He has written a number of books including: The Rules of Thinking; The Rules of Wealth, the Rules of Work, the Rules of Living Well, the Rules of People, the Rules of Parenting, The Rules of Everything, and even a book entitled The Rules to Break.
Despite writing so many books, there is almost no biographical information about him on the Internet.
Despite the fact that it seems he died in 2006 at the age of 56, from what I can tell only 2 or 3 of his books were actually published before he died.
I only have a copy of his book The Rules of Life in which he shares 106 succinct and practical rules for living a happy, meaningful and successful life.
Last week we looked briefly at Rule 46 entitled “Prune your stuff regularly” making reference to Jesus words in John 15 “I am the Vine and my Father is the Gardener, he cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit”
Today I turn to Rule 6 entitled “Dedicate your life to something”. He says that in order to know what counts and what doesn’t count in life, you have to know what you are dedicating your life to. He suggests that there are no right or wrong answers to this one, as it is a very personal choice. But, it is useful to have an answer rather than not really knowing.
He speaks of his own life that he writes has been dedicated to two main things:
Firstly, someone once told him that if his soul or spirit was he only thing he was likely to be taking with him when he went, then it ought to be the best thing he had.
For him, this struck a chord and triggered something in him, although not ultimately in a religious sense. But he did come to the conclusion that whatever his soul or spirit was, he ought to do a bit of work on it to make sure that it would be the very best thing about him. But how on earth would he go about doing so? He writes quite honestly that he doesn’t have a clue. But after having explored, experimented learned and made mistakes the only conclusion that he has come to is that it means to live as decent a life as possible which for him means going through life causing as little damage as possible and treating everyone with whom you come into contact with with respect and dignity. He says that it is something to dedicate his life to and that it works for him.
Secondly he refers to what he calls, his curious upbringing, which is a euphemistic way of saying that his childhood was dysfunctional. He doesn’t elaborate. One can only imagine is was not the easiest of childhoods. Instead of letting his dysfunctional childhood affect him negatively, he says he chose to let it motivate him, being acutely aware that many other people also need to throw off that feeling of being badly affected by what has gone before in their lives. And to this, he has dedicated his life.
He writes: “I might be crazy. But at least I have something I can focus on, something (for me) that counts.”
And having something to dedicate one’s life to he says enables one to have a yardstick by which to measure firstly how one is doing, secondly what one is doing, and thirdly where one is going.
He suggests that we should all decide what it is we are dedicating our lives to, because it makes the rest much easier.
As we turn our thoughts to the life of Jesus, last week we considered briefly his temptations in the desert, and how for 40 days he radically pruned his life to help him get clarity for what his life purpose would be. In a way, there in the desert as he wrestled with the temptations that were put before him, he clarified what it was he wished to live his life for.
And as the story of Jesus unfolds from that point onwards, it becomes increasingly clear that Jesus chose in that desert experience, that he would live his life for love and he would seek to do this by his words and deeds, and his life and death. That would seem to have been one of his primary mission’s in life. He would be un-swayed from this mission. When his commitment to living and teaching this way of love threatened firstly the religious and then secondly the political leaders of his day, he remained steadfastly committed to this purpose to which he had dedicated his life. Even when it became apparent that plots were being hatched to take his life and that eventually he would have to sacrifice his life for this purpose that he had dedicated himself to, he chose to go through with it, perhaps knowing intuitively that his death by crucifixion would in the end assist in spreading his message and teaching of love.
Today’s Gospel passage is the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It happens in the story after he has come to terms with his ultimate fate and he knows that he is going to die at the hands ot the authorities in Jerusalem.
Did the story happened exactly as it is described in the Gospels? In the end I can’t be sure. Not all of the details across the three versions of of the story found in Matthew, Mark and Luke neatly line up in agreement. Some might read the story more symbolically. Some might read the story more literally. Whichever way you read the story, it stands in the Gospels as an affirmation in the story-line that by remaining true to the thing that Jesus has dedicated his life to, he is doing the right thing. In the story, Moses and Elijah, symbols of the Jewish Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets appear along side of him as if to encourage him on the path he is on.
Just as happened at the moment of his Baptism when the fullness of his spiritual awakening occurred, so we read again in this story that a voice comes from heaven affirming him saying: This is my son whom I love, listen to him. And in this moment a light shines from Jesus face.
When people find something to dedicate their lives to, it energises them. There is often something infectious about the life of someone who has a deep and abiding sense of purpose and mission in life… sometimes it can even seem that people who know what their purpose is in life have a glow about them.
Even Hitler had an energy about him. He had dedicated his life to making Germany great again after the humiliating defeat of World War 1. There was clearly an energy about Hitler, even if it was a dark and malevolent energy that arose from the purpose to which he had dedicated his life. Clearly many in Germany at the time felt inspired by him. Maybe in their eyes there was a glow about him as their own hopes for a triumphant and resurgent Germany would be realised.
How much more so with someone whose life has been dedicated to living for love. Regardless of whether one reads this story of the transfiguration as symbolic or not, (and there is a large part of me that would not too quickly dismiss something of the essence of it), undoubtedly there was a brightness that shone from Jesus, because you can see a glow and a brightness in the faces of people, even today, who have chosen, however imperfectly to live, consecrate, or dedicate their lives for love.
What is it that you have dedicated your life to? Do you have some goal or purpose, no matter how humble, that helps you to get up in the morning that becomes a yardstick to measure how you are doing, what you are doing, and where you are going in life?