the truth and the life. But they did not understand him. They built up a religion of dogma and ceremony with the doctrine of atonement, salvation and happiness after death for the believers, and eternal damnation and the torment of hell for the infidels. No one can be blamed for this. For human beings must act on the basis of their understanding, knowledge and insight. They must act according to the stage of development at which they have arrived. They cannot think and act any differently. But that does not mean that Christianity has not had tremendous significance for the development of mankind, especially here in the West.
5. Christianity and people of our time
When one looks at the fact that the so-called Christian nations have been the most ingenious warriors of the world, one cannot blame someone who has started to think about things and conditions in life, for having the view that Christianity has been in vain. It is not exactly a feeling of security and happiness that the Christian peoples have created for others, i.e. they have not created the causes that would result in happiness and a feeling of security. But concurrent with the Western development of war machinery and violent domination by which the people of other continents were made slaves or partially eradicated, something else developed in the West. This is so far the greatest result of Christianity, even though it is not immediately apparent. It is the development of humane feelings in the individual people and the creation of humanistic enterprises in all the states and nations. Neither the humane and loving individuals nor the humane institutions, it is true, are numerous or strong enough to exert a decisive influence on the world situation. But they are on their way. And Christianity has absolutely not ended its influence; on the contrary, it is now really going to work, because more people have matured to grasp its importance and to combine it with their own way of living.
But is Christianity formulated in such a way that humanely inclined people in the present and in the future can be inspired by its spiritual content and world of ideas? No, the real content of Christianity is disguised or hidden behind an outer form that was created by the patriarchs and theologians of ancient and medieval times. This form does absolutely not suit people of today, who are influenced by the scientific and technical development. They have also become so materialistic in all areas that they have a difficult time imagining what spirit really is. But this obstacle for the further development of Christianity is about to be removed for a science of spirit. A spiritual science is being created, through which terrestrial man will obtain a much greater overview of the relationship between cause and effect. As he through spiritual science develops insight into the causes of the present situation of humanity. man can also acquire the knowledge of how it can be changed in the long term. And what is very important — he will learn to understand that the individual, humanely thinking human being can actually do something to change the world situation and that he does not have to wait for all the others to do it.
6. The business principle seen in two perspectives
One of the bearing principles of life in our time is the business principle. This principle has been of enormous importance for the development of the entire western civilization and culture. The business principle is also an expression of an understanding of the relationship between cause and effect. The businessman learns that if certain causes have such effects his business pays. The same businessman, however, is often very materialistically inclined and so egotistical that he only thinks of whether the business at this very moment is profitable for him. He may think only very little or not at all that it may harm, indeed may even be an irreplaceable loss to the other party. There fore this so-called businessman is absolutely not a businessman at all, if we observe him in a larger perspective, a cosmic perspective. Why not? Because he is instrumental in creating a cause that some time in the future will have the following effects on him: irreplaceable loss, bankruptcy or another form of crash or breakdown. What in a small local perspective “pays”, does absolutely not pay in reality and in the long run. The entire business world is therefore, as it manifests itself today, preparing its own destruction. But the terrestrial human beings do not know the connection between cause and effect in the long term. And how can they acquire such knowledge? Even if a spiritual science that can explain it is created, most people do not know it and may not even want to know it.
Only few people are interested in spiritual science and in the knowledge of the laws of life. It will not remain so in the future. And what will be the driving force? Misfortune, feelings of insecurity, suffering, pain and all the apparently insurmountable difficulties to which people are exposed.
The cosmic structure of the business principle consists of giving equal value for equal value, an exchange to the advantage of both parties. Even though it appears foolish to a modern business man, it is, however, also where business is concerned, better to give than to take, as Christ said. So it must be emphasized that until one acquires that attitude in the business world as well as in life in general, one will not be able to experience true happiness. In our time we champion the principle: it is better to take than to give; it is also called profit, and even though a lot of good and respectable business exists, the tendency is more and more in the direction that a few — whether they be people or states — will possess the means and the power and will exploit the many, who are more or less the dispossessed. This is not a criticism of business people but a characterisation and analysis of the world situation. For the states are also businesses that are to be run for profit, and wars are one of the means that are used when assets are at stake.
7. Misfortune and pain are a Golgotha process
What is it that people have sown through an egotistical, short-sighted exploitation of the business principle? They have sown something that absolutely does not pay. And this they have to learn. And they can learn this only by experiencing the effects of their actions, and that is what they are doing now. People must learn what pays for mankind and not just for the moment, but in the long run. Some people have started to acquire such knowledge. They are, among others, those who could accept the ethical and love oriented content of religion without caring significantly about the limitations of the outer form. But why were some people more receptive than others? Indeed, why was one robber on Golgotha open and positive towards Christ, and the other not? Because the first had learned from life and the suffering and the misfortune that had developed sympathy and love in his mind, while the other was still tough and hardened. All of mankind is actually like the two robbers on each side of Christ. Some more like the one, others more like the other. And all of humanity is also crucified. It is a Golgotha process that we see when we view a dark fate. Man’s physical body is the “cross” on which his dark consciousness is being destroyed. It is those dark tendencies that must succumb by being nailed to the cross. That the “cross” is flesh and blood, of animal nature, does not alter the principle. All misfortune, suffering, pain, sorrow and disappointment that a person is exposed to in the physical world is that person’s “crucifixion”. It is not punishment from an angry god and it is not the result of chance. It is everything from the person’s past that he or she at the time thought would “pay”, which now turns out not to. But through this experience, this person will gradually learn what in human terms does pay, and eventually do it. It is an education in becoming human. Through Christ and the two robbers mankind has been given three examples of how a crucifixion can be borne by people on three different stages on the road of life. First the “evil” robber. He is meeting an effect of his deeds; but he is still hardened and full of scorn and mockery towards Christ. But he is not evil, he is ignorant and primitive. He has started the education where he is going to learn what in human terms will pay. The “good” robber is good because he has already learned a great deal. Indeed, so much that he can say to the other: “We are receiving the due reward for our deeds, but this man (Christ) has done nothing wrong”. This robber is a being who is well on his way on the road to true happiness, even though he is still far from having reached it. The being on the middle cross has reached it. And it is right what the robber says about him: “This man has done nothing wrong”. For Christ the crucifixion was not instruction in what cosmically and humanly pays. He knew that.
8. Happiness and world redemption
His kingdom was not of this world where there is sorrow, disappointment, sickness, hardship and all kinds of misery. He had all that far behind him. Now it was his mission to show terrestrial mankind that happiness, for which it longs so much, is achieved only by a certain form of behaviour that creates such causes and effects that are a joy, a benefit and a blessing for its surroundings. It was not his mission to appease an angry god and atone for the “sins” of mankind. All so-called sin is lack of knowledge of cause and effect and of other cosmic laws; and it is surely not sinful to be ignorant. Christ could therefore say of his persecutors and his executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. The “redemption” of the world does not consist of freeing people from the effect of their faulty way of being through divine ”grace”. Then they would never become better or wiser; it would mean a stop in their development; it would be most unkind. And as the Godhead is the culmination of love he does not allow any beings to be “saved” by his “grace” and others to be “lost” by his “anger”.
All knowledge is the effect of actions and all real wise and holy men and women who have lived on this earth have attained their insight and ability to love through the experiences of suffering in many physical lives. They have learned what humanly pays. But when all living beings, through their experiences of cause and effect, will reach the greatest possible development of their consciousness, the greatest possible knowledge and the most exalted artistic talent, why do they need Christ? Why did he have to suffer death on the cross for the sake of mankind? Because mankind had to have an example in view; a person, who with his own life showed how it is possible to renounce those realities or causes of which darkness is the effect. How he, even though he meets the darkness, does not respond with darkness, but on the contrary with his practical manner of being, expresses such a love for everything and everybody that the nearness of God is felt not only in the light but also in the darkness. “You shall love those who hate and persecute you”, said Christ and he showed that this was possible. He expressed clearly, that mankind’s acquisition of the behaviour and way of being of this world redeemer as its one and only “salvation”, with the words: “And he who does not bear his cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple”.
9. The continuation of Christianity
Every single human being experiences, as previously mentioned, a crucifixion when he or she is exposed to misery, adversity, pain, disappointment, sickness and defeat in one form or another. And then the question is: how does he react to what is happening? In most cases the reaction is: bitterness, depression or anger. But Christ did not react that way. True, he did cry out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That was a state of mind that he overcame in the very next moment. He died without anything negative whatsoever in his mind. But that is impossible, people say. He could do that, but others cannot. Therefore dogmas have been created to the effect that he took on the “sins” of man, so one just had to believe, to convert, to repent one’s sins etc. One made Christ the scapegoat instead of a model for human behaviour, because one thought that the model was far too remote from the common man. But in the first place a model must be perfect, and in the second place quite a number of people now are not as remote from the model as people were at the time of Christ. Thirdly, Christianity as a world impulse was not concluded with the life and death of Christ on this planet. He showed us by his manner of being, and with his pronouncements, his parables and the sermon on the mount, he gave expression for the great answers in life. And now when humanity is gradually beginning to become sufficiently mature, the impulse continues in such a way that a spiritual science gives the analyses of the great truths that Christ brought us.
It has become my mission to give humanity a series of analyses that together form a world picture, a revelation of the laws of life and the divine world plan. And this cosmology is at the same time a continuation of physical science and its limited overview of cause and effect relationships. And it is an education in what, from a humane point of view, pays and a disclaimer of the business principle as it is practised in our day. Cosmology is not to be a fashion movement that spreads with great speed across the world. It will spread steadily and quietly from person to person in the coming time, to the people that need it.
10. A new attitude to life
And who needs spiritual science? It is those people in whose consciousness sorrow, suffering and disappointment have awakened sympathy for others who have difficulties. That is, people whose feelings have developed to an ability to love not just one being of the opposite sex but the beings in the surroundings altogether. These feelings do not make them sentimental because at the same time their ability to think and acquire an overview of cause and effect has also developed. These people have matured sufficiently to think logically not only in physical but also in spiritual fields. And there will be more and more of such people in the future. This will result in a change of course in the scientific direction in the mental and spiritual fields. However, it is not a science reserved for people with a certain education. The people who are receptive to cosmic logic are the people that life itself has educated. They are those who have been through great difficulties and have started to feel what absolutely does not pay.
A new form of security will grow in the minds of these people. They will no longer fear death for they will learn that there is no death, only a change from one condition to another, a transformation through reincarnation or rebirth, which in itself is a development. And this development will, in time, lead man to a condition that is true happiness, as he will be devoid of the feeling of insecurity, of disappointment and of all forms of misery that currently plague humanity of our time. This coming condition will be achieved neither through miracles nor through “atonement” of an angry God. The Godhead is the first to know that no being at the moment can be any different than it is. People will acquire this knowledge. And it will help them to forgive their neighbour and not demand that he should think or act based on experience that he has not yet had. But when it is against oneself that “injustice” is done? Then it means something to have understood the law of cause and effect in the perspective of the formation of fate and of reincarnation. When one knows that nothing else can happen to one than that to which one is oneself the ultimate cause, and that one in this or a prior incarnation has oneself sown the fate that one is now reaping, then there is no one to be angry at. The others one previously criticized and hated, despise and scorned are seen as tools used by providence, so that one reaps, through them, as one has sown. Not as punishment, but as instruction and education in what pays and what does not pay, if one wants to become human. Happiness is achieved little by little through the transformation that occurs in the human being’s mind. For real happiness is a state of mind independent of outer circumstances.
11. From “crucifixion” to “resurrection”
The history of terrestrial man is really a history of the crucifixion, because every time a human being incarnates anew in physical matter or gets a new physical body, its consciousness is “nailed” to the “cross” that the mentioned body constitutes. But could man not develop by just living in spiritual worlds without the physical incarnation? No, until man has really learned to think in accordance with the laws of life he must incarnate in physical matter because it is the only cosmic sphere in which it hurts to think wrongly. And it is this instruction and this education that eventually will teach him to think correctly. No part whatsoever of the adversity and the difficulties that you may meet has been caused by any one other than your self. That goes for sorrows and disappointments and it goes for sickness. But if you try to bear your fate with patience, where it cannot be changed, and work with yourself by changing your habits little by little in a more humane direction, you will notice how the feeling of security and happiness will surface from within yourself. Your happiness should not be dependent on another person’s attitude towards you, but on your own attitude toward that person and toward your surroundings altogether. You can gradually change your attitude from unwillingness, envy, jealousy, irritation, anger, bitterness and sourness to willingness and friendliness and understand that no one can be any different than they are at this moment and that it is not your concern to change them. Life will take care of that. What is your concern is to be instrumental in transforming yourself, and even though it is difficult, the model tor “the real human being” or “man in the image of God”, Christ, has also taught you a method that can he of great help — and that is prayer. Through your relationship with the eternal Godhead you will gradually achieve an inner feeling of security that will help you in any situation whatsoever. Then your “crucifixion” is about to become your “resurrection”, then your cruciform organism will be come a light centre of love, and happiness will be something created by your thoughts and actions and presence. It will be something you sow; and as a man sows, so shall he also reap.
From a lecture by Martinus at the Kosmos Holiday Camp (now Martinus Centre, Klint) on Sunday 6 July 1947
Manuscript for the lecture revised by Mogens Møller
Revision approved by Martinus
First published in the Danish edition of Kosmos no 21/1968
Original Danish title: Vejen til den sande lykke
Translation: John B. Nielsen, 1991
© Martinus Institut. May be reproduced stating the copyright and the source of the material.