Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Humility and Hubris: Responding to Comments

In response to my earlier post, Yvonne Chireau commented:
I wasn't going to comment, and then I was again, but what the hell. I missed the first part of the argument with you and Galina. But as one who embraces both the virtues of "humility in spiritual matters" as well as "The Law of Attraction/New Thought" in principle, I wonder why it is assumed that one can't do/be both? It takes a shitload of painful self awareness and honesty to balance, but I don't see these ideas as contradictory by any means.
and SeekInfinity-ICTX added:
You present this as if the only two options are "accept your place" and "live in a delusional fantasy land". This is a false dichotomy; it is entirely possible for one to accept that one has limitations currently but also be determined to overcome every one of them; you make an analogy of a swimmer swimming across the pacific ocean but forget that men build boats. While it could be argued that that's not at all the same thing the same principle can be applied to a persons body; some artificial limbs are already outperforming natural ones in some ways for example. A person can change, spiritually and physically, and they can direct these changes based on their own will if they know how. There are also some philosophies and religions in which gods simply don't have nearly as much relevence as in others; some varieities of buddhism for example take the position of "is there a creator god? maybe but that doesn't really matter since if he exists he would be in as much need of enlightenment as anyone else so even asking this question misses the point". There is also the viewpoint that it doesn't matter if a struggle is doomed since the very virtue of an act is in the willingness to do it no matter the odds rather than in the end result; by this viewpoint a person who tries to swim across the pacific and drowns is more worthy than someone who just decides it's impossible and not worth the risk which brings up the hint of naturalistic fallacy in your argument; just because this is the way things are does not mean it is the way things should be. It also doesn't mean that if we(humanity and anyone who wishes to work with it on equal terms, or at least let merit of any individual being be shown rather than simply assumed due to divinity) worked together we can create a more free universe where any being can get ahead on their own efforts without any externally imposed limitation; I believe this is a dream worth fighting for, even being tortured and dying for. Quite literally, a prize beyond all cost.
Sincerely, SeekTheLimitless-ICTX
May we all find what we seek
Perhaps in the future SeekTheLimitless can seek and find paragraph breaks.  I'd also note that the discussion between yrs. truly and Galina was more mutual agreement than argument. But those quibbles aside, let's address these concerns.

There are definitely virtues to positive thinking.  If you are convinced you are going to fail you almost certainly will.  But the corollary doesn't always apply. There are lots of people who are absolutely sure they will succeed but who end up falling flat on their faces.  (The sad tale of Mighty Casey at the Bat may prove instructive). Positive thinking and self-confidence is definitely a good thing. All else being equal, the self-confident positive thinker will probably go further than the self-doubting negative thinker. But there's a fine line between the virtue of self-confidence and the vice of hubris.

SeekTheLimitless makes a comment about boats: this actually proves my earlier contention.  So long as someone is convinced sie can swim across the Pacific, the idea of building a boat will never occur to hir. Only when we recognize our limitations can we go about overcoming them.  Accepting your limitations and recognizing your place in the grand scheme of things doesn't mean passively giving up and accepting abuse and injustice.  It means working on things you can change and making a difference  for the better instead of wasting energy trying to flap your arms and fly to the moon.

Is the person who tries to swim across the Pacific and drowns in the attempt more "worthy" than someone who realizes this is impossible?  I'd say sie's more foolish. Sie has wasted a life that could have been used to make real, lasting and positive changes in the world on a mission that was obviously impossible and that served no purpose other than to prop up hir ego.  In seeking to transcend hir human limits, sie succeeded only in reaffirming them at a terrible cost.

I'm not sure how we are to "get ahead on [our] own efforts, without any externally imposed limitation."  Taking my cue from Dion Fortune's excellent Mystical Qabalah, I've always believed that Binah served as the resistance which shapes the force of Chokmah.  If we don't confine and externally limit steam, we don't get a steam engine: our hammer blows will only shape metal if there's an anvil involved somewhere.  To have form is to be limited: that which encounters no resistance can perform no action.  To steal a phrase from Orion Foxwood, "we are spiritual beings on a human path."  Figuring out the reason for our incarnation, and acting in accordance therewith, will get us further than assuming that we  can wipe away all our human limitations if only we believe hard enough.