Along the Way

The professor and mountaineer Ernest Gellner told of how he once became lost. No matter how he tried to follow his map, he could not find his way down the mountain. Then he realized that his map was of the wrong mountain. He used this anecdote to introduce to us Immanuel Kant’s precept of the categorical imperative: an action that is necessary in itself, without reference to any other purpose. It is a categorical imperative to read the right map for the right mountain. Like Gellner we all need maps along the way and we need the right map for the Right Moral Way.


The Right Moral Way has not changed over time and remains psychologically sound. In a “Psychology Today” article entitled ‘The (Only) Seven Spiritual Principles We Need to Succeed’, Karl Albrecht reveals traditional key values for moral living that are still crucial in contemporary times.



The following are thoughts on Albrecht’s contemporary topics, with reference to their ancient precepts by indicating a Bible count of the number of times they appear in the Bible (from


Enjoy Gratitude (Bible count, 200)

I try to think gratefully about things that help me, or bring wholesome pleasure to myself and others.  I also feel grateful for supportive others when I think of what life would be like without them.


Foster Humility (Bible count, 90)

Humility does not mean to let people walk all over me. It means that I should not become high minded and “one-up” on other people. Always being right, posturing about prestigious stuff, or voicing overriding attitudes display only illusions of grandeur.


Build Optimism (Bible count, 174)

Optimistic thinking is not a vague hope that everything will turn out OK. Optimism emerges from developing positive attitudes. For most of us most of the time, there is more that is good in our world than bad: so optimism is valid! And when we are challenged, Albrecht advises, “Things turn out for the best if you make the best of the way things turn out.”


Release Generosity (Bible count, 53)

Generosity creates a cheerful attitude. This is true of both financial and emotional generosity, such as being helpful, welcoming and compassionate. A truly generous person gives to give, not to get. Feeling good about giving is enhanced when it is part of a positive personal connection, not just a tax-deductible donation.


Benevolently Forgive (Bible count, 127)

Forgiveness lets go what happened, while vengeance torments us. When we relinquish our grievances we can reclaim moral strength and learn to avoid situations that create abuse.


Emphasize Purpose (Bible count, 80)

“If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there.” Purpose means to choose a wholesome, even if limited, focus and keep out distractions.


Expand Expectations (Bible count, 20)

We often program ourselves to satisfy only the way things are in our comfort zone; but we can expand our scenarios to explore new sources of information and inspiration to bring fresh expectations.


These truisms are valuable and reliable signposts that I often miss or evade. But the overall direction of the Right Way can be realized simply. The Zen text Hsin Hsin Ming, for example advises that the Right Way is easy—if we stop being so picky and judgmental. And to paraphrase Matthew 6.33, “Seek (Bible count 340) first the Realm of Good and everything else gets added”.


Review & Commentary