Essay 6 Promoting happiness

Challenges of Birth, Life and Death – Promoting happiness
Chapter 15 of Mysteries and Challenges of Birth, Life and Death


Rising and falling can be discerned in this world. There is a rising that can give you joy and gratitude, but in your wanderings here in matter have you ever known a joy, have you ever known a gratitude with was unqualified and was not followed by an inevitable decline? 

How is all this suffering experienced? Why is it borne and fought? Why does it carve such deep traces in the human being?
It happens through fire. All your experiences, every single experience, comes about through astral fire. It is that astral fire that enables the human being to live. It is also that astral fire than enables the mortal soul to live. The astral fire maintains the human I. If the human being takes pride in his I and places his I in the centre of everything he does, he proves that he lives by the infernal fire. The day will always disclose it. 

Catharose de Petri,The Living Word, chapter 38 

It is nice to be happy. Countless surveys show that happy people are healthier, have better relationships, have a higher income, cope better with stress, recover faster from illness and major events and live longer. You can do a lot to promote your own happiness. Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the world’s leading happiness researchers, concludes from studies that the differences in happiness experienced by people can for be explained 50 percent from hereditary factors, 10 percent from circumstances and 40 percent from the activities that they undertake. 

What is happiness actually? And what can we do to be happy? Such questions have long been the subject of intense thought, by “common people”, by great philosophers, by enlightened prophets of all kinds of religions, and by scientists who have made human happiness their field of research. Traditional psychology has formerly been aimed at discovering, managing and healing psychological difficulties related for instance to personality disorders, depression, burnout and relationship problems. In the last decade of the last century, the trend of positive psychology came to the fore strongly. The emphasis therein is laid on positive experiences that people can have, such as happiness, hope and love, and on positive traits such as perseverance, vitality and wisdom. 

The American psychologist Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, distinguishes the following three domains of happiness that are also considered aspects of the art of living (see image 18):

  1. the pleasant life: experiencing positive feelings and satisfaction; 
  2. the involved life: personal fulfillment experienced by developing and using talents; 
  3. the meaningful life: experiencing joy by contributing to something that transcends one’s own person, to a larger whole.

Where these three domains overlap one could speak of the optimum experience. However, practice also teaches that people who lead a pleasant, involved and meaningful life can be unhappy. We can think of the author of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes. That king of Jerusalem had everything for which a human being could wish, he used all his talents to contribute to the well-being of his countrymen. Yet he was not happy. Our thoughts can also go to famous and successful artists, who had everything they wanted but were not happy, and some of them even ended their lives prematurely. 

Personal search 

Perhaps we should be grateful if we don’t feel happy even though we have everything, because that feeling can encourage us to give meaning to our lives in a different way: not aimed primarily at changing external circumstances, but at changing of our own inner self. The feeling of existential discontentment can be the driving force for a quest, a personal search for sense and meaning that can reach fulfilment in a connection with the vertical dimension, with the universal Brotherhood or with God, in accordance with the promise: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you’ (Matthew 7:7). 

Knowledge and information can certainly be valuable on that inner journey, but you can also drown in it, as is conveyed in the following narration. 

I roamed the world as a stranger and suffered patiently under tyranny, deception, and hypocrisy. I was looking for a person and I did not find whom I longed for. That is why I decided to sail out again on the Academic Sea, although it had often caused me much damage. I boarded the vessel Fantasy, left the port with many others and exposed my life to the thousands of dangers associated with the desire for knowledge. After a short time, violent storms of envy and slander started. The ship capsized and sank. Few escaped death and I alone, without a single companion, was washed onto the shores of to a small island. 

I liked everything here, except myself. While I let my shirt, the only one garment that was saved from the shipwreck, to dry in the rays of the morning sun, suddenly a resident of the island, one of the many guards, came to me. 

Full of pity he inquired about the disasters that happened to me and said: “Happy are you, whose fate it has been, after being thrown to shore after such a serious shipwreck. ” I only answered: “Thank God! Glory to God!” Then I asked what luck had settled on the island, and got the answer: “That which is usually very unfortunate in this world. ”’ 

This text is a summary of the beginning of the work named Christianopolis written in 1619 by Johann Valentin Andreae, co-author of the manifestos of the classic rosicrucians. The I-figure suffers because he is trapped in the web of fate, a complicated network of cross-linked karmic threads that originated in previous states of existence of his microcosm and many other microcosms. Everywhere he experiences exploitation, untruthfulness and deception. This seeker for liberation is full of desire for a human being: his deepest self. 

He wants to know who he is, for what reason everything exists and what he can do best. He has experienced that he does not get to know himself by just meditating, but especially by acting consciously. Acting effectively in a world that is constantly developing, constantly changing, requires new knowledge and skills: lifelong learning. The I-figure has already sailed and wandered a lot on the Academic Sea of limited human knowledge, which has frequently caused him damage. However he does not give up and embarks on the vessel Fantasy, where the crew and passengers base their creative fiction on incorrect assumptions. 

Once on the Academic Sea, therefore in the karmic web of fate, everyone tries to improve their own position in that web at the expense of others. It does not occur to them that they can find their true happiness elsewhere, outside of the web in which they are trapped. That is why violent storms of envy and slander start, causing the ship to capsize and sink. Only the I-figure manages to reach the beach of a small island with a city where imperishable happiness can be experienced: Christianopolis. 


Christianopolis is the city of Christ, a metaphor for a community whose members follow the path of the Christian mysteries in interaction with the universal Brotherhood. People who have suffered a symbolic shipwreck in their lives and, after fiercely floundering to keep their heads above water, arrive dripping wet and dead tired in Christianopolis, are surprised and delighted with the happiness they encounter and experience there. It is a happiness with a completely different signature than the happiness of the world. 

That happiness is something other than just pleasure, something other than extraordinary pleasant coincidence and something other than success. It arises from a certain state of consciousness and a corresponding state of life. On the island, the I-figure is confronted with his own imperfections and therefore writes: I liked everything here, except myself. 

The most important building is located in the center of Christianopolis: a round temple. In the city there is no struggle for personal acquisition of possessions, power and fame, but a joint effort is made for the sanctification and spiritualisation of oneself and humanity. Attention is not focused primarily on self-maintenance and external matters, in accordance with the instruction from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: 

Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof ’ (Matthew 6:31-34). 

The happiness experienced by the inhabitants of Christianopolis is considered extremely boring and unattractive by many other people; it is about a happiness that is seen in the world as very unfortunate. What kind of happiness is that? The psalmist begins his text with a poem about the joy that is experienced by the person who attunes to God and is often incomprehensible to others: 

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper’ (Psalm 1:1-3). 

We are dealing here with a beatification : a promise of joy is made to someone who maintains a relationship with the divine hierarchy after having first gone through many struggles. In Matthew 5, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount – also called the Constitution of Happiness – we read eight beatitudes from Jesus.

The first six of them are fairly easy to understand, but the last two are paradoxical because on the one hand there is a great inner joy and on the other hand a strong rejection by fellow human beings is experienced. The seventh and eighth beatitudes of Jesus are: 

Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you’ (Matthew 5:10-12). 

Great spiritual teachers such as Socrates, John the Baptist, and Jesus expressed love and wisdom that gave them and their students much joy, but were experienced as threatening by people who were not yet inwardly ready for it. Through the work of these spiritual giants, the errors and untruths of the listeners were unveiled. Some of them were jealous of the humble exaltation, the inner power and the great public interest in these prophets, and therefore they began to persecute them. 

Socrates had to drink the poisoned cup for his service. John the Baptist was beheaded and Jesus was crucified. Fortunately in our humane society we need no longer fear such horrendous executions as a result of faith, but there is a good chance that we will face friction, struggles and conflicts with loved ones as we go the spiritual path. 

We can be thankful that in our society we are allowed to believe, do and propagate what we want as long as we do not harm others and abide by civil laws. Your faith and your beliefs will not bring you into conflict with government organizations or other authorities, but if you follow the path, it will undeniably affect your relationships with your life partner, family members and friends. 

If you are heading in the direction of the lost paradise, you change. Past interests diminish or disappear and you make time, for example, to read, to be silent and to visit gatherings where your inner self is nourished. You might stop using alcohol and other drugs because you know that they are darkening your consciousness and contaminating your body cannot possibly go along with expanding your consciousness in a spiritual sense. Maybe you stop eating meat, poultry and fish because you do not want to keep your vibration unnecessarily low and you do not want fellow creatures to be fattened and killed for your culinary preferences. 

Life partner 

If you have a life partner, he or she might be surprised by the changes in you. It is possible that they will be experienced as a threat to the relationship. That can lead to collisions, especially if your partner has no interest in going the road you have chosen. There may also be jealousy with your partner and fear of losing you to another partner in the circles you are entering. 

As soon as a thriving relationship in whatever form is no longer maintained, it weakens and withers. Of course it is beautiful if two partners can go the same spiritual path together, but experience shows that it is quite possible that one of the partners will go the path and the other will not. A prerequisite is that the partners continue to love each other, communicate openly and honestly, make time for each other and both adhere to joint agreements. 

In a large majority of love relationships it is about male-female relationships because we are biologically programmed to propagate ourselves. There is also the power of attraction between men and women because they discover qualities in the opposite sex that they themselves have to a lesser extent, and can thus realise a fruitful cooperation. This cooperation between men and women of course extends far beyond the preservation of the human species and is not limited to love relationships. The interaction between men and women enables them to grow as personalities and to develop soul qualities. At the highest level, joyful cooperation between men and women leads to the restoration of the cosmic duality in their own microcosms and thus it also contributes to that unification in other microcosms. 

The distinction between men and women exists only in the dimensions of the body and personality. In the dimensions of the soul and the spirit, there is no separation of the sexes. Both sexes are equivalent and both have male and female traits. Masculine is understood to mean creative, positive, yang; feminine is characterised with words such as receiving, negative and yin. The male and female aspects are usually distributed according to a general pattern over the different views of the personality. This is known as the inversely proportional polarization and is shown schematically in image 19. 

The physical body of the man is positively polarised and that of the woman negatively. A male body is usually better suited for doing heavy physical work, and men are almost always better in in strength and endurance sports than women. 

With the etheric body, the situation is reversed: the etheric body of the woman is positively polarised and that of the man negatively. Women are generally better able than men to gauge feelings of themselves and others. This is understandable from an evolutionary point of view because it is important for a mother to sense the condition of her children, also from a distance. For men who in the distant past had to defend their families against robbers and predators, empathy for the intruders was a less desirable characteristic. 

The man’s astral body is positively polarised and that of the woman negatively. In the practice of life we recognise this in the perception that men are often guided by one specific desire that they cherish and from which they live, while women can experi- ence multiple desires at the same time, also indefinable ones. 

The woman’s mental body is positively polarised: she bases her thoughts mainly on combining existing thoughts and concepts. The mental body of the man is negatively polarised. This means that he is generally more open to receiving new and original thoughts than women. In natural science we see that it is mainly men who come up with completely new theories. 

In society, relationships between the so-called LGBT persons become increasingly accepted and acknowledged. This abbreviation refers to lesbian women, gay men, bisexual persons and trans-gender persons. 

A love relationship in whatever form can contribute to the happiness of the partners and offers them opportunities to polish each other, to grow and develop inwardly together, to be each other’s guru. If a third partner is added with whom a sexual relationship is started, energy will leak out of the original relationship, sadness will often arise and it will be hard to repair the breach of trust. Moreover, with every sexual contact a strong energetic bond is created that has a disruptive effect if there is no question of a lasting love relationship. 

Conflicts in a love relationship are not wrong in themselves because they make things clear. Relationships can be deepened by such conflicts, because if all goes well, ‘fighting is stitching’. It is a misconception to believe that you need someone else to be happy. As soon as you realise that you don’t need anyone else to complete you, everyone makes you complete. It is not another person’s job to love you. That is your own task, and that applies to all dimensions of yourself: body, personality, soul and spirit. 

Love relationships can deteriorate and become prisons in which the life energy no longer flows and the two partners block each other’s development. Then it is important to bring new life into the relationship, possibly with some support in the form of relationship therapy; or continue the relationship in a different form, for example as a friendship; or to break it up completely. Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) wrote in this connection: ‘One must respect marriage as long as it is a purgatory, but dissolve it if it becomes hell’. 

It is written about the philosopher Socrates that he was married to Xantippe, an awkward and moody woman who was constantly nagging and made life difficult for him. Some researchers claim that this twist is unfriendly to women and that Xantippe might actually be an intelligent and self-confident woman, worried about her husband who talked to everyone in Athens, thus neglecting material care for his family. 


So we come to another important domain in life that can also contribute to happiness: work. Work is needed to guide social life in the sensory world in the right direction. It gives structure to the day and offers people many opportunities to develop themselves further. The French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) wrote that labor frees us from three major disasters: boredom, vice and poverty. People are working in order to: 

  1. be able to live from the income;
  2. have fun and be able to do nice things; 
  3. build and strengthen a personal identity; 
  4. maintain contacts with fellow human beings; 
  5. be active creatively; 
  6. gain new insights and knowledge; 
  7. contribute to the whole.

In general, people are happier when several of these aspects are applicable. The seven points correspond to the chakras and can definitely also be experienced outside paid work. It is best if the work is based on an intrinsic motivation, if it is done by someone who likes to do it from within. Then work becomes visualised love. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. 

Some employers and managers seem to have misunderstood the moral of the goose with the golden egg. In that fable, a poor farmer has a goose that completely unexpectedly lays a golden egg. The farmer is overjoyed because suddenly he is rich. After that gratifying event, the goose then lays a golden egg every day! The farmer begins to get used to it and gradually his impatience and greed become stronger. At a certain moment he cannot restrain himself and slaughters the goose to be able to remove all the golden eggs at once. However, he finds nothing and has killed his most valuable unit of production. 

In some organizations, the targets and the workload are so high that employees, symbolised by the goose, suffer from physical or psychological work-related disorders that cause them to be less valuable, as symbolised by the golden eggs. Of course there are also many more causes for dissatisfaction at work, such as poor management, alienation, conflicts and in certain professions confrontation with human misery. 

Another frequent problem is that employees have too many different tasks, causing them to fragment their attention and thus constantly experience anxiety. They experience very little flow in their job. Flow is a pleasant state of consciousness in which a person is completely absorbed in his or her activities. This concept of flow has been developed and worked out by the American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is also a founder of positive psychology. According to him, we can speak of flow when a total of eight characteristics formulated by him apply. A person experiences flow when he:

    • has a clear purpose 
    • can focus and work attentively 
    • is completely absorbed in the activity and forgets himself 
    • loses the sense of time 
    • receives direct feedback, so that success and failure become immediately clear and one’s own actions can be based on that 
    • experiences the activity as a challenge that is just not too difficult to execute successfully 
    • has the feeling of personal control over the situation or activity 
    • likes the activity, intrinsically rewarding


Such a list can be valuable to promote personal happiness. But there is, as with other methods of promoting happiness, a pitfall, because the pursuit of happiness does not make a person happier, but rather unhappy. Happiness cannot be enforced. It is a ‘by-product’ that comes and goes. If it is there, we can rejoice in it. If it is not there, we must accept that, because we know that changes between polarities are inherent to the world we live in and that they are driving us towards spiritual awareness and renewal. The British poet and visual artist William Blake (1757- 1827) formulates this idea as follows: ‘He who binds to himself a joy does the winged life destroy; but he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity’s sun rise’.

We can experience that happiness does not make us grateful, but that our gratitude makes us happy. Our sense of well-being is largely determined by the contents of our consciousness and by our ability to control our thinking. Positive thoughts, concentrated thoughts and thoughts in which our self plays no role make us happier than negative thoughts, erring thoughts and thoughts about ourself. The less we care about our own happiness, the more happiness we can experience. Catharose de Petri puts it this way: ‘Self-forgetting service to others is the safest and happiest way to God’. 

If you wish to be an artist of life in a Gnostic-Christian sense, then you need to let the raw stone that is you be turned into a cubic stone through the power of Christ. Then you can be inserted as a living stone in the collective, spiritual temple, in accordance with the Bible text: ‘Ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 2:4-5). 

We can use the results of scientific research on happiness during our spiritual journey. At the same time, it is worth realising that all such knowledge relates exclusively to the personality and is therefore very limited. In authentic spiritual traditions, happiness has always been and still is associated with the soul. Even today we can be guided by knowledge about happiness that was already known in ancient mystery schools. 

The guidelines that Pythagoras formulated in the fifth century B.C. for his students of the mysteries are a good example. That is why we conclude this essay with the following section from the verses of Pythagoras, verses 11 to 46. 

‘Do nothing evil, neither in the presence of others, nor privately; but above all things respect thyself.
In the next place, observe justice in thy actions and in thy words. 

And accustom not thyself to behave thyself in any thing without rule, and without reason.
But always make this reflection, that it is ordained by destiny that all men shall die. 

And that the goods of fortune are uncertain; and that as they may be acquired, so may they likewise be lost.
Concerning all the calamities that men suffer by divine fortune, support with patience thy lot, be it what it may, and never repine at it. 

But endeavour what thou canst to remedy it.
And consider that fate does not send the greatest portion of these misfortunes to good men.
There are among men many sorts of reasonings, good and bad; admire them not too easily, nor reject them.
But if falsehoods be advanced, hear them with mildness, and arm thyself with patience.
Observe well, on every occasion, what I am going to tell thee:
Let no man either by his words, or by his deeds, ever seduce thee. Nor entice thee to say or to do what is not profitable for thyself. Consult and deliberate before thou act, that thou mayest not commit foolish actions.
For it is the part of a miserable man to speak and to act without reflection.
But do that which will not afflict thee afterwards, nor oblige thee to repentance.
Never do anything which thou dost not understand.
But learn all thou ought’st to know, and by that means thou wilt lead a very pleasant life.
In no wise neglect the health of thy body; but give it drink and meat in due measure, and also the exercise of which it has need.
Now by measure I mean what will not incommode thee.
Accustom thyself to a way of living that is neat and decent without luxury. 

Avoid all things that will occasion envy.
And be not prodigal out of season, like one who knows not what is decent and honourable.
Neither be covetous nor niggardly; a due measure is excellent in the- se things. Do only the things that cannot hurt thee, and deliberate before thou dost them.
Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids, after thy going to bed,
Till thou hast examined by thy reason all thy actions of the day. Wherein have I done amiss? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done?
If in this examination thou find that thou hast done amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it; and if thou hast done any good, rejoice. Practise thoroughly all these things; meditate on them well; thou oughtest to love them with all thy heart.
Tis they that will put thee in the way of divine virtue.’