Thursday, January 27, 2011

Who needs faith when there is Tony Robbins

We live in an age of heightened self-awareness. All sorts of self-help gurus and motivational coaches teach us how to live successfully; they advocate behaviours that are good for us--things like having honesty, integrity, being grateful and positive, etc. And what they say does empower us, at least for the short term. These people help us recognize that there are principles in life, almost like natural laws, that guide human existence toward effective living. Who needs religion or faith when there is all this abundant knowledge about ourselves?

But then I'd like to argue that it's one thing to know the methods of successful living but quite another to actually do them over the long haul. The problem with self-help approaches is that they all rely on our 'self', i.e. on our works and performance. For those of us with weak will power, merely knowing a great methodology is basically useless. For those elite strong-willed few, constantly having to self-help becomes a heavy heavy burden; in time they show cracks too.

Unlike self-help gurus who put the burden on us, Jesus motivates with these comforting words: "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

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