Thursday, April 14, 2005

Text as toolbox

I have to admit, I learn a lot writing these posts! It’s fun to start talking about something, and see what comes up. It’s often the case that I ponder a topic for years without ever committing any thoughts to paper, which is a way of manifesting them. The risk of doing so, of course, is that ten minutes after writing down my thoughts, I learn something new that adds hue or tone or brightness, and transforms the picture I’ve developed, rendering what was written seemingly obsolete. Only seemingly obsolete, though, as what’s written was never meant to stand on it’s own as some statement of authority. Aquinas was careful to note that authority is the weakest form of argument! What’s written down is rather merely a stimulant to further study and questioning, and that power it can retain for a while. For the reader, it’s important to reflect on what’s written as a set of interesting ideas the truth value of which must be tested against your own experience, knowledge, conscience and insight.

By writing what I am writing, I intend to create a sort of tool box. The value of the toolbox lies in the usefulness of its contents for stimulating conversations and introspection and practice relative to the pursuit of service and self mastery. The tools must be used, and not merely read about. If you read this stuff and find yourself nodding along and intellectually agreeing with the ideas I am synthesizing here, that’s great. From there, the next step is to apply the ideas to your life and use them to master your own life experience. Agreeing with the ideas and making use of them are two different things, and the latter is much more valuable than the former. The truth is, you don’t actually have to agree with the concepts to test them through observation, introspection, and experience. All you need is an experimental mindset and a willingness to research the truth for yourself. I’ve collected these tools from a variety of sources. I don’t pretend to have invented the hammer or the saw or the anvil whereby the moral life and spiritual flight are forged. I am doing this work for myself as well. Grasping these ideas well enough to formulate them in writing doesn’t mean I have mastered them. It may at least demonstrate my sincere commitment to my own growth, and that of everyone else as well.


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