Love and Wisdom Fighting Back
I have learned from life that love and wisdom can fight back. They can resist assault. Particularly during turning points in the signal events, they can bring aggression back to its primordial role as a preserver of rhythm. On the strength of aggression alloyed to affection, many lovers, fighting off terrible reverses, surmounting every obstacle, have thrived in nearly impossible conditions. And people have grown wise in the most inhospitable settings too, because the urgency of their real needs for meaning required satisfaction regardless of conditions, and with fierce intent they commanded the aggredi to rise up against injustice. With brilliant means, they confronted opposition.
The aggressive energy you gather up to surmount assaults on rhythmic love and wisdom not only keeps you engaged with the essential meaning-bestowing virtues of life, it helps keep you apt to your times.
The recruitability of aggression, its readiness, its arousability, its quick bifurcation from the stress response, thrusts you into the moment (see # 133, 135, 154, 155.)
To be apt in love is to be truly there for another person now, concretely, not in the sweet by and by. To love, care, and never give up demonstrates the true Spinozan impulse to self-preservation; it asserts our need for others (see # 234.)
Aggression works in the service of wisdom too. It’s there when you resist the urge to throw aside a hard project. It gives you staying power. It keeps you from following false hopes. It rejects mediocrity.
To stand always tentative and open on the path of possibility, and to be willing to countenance aggression in the onceness of your life while risking its abuses in an imperfect world imperfectly understood - that takes something more than courage, nerve, judgment and aptness. It takes the desire to win.
Fighting back is one thing; winning is another. To win the historical struggles in a Dukkha laden world where nobody wins, your deeds of love and wisdom have to do more than express themselves authentically in small settings: they have to enter the wider struggle and transform territorial and dominance relationships. This they can only do when many people who have been driven into their depths and intimacies by related psychological and socioeconomic problems return to social life bearing common solutions based on shared views of their human potentials and powers. In the return stage of wisdom, they find each other. In the approach stage of love they discover mutual commitments.
Many important changes fly in under the radar when cultures falter and fail. Sometimes in perilous circumstances the resonant turnings of many people have synergistic effects. When anonymity is joined to anonymity moral currents are generated that change history.
But how do you get there from here?
Keep On Keeping On
Look closely and you will see that in all of its present inadequacy love and wisdom are still flowing in your life. Somewhere you are attempting to love and trying to get wise. Wherever love is flowing, keep it flowing. Wherever wisdom seeks for meaning, keep it searching. Know that you are already on the paths, and because you are, even if you are floundering and flailing there, even if you do not know what you are seeking, or where you are going, keep on. Keep on keeping on. You are heading toward transformational opportunities.
By shedding egotism in favor of deeds, and for letting those deeds cut the path to individuation itself, you get the power to act in the moment according to its needs. With aptness, deeds find their own way.
However, you can only live a life of full engagement and follow this strategy if you have developed the skills to recognize a “me” who is there when the “I” has blown apart, a “me” of small moves and little hopes and finite interests who has shed the illusions of reference to a permanent self. To find this “me” takes secular spiritual attainment.
Living in the moment without an overweening self, we become clearer valves for giving and receiving. Deeds performed this way require great finesse, and precise timing, since the assertion of a clear intention timed to the turning moment must be delicate and strong and apt enough to meet and join the world’s own energies. When they do, it feels as if volition is moving from the world to the world, finding their own way through the open valve of you.
Only when we have this strong delicacy, this resonant rhythmic precision, do we achieve poise in the heart of time. Our deeds then fall clear of the doer.
Nature ordains the value of life to be the full play of our propensities. The primordial center of each living being is uniquely tuned and differently sensitized to input. We are peerless transmitting/receiving devices. You will find your unique ways and I will find mine and we will help each other.
Only this courageous openness leads to the thorough exploration of our genome and to the fullest possible expression of our potentialities. Our real task, then, is to struggle imperfectly with love and wisdom and to individuate, not discouraged by our temporal limits.
It is good to touch the primordial core of our being. The deeds of love and wisdom that start there awaken to the needs of others. More beings surround us. More beings bring more life.
Doing the best we can from the center of our uniqueness, our journeys of wisdom will produce innovations that will move us toward freedom and justice. And from our loves will come the strength to care. And our caring will stir caring in others. And caring establishes a deep communion with nature.
When the rhythms of love and wisdom converge in our own lives, winding about each other durably, with aggression the third in the threefold cord, we begin to access the natural sources of meaning through which rectification of social injustices occur. With this impetus, we can organize our aspirations into something truly great.
Stephen Spender wrote:
I think continually of those who were truly great
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.
The deed carries the mind into the world better than a thousand volumes of philosophical reflection. By living in rhythmic congruity with nature, we gain the strength to be ourselves, and when we are ourselves we see that what really matters beyond the achievements and disappointments of life are the deeper rhythms of love and wisdom. We weave them as they weave us. We are our own flying shuttles. The patterns that take hold in the weft and weave are those we have earned or spoiled by living. You only get the gifts of self-realization in the moments you give them away. That’s the nature of true bestowal. The spoiled efforts you cannot give away. They go with you.
Reality offers startlingly more than we know or can anticipate. And sometimes it delivers crushingly less than we merit. As lived, however, it is perpetually new. This newness brings with it an uncertainty that, if we are brave, is enlivening rather than debilitating, amusing rather than terrifying, inspiring rather than deflating.
Of course, we can make a mess of it. We are only human. We are never fully formed. We don’t really know how to handle ourselves because we don’t quite know what is happening or where we are going. Fortune can come bounding in with hard surprises. We can get sick or die too soon. We can lose our bets. Or we can make fine choices and life can still turn out badly. There are no guarantees, not for outcomes or intentions.
Yet we must live in the moment before judging it, because doing precedes knowing. To live well we must say Yes before we say No. We need to welcome the moment - this one, the next one, the last. We learn by living, and since we have hardly engaged the fullness of our capacities yet, we do not know how much there is yet to learn, or whether what we learn will hold up or whether we have gone too far or not far enough. No wisdom holds forever. Our understandings and our motivations vary, develop, evolve, and pass away. I wrote this in a poem when I was thirty:
We change and our changings change
And we leave behind us a refuse of small wisdoms
And this is the price we pay
To be present at our turnings.
That is my best understanding of the way to freedom! Would that I could practice it better myself! The risks get higher as life goes on, perhaps because there is less time left to rectify mistakes, and more regrets, and one’s energy diminishes. But the greatest risk and the major drain on our energy is not taking the risk.
Our saving grace is that transformation is always possible. Even up to the last breath in the final moment giving can become receiving. One kind of love can turn into another. Wisdom can refresh itself in other wisdoms. Love and wisdom can converge on each other.
Once you start making the changes, you engage the deep turnings. Then the past comes back to you in a new way, it make sense in ways you never suspected. The mistakes you made were not for nothing. The past can be redeemed. Doors open. You can call forth more life.