A Virtuous or Spiritual Life: All Seriousness and No Fun?

What do I mean by “a virtuous or spiritual life”?  I’m not here addressing holy sisters, priests, monks, apostles, or full-time religious devotees. Instead, I’m talking about most people — those who want to live a good, productive life in keeping with their dreams, goals and the spiritual and moral/ethical values they hold dear.  In other words, possibly you! 

So, perhaps you’ve wondered, to live the best life I am capable of, must I have a serious attitude and engage in serious endeavors most of the time? When I engage in some light diversion is it an omission or a transgression? In order to stay on the straight and narrow and keep going with my projects and purposeful activities, must I omit pleasure? Would seeking to enjoy myself and have fun be a betrayal of my goals and purposes?

Some of the most revered spiritual leaders teach that a light heart and capacity for enjoyment and pleasure are part of a balanced life. The Dalai Lama, one of our greatest modern spiritual leaders, sets such an example, as he can often be observed to be smiling and laughing as he engages with others.

However, in the following passage, philosopher and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard puts these concepts in the clearest perspective. This is my favorite statement about the human need for pleasure:

There is therefore a necessity for pleasure, for working, as happiness can be defined, toward known goals over not unknowable obstacles.  And the necessity for pleasure is such that a great deal of pain can be borne to attain it.  Pleasure is the positive commodity.  It is enjoyment of work, contemplation of deeds well done; it is a good book or a good friend; it is taking all the skin off one’s knees climbing the Matterhorn; it is hearing the kid first say daddy; it is a brawl on the Bund at Shanghai or the whistle of amour from a doorway; it’s adventure and hope and enthusiasm and “someday I’ll learn to paint”; it’s eating a good meal or kissing a pretty girl or playing a stiff game of bluff on the stock exchange. It’s what Man does that he enjoys doing; it’s what Man does that he enjoys contemplating; it’s what Man does that he enjoys remembering; and it may be just the talk of things he knows he’ll never do.Man will endure a lot of pain to obtain a little pleasure. Out in the laboratory of the world, it takes very little time to confirm that.

And how does necessity fit this picture? There is a necessity for pleasure, a necessity as live and quivering and vital as the human heart itself. . . . The creative, the constructive, the beautiful, the harmonious, the adventurous, yes, and even escape from the maw of oblivion, these things are pleasure and these things are necessity.

from Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, by L. Ron Hubbard, (c) 1950, 2007 L. Ron Hubbard Library

I recommend you get this book so you see the entire context.

Have a day filled with good cheer!
D.E. Lamont