In his introductory chapter Hugh Mackay looks at the Utopia complex being sold to us by business, the media and general societal pressure. He suggests that the pursuit of happiness can actually make you miserable. We seem to think that happiness is our default position whereas often we grow through pain. Wholeness can involve the whole range of emotions and experiences.
Mackay suggests that Socrates, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad and the Jewish psalmist all had the same idea – don’t worry about the future. There does not have to be a belief in God to live the good life – the conviction is the same in the theistic and non-theistic religions. This book is definitely not religious but does bring together ideas central to the great religions for the world and questions the current philosophies in our own society today.
Mackay does talk about the place of religion in its various forms but suggests there is not necessarily a need for belief in God to live well. It is more important to care for others, to practice active listening, and mindfulness – living in the moment. We need not expect any reward as what we do is for the sake of others not ourselves.