“The road to hell is paved with good intentions; heaven is full of good works.”
The saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” has a long history, thought to have originated with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux around 1150 but predated by others to Virgil’s Aeneid. One thing we do know: it’s true!
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As I write today, the news is full of reports from Greece where crushing debt and an unworkable austerity program have reduced the economy to a shambles. Voters face a tough choice with a referendum on whether to accept an offer from international bankers that would provide temporary relief in return for even deeper austerity measures, or not… The “or not” (a “no” vote) would trigger implications that could include Greece leaving the Eurozone.
As usual, there’s a story within the story. In this case, it’s all about the concept of debt and interest. “Major thinkers throughout history—Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes, to name just a few—considered moneylending, at least under certain conditions, to be a major vice. Dante, Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and modern and popular novelists depict moneylenders as villains.”
“Major thinkers throughout history—Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes, to name just a few—considered moneylending to be a major vice.”
“Today, anti-globalization demonstrators carry signs that read “abolish usury” or “abolish interest.” Although these protestors are typically leftists—opponents of capitalism and anything associated with it—their contempt for moneylending is shared by others, including radical Christians and Muslims who regard charging interest on loans as a violation of God’s law and thus as immoral.” 1
The term “God’s law” can be interpreted in various ways but to avoid religious argument let’s focus on nature, where God’s laws – whether one is even comfortable using that term or not – are operational. And, what do we see? There’s no debt in nature.
In fact, the very idea of lending and repayment, particularly of keeping track, is absurd. There is an unfettered flow of abundance, with all species interacting synergistically; complete with a genius that balances systems as necessary. Balance… that’s the goal.
That is starkly unlike human systems where profit is the goal. Profit is measured in accumulation, whereas balance is about distribution. In the human economy more is better; in nature, balance is best. There is no hoarding and no debt in nature, that’s something we invented.
Meditation, as we know, is all about developing inner balance and sustaining it in our livingness. The more we meditate and actually experience that inner equilibrium, the more we can quietly challenge the “modus operandi” of our human world which pivots around scarcity thinking. That mindset believes there’s never enough… even when there’s plenty. And wealth is often used to finance laziness (something else we don’t find in nature). “The really depressing thing about “wealth” is the futility of the life that comes with it. A Radio 4 documentary recently questioned aspiring internet millionaires about their ambitions. Almost without exception, they pined to do no work and holiday in the Bahamas.” 2
Work, as defined by some, is love made manifest. It’s noble, not a necessary evil. It provides an avenue for personal expression of one’s gifts, the opportunity to make the invisible visible. Again, we see this in nature as a matter of course. It’s the way of natural systems, abundant giving. For example, every single dandelion generates up to 100 seeds! 3
We can be generous and assume that those involved in the Greek situation have good intentions, but what about actions? The reason we say the road to hell is paved with good intentions is because that’s the way it so often turns out! And, the companion saying, that heaven is about good works, supports the fundamental operational code in nature.
Using meditation as our primary tool, we can regain our connection with the inherent magic of those natural systems and act increasingly in harmony with them, which is very different than merely thinking and intending. It’s the action that counts. In our case, that’s revealed by our every day behaviors. In the case of this European drama, we’ll see who is acting out of intentions – good or ill – and who is genuinely operating with even a modicum of connection to the real world where, absent human interference, all is usually well.
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