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Dallas Willard’s “Four Great Questions of Life”

October 12, 2013

It’s not difficult to find examples of people living poorly.  I just browsed through CNN online.  Truly, every other story appears to be of someone a person living poorly, dying brutally or hurting someone else viciously!  Certainly, plenty of “doing life wrong” role models out there.  We need not search far for celebrities behaving badly.  Politicians behaving badly.  Business people behaving badly.  Besides the news, none of us seems to escape the impact of messed up family, friends or those we work with.

So who is doing it right?  Who lives well and is worth emulating?  And, even more importantly: Am I living well?  Am I a person others should emulate?

One person that fits the “well-done” category sadly died in just May of this year. His name was Dallas Willard and he was a true mentor and friend to many, including my wife Mindy, and other good friends I respect. I met him a talk he gave a few years ago at a back-porch gathering at our home and thought: “This guy’s the real thing.”  Impressive in his life credentials, he was the Director of the School of Philosophy at Universality of California, attained eight major academic honors, and wrote many, many excellent books, articles and academic papers.  Yet, even more significantly from all accounts and appearances, Dallas Willard was a REAL person. Spiritually. Socially.  Personally.  His teaching was not self-serving or high and lofty, but down to earth and practical, even if he was one of the most intelligent humans on the planet.  He was humble and left a legacy that will far outlive him.  He was jubilant, laughed loudly and cared deeply.

What made Dallas Willard that way?  And how might others be more real as well?

Of all the deep, deep philosophical issues Dallas taught during his lifetime, he was able to boil down and simplify life’s greatest learning on a human level to four questions that every human must answer.  They must address these “to their bane or blessing” during their lifetime he taught.  In other words: Answer these correctly and win big.  Answer them foolishly and lose big.   Just never think about them and lose by default..

These are Dallas Willard’s  “Four Great Questions of Life”

1. What is Reality?

No matter how hard the truth may be for us to face, it’s better to seek out and deal with reality than to pretend.  Truth has consequences… but we’re blessed ourselves when we seek out what’s real and what the truth is.  To settle for just believing truth is “whatever one wants” doesn’t do the hard work of getting real answers.
2. Who is well-off? What is Blessedness? The Good Life?

This would involve our own willingness to seek after and answer for ourselves: Am I really living?  Am I thriving?  If not 1. What would being fully alive look like for me?  2. What is keeping me from that kind of life?
3. Who is a really good person?

As a father, I want my own sons to be friends with really good people.. and be really good people.  I want them to be really good people.  And I want to associate with really good people myself. This certainly assumes I know what to look for in a really good person.  I know what kinds of qualities they have, what they do and what they don’t do.
4. How does one become a really good person?

This one now gets to the what next of answering these questions.  If I know what a good person is and I decide to become a good person: What will I do to become such a person?

Deep thoughts?  Completely!  Questions we CAN answer and must answer to live really well?  Absolutely!

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