Meaning of Easter:
A message for positive psychology
President, International Network on Personal Meaning
Coquitlam, B.C., Canada
Easter never fails us. Even in the worst of
times, amidst destruction, death and despair, Easter arrives as
surely as daybreak, boldly proclaiming the message of renewal and
Whether you believe in the historical truth
of the resurrection of Jesus Christ or in its symbolism, Biblical
accounts of the first Easter Sunday have proven to be a powerful
source of inspiration and transformation.
The world was never the same again. The blood
stained linen wrappings and the empty tomb ushered in a radically
different era of brave new beginnings. The message of love, faith
and hope still resonates across the globe, from the devastated Afghan
mountains to the war-torn Palestine.
Dostoyevsky once said in The Brothers Karamazov: "Without God, everything
becomes permissible." But Easter declares: "With God, everything
That means hope - hope that transcends our limitations
and triumphs over our worst fears. Easter epitomizes the kind of
tragic optimism that cannot be crushed by all the forces of darkness,
This is the true meaning of Easter!
In spite of the failings of organized Christianity
and its tired religious jargons, the core spiritual truth of the
Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus still remains one of the most
welcome answers to the perennial questions of suffering and death.
In contrast, what kind of consolation can we
find in positive psychology? What does it offer to those terrorized
by the fear of death? How can it help those whose souls are dying
of spiritual thirst and divine hunger? Not much, I dare say, as
long as positive psychology still clings to the discredited dream
Some positive psychologists still exude the
confidence that their scientific research can create a positive
society inhabited by virtuous, optimal functioning individuals.
However, an increasing number scientists has concluded that scientific
progress alone cannot save humanity, and there is a need for integration
between science and religion.
Templeton Foundation has been instrumental in advancing this
view. Our forthcoming Meaning Conference is yet another example
of demonstrating how the marriage between a humble science and a
humble theology can contribute to the well being of humanity.
As I reflect on the meaning of Easter and it's
message for psychology, it seems obvious to me that a positive psychology
that ignores the dark side of the human condition is like celebrating
Resurrection without Death - an impossible proposition.
The Bible narrative of Easter also suggests
that a positive psychology that excludes divine mysteries may be
counterproductive, because it deprives humanity of the wonders of
transcendence and grace - the wellspring of hope.
Thus, our challenge is to develop a mature positive
psychology that accepts the necessity of suffering and recognizes
the reality of the spiritual realm. Psychology is more likely to
become truly positive, when it is humble enough to embrace different
pathways to knowledge and open enough to explore the varieties of