“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”—Matthew 5:6
When I was a child, I used to sneak into the freezer in our garage on the way into the house after school and eat a chunk of the icing off of buttermilk brownies my mom had made for an eventual dessert. This went on for days typically, as the icing was pretty rich and the pan was fairly large. It culminated, of course, with me licking my fingers after the last little patch of icing had been eaten, leaving the pan of brownies without any topping.
Now my mother was understandably perturbed by this behavior, and I typically received an earful after taking a mouthful or two or three or more. It was wicked and selfish behavior, really, and it left the family on more than one occasion without a proper brownie dessert. I eventually came to realize that selfishness leaves others wanting and that selfishness is an ineffective way to distribute valuable (and in this case delectable!) resources.
I have to say that I found it ironic later in life to learn in a college economics class that the best economic benefit for all can usually be accomplished when individuals act in their own self-interest. Capitalism and free enterprise literally depend upon it. Why is it that the lessons we teach children so often conflict with what we deem to be ideal in the adult world? This question might usefully be elaborated upon in another consideration.
At any rate, selfishness is more often than not at odds with righteousness, the right use of the resources at hand. Righteousness is often connected to carefully following a moral code, but moral codes tend to change over time. To my mind, righteousness is better tied to an absolute, like truth. Facts and opinions may change, but truth never changes: truth is. Righteousness to me is thinking and acting in accordance with the patterns of truth within the framework of the present moment.
Truth is an eternal quality, but it comes to focus in relation to the temporal at the intersection of the past and the future, that is, the present moment. The four aspects of truth are: principle, purpose, design, and control. Truth—objective, eternal abstract truth—comes to point in relation to the particular configuration of circumstances of the present moment. If you know the pattern of truth in the present moment, you are released from blinders of ignorance. Knowing truth in this sense sets you free.
Had I been more aware of this in the brownie example given above, I would’ve seen that the lack of control derived from an ill-conceived design (i.e. don’t include others while I scarfed them down at the wrong time) and that that design was predicted on a fundamentally self-centered purpose. I was acting freely in the sense that I was acting out of license, but true freedom does not derive from license. True freedom derives from assuming responsibility under the law. The law of what? The law of truth. In reality I was not free, I was bound by my selfishness and out of control.
What I learned from this was that any experience purchased at the expense of truth is less than fulfilling. In this instance, so doing upset others whom I loved deeply. Righteousness—right action for the sake of right action—however, constrains to fulfillment.
Do you long to be filled?