When I asked Dr. Hurlbut about the Good Life, he gave me an answer that focused on truth, just as I expected from a scientist with a medical background. However, it was a religious truth as opposed to a scientific one.
He said that his version of the Good Life is summarized in the Bible when Jesus speaks to a young ruler. The ruler asks Jesus what is the secret of life, or how one can be assured of eternal life. Jesus’ first answer is to keep the commandments in scripture such as do not murder, do now commit adultery, and honor your father and mother. When the ruler says that he has done these things, Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing. The ruler has a love for money, so in order to align his heart with life’s most important things, Jesus advises him to sell all his possessions. The ruler cannot relinquish his wealth and chooses not to follow Jesus or Jesus’ plan for ultimate satisfaction.
In his interpretation of this scripture, Dr. Hurlbut said the Good Life is not going to be “good all the time.” It is marked by sacrifice and suffering in order to gain something that is much greater than one’s own life.
When Dr. Hurlbut speaks of suffering, he is speaking from the perspective of an expert; he has written extensively on the subject and seen hundreds of patients suffer through physical and emotional pain. He says, “Suffering is a journey deeper into the heart of life. You cannot make a superficial description of the meaning of life as though it is oriented around pleasure, beauty, or even fun. Life is going to be full of struggle and, for many, intense suffering… Yet, there is a deeper significance.”
Dr. Hurlbut believes we have the potential to find this “deeper significance” or ultimate meaning of life by seeing life in the context of a cosmic spiritual conflict. It is up to our free will to fight against our selfish tendencies in order to pursue choices associated with love and truth.
Cherishing Each Person
Because of his theological views and his experience working with patients, Dr. Hurlbut has gained a high view of other human beings. He states, “No matter how bad off a person is… their life is a treasure for them, and they want us to care for them with a tenderness and a concern for their good.”
I have found this deep concern for fellow humans to be a common thread in those who seem to be enjoying life the most. They learn how to cherish the lives of others, and they find great satisfaction in providing these people with the respect and love that we all need.
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