Authentic Nature + Right Actions = Peace

Originally this post was to be called ‘Nature Rules’ but after some thinking on this subject I could see that accepting ones authentic nature is not the end all solution to being at peace. Yes, learning to accept the nature of all things is an important part of the equation for living a life at peace, but there is a missing link that needs to be added to this equation. The missing link is marrying authenticity with rightness. There are many ‘natures’ in our life to be mindful of - we have our own nature, the nature other persons we have contact with, as well as the ‘nature’ of nature itself. But, just becoming a ‘blissninny’ and blindly accepting the various natures will not give us peace. To apply this tool rightly, we need to adopt a life of proportionality, balance and wisdom. How do we learn to live a more balanced life? By using rational thought patterns and by putting reason before passion. Then we can view our actions as balanced or not, for without rational thought we have nothing to weigh in our quest for balance.

Knowing what is true and developing wisdom to be at peace are two very important qualities for the confused spiritual practitioner to develop. With respect to myself, I try to balance wisdom with that of peace perception. For whether something is a truth or not, it still has to pass the peace test. There are many things that are true and good in life, but they will still end up destroying my peace if I let them. Usually the dividing line for such ‘good today ~ bad tomorrow’ questions are rooted in the area of balance and proportionality. If you don’t know what I am talking about, then I will give you this example. we need water to drink and air to breath in order to live. But, even though water and air are life sustaining, too much water and too much air will become life destroying…proportionality and balance divides life from death. I always ask if a person, place, thing or activity promotes my peace or destroys my peace? When I practice compassion for others as my Buddhist practice recommends, I ask this same question of peace promotion or peace destruction of others. I look deeply to see what is destroying the other persons peace the best I am able to. There are 3 main components to rational thinking.

1 - Rationality requires reflection.

Many of us are too busy to reflect. Other times our minds our consumed with troubles and out of control passions. Over thinking also plays a part in keeping our minds working in the wrong direction. An old Buddhist saying tells us that a constantly busy mind cannot heal itself. Reflection time must be ‘open thinking’ time where we look at both ends of the spectrum and everything in between for answers and choices and not just the comfortable ones we are accustomed to. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them. Psychologist William James once said, “A great many people believe they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

2- Rationality is the ability to anticipate consequences.

Reflection pays big part in this as well as past experiences and the process of extrapolation from past experiences and others mistakes. Weighing and balancing are two key words that come into play. Sometimes ‘gambling’ is more a component to those that ‘shoot from the hip’ and worry about consequences later. Many of us get stuck in a place of justifying our actions with blindness to the consequences. Our actions are ego based and not truth or rational based. “First one decides the goal, then one gathers the principles or delusions to justify reaching this goal.” Principles or delusions? This depends on whether the mind is being used for rational thought or if out of control passions are in command.

3 - Rationality requires adherence to certain standards.

There are many standards to consider and each individual has to judge these for themselves. Another name for a standard is a rule. Many people are defiant against ‘rules’ and they are entitled to not follow the rules as they please. But such freedom has a price to pay, so they should not balk at paying the price for their freedom with the necessary consequences that come from not following the rules. Standards are different for each area of excellence that we seek to attain. The standards for excellence in rock climbing are different from those of a scuba diver. Professional standards of an engineer will be different from societal standards of being a good parent. But one thing is certain. If we are defiant and balk against these standards we will probably be headed for failure or even death in certain activities. (Failure? This cannot be said in 100% of the cases, for without such experimentation and digression inventors would not produce much. But in generally acceptable terms, standards usually have to be followed. If you balk at following standards then go back to component 1 and do some reflection as to why?)

Accepting a persons nature must always be balanced with rational thought as I said above. We can accept another’s natures as an abuser and be at peace that they have this nature, but we do not have to stay in close proximity of them ourselves. The missing link so to speak with the blissninny that accepts everything blindly is they are neglecting to align ones authentic nature with that of finding inner peace. The serenity prayer tells us we have 2 possibilities to find peace…by Change or by Acceptance. We should always seek out change for the most part and practice acceptance as the last resort. That is the general rule. Change first - Accept later. For without feeling anger or discontent we wound not seek out change - as in changing our environment that might be an unhealthy one for us. So, we should never regret feeling anger, but just as anger and excretion are two naturally occurring parts of being a human, we should let them serve us instead of we being enslaved to them.

In SCA they have a tool called abstention. They abstain the best way they can from people places or things they have found to be detrimental to their recovery program efforts from past experience with them. My recovery success is based a lot on abstaining from people, places and things that do not mesh well with me and if I cannot avoid them, then I work to make the unavoidable fit better by changing things on my end. Yes, we cannot change others, but we do usually have control of ourselves and how we participate in dealing with others. Even though we cannot completely change or wipe our many problem areas in our life we can usually change some aspects of most problems to make them more bearable. So, I am always looking for small changes to make in the right direction and this recovery orientation towards the direction of change helps by giving hope of possible larger future change as well.

When Socrates was a young man he had to make a decision to make with which road to take in his own study of philosophical knowledge. He looked at his predecessors and their study of science and nature and also weighed his talents in this area. His conclusion? “I am not of the nature to study nature.” Socrates was at peace with his own nature. We only have so much of ‘us’ to spend, so spend it wisely. Fighting ones authentic nature spends our time and energies unwisely. The serenity prayer gives us the answer, “God / Higher Power, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We can see this battle over accepting others nature happening all the time with the sexes. Many women say they can’t understand men, just as many men say they can’t understand women. In the bible it says that God’s way is not man’s way. Well, to further distill this we can say that God’s way is not man’s way and man’s way is not woman’s way. Every creature has it’s way and when you can come to peace with this you will be on your own way to accepting life on life’s terms and not your own. To start on your peace journey look for insight into the other creatures suffering and problems. Each sex has their strong and weak points just as the yin and yang dictates. To change this would be to change the underlying duties and essence of that creature. It is of their nature for men and women to be men wand women. “Were I a nightingale, I would act the part of a nightingale; were I a swan, the part of a swan.” ~ Epictetus

I had a mentor that I held in high esteem for his various talents in sports. As he aged he started to get back problems. One sport he excelled in was kayaking. Kayaking eventually had a particularly bad affect on back problems. At age 51, I cannot sit in a hard-shell whitewater boat for longer than 10 or 15 minutes before my back starts bothering me. This fellow had the same issues. What did I do with my back problem and kayaking? I accepted my nature and went to inflatable kayaks and can kayak for a few hours with only moderate back problems. What did my mentor do? He continued with hard-shell kayaking and made himself so uncomfortable he saw no other choice other that to kill himself and he blew his brains out. My mentor did not have the ability to accept ones changing nature. No flexibility gives us no hope and we get locked into tunnel vision with death as being the only option from escaping our pain.

Accept others nature helps when we apply live and let live. It becomes much easier to do once we accept our own nature, then we can apply a little of this acceptance to anthers right to exist. The Buddhist tool of compassion helps as well. It reminds me to look for insight into he other persons suffering. When we spend out time looking for insight into their suffering it does not leave much time for building up hatred against them. The 2 do not mix well. we cannot develop compassion and hatred for someone at the same time.

On some discussion lists the topics have come up of doing good for others. It seems some list members are not at peace with doing good. Whether they feel like they must be obligated to do or give a certain amount of themselves or their money. Or they feel something is wrong with them for not wanting to do more good, as society ‘puts’ the goodness conciseness on them. We are NOT required to do a certain amount of ‘good’ for others. I would say we are required to not harm others if we desire to be at peace. In my own case, I donate a very small amount of money to charity and I give very little time to volunteer work. I give what is comfortable and natural for me to give. But, I do donate good in an area that is authentic and not forced for me with writing my posts and planting seeds of peace in others. As I plant the seeds in others, I water my own seeds of peace, so I get double benefits. Find your own strengths in this area, do what is natural and authentic for you. If you are uncomfortable with your life write on it to clarify what you would like to get on it. The world needs all sorts…for balance.

You can get some clarity on the authenticity issue if you ask yourself why you wish to do something? What is your driving force? Do you act from fear or act from desire of begins at peace? Don’t let others dictate your balance point to you. Just as no one could dictate to you when you have had enough to eat or drink, or how much money you have to spend. so it goes that no one can tell you how much of you that must be spent in the world to try to do good. The decision must come from within you. My actions are based on inner peace and if I stray - there goes my peace - it is my choice. Put your inner peace foremost and you will have your answer. Fear or guilt based reasons for acting are not authentic and genuine. The persons actions are based on negative consequences otherwise they would not do them. I see this a lot on the Buddhist and Christian oriented discussion boards the practitioners are worried they will develop bad karma or go to hell for a mis-step. They are not worried about peace…they are worried about pain. “People that practice religion are worried about going to hell - people that practice spirituality have already been to hell and don’t want to go back.” As I will tell you below in the section on Heidegger, “When you align real and authentic actions with those that promote inner peace you are moving closer to enlightenment.”

Speaking of finances and affordability. What about the commonly thrown around misconception that tithing 10% of ones income is the way to find everlasting joy and peace? Well, the churches and temples need to pay the light bills and the preachers have to eat, so of course they need some money. But, I can also assure you that if recovery or salvation could be bought by throwing money at the basket when it is being passed many sick addicts and spiritual practitioners would have bought their way out of their mess of a life they have created for themselves by now. No, charity begins at home - for when we destroy our own home all is lost. Charitable donations should be based on naturalness as well as comfortably fitting within ones budget and not the pious belief that it is the right thing to do - even when it is NOT the right thing to do. When you give things up out of a sense of duty or self-sacrifice that cannot be comfortably achieved for you, they continue to preoccupy and clutter your mind as well as destroy your life. Should I be forced to work harder to make more money so I can donate more? I work very, very little for my income - but the little work I do fits my addictions just fine as is. So, I try to apply voluntary simplicity do what I can with my income to live balanced within a budget, instead of trying to live an artificial life that generates more money, more problems, more stress and fuels my 8 addictions.

Anther area of nature that some disregard is that of natural law. I find that sometime spiritual practitioners neglect the natural laws that govern our bodies and suffer in this area from lack of living a balanced life. Some of us forget we are spiritual beings residing in physical bodies living in physical world and governed and as such are governed by the following 3 branches of laws:

1 - Natural or physical laws

2 - Man made laws

3 - Divine or spiritual laws

Proportionality and balance used to be taught in ancient Greek educational curriculum. Unfortunately, these studies have gone the way of the dinosaurs. There is no one magic bullet in life that will fix all our problems. Living a good life is composed of many qualities and when we reach for one thing only with thoughts of disregarding the rest of life’s laws we will be out of balance. To be at peace is a natural ability that is instilled within us all - you only have to become balanced to be at peace. When Socrates was in his cell awaiting execution, his friend Crito visited him offering plans of escape and the resources of many of Socrates friends to help him set up a new life away from Athens. Socrates responded to Crito, “My friend Crito, your zeal is invaluable, if a right one; but if wrong, the greater the zeal the greater the evil…” Socrates accepted his fate and practiced virtue by being at peace and living within the 3 branches of laws that governed him. Would it be any different if Jesus had escaped his fate by running away? This is what the author James Allen had in mind with his famous quote from his book “As a Man Thinketh” ~ “Circumstances do not make the man - they revel him to himself.” Manmade law imprisoned Socrates and man made laws sentenced him to death. Socrates chose not to break the law, even when it was a simple task to escape with the help of his friends and live instead of die. For Socrates, circumstances did not make him into anything other than what he ‘genuinely’ was.

If your an atheist or agnostic, you may not think much of divine or spiritual laws, but you still have to answer to natural and man made laws. Don’t get confused by the term spiritual. I am not always referring to organized religion when I use such terms. Atheist or not, there are many mysteries in the world. The spiritual studies deals with such mysteries, for the root of spiritualism is that of the unseen and the force behind it all. Some people say they can defy man made laws as well as divine laws, but no matter how defiant the person or addict is - no one escapes natural laws. To be successful in life we have to put some effort in spiritual work and some effort in physical work for a good balance as well as be mindful of not violating manmade laws. It is by restructuring my life to accept and live within all these laws that I have been able to find much peace…by living within my means. My prior life was just the opposite. I lived a life that violated all 3 branches of these laws. As I wrote in my earlier post ‘Putting Peace First’ …“All our actions have consequences and many of these actions are producing consequences that rob us of inner peace.” If we expect to escape from the consequences of ALL our actions - that is delusional thinking. Desire plays a big part in guiding our actions. If we have a constant supply of never ending desires that end in the disruption of our peace what chance have we to find serenity? To find peace I had to rework my life when it came to excessive desires as well as being mindful of living within these 3 branches of laws.

Accepting ones nature as well as the nature of others is not the total answer to the mystery of being at peace. Yes, we can accept our nature, but if our nature continues to be that of peace destroying instead of peace promoting, then some additional work needs to be done. Sometimes we can have a say at our nature and other times we cannot. Martin Heidegger, a famous existentialist philosopher wrote much on authenticity. While Heidegger could be arguably be said to have ‘written the book’ on authenticity and genuineness, Heidegger was also a Nazi supporter. Now, we can sometimes blame such affiliation on design, such as being forced against our will. But in this case, Heidegger seemed to be a Nazi by desire and not one by design. I discussed this in an earlier post ‘Addict by design ~ Addict by Desire’ For authenticity and genuineness to be of real value, they must also be in the ‘right direction’ as the Buddhists set fourth in the eightfold path. Yes, Heidegger new about authenticity, he seemed authentic and genuine in his actions, but fell short of the other half of the equation of marrying authenticity with ‘right’ actions. Heidegger accepted his nature, but his natural and authentic nature was one that was not that of ‘peace promoting’ in nature within himself, nor peace promoting for others. Academic smarts are no guarantee of peace smarts. As I wrote in my own post on authenticity, “When you align real and authentic actions with those that promote inner peace you are moving closer to enlightenment.”

BTW, if you made a study of such a person as Heidegger while looking into the subject of authenticity. Would finding our his Nazi affiliations blind or prejudice you to what he had to say about authenticity? Would you spend your time trying to ‘prove him wrong’ to make your ego right? If you liked the philosophy of Aristotle, but discovered Aristotle promoted slavery. Would that blind you to all of his teaching? The nature of humans is that they are imperfect. If we only seek out perfect humans to learn from the pickings will be slim…really the pickings will be zero. But, even with all our imperfections, many of us contain small perfection’s to learn from if the student is willing to look for them and be open when they surface. The answer to these question of prejudicial blindness will tell you a lot about your own nature. If your nature is that of passion before reason and a tendency to being blinded to the truth due to prejudice, then reread what I wrote in my earlier post ‘Our Guiding light Prejudice or Truth’ Always remember, truth stands on it own and is without political or religious affiliations … just as nature rules … so does truth.

Accepting one authentic nature, balancing authenticity with doing good, not harboring hatred or fear, being generous and compassionate to others, being at peace within and with all - these are all qualities of the enlightened mind. When Socrates was leaving his trial after being condemned to death he had these parting words. I’ll leave you with them as they show how one man applied the equation of Authentic Nature + Right Actions = Peace (Translated by Benjamin Jowett)

"Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth - that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.

Still I have a favor to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing - then rebuke them, as I have rebuked you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care and for thinking that they are something, when they are really nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands.

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows."

Good Luck,

V (Male)

For free access to my earlier posts on voluntary simplicity, compulsive spending, debting, compulsive overeating and clutter write: vfr44@aol.com. Any opinion expressed here is that of my own and is not the opinion, recommendation or belief of any group or organization.