I take the Sermon on the Mount to be edited literature. This is not terribly controversial. But it means that there is meaning to mine not only in any individual clause but meaning to be found in the organization. The beatitudes found at the beginning of Matthew 5 are just such an organized list.
One of the things that I love about the teachings of Jesus…or Socrates…or Buddha (and the list will likely grow but it is not a competition to see how many sages can be collected) is the exponential meaningfulness. Reality is one. When a seed must die before it rises again all of the reality of sacrifice and death leading to life is thereby contained.
Over the next week we follow the Matthew list of eight “blesseds” to mine not only individual meaning, but meaning in the whole. There is order and flow there, and we can approach happiness (blessedness) by approaching it in an orderly fashion.
A final word on “blessed”. The word, to my mind, is synonymous with happiness. The term happiness, in its best sense, is the penultimate status achievable by the human. That is what it means. Pleasure is the proper effect of achievement, but it is not the achievement. The achievement is in taking the proper shape, becoming formed. A walk through the beatitudes of the sage Jesus provides guidance in how happiness takes shape. Don’t worry about pleasure. It is the proper effect of taking shape. Don’t worry at all. But aim at taking shape. That is everything.