Be Calm Enough To See Clearly

The third principle of the “Five Fold Path” is to understand human history and human behavior without guilt, blame, or shame.  This does NOT mean not to grasp that actions have consequences, and that initial conditions influence results.

This means that your view of the world is consistent, provides insights and perspectives at every level, and provides a philosophical framework for understanding the events of our world.   This does NOT mean adapting my personal point of view on these things. It means having a point of view that helps you to navigate your world with the same confidence that mine does for me.

How do you know what you know?  What do you think the human capacity for violence implies about us?  Do you see human beings as more creative or destructive? Do you see other human beings as being basically like you?  Better?  Worse?

The answers to these and countless other questions will determine your peace of mind, your ability to resist stress when temporary or localized events upset your apple cart, even your ability to love mankind…or yourself.

There are two questions: “who am I?” and “what is true?” at the base of all philosophical speculation.  The version of this that is most important to writers is the fact that there are only two things to write about: “what are human beings?” and “what is the world they experience?”

“Plot” is the way an individual human being reacts to the events around them. The events a writer selects to structure their plot expresses her sense of what people are, and what the universe is.  Does it care about us? Is it cruel? Neutral?  Are humans good? Bad?   Do we have agency? Are we puppets? Can we better ourselves?  Know ourselves? Ever know another human being?

This core of course expands into broader thoughts on the nature of society, thought experiments like “Libertarianism” and “Communism” asking what human beings are, and how we might organize economically and socially for the greater good.   The question demands a theory of what we really are, and also what is “good.”  Whether you have consciously considered these things or not, they underlie everything you say.

The trick to writing stories that express your point of view on society or humanity is probably to create a story idea or character FIRST rather than start with a political intent.  Then, ask yourself what your political intent says or implies philosophically, and just create a world, and characters, who express this without ever directly stating your contention.

Just tell a story, but be sure you believe in your characters and the world you create for them.  The “Lifewriting” approach is to write about things that touch your heart.  Take issues that are concerning you, and write about them.  I don’t care which part of the political spectrum you are on, so long as you can discuss your position with courtesy and compassion.  If you are too upset and fearful to be compassionate and courteous, then take that first step (“Love yourself”) to apply whatever methods are necessary to regain calm and balance, then return to the discussion.

Ranting and raving, blaming and shouting, accomplishes little save preaching to the choir.  We can do better.

Namaste,

Steve

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