In his first book, Becoming a Sun: Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence for a Happy, Fulfilling Life, the spiritual director of Emissaries of Divine Light, David Karchere, is taking a stand for the role that contemporary spirituality can play in human happiness.
The 2018 World Happiness Report was released on March 14th and launched at the United Nations on March 20th during the celebration of the International Day of Happiness. The United States ranking tumbled for the second consecutive year, and its showing in the survey hit the lowest it has been since the World Happiness Report began in 2012.
Commentators on happiness in the United States have attributed its decline over three decades to many factors. Growing inequality, racial tensions, loss of leisure time, and the rising cost of healthcare and higher education are among them. Some say that the decline has been caused by too much focus on economic growth and too little attention to quality of life as a whole.
John Helliwell, a University of British Columbia economist who co-edited the report, made these telling comments on the source of happiness:
It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationship between people, is it worth it?
The material can stand in the way of the human.
In Becoming a Sun, David Karchere traces the origins of happiness to spiritual principles and practices he outlines in the book. He makes the case that, for the individual, the development of new levels of emotional and spiritual intelligence can overcome the social and economic factors that are affecting the general population of the United States. He asserts that the same understanding of emotional and spiritual intelligence is highly relevant for the happiness of anyone around the world, regardless of culture or nationality.
Karchere’s message in Becoming a Sun is a rebirth of the teaching of Emissaries of Divine Light for the 21st century. He draws on the principles and ideas that form the foundation of this spiritual community that was originally brought together by American visionary Lloyd Arthur Meeker in the 1930s and ’40s.
The early development of Emissaries of Divine Light drew upon the symbols and stories of the prevailing Judeo-Christian culture in which the community was founded. But Meeker’s understanding of the significance of biblical text was a radical departure from more traditional Christian and Judaic belief. He taught a self-reliant, self-empowering spirituality that placed the responsibility for openness to divine wisdom and grace squarely in the hands of the individual. He offered tools for emotional and spiritual intelligence in the biblical context of his day.
In Becoming a Sun, Karchere uses poetry and prose that draws upon the elemental forces in nature to lead the reader into a deeper understanding of their own psyche and the natural forces working through their human capacity. Inspired by imagery originally presented by Lloyd Arthur Meeker, he poses the idea that we are all already a sun on the inside, and that the destiny of an individual human life is to become a sun on the outside-an expression of warmth, light and gravity in the world-in essence, to become an emissary of divine light. He asserts that not only is this a practical way to approach all facets of a human life; it is also a path that leads to happiness and fulfillment.
Karchere leads workshops on the theme of the book, allowing participants to put the ideas embedded in Becoming a Sun to the test. He also leads Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, a conference and retreat center in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains that is the worldwide headquarters for Emissaries of Divine Light. Sunrise Ranch is also a teaching and demonstration site for emotional and spiritual intelligence, and an experiment in increasing the happiness quotient in the community of people who live and visit there.