Greetings to All in ST’s Kaffeeklatsch!
Since “it’s Sunday whenever the Chaps shows up.”, I offer the next installment in the “Stump the Chaps” series. A lot of reading – both here and offsite – has brought me back to considering the question of whether or not we can come up with a set of guiding principles that could be diffused by individuals in daily contacts with others – encounter-by-encounter, on a daily basis. It might be useful to first recall the perhaps-mythical era of a framework of family, school, church/synagogue/yes, even mosque/sports, etc. in and through which the norms and expectations of the wider culture could be shared and modeled – regardless of whether or not one chose to adhere to them. I think most of us here can relate in some way to the daily life Norman Rockwell’s ‘Four Freedoms’ depicts.
Recently, a college friend of mine recounted that he and his wife had begun to “play games on our phones, while waiting for our meals to be served when eating out.” This is a gentleman and his wife who are professionals, in their older adult years; we can’t blame it all on the young folks. Instantaneous worldwide connection does have its rewards. (Me, posting this, for instance.) How did we get from Norman Rockwell to George Jetson, you ask? That’s a piece of the puzzle for another day. For now, let’s see if we can get the two of them to at least wave at each other, if not shake hands?
I have to stress here that I’m not calling for another program/workshop. In my experience, head-knowledge only gets you a headache unless it moves to your heart and hands. I will ask us to look at some ideas that have been keeping me company since I was invited here about two months ago. Our gracious host’s discussion of being ‘awakened’ and living from the inside out, led me to this checklist re: tantra and everyday life, by Margot Anand in The Art of Everyday Ecstasy. She uses language in a rather flowery way that boils down to:
– Say a daily “Yes!” to life’s creative (and, yes, ST) erotic potential.
– Roll with the direction life takes you; don’t look too far ahead.
– Trust yourself to exercise your own knowledge, gifts, and talents.
– Open your heart in compassion and concern for yourself that then flows out to encompass others.
– Find authentic ways to be creative, to bring yourself into what you do.
– Take time daily to assess your physical, mental, and spiritual fitness – and act to restore wholeness.
– Connect to that which nourishes/informs/empowers you spiritually, and actively maintain that bond.
– Commit to a personal spiritual path, based on gratitude for the gift of each day.
– Let your commitment to your Source always ground and guide your thoughts, feelings, attitude, and actions.
Ms. Anand offers us a self-focused set of tools for a satisfying, integrated daily life. These dovetail nearly-seamlessly into our old friend C. S. Lewis’s cross-epochal, cross-cultural, societal schema referenced in his The Abolition of Man. He termed this tool “the Tao” (borrowing a Buddhist term for ”The Way”) though not using it in its technical sense. Lewis described the path this way:
“It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are.” (TAoM, pg.19; HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)
Notice the use of the external and the plural in the description. Lewis’ concept highlights externally-focused guides for making values-based decisions from ancient texts of: China, Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Native American and Norse cultures, Persia, Rome.
An eight-fold hierarchy emerges from this cross-cultural exploration. An appendix in The Abolition of Man details these. I’ll simply list them:
1. The Law of General Beneficence [Recognition of Common Humanity/Nonaggression]
2. The Law of Special Beneficence [Kinfolk/Neighbors/Countrymen]
3. Duties toward Parents/Elders/Ancestors
4. Duties toward Children/Posterity
– Fidelity, honesty, respect for ownership, proportionality of response
– Specific applications to legal matters.
6. Good Faith and Veracity
7. Mercy/Compassion/Charity (with respect to offering one’s goods and time)
8. Magnanimity/Largeness of heart (extended to offering oneself for a greater Good.)
It seems to yours truly that there’s plenty of room for Norman Rockwell and George Jetson to at least meet and greet here. What say you all? Thanks, ST!
Until next time…Peace!…Chaps, out.