Each shall give daily thought to the star in the circle, and ponder upon its meanings. Each shall ponder daily upon himself and his deeds, and shall strive for perfection in all things. He shall do these things with a free will, so that each day he shall improve. And so shall he serve the reason and the very point of his own existence, which is improvement within himself and within his community, and in the world, and that which is above the world and about the world.
This is a follow on response to Jacques original questions on the Way thought for the day 4th March 2012.
No man or woman is without value, unless they reach beyond the length of their arms, grasping nothing, and so, remaining in their poverty. (Original comment posted by Jacques in the comments section of the blog)
The original exchange (Part I) is located here
Exchange posted on 13th May 2012
Jacques: What an interesting discussion. I was quite intrigued really by the use of language initially. I considered this in today’s culture and society and the understanding of the terms used. I do accept that it is thought provoking when statements are made in this way, as that is their point. However, I do think that it can be misinterpreted by ones own personal levels of understanding, knowledge, mindset and attitude. Thus I felt it was very broad and I seeked to view it from different perspectives.
Ones value will go up and down by the minute as circumstances change and the adjustments will be noted in our freedom of movement that situation.
Reply: It’s quite true that circumstances may well dictate how we evaluate things, as situations vary, but surely there is an inherent range of flexibility that must be used to keep things in balance? Rigidity causes lack of ability to flex and change, which is what life is about, but the focal centre of one’s ability to evaluate must be consistent in looking at both sides and choose the lesser of two evils, given that the range of choices might be limited by circumstances. Is it not like a ship’s captain who makes hundreds of small corrections to his ship’s direction on the journey, but he knows his final destination before he leaves the port? If he didn’t have some idea of where he was heading in the first place, no amount of adjustment would matter? Would you not agree that he has to value his knowledge and the lack of it, experience and the lack of it, and reason that there may be as yet unforeseen circumstances, such as changes in the weather, that may influence when and where he docks his boat?
Jacques: If we are to evaluate ourselves, I would suspect that given mood, character, and environmental changes this is also subject to much fluctuation. Of course one would have to ask if one is honest enough to be at least fair in their own self opinion, or is it tainted with personality extremes or tendencies to cast shadows over how we are, or what we want to be.
Should a very negative attitude be repetitive due to failure that has been recurrent and not been dealt with then I do feel this will bring into play the self fulfilling prophecy scenario. It is important to recognise when this is occurring so that simple steps can be taken to modify the chain of events that have formed in much he same way a habit is formed.
Reply: Exactly. Learn from past experience to ensure that next time we find ourselves in the same or similar situation, that we can see the potholes and avoid making the same mistakes, which are no longer really mistakes, unintentional errors, as we should know better. To do otherwise is to ignore, leaving us lessened by our ignorance of what we should have learned from. As we say in The Way, “To have knowledge is good, but to have realisation is essential”. Realisation is a deeper form of understanding, literally when the light comes on and we see what the reality is and learn the lesson.
Jacques: Failure can occur for a variety of reasons and I feel it only fair to say that one should be encouraged to try and try again. Failure is a very powerful word and has seriously negative implications if not dealt with, and it is for that reason I have a strong urge to want to turn the threat into an opportunity to learn and grow from it so it may be transformed into success.
Reply: Maybe you mean that we should be encouraged to not simply try, but to do better? Trying is the act of not achieving something, striving to do, but not doing. As you noticed, words have an effect on the mind, and the stories we tell ourselves influence the thinking process, which is what determines the direction the mind takes in making decisions and evaluations. Trying to do something will only result in failure, as it is not the doing or achieving of something. We see a lot of effort by individuals trying to be like someone else, which is impossible, and futile also, as they are not that person and never will be. We can only do better if we know better and realise the value of what we have learned, and then apply that knowledge to the thing we want to do. Failure is lack of success, and the reason we fail to do the things we endeavour to do is down to a number of things, mainly, lack of resources, lack of ability and lack of insight into the wider picture. It’s what we don’t know about that causes us to fail, as we are unaware of what we do not know. However, being aware at the outset that we don’t have all the facts can allow us not to make assumptions that would surely cause us to fail in the process as we go along.
Jacques: If opportunity is given and lost for any reason, perhaps illness, financial or circumstances then one needs to exercise some forgiveness. I think if we can learn to forgive ourselves in that which we feel we have failed, then we can forgive others too. This is not to be mistaken for tolerance of negative attitudes in which one quite frankly doesn’t care or has lost sight of oneself.
To be able to forgive is undoubtedly a rare attribute and I think it shows compassion for others and a willingness to assist and offer alternatives to making positive steps forward to a more empowering and nurturing future.
Reply: I would think any reasoning person would agree that if genuine circumstances are the cause of failure, allowances must be made for that. Unforeseen events that were outside the control of the individual may cause failure through no direct fault of their own. However, did the person recognise that this was something that might happen, as it often does, and build in some degree of variation, a Plan B so to speak?
As for forgiveness being a rare attribute, do you really think so? People often forgive others, but like many things in life, the motivation for forgiveness has two very different directions and outcomes. Battered spouses often forgive their partners for beating them, but end up getting the same treatment next time, encouraging harm. It’s very common, not rare. Religions give out forgiveness for all sorts of evil acts, only to see the same sinners come back for more on a regular basis. This is very common, not rare.
Most reasonable people can judge as to if a mistake someone makes is unintentional, and make allowances for these things so long as that is the case, being tolerant in a balanced way, and that’s not rare, as we see it all the time. In the teachings of The Way, the man named Jesus said “Forgive not easily, lest you encourage bad practice”, meaning that forgiveness is fine when it does not excuse bad behaviour, unlike all the repentance that people will often profess when confronted with being found out for doing something unforgivable. Forgiveness, like tolerance, has a balance to it, don’t you think?
Jacques: The value of positive and negative put simply would be equal as in one positive is above zero and the other is one below. So both equal and worthy in being measured on a scale and for impact it is merely the forces engaged that has a shift in value as energy expenditure. If we see five positives in a human and two negatives the balance is not too burdened as to restrict quality of life as the positive forces move swiftly through the tasks of life. The negatives are there to use to learn from so that they may be moved from the negative scale to positive. So if we say failure is negative, BUT,has the ability to be transformed then the rigidity of the scale can be mobilised freeing us from restrictions.
Reply: But don’t you think that the purpose is to remove or decrease the negative aspects of our characters, which we all have, and then improve? Surely simply weighing five against two is not balanced? Would you not think that failure is only truly negative when not learned from, and that the aim is not to simply do negative things in the first place? We all make mistakes, without exception, due to lack of experience or knowledge, but surely we don’t set out to do them to simply balance out some other and possibly unconnected positive?
Jacques: The only reason I mentioned the the word trickery was to show how a word can be seen in a much different way. The meaning of the word was not to say that one has been hoodwinked, but to show that use of pun often means we need to read between the lines, and or exercise alternative logics to grasp the true meaning of a statement. This sadly is out of the reach of some people as in some areas of the UK there are literacy deficits in 20-30% of adults and up to as high as 50% numeracy deficits. These are extremely sad figures for today's age of technology and access to information some take for granted.
Reply: Agreed. If you can’t detect the context and relevance of words, then you lose the meaning of what is being conveyed. Language is a method of communication, and the way words are arranged has a major effect on the message contained within, and may even cause misunderstanding. As you say, the obvious volume of and access to information in modern times often means nothing to many people, who may simply treat it like background noise, which still has a subliminal effect nevertheless.
Jacques: There is a massive chunk of people who are being left behind at a huge cost to their quality of life and to the shame of the rest of the human race. It should be up to us to make sure our fellow human beings are living a life that at least gives empowerment and value.
Reply: That’s true also, and that’s the purpose of The Way, as a philosophy based on the recognition that shows that to be truly aware of what is going on, and not going on, is of the utmost importance. Most people are in a semi-comatose state as regards their lack of actual awareness of the realities that they depend upon as a support in their daily lives, and simply will not be ready to face the harsher side of reality that comes to us all at some point.
At the same time, we can’t impose awareness on them, but make the information available if and when they come looking. The reason we often don’t see what we might need to see, is because we are looking for the wrong things in the wrong place. There are some, the few, who will pursue knowledge and certainty of fact, but there are many more who have no genuine wish to be disturbed from their dream state, and may even take grave exception to it.
Jacques: Understandably we all have our weaknesses but what we do possess is the need to be with other humans. It is in our interest to assist those less fortunate for moral reasons and for the benefit of society in general.
Reply: Yes, we have an assortment of both strengths and weaknesses, talents and lack of talents, but once we recognise the degree of each aspect, then we can save ourselves a lot of misery by not only developing our talents, but also recognise that there may be others we can work with who can do the things we are not so good at, thus allowing all ability to be shared for a common end ,“ mutual life in balance, which gives not only prosperity but the security within which that prosperity may be enjoyed. That has to be good all around, and that’s what The Way is about: using the principles of truth, knowledge, logic and reason to live in actual security where everyone contributes to the best of their ability, but this is something that cannot simply happen of its own accord, as only those with the right attitude can appreciate the value of it. To those who put no value on it, it simply has no value, rendering it worthless and unconsidered, until it is eventually noticed, all too late, by its absence.
Thanks for taking the time to reply Jacques.
Take care of the land that shall support you, against those who will encourage that you destroy in the name of profit. It shall profit you nothing only death, as shall you witness.
Show no avarice.
Show not ill temper.
Be ever vigilant against your own baseness and the baseness of others.
Be honest in all things as far as it shall be within reason.
Observe the security of marriage, for which it shall be designed, so that your family shall prosper in its completion.
Observe all the Laws of The Way, and abide you by them. Think on them each day for thy spirit's sake.
Take care of all that goes upon the earth, as all things that have life shall be strained in your time.
Great men cannot oft be seen, as they think great thoughts and do great and quiet deeds. Understand that such great men do, while the Beast gives only criticism.
Make only profit that is fair.
Let every man respect his companion and give honour and credit,”and above all, give him justice.
Live by the certainties of knowledge and search for more knowledge, for it shall be your greatest wealth, and will sustain you and your children and your children's children for all time. To do other will condemn you to live in fantasy and ignore your own reality, which shall bring only death onto you in the fullness of time.
The Bodhisatta has recognized the illusory nature of wealth and will not take poison as food. Will a fish that has been baited still covet the hook, or an escaped bird love the net? Would a rabbit rescued from the serpent's mouth go back to be devoured? Would a man who has burnt his hand with a torch take up the torch after he had dropped it to the earth? Would a blind man who has recovered his sight desire to spoil his eyes again? The sick man suffering from fever seeks for a cooling medicine; shall we advise him to drink that which will increase the fever? Shall we quench a fire by heaping fuel upon it?
Indulge in lust but a little, and lust like a child it will grow. Wield worldly power, and you will be burdened with cares. Better than sovereignty over the earth, better than living in any imagined heaven, better than lordship over all the worlds, is the fruit of true wisdom.