“I’ve never tried cocaine or heroin but I believe the people that tell me it’s a very pleasing, pleasurable feeling,” began Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski in this talk.
He goes on to discuss how Carnation has long sold evaporated milk with the slogan, “Milk from contented cows.” The rabbi continues, “If contentment is the excellence of a cow and all I look for in life is contentment, then I share a goal in life with a cow, and I’m not ready to lower myself to that stage.”
Rabbi Twerski thought there’s nothing wrong with being content but that making contentment a goal of life is an animal trait, not the human vocation.
The other problem, he noted, is that if contentment and pleasure become a person’s goal of life, then that person cannot possibly find fulfilment of this goal through an experience of pain or suffering.
This, I think, is a crucial insight.
Pain and suffering would seem, in this case, completely pointless since they do not contribute to the person’s contentment in any way.
If contentment is the goal of life, then the impossibility of being contented destroys life’s meaning.
However, the aim of life is not contentment but rather, as Rabbi Twerski sums up “becoming a partner with God and developing ourselves into that which he wanted us to be.”
Therefore, we need to die to contentment as a goal of life; it is too little for us to present ourselves to Him as only contented humans.