IS BEING GOOD BAD FOR YOU?
Little Miss Perfect
Little Miss Perfect
Some people actually want to be good people. They deliberately bone up on being good and what it means to be good, do good, think good—and what is the basis of that goodness.
For many people who purposively search for personal goodness, they are going to discover something called VIRTUE.
The big problem with deliberately practicing the practice of virtue is that it goes against your basic reluctance to do anything that is hard to do.
WARNING! Becoming steady in being virtuous is really, really hard to do.
However, you do have some powerful allies in the journey to becoming virtuous.
One of these considerable allies is the FACT that you are chemically predisposed to behave in ways that seem like you are a good person…that you are being virtuous.
More about the chemistry of your behaviour later on. For now, please understand that there is a very specific biochemistry that STRONGLY influences your behaviour…actions and choices you make that could be described as being virtuous.
GRATITUDE IS A VIRTUE…REALLY?This includes being genuinely grateful. Being grateful often makes the top ten list of virtues from most societies…past and present.
Okay, for just one moment…let’s pull back a bit from one virtue, and take in the entire list of virtues. How many virtues are there?
I’ve counted well over 100…and I made you a nicely organized alphabetical list.
The alphabetical list is buried deeper inside this article series.
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Mind you, a fair number of these 100+ virtues could be lumped in together—that some of them mean mostly the same thing or are covered somewhat by some of the other virtues.
Let's START OUR QUEST FOR VIRTUE WITH THE GREEKSThe Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato pushed these four character traits as the best and most desirable—Temperance, Wisdom, Justice, and Courage.
There are many, many more virtues than these four. But these four are often considered to be the fundamental foundation for all the other virtues.
It is a good idea to study these first four.
Let’s take each one of these in turn, starting with…
That word hits me right in my cultural reference referee…so there I am, back in the day…when the Women’s’ Temperance Movement was afoot…and people were jumping on the wagon, taking “‘The Pledge’ to NEVER not EVER again drink demon liquor.”
This movement helped to force a number of strict prohibitions on the manufacture and sale of alcohol upon several nations. Perhaps the most famous of these was prohibition in the United States of America…from 1920 to 1933. Yes, the infamous Volstead Act.
Here is an interesting image that comes from 1846. This image promotes the awareness of the perils of drink: THE DRUNKARD’s PROGRESS
So what is temperance in the classic Greek style?SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_(virtue)
There are some big pay-offs for going all-in on temperance. But let me tell you, the dedicated practice of this first of the classic four virtues is NOT easy going. Oh sure, you will probably have some easy wins at the start of your practice.
But then comes what I can best describe as Self-Blow-Back. What this means is that you are going to hit a certain point on a certain day when all your temperance just simply explodes. Suddenly you are going to find that self-control has a very dark side…indeed.
We mean that word “indeed” quite emphatically and literally. In your deeds, you will suddenly find your doing taken by the other side of the temperance equation. This means the opposite values of those qualities you are restraining will flare-up.
At its core, temperance is all about self-control of those pesky and powerful feelings and thoughts that are defined by strong emotions and urges attached to all of that…feeling stuff.
Temperance is a voluntary set of deeds you perform in your daily life. It is your way of behaving as a general rule AND in the exception, too. It means that when you are provoked you stop yourself from retaliating by being non-violent in speech, tone of voice, body language, and so on.
It also means you are forgiving of other people, including yourself…and in the moment. That is a tall order.
THE next delicious delicacy of being temperance-sublime…is a hearty dose of humility and modesty. Thus is slain the formidable foe of arrogance. Being arrogant is fine…but you are going to find that you get taken up short by the vicissitudes of life when your lead trait is being a snot-nosed, superior, pushy dick-fuck, aka, arrogant.
Moving on…your temperance exerts calm and self-control over your fuming excess anger. Oh, by the way, this doesn’t mean you won’t feel like being mean, nasty, vile…or you won’t feel like screaming in someone’s stupid, poe face. Or punching the living crud right out of them. Or carbonating them to a crisp with a sudden, vanquishing white-hot flame of your righteous wrath.
And here is the last one ingredient of the dark-side of your wonderful self-control, restraint, disciplined response…your very and most crucial response to your hungry thirsts, yearnings, desires…AND that has to do with this word: CRAVINGS.
Yes, that which you crave can be perhaps the single greatest FORCE of feeling mixed inside the object of your desires. That is where something like alcohol can be such a source of suffering for so many people. It is because of the feeling of craving the alcohol. The sense of urging, burning, needful, must-have…CRAVING for a drink…just one drink, I promise…and then I will stop.
JUST one little drinkee—and that’s it.
All of these strong feelings are RESTRAINED by an act of will power, and that is what is contained within that silly, weak-looking word that we know of as temperance.
TEMPERANCE ACQUISITION TUTORIALHere are some helpful hints about how to actually get this virtue functioning in your life. Please don’t be thrown off the scent by the term “manly virtue.”
► SOURCE: http://www.returntomanliness.com/2008/07/08/manly-virtue-temperance-10-steps-to-self-control-and-self-discipline/◄
Okay, this is the virtue that Solomon reputedly asked for from Jehová…
…WISDOMFirst quality of wisdom is the ideal of transcendence. This capacity to go beyond is endowed with the enviable trait of perceiving directly that which most cannot notice. It is the story behind the story that is behind the story—and keep going.
One way to get into the idea of what transcendence is like as a state of awareness…a steady state of being?
But what kind of being is it? Being thirsty? Being angry? A nice steady state of being pissed-off—that sounds very transcendental, doesn’t it?
Here is a term borrowed from the Tao te Ching: “Bigger than Big.”
Another conceptual styling taken right from The Way and the Power (Tao te Ching) is this gem: “That without substance can enter/dwell where there is no room.” (Aphorism 43.)
This is all super-fine-fantastic, but we are dwelling on the level of the intellect. This concept of being beyond…without the experience, and I mean the direct experience of transcendence…are just clever words floating on a mirage.
Getting wisdom includes a healthy dose of piercing the veil of illusion surrounding your awareness. This does mean having a non-intellectual experience of the source of your own awareness.
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That is the beginning of wisdom.
Here are some more bits and pieces that make up wisdom:
Becoming wise is demanding. It requires open-mindedness and fascinated curiosity. That can be quite tiring for many people.
It is tough to shove new insight into your brain. Learning isn’t always easy-breezy. It is so much easier to just click onto Netflix rather than click on a tutorial in Spanish.
Wisdom does require that keen edge of pushing past your own boredom and intolerance. It does mean questioning your own preconceived ideas about a good many things.
It will take you outside your comfort zone, too.
Wisdom also adds up to NOT always being happy. Becoming wise has a distinct smack of slogging through shitty stuff. Stuff that makes you NOT happy. Events and situations that reek of misery.
Yes, by far it is better to avoid the suffering which is yet to come. Good luck with that one. Remember how many times you’ve been told it would be wiser NOT to go ahead and do X, Y and Z? Yeah?
Real and lasting wisdom often comes with a serious price born of the inevitable dance between cause and effect.Okay, this is all great, for sure…and thank you so much for the hot-tips. But what about a simple short-cut to the high-voltage zippy-zap of getting me some real-deal, “I can feel it,” WISDOM…can you do that for me?
Yes, I can.
And here it is.
Check out this chart, stir with your awareness of awareness, and dip your intellect regularly into any one or all of these three simple get-wise-now solutions to your not being so very wise.
You might be wondering how you can buy some wisdom. Maybe there is an app you can download? Here is a link to a source that may help you get a grip on how to go from being smart to becoming wise.
“Okay, that’s so great, and thank you very much…BUT you seem to not be giving me what I want—and that is the sure-fire way for me to get wise.”
“See, I am smart. Sure I am. But…I want to graduate into being wise. And to do that I must get me a steady supply of wisdom.”
“So don’t be putting up any more of these stupid sayings from supposedly wise people. That is just so annoying!”
It may be annoying…but that is truth for you. Perhaps the single biggest part of creating wisdom for yourself is discovered when you deliberately pause and consider the BIGGER PICTURE. Whatever you are facing can be turned around so you see it from another set of directions. This is not always easy or fun.
What if you are in the middle of a fight/flight/freeze scenario? Oh…let’s say you are being held up at gunpoint. Not much room there for expanding your immediate experience and seeing the BIGGER PICTURE.
Like…I am going to bother to see it from the bandit’s point of view…take into account how this person ended up holding a gun to my head and taking everything I have. And then shooting me. Just because.
In fact, now that you put it this way…why would I bother to try and be King Solomon and see the past, present, and future of any given event, circumstance, drama…why bother with all that understanding crap?
Let’s just get down to it and close the sale and move on.
Here is a quote from an article you can check out once you stop puking from reading this smidgen of a quote: “At night, look up at the stars. You are the entire universe; you are made of its stardust. This is the largest picture of all.” (Elaine N. Aron Ph.D, Consulting Your Wisest Self)
Thing is, that quote I just quoted and the link will take you to a very practical exercise you can begin to use immediately to connect with your OWN WISDOM…and actually get it to answer whatever is on your personal “I’m fucked if I know” docket of stuff you need and want to figure out.
One example of you catching a bit of your own personal wisdom will be when you stop long enough to take action on a simple offer like that, and…actually…follow…the…carefully….worded…instructions.
This brings us to our next virtue included in the Greek Top Four. It is a very confusing concept and often seems to come up short when being applied to the treacherous elite of this world…or to those less powerful.
Yes…we are going to go and get some…
It is easy to slide into a blood-simple form of “Eye-For-An-Eye, Tooth-For-a-Tooth.”
There is an intoxicating allure to getting your own back.
The cry for what is fair and just echoes across the blood-stained pages of history. Victims of so many horrible crimes that have never seen the light of true justice…if you listen carefully, you can hear the plea rushing at you from the long, lost weeping misery of the forgotten.
There is a sense of philosophical impunity found in the hearts of the heartless…after all, if the weak are so, then the strong must take what they want.
There is an old saying, “It is a great life if you don’t weaken.”
When you check the origins of this saying, you are going to run across some recent references. But in fact, this saying goes way, way back.
It is steeped in the blood spilled by the Robber Barons of long ago.
What it means is that if you have the right attitude, you can go out and take what you want…and take it from those who don’t have the killer instinct that you have.
Essentially you make your own rules. That way you can be the ruler.
This brings us to the idea of the Golden Rule, a.k.a., “He who has the gold makes the rules.”
What this means is that you can buy the justice that you want to have. That way you can get what is just, and some ice, too.
But is justice really a virtue?
I can tell you that this word, “justice” really means that which upholds and contains the entire cosmos.
Yes, it is so big…it is like wisdom, and that is something BIGGER THAN BIG. Without the fundament of wisdom, there can seldom be real justice.
Justice helps to sustain the highest good. This means that if you do the wrong action, even if you don’t know it is the wrong action…you are going to be found out by the great cosmic wheel.
This may not give you much satisfaction if somebody has done you wrong.
But it is true that the wheels of the cosmic mill grind very slowly but they do grind exceedingly fine.
This is found in the exceedingly annoying statement about the sins of the father being passed on even unto the third and fourth generations.
What good is that going to do me right now? Especially if Daddy Dearest ripped me off for a bunch of my hard-earned coin? I want my money back, right now.
Where is the justice in the l o n g delay?
We are going to have to look deeper inside the Big Picture to get a better understanding of how come justice is a virtue…and why that is important to you.
Like, can JUSTICE make you more money?
Basically, justice is very important to how you conduct yourself and create the life you perhaps want the most. This will be a life where you don’t have to remember the last lie you told to shield you from the next lie that you are going to have to make up to protect you from the last lie.
It also will be a life where you are not haunted by the shady deals you’ve made…the people you have to avoid because of the shabby con-jobs you’ve pulled hidden as a business deal or a bad cheque that you wrote because you just didn’t have any other choice.
It is that act of desperation that often gets you the juiciest jackpots.
When you deal in being just with those you encounter, you are going to use the following seemingly very separate and distinctly different capacities. You will use them to the degree you have awareness of these capacities, and how subtle and synchronized they are within your consciousness.
However, the wisdom inside this revolves around how much depth you have in regard to this little list…this one, right here:
- LOGICAL, WELL ORDERED MINDSET.
- INTUITION, INNER KNOWING FED FROM YOUR GREAT UNCONSCIOUS.
- ABLE TO MEASURE SPIRITUAL CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTION/REACTIONS.
- CONSTRAINTS OF YOUR PHYSICAL WORLD.
- ABILITY TO BE IMPARTIAL. (Not so easy to pull off.)
The essence of justice pulsates with a vital organ called morality.This is a very strange and dynamic (changing) living part of human consciousness. There has been a lot of thought invested into morality.
We’ve had recent, popular movements that have co-opted the term. For example, “The Moral Majority.” This group still rocks on in the free world.
But there is a depth of richness to being moral that can be so powerful. It is the cry for justice within the heart of your own soul. Justice that demands your own moral ascension…your own moral development.
Here is a great example…from Lawrence Kohlberg.
Here is the set-up for how this all shakes down…and somewhere in this following chart is where you are at when it comes to your own moral development—AND in your ability to be truly just.
What does it mean to be truly just? After all, you can ask a dozen people what they think about what somebody else just did…and get a wide range of answers…as what is just. Which is why the case about to be presented after these next two charts is so important.
This next chart with the amusing cartoon best amplifies the intellectual concepts applied to the six stages of Moral Development. Yeah…big words.
But what are you gonna do when some creep attacks you without warning? That’s when all the fancy talk meets Flight/Fright/Freeze/Fight…and maybe a combo of all four.
Here is the chart. Then make sure you look for my big, fat Moral Dilemma.
Introducing the Heinz Dilemma.This has a lot to do with the base-line concept of justice and the underpinning of morals and morality.
Here is a great video to get you inside the dilemma:
Heinz Dilemma Kohlberg’s stages of Moral Development
Interactive, With Quiz!
Interactive, With Quiz!
Speaking of moral dilemmas, here is a link to some doozies. Take your time and enjoy the fun!
Right, we’ve made it to the last of the Greek Top Four Virtues. This might surprise you, too. It is the state of courage.
It takes real courage to be courageous. And it is much more than just being brave.
So…here we go.
Without FEAR there can be no…
What I’ve noticed with digging into The Greek Top Four Virtues is how much mush is spewed about goodness and morals and doing the right thing under the flapping banner of virtue.
And then along comes something like COURAGE. This is the last one in the quartet from the ancient Greeks.
If you smack the word courage around you are going to notice the presence of some other words lurking around inside. One of those words is “cour.”
Let’s tear this sucker apart:
From the Latin, cor, “heart.” And then by way of Old French, corage. Next stop, Middle English — meaning the heart, as the seat of feelings.
Yes, there is more:
“What is one’s mind or thoughts,” ergo “bravery.” Be sure to add in: “…wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness.”
“…Heart, innermost feelings, and temper.”
from Vulgar Latin, “…coraticum….”
Go team, go.
Perhaps courage is this set of words clumped together in a pablum string of goop:
“The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, and pain, mixed with a healthy dose of pulsiminating fear.”
But what does this mean…in a practical sense?
Storming the barricades?
Hopping over the top of the trenches to face certain death in a torrent of machine-gun fire?
Often courage doesn’t come cheaply. It is going to cost you. For example, to have the courage of one’s convictions…in the face of stern and sustained criticism—especially when it is going to cause you some great personal loss. To act in accord with your beliefs can end up with you going to jail…or get beat up…maybe even killed.
It can mean being shunned.
LIKE THIS EXAMPLE OF BEING ENDOWED WITH COURAGE:
“…The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery….”
What do you think?
This is where the importance of digging into the meaning of words helps us to zero in on the essence of spirit contained within the word itself.
As you know, I am a big fan of the concept of NAME and FORM. What this means is the idea of how concrete material creation is shaped by the import of the very word that is attached to the form.
EXAMPLE: How close are we to actually having courage by saying the word COURAGE…?
In FACT, the idea of meaning impregnates the word with intention. It powers up the intention within the person who is really and seriously absorbing the CONCEPT of the word.
In the case of the word courage, you can have a push of inspiration to face unpleasant consequences for taking a moral stand in the face of distinct and obvious pressure to capitulate—and give in to the bribe of advantage for NOT being courageous.
By now you might be wondering if you can actually stimulate courage…if it is possible to encourage…courage.
Which begs the question: “Is courage a habit that can be practiced and made stronger?”
I started to turn this question like a searchlight upon the military…seeking a possible answer.
Along this journey, I found a speech given by a Roman commander…back in the day.
Here is an excerpt from his speech. Probably most of us know very little if anything about this man. His name? Catiline…and here are a few of his words:
I personally know about gaining courage in the face of my own cowardice. I had the personal experience of being beaten up and coming up with the courage to fight back—even though I felt like a coward.
SHOOTING THE BOOTS ON SATURDAY NIGHT—BACK IN THE DAY
The fight started off with me basically trying to get away—trying to beg my way out of it.
This made my protagonist salivate with battle lust. And he waded in and started just beating the crap out of me.
I didn’t have the nerve to fight back. The best I could do was to try and ward off the worst of his blows and kicks.
This was back in the day when “shooting the boots” was normal.
And the use of fists with feet was the street fighter's way. Some people would have called it dirty fighting. For the guy beating me, it was standard practice.
What happened was I grew up inside the fight. I realized it couldn’t get much worse than it was getting….maybe. And that getting punched in the face and kicked in the bag wasn’t fun.
I didn’t like it.
Fighting back was my only way out—other than ending up on the ground. You see…he wasn’t going to stop: He had blood lust.
You know, I might finish this story later on in this series—let you know what happened.
GREAT, SURE…BUT WHAT ABOUT, “NO FIGHT, NO BLAME?” DOESN’T THAT TAKE THE MOST COURAGE?
For now, let me get at the idea of courage as being able to choose NOT to fight.
It takes bold courage to face violence with the reasonable ability to subdue THE SOURCE OF THE THREAT by force—and instead actually take a beating.
You may be disgusted by the idea of “Turning the Other Cheek.”
(It is true that survival first instinct does OFTEN trump any of your most cherished philosophies.)
It is true that in order to evolve you must first survive…and this instinct to survive is found even the wise.
However…I know for a fact that when you enter into a state of awareness…where you have stepped well over the “normal” line…most evil intentions to do you harm cannot find a place to enter. I know this may not make sense to you.
But it is true.
More about that in future parts of this ongoing series.
NEXT……Courage that does NOT include facing mortal peril—The OTHER SIDE of COURAGE.
Sometimes courage does not have the prospect of physical violence embedded within the outcomes of facing up to that which requires courage to overcome.
But often that is the inference.
But often that is the inference.
Courage to change yourself in the face of your own inhibitions—fear of speaking in front of an audience, for example…can be really disturbing to many people.
In fact, it often is the number one fear of many people—Public Speaking.
In fact, it often is the number one fear of many people—Public Speaking.
It takes courage to face up to your fears, and do “it” anyway…whatever “it” is.
THE BIG CONCLUSION?
Why should you bother studying up on virtues and being deliberate about becoming MORE virtuous?
It is so much easier to be mean-spirited. Being nice means missing out. It means letting people in ahead of you. It means not grabbing the last item on the shelf. It means not making that train because you are not prepared to be aggressive and pushy. It means not getting ahead at work because you aren’t going to stick the knife in the back.
It is very convenient to look the other way when it comes to the conscious practice of any one of the dozens of virtues listed in this series.
It takes so much time to study virtue, right?
For example, take the virtue of gratitude — just the idea of being purposely grateful can seem like too much of a commitment.
AFTER ALL…Why bother?
It is just so much easier and more fun to pursue the next wasted moment.
Besides, being on the virtue patrol is hard fricking work, dude.
IT takes real soul-sweat to get a virtue spinning.
In the next article in this series we are going to go really deep inside the How-To part of your personal journey to being a good person…HOW TO GET YOUR VIRTUE ON!
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