Happiness Revisited

A worship service by Mike Mallory

Presented at the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

On 5/1/11


 

Cast (in alphabetical order)

 

Joey Balcom – Apollo, Young Lad

Sara Lewis-Gosselin – Athena

Cee Lewars- Reporter, Reader 4, Reader 6

Marilyn Mallory – Demeter, Reader 5

Mike Mallory  -  Mike

Barbara Morrow – Patricia Churchland, Reader 2, Reader 8

Duncan Smith – Guitar

Jessica Townsend - Persephone

Scott Wessel-Estes – Zeus, Musician, Paul Churchland

Gudrun Wiebe – Washerwoman One, Reader 3

Donna Witte – Washerwoman Two, Reader 1, Reader 7

 


 

Individual Candle Lighting ©

 

Prelude -  Gayle Sells

 

Prologue

 

Reader 1

The prologue is from “The Golden Bough” by Sir James George Frazer.

 

Reader 2

 

We seem to move on a thin crust, which may at any moment be rent by the subterranean forces slumbering below.  From time to time a hollow murmur underground or a sudden spurt of flame into the air tells of what is going on beneath our feet.

 

Mike

Welcome to the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship this is the first day of May, 2011.  This day has a lot of pulpit possibilities:  It is May Day, and associated with the International Workers of the World.  May Day is also related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night.  Despite these obvious subjects, this morning will be devoted to the subject of Happiness. According to the statistician Nic Marks the most desired condition in the world is the state of Happiness, which justifies the subject of the worship service this morning. But, Pagans do not despair Persephone is with us and Demeter will make an appearance shortly.

 

(Persephone, Artemis and Athena are picking flowers from a bouquet.  Enter Hades who surreptitiously observes the three flower gatherers.)

 

Hades

(Approaching)  Why, hello.  It’s Persephone isn’t it?

Persephone

Uh, yes.  It is nice to see you Hades.

Hades

Persephone, this may seem a little sudden to you, (taking Persephone by the arm) but I’ve been looking for a Queen to share  my rule of the Underworld and I think you will do just fine. (Starts to drag Persephone off to the Underworld)

Persephone

(Resisting)  Oh, I don’t think this is a good idea.  Not at all! (Persephone is abducted)

Athena

(Artemis and Athena stare after Persephone)  Run and tell Demeter.  (Artimis runs offstage)

Demeter

(Artimis Enters with Demeter, looks at Athena and then after Persephone)  Persephone!!!!  (Exit Demeter, Artemis and Athena during song)

 

Introit – If you’re happy and you know it  (Cast)

 

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.
(clap clap)
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.
(clap clap)
If you're happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.
(clap clap)

 

If you're happy and you know it join in singing.
(beckon to congregation)
If you're happy and you know join in singing.
(Beckon to congregation)
If you're happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it join in singing.
(beckon to congregation)

 

 

 

If you're happy and you know it shout "Hooray!"
(Hoo-Ray!)
If you're happy and you know it shout "Hooray!"
(Hoo-Ray!)
If you're happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it shout "Hooray!"
(Hoo-Ray!)

 

READER 1

If you want to be happy, you’re in the wrong country. The Country with the happiest people is not the United States, but Denmark.

 

READER 2

(shocked) Where the tax rate is close to 50%?

 

READER 1

The US ranks number fourteen behind Costa Rica, Canada, Panama and Brazil.

 

READER 2

Let us come together this morning in the spirit of reflection as we look at the way Happiness influences our lives.  Please join me in reading our Declaration printed in your order of service.

 

Declaration

              Love is the spirit of this fellowship

              And service is its law.

              This is our great covenant:

              To dwell together in peace,

              To seek truth in love,

 And to help one another.

 

 

READER 2

At the end of each service we sing of carrying the flame until we meet again.   (to congregation)  Is there anybody out there who has carried the flame of peace and love all week long?

 

READER 1

(Hopefully at least one hand will go up.  If not a shill will wait for 5 seconds and put their hand up. Pick someone from the congregation, to her or him -) Would you please help us light the chalice.  (usher the volunteer to the chalice)

 

Call to Worship and Chalice Lighting

 

READER 2

The chalice has many meanings, but it is certainly a symbol of our collective spirit, as we join together each week in renewal.  For some of us our individual flame may have been extinguished by the gusts that buffet us in our work, or other struggles.  But, when I look around on a Sunday morning I see that there are always many brightly burning flames reflected in the eyes and the smiles of fellow members.  Please join me in the unison response printed in the order of service.

 

Chalice Response (enter REPORTER and MUSICIAN)

 

            Rise up, O flame, by thy light glowing,

            show to us beauty, vision and joy.

 

MIKE

My relationship with life came to a metaphorical fork in the road about thirty years ago driving up I-5 one afternoon.  NPR was running a story about an American who had studied multiple-note or throat singing for several years in Tibet. The reporter started her interview.

 

REPORTER

Did you have a good time in Tibet?

MUSICIAN

It’s not about having a good time; it’s about knowing what kind of time you are having.

 

MIKE

I began to consider that the search for contentment was better directed at self-awareness than trying to accumulate happiness.

 

READER 2

What do you mean by happiness?

 

MIKE

As the title of this worship service suggests, I do want to muddle around in the traditional ways of looking at and attaining happiness and then explore an alternate approach.

 

READER 2

 Will we be happy at the end?

 

MIKE

I hope this service is enjoyable, interesting and moderately challenging, but I’m not expecting to generate any lasting happiness.  In fact I will argue that the idea of happiness, at least as presented by culture, is flawed and doomed to be frustrating.

 

READER 2

Surely there is happiness in the world.

 

                                   

 

 

MIKE

The ancient Greeks thought so and listed love, sex, good food, alcohol, money and celebrations as ways of achieving happiness.

 

READER 2

Do you know Marijo?  I think that applies to some modern Greeks as well.  

 

 

READER 1

Based on an historical perspective the condition of our bodies and drugs can be added to that list.

READER 2

There are so many different ways to be happy.

 

 READER 1

What counts as happiness changes over time.  Young adults think of activities full of excitement, while older adults imagine peace and quiet.

 

MIKE

The list goes on and on.  Think of all the words that could satisfy the statement, "I am happy when (blank).

 

READER 1

I have a glass of wine.

 

READER 2

My daughter gets a good grade. 

 

READER 1

My retirement account goes up instead of down.

 

READER 2

Diseases in third world countries are reduced or eradicated.

 

MIKE

The term "Happiness" is generally thought to refer to some mental or emotional interior state that is pleasurable.  But there is a critical problem with this way of thinking.

 

READER 1

If I say that bouillabaisse with a rich and fragrant broth has made me happy I must be referring to a specific complex sensory experience.

 

READER 2

If I say I am happy because the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has provided a sanitary fresh water system in Ethiopia, I have no sensory experience of the event and any pleasure will derive from a harmony of my ideals and the facts of the world.

 

MIKE

There is no significant overlap in the way a good bouillabaisse and a new water system make a person happy. It is hard to conceive of a family resemblance between these two disparate interior states. I believe that finding a definition of happiness based upon either the similarities of conditions, which make a person happy, or the similarities of subjective states is doomed.

(ENTER DEMETER)

 

READER 1

Are we left without happiness?

ZEUS

(ENTER ZEUS.  He approaches DEMETER who is sitting by some dried flowers.)  Demeter, this can’t go on.  Nothing is growing.  There is no food.  Persephone is gone to the Underworld, we have lost a daughter, but we need to move on.

 

DEMETER

I am so worried about Persephone, stuck in the underworld.  I am empty without her.  I feel lifeless.  There is nothing inside of me to bring to the world.

 

ZEUS

(Considers.  Takes Demeter by the arm and leads her offstage) Come inside, I will talk with Hades and see what I can do.  (Zeus and Demeter exit)

 

MIKE

I offer an alternative way of viewing happiness which does not rely upon the similarities of interior states or conditions.  I view "happiness" as inherently evaluative.  Under my approach I imagine a continuum with agony at one end and ecstasy at the other end.  Between agony and the midpoint lies suffering.  Between ecstasy and the midpoint lies happiness.

READER 3

So, the statement "I am happy” is then a claim that I have evaluated my interior state and judge it to be within the range of states between neutrality and ecstasy. 

 

READER 4

Sounds complicated

 

MIKE

Worse, I think it is impossible, but we will get to that later.

 

READER 3

Wisdom has it that meaningful connections with others lead to happiness.  In this community, one of the ways we stay connected with each other is through the information provided to us in the Announcements.  This morning we are honoring the Announcements by embedding them in the service.

 

DONNA

(Welcome and Announcements from Clipboard – please include the following)

Our minister is not in the pulpit this morning.  Instead, we are presenting an “alternative service”.  The views expressed in this service are those of Mike Mallory and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other “Evergreen Players.”

 

MIKE

I would like to Introduce the distinction between "good day,” "good life" and ecstatic moments.

 

READER 3

This from “The Happiness Myth: Why What We Think Is Right Is Wrong” by Jennifer Hecht, “There are three distinct kinds of happiness, and though they are not unrelated, they are not usually in harmony with each other. A good day can be filled with many mild pleasures, repeatable and forgettable, and some rewarding efforts. Euphoria is intense, lasts powerfully in memory, and often involves some risk or vulnerability. A Happy Life requires a lot of difficult work (studying, striving, nurturing, maintaining, negotiating, mourning, and birthing)…”

 

READER 4

A good meal is part of a happy day.  Mother Teresa's indefatigable service to the disadvantaged is building a happy life.

 

 

MIKE

“The big desires have always been food, wine, sex, revenge, riches, products, and fame. The danger, beyond fat, stupidity, syphilis, narcissism, taxes, clutter, and gout—is meaninglessness.” (Hecht)

 

READER 3

Notice that building a Happy Life requires sacrifice and effort that make it more difficult to have a Happy Day.  A Happy Day is fulfilled in momentary pleasure.  A Happy Life is fulfilled with the terminal perspective that a life has been lived in harmony with core values and principles.

MIKE

A life in service to your greatest values, including religious values, is claimed by the wise to reward you.  That is unless you have a change of heart and find yourself having invested your precious existence in a bankrupt ideology.

 

READER 4

The wise also tell you that a moral life will bring you happiness.

  

READER 3

The happiness / morality link is often driven by our fear that the people who do us wrong might end up happy in the end. 

 

MIKE

Surprise!  It doesn’t always go around or come around.  Nasty and self-centered people can end up as happy as anyone.

 

READER 4

Money can’t buy happiness.

 

READER 3

In a study of the people whose average net worth is $78 million dollars titled The Joys and Dilemmas of Wealth, ”The very rich turn out to be a generally dissatisfied lot, whose money has contributed to deep anxieties involving love, work, and family.  Indeed, they are frequently dissatisfied even with their sizable fortunes. Most of them still do not consider themselves financially secure; for that, they say, they would require on average one-quarter more wealth than they currently possess.”

 

READER 4

Don’t tell a single mother working two jobs to put her daughter through college that money would not buy happiness.

 

READER 3

Don’t tell a family holding fundraisers because their insurance will not cover the costs of a kidney transplant for their toddler son that money would not buy happiness.

READER 4

Happiness correlates with wealth only to the poverty line, after which the correlation fades out. 

READER 4

Generosity is said to lead to a Happy Life.

 

Offertory - READER 3

We will now take the morning offering.  Would the greeters please come forward?  If this is your first time at Evergreen, please let the collection plate “pass you by.”  Consider this one on us.  Please join me in reading the Offertory Response printed in your order of Service.            

 

                       

 

This is a Fellowship of ourselves,

Its energy and resources are our energy and resources,

Its wealth is what we share,

When we contribute to the life of this community

We affirm our lives within it.

 

(Offertory music by Gayle Sells)

 

MIKE

My first point has been that the term “happiness” cannot refer to a specific experience or the conditions giving rise to that experience, but the evaluative process of organizing experiences based on pleasures: both gross and refined.  The organization of experiences requires the comparison of one interior state with another.  My second point is that such comparisons are at least impractical, if not impossible.   We will illustrate.

 

READER 5

At any given moment each person’s life has a variety of features that would affect happiness: physical comfort, the status of relationships, including family and friends, career, security, personal characteristics such as integrity or self-respect.

 

READER 6

Each state would have different criteria for satisfaction and would not be susceptible to comparison with others.  Furthermore, the importance of a particular condition is a matter of arbitrary focus.

 

READER 5

Today I am unhappy because I am focusing on my relationship.

 

 

READER 6

Today I am happy because I am focusing on my career.

 

READER 5

 It gets worse when you try to compare a current interior state with a past state or the imagined state of another.

 

READER 6

Recall the core point made by Ekhart Tolle in the Power of Now.       

 

READER 5

Equanimity resides in the eternal present when the distracting comparisons to the past and future are stilled.

 

MIKE

Let's Review:

 

READER 5

1) Deciding where you are on a continuum of happiness is a matter of arbitrary focus on a narrow selection of possible conditions.

 

READER 6

2) The complexity of comparing one interior state to another is hopelessly unworkable.

 

READER 5

3) Comparisons with the past and future, at least according to Tolle, are crazy-making.

 

 

 

MIKE

The discussion of happiness can be reduced to a discussion of the electrochemical process.

 

READER 5

The ingestion of some chemicals alters the perception of pleasant moods and humans have a long history of finding and using mood-altering drugs. 

 

READER 6

Laudanum, an opium mixture was widely used in the 19th and early 20th Century in part for mood elevation.

 

READER 5

Beginning in 1898 the Bayer Company started manufacturing Heroin.  The name was meant to convey the heroic efforts of the drug in managing the symptoms of Tuberculosis.

 

READER 6

Until 1903 Coca Cola’s active ingredient was cocaine. 

 

READER 5

A headline from the Los Angeles Times, in 1902 read, “They Thirst for Cocaine: Soda Fountain Fiends Multiplying. Slaves to the ‘Coca Cola’ Habit”

 

READER 6

We now recreate a imagined conversation found in a 2007 New Yorker Magazine article    profiling Paul and Patricia Churchland, two neuroscientists at the University of California at San Diego.

PAUL CHURCHLAND

(PAUL CHURCHLAND is preparing dinner, PATRICIA CHURCHLAND ENTERS with a briefcase in hand)  Welcome home Pat.

 

PATRICIA CHURCHLAND

Paul, don’t speak to me, my serotonin levels have hit rock bottom, my brain is awash in a glucocorticoids, my blood vessels are full of adrenaline and if it wasn’t for my androgynous opiates, I’d have driven the car into a tree on the way home.  My dopamine levels need lifting.  Pour me a Chardonnay; I’ll be down in a minute.  (EXIT PATRICIA in one direction, EXIT PAUL in the other).

 

READER 6

Herald columnist, Dr. Elizabeth Smoots, tells us that during a state of “flow” as popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-me-high) the brain secretes larger amounts of hormone serotonin, producing enjoyment, wellbeing and calmness.  When actively creating, the body releases adrenocorticotropic hormone ACTH, producing the artist’s high, which promotes enthusiasm and productivity for hours.

 

READER 5

Today alcohol, caffeine and anti-depressant medication are all widely used to manage negative emotional states.

 

 

 

READER 6

Hecht asks why alcohol containers that caution pregnant mothers do not go on to provide warnings to parents that the overconsumption of alcohol leads to abuse, neglect the emotional scaring of millions of young children every year.

 

MIKE

Leading a life of happiness is an idea that emerged out of the imagination of the enlightenment and is hard-rooted into the American consciousness.

 

READER 5

More from Jennifer Hecht, “Jefferson got the phrase ‘the pursuit of happiness’ from George Mason, who’d been using the locution for a while.... The real meaning of the “pursuit of happiness” was a bold claim that we ought to be allowed to peel off from the crowd and do our own thing. Enlightenment ideas about life suggested that individuals had value, and dignity, and had the natural right to try to be happy. The ‘pursuit of happiness’ we find in the Declaration of Independence was a revival of an ancient idea. In private letters, Thomas Jefferson referred to himself as an Epicurean, and admired the ancient doctrine’s philosophical naturalism, its secularism, and its pursuit of the happy life.”   (ENTER WASHERWOMAN I, WASHERWOMAN II and JOHNNY)

READER 6

Jennifer Hecht says that, “Historically, the average person expected to be a little miserable most of the time and ecstatic on festival day.  We now expect to be happy all the time, but never riotously so.”

WASHERWOMAN ONE

(The two WASHERWOMEN are kneeling cleaning clothes; JOHNNY stands behind them with a basket full of clothes) Your Johnny (gesture to Johnny) is eight years old.  It’s about time he went to work.

 

WASHERWOMAN TWO

That’s about right, isn’t it Johnny?

 

 WASHERWOMAN ONE

His father is a mason and his uncle is a cobbler.  What’s it gonna be for Johnny?

 

WASHERWOMAN TWO

Well Johnny, what’s it gonna be

 

JOHNNY

I just want a life that will make me happy!  (Washerwomen look at each other for a moment and then start laughing)

 

WASHERWOMAN I

Enough of this foolishness, let’s get home now.  (EXIT WASHERWOMEN AND JOHNNY)

READER 5

There is a saying in China where, despite the rising standard of living, life is often one of drudgery that a person can “chi ku”, which literally translates as “eat bitterness”, but means that one can endure hardship: become hardworking and not be a whiner.  American culture holds out a different promise.

 

READER  6

There has been a cultural shift in the reading of the enlightenment idea found in the Declaration of Independence.

 

READER 5

I have the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

 

READER 6

 I have the right to be happy.

 

 

READER 5

I have the right to a life of happiness.

 

READER 6

I have the right to a happier life.

 

MIKE

Of course, the idea that you can forever move further along the continuum toward Ecstasy is unrealistic at best and probably pathological.  The Buddha taught that we should free ourselves from desire.  As the philosopher, Alyson Irvin, notes, Plato’s recipe meant to free us from want.  And this brings up another significant influence on my present perspective was the book "How to Want What You Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Ordinary Existence” by  Dr. Timothy Miller.

 READER 6

He writes, “The philosophy of wanting what you have is supported by the underlying assumption that there is beauty, meaning, truth, love and mystery in the world at all times and under all circumstances, although these things are sometimes hard to perceive, or even to imagine.”  We are distracted from the grandeur of our world by desires, which are both insatiable and relentless. 

READER 5

Miller is a cognitive therapist, who won’t appeal to everyone, but this technique has a better track record than medication in managing depression.

 

 

READER 6

Miller asks us to take an inventory of our life, to literally count our blessings, growing in appreciation of the richness and beauty in our lives right now.

 

READER 5

He asks us to turn our focus from What we Wish We Had to What We Have Now.

 

READER 6

Please join me in signing Hymn # 354 a song that celebrates the full range of the human condition.

 

READER 6

Like Ekhart Tolle, Timothy Miller asks us to still our urge to compare the conditions of our life with the life of our neighbors or the life we see advertised on TV or the live we image we deserve.  He advises against making value judgments about our feelings, emotions or other interior states.

 

READER 5

Miller advances three principles to guide the non-comparative life.

 

MIKE

Attention, a term synonymous with mindfulness referring to a directed focus of awareness.

 

READER 6

The desire for a different life is a distraction from really seeing the life you have.  Miller asks us to focus attention on what is in front of us instead of fantasizing.

 

READER 5

Attention implies acceptance.  Unless you accept something you won't get close enough to see it clearly.

 

READER 6

Several years ago, before Mike had a compost bin or a yard waste receptacle he kept lawn clippings in a trash bag for garbage pick-up.  One day he walked by a half-filled bag of clippings and caught a whiff of the decomposing grass from the week before.  (MIKE acts out the scene) His first reaction to the odor was repulsion, perhaps a genetic aversion to rotting vegetable matter.  But, he was skeptical that his repulsion was justified and decided to explore the fragrance.  He opened the bag and stuck in his head.  Then he took a deep breath. (Pause for inhalation)  Stripped of his preconceived avoidance he found the scent of rotting grass clippings to be surprisingly sweet with a fruity top-note and a deep and earthy finish.  While he did not seek out opportunities to experience the aroma of rotting grass clippings, he did find less repulsive that he imagined.

 

MIKE

Miller’s second principle is Gratitude.

 

READER 6

Gratitude generates an acknowledgement of dependence on the world. 

 

READER 5

This dependence is reflected in the 7th UU Principle.  I affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of existence of which I am a part.

 

 

READER 6

Acceptance of dependence leads to humility and gratefulness.

 

 

 

READER 5

When window shopping, excitement quickens as you imagine your home filled with interesting cool display items, but our houses are already filled with items you were excited to purchase and bring into your home.

 

READER 6

The excitement of shopping was culturally noted in the Eighteenth Century euphemism for orgasm: "Spending.”  The metaphor for fatigue, “I am spent” derives from that euphemism.

 

READER 5

Your spouses and partners are the same, living human being that rendered you speechless in the face of your passion.

 

MIKE

The interdependence of us all leads to the Miller's third principle:  Compassion.

 

READER 6

Compassion calls us to travel to the emotional underworld with another.

 

 

READER 5

Unless you are willing to experience pain, you are incapable of compassion.

 

 

 

READER 6

It’s not about having a good time; it’s about knowing what kind of time you are having.

 

READER 5

And, you cannot understand yourself, if you shy away from unpleasant emotional states.

 

READER 6

Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, the author Barbara Ehrenreich, points out that America has developed a unique ideology of “positive thinking”

READER 5

 “Positive Thinking” can lead to the mistaken belief that there is something wrong with a person if her experience is negative or pessimistic.

 

  MIKE

I have a pet peeve about phatic communication, the language of greetings and departures.  I find it pleasant enough when people say, “Have a nice day.” Or, “Good morning.”  But, when a complete stranger asks me, “How’s it going?” I’m annoyed.  Asking me to account for myself is a call to intimacy, and there is neither the time, nor the space in the grocery store checkout line.  Furthermore, any brief answer other than “fine” or “good” solicits a response as though something is wrong. I always imagine I am in an ant colony and soldier ants are checking my chemical signature for defects.

 

CONNECTING IN FELLOWSHIP -  READER 5

This is the time in our service for us to spend two minutes greeting your neighbor.  Try to include those you do not already know well in your greeting.

 

(SOUND OF GONG)

ZEUS

(ENTER ZEUS stage right, he walks across the front of the stage exiting stage left.  Offstage) Hades, we must talk.  Come to the surface……………Please.

 

ZEUS

(ENTER ZEUS AND HADES stage left, they walk together to center stage.  ZEUS’ arm is around HADES shoulder.  They are conversing quietly. They stop and ZEUS turns to face HADES.)  Look, Hades since Persephone was taken to the underworld, Demeter has not been herself.  There is no food; the people are starving.  Persephone must be returned.  

HADES

Persephone is mine; I have a right to a queen. 

ZEUS

Yes, yes, you have a right to a queen.  (Puts his arm around Hades’ shoulder and they walk to exit stage right) But, Hades you must take another as your queen. (EXIT ZEUS AND HADES stage right.)

READER 7

Unpleasant feelings appear with important lessons of self-understanding.

 

READER 8

Unpleasant feelings should be honored rather than avoided.

 

 

READER 7

Miller encourages us to open non-judgmentally to all of our feelings. In doing so we may find that the feelings are less painful than originally expected.  The Buddha advised his monks to meditate on fearful and disgusting sights until they overcame their aversion.

 

 

MIKE

In the same way that I found the odor of decaying lawn waste not entirely unpleasant, some emotional states commonly thought to be negative, may turn out to be surprisingly benign.

 

READER 7

We are taught that success is positive and failure is negative, yet each condition presents a valuable learning experience.

 

READER 8

The sense of betrayal contains an embedded story of mutual trust and respect.     

 

READER 7

We learn that some emotions are negative, but that added value judgment does not add any useful information to the heart of the experience.

 

READER 8

It is common when someone dies that we respond with a celebration of the life of the deceased.

 

 

READER 7

Yet, how often, when a relationship breaks-up do we similarly celebrate the relationship that has come to an end.

 

MIKE

It is not necessary that you celebrate the end of a relationship, but the path to wholeness requires that you own the emotional states that arise. Learning to accept the full range of mental / emotional states is part of the process of maturing or actualizing into the fullness of humanity.

 

READER 8

Children often prefer sweeter foods such as fruit and cereal, but do not prefer vegetables.

 

READER 7

As tastes mature, most adults come to acquire a taste for a variety of vegetables.

 

READER 8

Similarly, a child may cry if she doesn’t get her own way.  But in time the young woman comes to appreciate and even feel gratitude for her capacity for patience.

 

READER 7

As an older woman, she may come to gratefully experience even disappointment as a process of bringing her vision of a better world into sharp relief.

 

READER 8

If you can acquire a taste for Blue Cheese, you can acquire a taste for Blue Feelings.

 

 

READER 7

There is nothing wrong with you if you are experiencing interior states you judge to be negative.

 

READER 8

(to CONGREGATION) Please join me in the unison reading printed in the order of service.  The reading is from Jennifer Hecht and brilliantly describes what it is to have a personality. (Pause) “Consider that we all have an internal empty field at birth, and as we grow, we experience shocks in certain areas of the field, which we respond to by building up a great pile of stones in that spot, to protect ourselves from being hurt again. As time goes on, the inner field grows crowded with stone mounds. Moving around in such a field requires inventive choreography; and that dance is what a personality is.  A person with a lot of mounds is going to look pretty crazy when she tries to walk a straight line.”

 

READER 7

You are your entire embodied emotional and cognitive landscape.

 

  HADES

(ENTER HADES and PERSEPHONE stage left, they are hand in hand.  Enter ZEUS and DEMETR stage right) I have brought Persephone to the surface as we agreed.

 

PERSEPHONE

Mother! Father!

 

ZEUS

Hades, you have the gratitude of all of Mount Olympus.

 

 

HADES

(PERSEPHONE looks back and forth between them. To PERSEPHONE, gesturing to ZEUS) Go.  (Bringing a pomegranate from his cloak)  Persephone, here is something for your travels.

 

PERSEPHONE

(Taking the Pomegranate)  Thank you, Mr. Hades. (ZEUS AND PERSEPHONE EXIT state right, HADES returns and EXITS stage left)

 

 Anthem  “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”    Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7knIi3LGf4M&feature=related

 
No, you can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna blow a 50-amp fuse"
Sing it to me now...

 

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need

You get what you need--yeah, oh baby!
Oh yeah!

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

You can't always get what you want (no, no baby)
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need, ah yes...

 

 READER 7

It turns out that Persephone did not avoid the underworld.  It was that Pomegranate.  Once Persephone tasted of the food of the underworld she was fated to return.

 

PERSEPHONE

I return to the underworld for about four months a year.  That is a third of the time.  It is a life I can endure.  After all, I am a queen in the underworld.

 

 

 

 READER 8

Cycling in and out of the underworld turns out to be much harder for Demeter who worries about it, than for Persephone who lives it.

 

MIKE

Clinical depression, which I would define here as the either being trapped or the feeling of being trapped in the underworld is serious, but having depressing interior states is not a problem and most of those on anti-depressant medication are not clinically depressed.

 

 READER 7

It would not be unreasonable to expect a life like Persephone, spending a third of the time in the emotional underworld.

 

READER 8

A life of perpetual happiness is not only unrealistic; it would deprive you of half of the human range of emotion.

 

READER 7

Let us honor the full range of our humanity.

 

READER 8

It is time in the service when we have prepared a space for the sharing of Joys and Sorrows.  This is an opportunity for those with Joys that cannot be contained or Sorrows which call for compassionate listening to come forward.  Please queue up on either side of the sanctuary.  A candle will be lit for you.  Please provide your name and  speak directly into the microphone.

JOYS AND SORROWS RITUAL 

READER 8

(Lights Candles and assists speakers)  I light one additional candle for all of the unexpressed joys and sorrows that remain in our hearts.

 

MIKE

(Meditation or Prayer)

             

 READER 7

Jennifer Hecht closes out her book with these observations.

READER 8

“Happiness has not increased in the United States since 1950. Plotted on a graph, all sorts of measures of living conditions climb in broad, steady strokes, but happiness just lies there. “

MIKE

“If we want to think clearly, with room for originality, we must notice that being obsessed with the stuff you do about happiness is a wrong turn, a terrible tangle of double talk and contrary information about how to make a happy life. We need to relax these polemics and try on different variations of behavior. Maybe it is okay to be fat.  Maybe you want to rethink whether what you get out of shopping has anything to do with buying a lot. “

 

READER 7

“Maybe common concerns about people who have a lot of sex or no sex are just noise and things are okay the way they are for now. Maybe we can stop feeling so conflicted about shallow American culture and recognize that we are lucky to have something shallow to share. Why not put your arms in the air and party like you just don’t care? “

 

 

 

 

READER 8

“You are a mammal with extraordinary potential, but we have to take care of you if you are going to fulfill that potential. You have to do some work—wisdom work, celebration work—and you also have to learn to be a truth detector, to know that the rules for happiness propagated by the culture at large are not to be allowed to take up too much time and energy. “

MIKE

I close this service with a quote by Robert Frost, "he only way round is through.”

 

Please join me in a closing circle.

Closing Song – Carry the Flame

Acknowledgments: 

            I would like to thank artist, Jennifer Wu, for helping me to translate the Pinyin “Chi Ku.”