I am still quoting from the book “The Meaning of Happiness” by Alan Watts and how gratitude leads to freedom and happiness.

“As a rule this gratitude demands expression in the ritual of worship, for some rituals were originally a dance of joy. At times the free man conducts his ritual of thanksgiving silently within himself; at other times he conducts it in churches and temples with other people, giving it every possible embellishment of music, song, and visual beauty, or physical icons, which are treated with great reverence. Iconoclasm may be necessary for bringing about the realization of freedom, but thereafter we find a new feeling for all religious symbols of life, of the universe, and of that ‘Love which moves the sun and the other stars.’”

“But there are those whom symbols can never satisfy, and moreover the gratitude of freedom is so overflowing that the forms of religion can never absorb it. This gratitude therefore demands expression in ‘works of love,’ which is to say morality, for the free man is moral because he wants to be, not because he thinks he ought to be moral. Without gratitude morality is a mere discipline which keeps society in a relatively stable condition until such time as men learn the freedom of love. But as a discipline it cannot teach love, and as a religious exercise it is no more than imitation of the free man’s behavior. Freedom as liberty to become all of oneself is amoral, but the gratitude which comes in response to this liberty is moral. Freedom is like a gem which shines with equal brilliance in all surroundings; it gleams as well in the mud as on velvet, but those who appreciate it do not let it lie in the mud and so arrange the conduct of their lives that the gem is given the most exquisite setting that can be made. But just as precious stones have to be dug out of the depths of the earth, so man has to realize his freedom in accepting the earthly depths of his own being.”

“Realization has done its work when one’s very life becomes an expression of gratitude, and this is the greatest happiness, for the meaning of happiness consists of three elements — freedom, gratitude, and the sense of wonder. These three elements can be present in the most ordinary lives; the free man is not necessarily a magician, a seer or a ‘mystic’ absorbed in ineffable states of consciousness. So many people make the mistake of looking in super-sensual realms for the happiness which they cannot find here on earth, searching for an occult ‘cosmic consciousness’ to release them from the tedious experiences of everyday life. It can never be said too often that the Great Illumination is not a fantastic, extraordinary state of consciousness remote from normal experience. It is every conceivable state of consciousness and of unconsciousness as well. The Great Illumination is the state of consciousness you have at this moment, and it is recognized as such only when you cease to run away from it and give it freedom to reveal itself. And having found freedom in so unexpected place, you will be filled with gratitude and then with wonder. For in its greatest form wonder is reverence for all forms of life.”

The Rev. Walter Williams has been serving the Lord since he graduated from seminary in 1966. He currently resides in McAlisterville. To comment on his column, send a letter to Standard Journal, 21 N. Arch St., Milton, Pa. 17847 or e-mail newsroom@standard-journal.com.

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