Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Courage in the Struggle" an essay


Courage in the Struggle



                Never panic: relax and triumph. The ability to relax before opposition takes a cultivated calm achievable through time with mirror meditation or with continual practice in fighting -- boxing is useful, for instance, or working some job or volunteering where hostile confrontations are a regular activity. Costumer service can be useful in this regards, and it is also useful in cultivating both pride and humility -- two plants that grow together.

                There are two approaches to the world we can pattern ourselves upon: the butterfly and the arrow. The butterfly, a sort of clumsy grace of ease and pleasing play while browsing the sweetest things of life characterize the connoisseur, the literary bon vivant, the lover of life, the relaxed freedom of playing over the game board of life -- and we would surely learn the moves and peace of taking life at such a pace. But at times we must have our attack like the flight of the arrow: direct and intentful.

                If there were merely one strategy that won all of life's games, it would be taught by all, known by all. Having mixed strategies, and strategies of anticipation in the world is necessary to adjust not only to wily nature and her madness inspiring chance, but also that fox that has spurned on man's mental evolution from the start as his greatest opponent, and ultimate contender: man himself. Dispute the salesman and he draws you in. He plays on your sense of politeness, and through countless engagements with his commission on the line he has trained his eye to see every chink in your armor. But when facing the store owner over some fault with his product, playing up an unreasonable rage will likely win you what you want, and hot-headed insistence intimidates him more than cool polite requests of redress for his mistake. Different strategies for different situations.

                Through these examples we see what all the world is; the world of people is a set of episodes, of situations centering around problems that require our acumen, our principles, and our relaxed and calm assurance. Panic has its part, panic has its place, but mastering panic is the best bet. We are in a philosowar, and we win not by freezing up, but by moving into the place of greatest control. If your opponent negates what you say, grab on to his not, for a knot is a handlehold. Even where he opposes you he opens himself to attack. No risk, no bliss, as the warrior knows; and gaining the place of greater control means that your mere position gives you the upper hand. I always take the place of undesirability, and feel compromised insofar as I am made to say "I vote this way, I believe that way, I am this person."

                Some are born with a propensity for confidence, and other are instilled with it by a favorable upbringing. Whatever you were granted or whatever you lacked, your ambition is the same: to accrue as much confidence and certainty as you can from your particular situation. There is no need for playing the victim and supposing that some familial or societal set of circumstances or any number of injustices have abrogated you from doing your great duty to yourself: being all that you can be. How to be just to yourself is the basis of all justice. Optimizing your real potential, rather than lamenting that you lack the powers of your neighbor, your friend, or your enemy, is the powerful tone. Every man is in a position to make the most of himself: that transcends circumstance. There is always a best, there is always a way to become confident.

                To develop a strong spirit -- the commanding tone of voice -- be willing to leave this world of causality and fate and flirt your way through the freecoursing world of the unknown. Whether art or religion or personal fantasy, you must make a space to confront your fears, to expose your chains and wrestle against them. You will master this world only when you first master that one.

                Who is more noxious than a failed artist? Sink, therefore, into your art, and overcome those personal faults that are unique to you. We can frame this in traditional language, and say that it is looking into the mirror at our satanic reflection. Lucifer, in the guise of maid Satan, reverts from being simply the trope artist of language to being the accusation against you. I am speaking about a living part of your own psyche, but using mythological terms. This self-reproach, this source of self-doubt is not something simply to deny or kill, but to comprehend and use. It is not as if doubting oneself were bad or to be avoided. It can be highly instructive. And as a clever moralist will show you your situation in some artful disguise, we will face this Satanic image in some way or another. The Christians and the Jews called it he day of judgment, but it doesn't happen on the last day, but some moment in your life when you seem to be pitting yourself against an external thing. We may not see we are wrestling ourselves as we wage our campaign against the world.

                Joseph Smith the founder of the Latter Day Saints, narrated the pivotal moment of the movement to be when he faced the troubled and conflicted world of warring Christian sects, and prayed for a solution to the problem. As he first relates the problem, he gained a sense of peace that none of them were right, and that he would choose his way by his own lights. Later, this episode was redrafted as a visitation by none other than God the Father and God the Son themselves, instructing the young Joseph that he was to reinstate the Christian Church as it was intended to be. There is no need to dispute Smith on his hyperbolizing of the story; the picture language of Father and Son visiting express what the realization came to mean to Smith. It never need happen that God speaks to prophets or does miracles; it is that the ideas that come out of the creative unconscious are so miraculous, that such stories are brought to mind. That Smith could develop an oracular soul and consider it divine was his insight; it became a self-correcting Revelation, one with authority but able to change and even be mistaken. Smith's opposition to every city he confronted merely projected his relation to himself as he battled his own doubts and problems; his destruction of a free press at the end of the life brought on his death, and in that he died for his sin.

                And so we compact our own soul when we gain our intensity of purpose. We externalize our doubts, we put our conflicts into worldly conflicts. The man mirror meditating and the man waging war against his enemies are making the same gesture, one internally, one externally. In that moment after death when the mind is alone with itself, when it faces the truths it suppressed, that telling moment when we tell on ourselves to ourselves, we are merely repeating the events of our lives which said some simple truths amidst complex forms and events.

                In all these things, courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of fear. Realizing that you have vulnerabilities, weaknesses, wounds, and ignorance helps you plan your attack in the world, and in your relation to yourself. Invincibility has no adventures and there is no glory for omnipotence. The universe as well as your own soul are balancing circles, and as you expand your power and place, you will come to uncertainties, terrors, panics, and doubts; courage is not in lacking these but in mastering them.

                Emerson, when stricken by the death of his beloved wife, fell into doubt and fell into faith -- faith in himself. He quit the church faced with no certain career, and ventured to Europe to reclaim his roots. At this time, his body fell to ruin as he made his decision: "I will remember that after the ruin the resurrection is sure," he said, as surely it happened when he left the ministry. It is as if his muscles and visceral organs had to restructure themselves to become the New Man, the American Adam that his subsequent career would publish in to American consciousness for all time. Even our diseases are philosophical, and in all our struggles, the inward struggle of a growing soul is the meaning.

                It might be reasonable to be discouraged, but triumph is unreasonable, insists till the end, is seldom daunted, but bounces back from every defeat and just when wise and mild voices tell him enough is enough, he plows forth all the more. After his success, people say it was inevitable, and can't imagine it having gone differently. That is also part of his triumph, he so changed the parameters of the game that his besting of chance takes the face of fatal certainty. He is God because he has faith in himself.

                The next worlds are already in us: at death we give birth to our heaven. Our sunny self-assurance is never naive, but wary of jealous and vicious attacks by all the self-doubters of the world. They would murder our confidence if only to feel that lick of power so lacking when faced with our certainty. If grandiosity secretly fears it is worthless, let us likewise harness our self-doubt and set them in forwarding the system, as a propulsion, the way we use vile oils and petroleum to fuel our cars. Nobody can stop you from being a success if you refuse to be discouraged.

                This is why we take study as one of our basic eight virtues. We seek to develop our idiolect. A man's language is his desire, his solvent. With every interaction, we seek to wrap our language around the other's, to comprehend him and not be comprehended by him, not to be anticipated, planned for, or tripped up.

                To have a language that accounts for all the insights and truths of an opponent and to be able to predict all his innovations is to have gained his spirit. Where the spirit truly lives and creates, nobody can predict. The enemy who repeats himself is already dead.

                The mind sees the world in terms of meaning. Even "meaningless" is a meaningful judgment. A depressed affect inspires nihilistic philosophy, uses science to justify itself. Not facts but an attitude moves the system. A few controlling images set the language and attendant actions into place. These images may be unconscious but nonetheless formative. They are eidolons. Our study is ever to equip us with powerful images and words to settle our frame at the position of power.

                And so we struggle on, content in life yet ever prodded with the returning edge of anxiety. How often we fail to realize we were seeking until we have obtained. We are unhappy because we don't know where we are struggling. And just as sustained politeness only builds resentment, it comes as a relief when we realize that we are in fact upset over a thing. War is the father of all things, peace the mother. To gain the courage and the calm to face all realities requires an honest appraisal of our powers and potentials. To wish for powers that are beyond our potential invites wasteful frustration. To hold to your own and maximize your gain -- that is all a man ought to aim for. More would be less.



\ ~@M@~ /



No comments: