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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Religious Understanding



            While striving for perfection, the very first idea to recognize is that it will never be attained in its complete form.  The reason is that man cannot hope to ever reach perfection because man is innately flawed.  Death itself dictates imperfection, because a perfect body would never die.  Thus physical bodies are not perfect, so the senses conveyed from the body cannot be perfect either.  The limited sense perception restricts the understandings of man in areas that cannot be sensed physically.  Since the senses inarguably dictates the conducts of the human mind, the mind must also be thought of as imperfect along with everything else. 
The human mind arguably is the center of the senses, tasked with interpreting the physical pulses in the brain.  This places the mind as being the center of imperfection.  Therefore what cannot be physically sensed becomes increasingly hard for man to understand.  But what flawed men cannot sense is not indicative of false existences outside the current realm of understanding.  The proper manner in which to become more ideal is to understand the limitations of man, in order to understand what cannot be understood, thus becoming more perfect without ever reaching full perfection.  This means to witness what cannot be immediately witnessed, and to know what cannot be currently known.

Death & Life After It

            Religious beliefs are centered on the concepts of life and death.  But any individual who would be able to convey the exact nature of death, having gone through death, and the happenings after death, if any, are unable to audibly or physically message on this fact in a manner that would be undeniably understood by those who have not yet gone through death.  One undeniable fact regarding death that can be presently surmised without testimony of those already dead is that it is a necessary life step.  Life relies on death, because without death, life would not long survive as is currently witnessed.  Imagine if birth never ceased in its current rate, yet death did not come as it does to those who have been and will be born.  A population’s demand for material resources would exceed the supply on earth; therefore death would inevitably ensue, regardless of its present nature.  Religion seeks to convey understanding of this life stage, and since no person can adequately describe the exact nature regarding death, having not gone through it, the religious beliefs seeking to convey this understanding should not be disregarded entirely.  Herein lies the potential benefit of religious teaching, not merely beneficial to understanding death, but most especially life and its stages.  Consider this parable of the twins:

One upon a time, twin boys were conceived in the same womb. Weeks passed, and the twins developed. As their awareness grew, they laughed for joy, “Isn’t it great that we were conceived? Isn’t it great to be alive?”
Together the twins explored their world. When they found their mother’s cord that gave them life, they sang for joy, “How great is our mother’s love that she shares her own life with us!”
As weeks stretched into months the twins noticed how much each was changing. “What does it mean?” asked the one. “It means that our stay in this world is drawing to an end,” said the other one. “But I don’t want to go,” said the one. “I want to stay here always.” “We have no choice,” said the other. “But, maybe there is life after birth!” “But how can there be?” responded the one. “We will shed our life cord, and how is life possible without it?” “Besides, we have seen evidence that others were here before us, and none of them have returned to tell us that there is life after birth. No, this is the end.”
And so the one fell into deep despair, saying: “If conception ends in birth, what is the purpose of life in the womb? It’s meaningless! Maybe there is no mother after all.” “But there has to be,” protested the other. “How else did we get there? How do we remain alive?”
“Have you ever seen our mother?” said the one. “Maybe she lives only in our minds. Maybe we made her up because the idea made us feel good.”
And so the last days in the womb were filled with deep questioning and fear. Finally, the moment of birth arrived.
When the Twins had passed from their world, they opened their eyes and they cried. For what they saw exceeded their fondest dreams.
-Unknown Author

            While this parable is undoubtedly favoring the existence of both a divine presence and life after death, therefore giving it favor with religious beliefs, the dialogue between the twins mirrors the struggles of understanding this topic. Perhaps another example to consider is Plato’s Parable of the Cave, which can be read in Plato’s Republic.  The liberation of the prisoner from the bondage of the cave, witnessing life outside the cave for the first time, provides that prisoner with belief of that existence outside of the cave.  This can represent humanity’s tendency to not understand what cannot be physically sensed and the transitional existence of life after death that cannot be understood except by those who made that transition.

Concluding Thoughts

An ideal man may or may not adopt a particular religion as his spiritual belief system or not.  However, every man who would be ideal will understand the benefits of such a belief system, permitted that belief system does not incite violence against humanity.  An ideal man cannot adopt any belief system that fosters hatred and violence against others since such a man always must be a fervent protector of the continuance of all life. 
There are beliefs that love the concept of divinity, as well as those that rebel against the any concept of divinity.  Just as there are beliefs that love the concept of humanity, and those that despise humanity.  An ideal man must serve humanity, therefore he cannot adopt beliefs, whether religious in nature or not, that are against it.  Because an ideal man realizes the rarity and value of life, as well as the collective lack of power in man, so life shall be preserved by not being destroyed.  Since man inherited the capacity to understand this notion, man also inherited the responsibility that goes along with it of preserving life.  Christ once stated in Luke 12:48 (NIV): “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
After considering the limitations of man in both mind and body, one can also recognize the flaws in everything devised by man in consequence, even in belief systems and fields of study.  Some may regard religion as a belief system that is flawed because man himself composed the system.  While this is true of religion, and religion itself may be flawed, this cannot discredit the belief system in its entirety, no more than one can discredit a tree for having leaves.  The scientific fields of study are also imperfect for the same obvious reason; man who is limited by his own understanding devised it.  The telling factor in determining the flaws of scientific research is its ongoing pursuit.  For instance, much of science is based on theory, which is in itself limited, and research requires constant updating because of its faults.  While these two inventions of man serve their own purpose, religious beliefs system seek to understand the spiritual, while science looks to examine the physical world, they are considered polar opposites of each other by many.  But this cannot be so, because one describes spirit over matter while the other describes matter over spirit, they are in fact parallel to each other.  They are not opposites; man has made them opposite by blindly trusting one over the other.
This specific reflection all together compliments intellectual pursuits previously discussed.  Understanding concepts of life and death, as well as life after death is to increase understanding of all things.  While religion seeks to convey understanding of aspects harder for flawed men to comprehend, science also strives to understand what else can be seen.  These two fields are both tools in which to increase man’s understanding; to entirely abandon either is to limit understanding.  To further intellectual pursuits regarding a spiritual aspect of life, which may or may not be connected to the conscious mind, interpreting the lessons of both fields is required.  Therefore a study in religious text is appropriate, regardless of one’s preference in beliefs.  And while religious text has been arguably composed by man (some would disagree wholly to this statement), an ideal man understands the limitations of that as well, but nevertheless utilizes every tool to aid in further understanding.  To tread beyond the confines of the dark cave described by Plato, to consider questions beyond the capacity of flawed men, by utilizing every tool available to man, is to become more ideal.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Intellect


            It is the hope of the author that these recollections and considerations would develop for a reader an idea of what qualities a man should properly possess, so that he may develop for himself the need for like qualities.  There are numerous qualities in which to explore, and doing so systematically will hopefully solidify the belief that a man should work to improve his personal possession of the studied qualities.  Although a list of qualities most preferable cannot be easily made in order of importance, certain qualities can be emphasized more heavily than others.  This is not to admit more importance is placed on the heavily emphasized, this is actually an admission that such over emphasis displays the quality as more broad and therefore requires increased emphasis.  The quality to be considered at present is intellectualism.
            Take a brief moment to deliberate on the two distinctly separate entities that compose man - body and mind.  Assume character and spiritual aspects as dwelling within the mind for this particular example for the sake of simplicity.  The mind is the governing entity that governs all aspects of life for that individual, most especially the body that seats that mind.  And like a just government, checks and balances need to be put into place to that entity that governs to ensure proper order.  Herein lies the increased emphasis on the improvement of mental faculties.  For the mind is the catalyst to all other possible improvements.

Intellectualism

            Intellectualism is quite simply the on-going process of attaining wisdom and knowledge, the act of being well informed on the true status of man’s position in the universe and hence be a practicing intellect.  Of all qualities to consider an ideal man possessing, intellectualism is uncommonly broad as compared to other traits.  This broadness is in consequence to the seemingly never-ending nature of study that is required of this quality.
            What is found is the mind is incredibly pliable in its nature throughout the lifespan; therefore it must be continually refreshed with learned material to remain in its most efficient state.  The only effective method to do this is to introduce new material to foster both awareness and thought.  This new material would ideally be of scholarly value to be of most practical value, and should be challenging.  As demonstrated by physical exercise, mental exercise also requires one to increase performance standards in order to perceive continued improvement.
            The most practical medium in which to digest previously uncovered material is reading, particularly book reading.  The written word provides for man a way in which information may be recorded so it is never lost and physically created so it is never forgotten.  What reading does that other mediums such as television and radio does not is the cultivation of brain activity that is needed to interpret the written form into an understood idea.  Television and radio may indeed be engaging enough in their own rights, yet they rely on one to be observant, rather than directly engaged.  This is why reading should be the primary practice.
In regards to the selection of the proper material in which is best to engage in study, effectively choosing to study topics deemed interesting by the individual would be preferable, at least at the onset.  The study of material considered as being dull is not particularly useful to men who are beginning intellectual study.  What is needed is a habit for learning that can only be initiated through the study of interests.  One will notice an increased tendency to move to material not previously considered interesting once a habit for learning has been conceived.  When this occurs, a preference should be placed on selecting material absent from formal educational studies.  This would bridge gaps in ones education, gaps created by institutions offering incomplete curriculums.

Formal Education

For students in much of the world, formal education exists in some form.  It is offered to children and its curriculum is heavily influential to the growth of individuals.  This influence makes considering these institutions significant.  One thing man must realize is that these institutions of education and the curriculum’s studied within them are created by man.  Man is inherently flawed because his understanding is limited by his imperfect senses.  Therefore it is logical to assume that institutions of formal education have been flawed since inception as well.  Crudely considered as fruit from the poisonous tree.  Understanding this is crucial to intellectualism because a man aspiring to be a proper intellectual will understand that a formal education can never be accepted as sufficient to being intellectual.  Merely being awarded a diploma or degree is not directly indicative of knowledge or lack of knowledge; it is generally symbolic of curriculum and program completion.
The current emphasis in formal education observed at the college level is on the attainments of specific fields of study, termed “majors.”  While this works well in a professional stance, it tends to leave one intellectually barren in other areas.  General educational courses in current programs are insufficient in covering what needs to be covered for a man’s intellect to properly mature.  In times now passed, academic pursuits once enveloped a broader spectrum of study, non-specific in its form.  The emphasis was placed on classical study, matters of thought, and definitions of reality.  This provided students a firmer stance in which to launch more specific study.  Men today must take it upon themselves to bridge this gap.

Concluding Thoughts

For men committed to the undertaking of becoming more ideal a man, much emphasis need be heavily placed on intellectual pursuits.  A proper intellect is well informed on as many topics as can be reasonably possible, but never mastering one in particular.  A true practicing intellect cannot rightly claim mastery to any particular field of study, because such an intellect would recognize his never-ceasing role as student.  Claiming mastery can be argued as similar to hindering the study of the field claimed mastered, because a master could not learn more so he need not study more.  An intellectual of proper form could never justify concluding studies in any field as such conclusion hinders further understanding.
Comprehension of the inadequacies of present formal educational institutions invokes feelings of urgency for men of today to revise the individual manner in which to attain increased mental faculty.  An ideal man must rely not on instructors, teachers, or professors, none but only himself.  This is the mark of a true man, one who takes it upon himself to not only improve intellectually, but to undertake the task on his own.  Acting thus, a man may not only uncover increased understanding for himself but also increased understanding for humanity, which he will forever serve.
             

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

To Be Humbled


Two commonplace social maladies pervade modern society, personal feelings of entitlement, as well as beliefs in ownership.  To believe that anything is owed or owned to and by man will consistently fall short to absolute truth because humanity is collectively unworthy of making such claims.  The origin of such claims can be found as rooted in the flaws of humanity.  Man only holds these ideas that provide illusions of ownership and entitlement.  The study of these social maladies holds significant weight in overcoming their recidivism on an individual level.
What can be seen in society collectively are ideas of attainment.  A system has been developed so as to promote distribution of property principled on fairness.  This system, derived from the moneyed system, works to establish that hard earners of money receive goods that are justly deserved.  There are benefits to this system; one notable benefit is to work hard to bring into presence items wanted or needed, which is fairness.  But with the benefits come an incredible pitfall, greed.  Greedy men are slaves to their emotions and appetites, and immature feelings of superiority, of entitlement, can create much cause for unfairness.  Therein lies the flaw.  Feelings of both entitlement and ownership, derived from illusions, bring out the worst in humanity.  An ideal man must recognize this and combat this for himself.

Entitlement

Consider things that man may claim entitlement to.  A man may claim entitlement for certain benefits, or for services, for money, for even food and air.  But the harsh reality is that man is entitled to nothing at all.  Nature dictates that living beings must take resources or suffer death.  Man of course has never been an exception to this natural reality.  What man does to justify the resource grab is to develop feelings of entitlement.  A belief that what is taken is owed, simply because the resources are needed to sustain life and lifestyle.  Surely a person may indulge in what is not entitled, it’s the feelings of entitlement that is the flaw. 
Objects or ideas that are man-made fall into the pit of entitlement even further.  Humanity initiated the illusion that value is attached to money.  However, the laws of nature cannot affix value of one resource over another, only man does that.  Gold for instance is not particularly valuable at all, only man makes it so.  Man’s continued pursuit in the attainment of resources he gives value to gives rise to a perversion of an already diluted illusion of entitlement. To grant access to a benefit, which gives benefit only to those who attain it, who feel it’s their right to attain it to somehow improve living. 

Ownership

The illusions of entitlement are synchronized with feelings of ownership in the same manner.  It matters little what particular belief system a man may hold, whether religious or not, a claim towards ownership of anything is a bold move, one with no precedent.  How can a claim be wholly true if the Divine created the universe, or nature provided the materials?  Man simply cannot make the claim because man is not as infinitely influential.  Mankind has diluted itself to believe that its perceived superiority gives rise to worthiness.  However, mankind cannot create; only manipulate what’s already been created long before the rise of men.  Therefore, mankind will always be innately unworthy in regards to ownership.
This gives way to the notion that even the physical body a conscious being dwells in is not owned by that being also.  It could be believed the only object that a man truly possesses in his own body, but even this does not reach the truth.  The compelling factor in determining this is the physical makeup of the body, like everything else.  Science informs man that his body is made of natural elements, formed together in an incredibly unique biological machine, not currently known to exist anywhere else throughout the known universe outside of Earth’s species.  This discovery validates for man that nature alone provides the materials necessary to sustain this biological form, therefore true bodily ownership rests with that which truly creates, rather than man. 

To Be Humbled

To say that humanity is collectively unworthy of claiming any entitlements or ownership is not akin to saying particular individuals are unworthy.  This idea only permeates the concept that mankind is simply flawed collectively in this regard.  Although this outlook may outwardly appear negative towards progress, in reality, it can have vast potential to individual progression.  An ideal man, with no feelings of entitlement, acknowledges what he uses in life, both to sustain life and lifestyle, is borrowed from his environment.  Such an acknowledgment constructs respect for fulfilling circumstances that provide numerous opportunities to borrow plentiful resources.
Also, understanding that one cannot possibly hold absolute claim towards bodily ownership enables an ideal man to treat the form in which his consciousness is seated with as much respect as he gives the powerful force that provided the materials for the form.  This empowers man with a new understanding of his current status and institutes a superior sense of freedom from possessions.  Considering the true position man has in this physical world as seen by the eye, felt by the hand, keeps man’s feet planted firmly on the earth that rears him.  An ideal man can recognize the flaws of humanity, and work to resist such flaws in his own nature.  Real manhood is to be modest, and to genuinely remain so regardless of success or achievement.  For haughty behavior will never reside in the character of an ideal man.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Regarding Truth & Deception


            A father once told his son that society, as experienced today, is all smoke and mirrors.  That deception is everywhere, what is seen is not what is real, and not many care to stand outside the circle of smoke and mirrors to see the truth.  This father’s instruction was so that the son may not commit to believe in anything he cannot himself prove true.  Harboring such a cynical notion may perhaps be too extreme for most, yet it provides a potentially useful lesson.  That lesson is awareness.  Awareness that truth may not be what is considered true, and reality may in fact be fantasy. 
            A man must know what truth itself really is.  Consider the happenings of what is within earshot at this time.  If one was to recite what just happened (or didn’t happen) at a later time, the truth of what happened (or didn’t happen) would be known by the person(s) present.  If by telling of what happened to another person (who was not present in the past moment) would result in a statement that was anything but what occurred exactly, then truth was not conveyed in its fullest sense.  Truth, as many know, is what is real in its simplest sense.  Of course man's perceptions of the natural world may present different natures regarding truth, the simplest sense of truth must first be observed. 
The loss of truth happens when a person believes something happened that did not, or that something is that is not.  This can happen through deceptive conversation (consider various forms of conversation), or this can happen through misinterpretation.  The former is the main issue a man must face, the latter can be both innocent, despite the fault in interpreting a fact, or deliberately deceptive.  A man who utilizes deception in conversation or interpretation can never be an ideal man.  This is because an ideal man realizes deception as a means of corrupting what is real, and the truth of that reality promotes the proper growth of humanity.  Therefore, promoting deceptive methods eventually leads to the benefit of no one in the long run.
It can be said that certain types of deception can be arguably beneficial in some fashion.  This may prove correct in extraordinary circumstances.  However, the mere act of deception cannot promote any long-term benefits to the larger population.  Misinformation demotes true progress and the lack of true progress promotes a lack of true achievement, and subsequently a lack of widespread happiness.  If a man would find himself in a situation where deceptive acts would prove beneficial, it would be best for that man to remain silent and mute.  The eventual negative backlash of deceptive acts will outweigh the immediate positive benefits had by it every time.
The proper method for avoiding being deceived is to listen to everything, yet admit only factual truths provided by reliable evidence.  If a statement is not validated by evidence deemed reliable, it can hardly be accepted as true.  This may end up leaving a man with an incomplete picture of what is true.  But an ideal man would rather hold an incomplete picture based on truth than a complete picture harboring falsehood.  An ideal man knows his actions must benefit humanity to remain in his ideal state.  Therefore he accepts only truth, and resists both being deceived and committing deception in every way. 

Concluding Thoughts
This topic could be argued further, and perhaps more will be added later.  However the same premise will always remain the same for a man wanting to become more ideal.  The imperfections of the human mind, the pliable nature of weak faculties, may make the goals towards reaching this ideal very difficult to attain.  Nevertheless, a man must attempt to reach this goal, if this goal is really what a man desires, to reach a more ideal version of manhood.  Truth can help get men where they want to go if they use it.  Truth regarding limitations, and truth regarding what is possible.  Truth is man’s ally in all things.  It must be known.    

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Introductory Considerations


            It can be said that every proceeding concept of an ideal man has fallen short of grasping the whole meaning of the idea.  There are two obvious reasons why it is hard to convey what exactly an ideal man is: first the concept is very broad, and second because the concept may lose traction when crossing cultural lines.  This incarnation of the concept will probably be no exception.  Universal ideas of what an archetypical man is may be studied, but still fall short when matched with certain cultures that may not accept some or most of the concept.  The goal here is to simply lay ground to a universally specific concept, so any aspiring gentleman may look to undertake the project himself by aspiring to become ideal, no matter his background of individual perspective.
            Before considering the individual characteristics an ideal man may possess, knowing the importance of such study must first lay the groundwork.  Knowing the reasons why will go a long way in providing motivation for men who undertake this life project.  The importance of such study rests in not the individual man, but on the collective body of humanity.  Society and the world can always use one more righteous inhabitant.  A goal that is generally universal to every person is to live in happiness.  To ensure the collective happiness of people, individuals must work for the collective good.  This task begins with men, who have always been tasked with protective and provisionary duties.
            What makes this study even more important is the age in which men now find themselves.  Public principles of equality and freedom are frequently addressed but are still never completely met in American society.  One could argue the reasons, but the issues that have once plagued past times continue to plague this one.  To deny this would be to remain blind.  Collective change is needed, and it starts with the individual.

(Before proceeding further, let it be known that these writings address men, are written by a man, who studies both humanity and nature.  But women may find some useful information the same way a man might.  Let it be known that these writings are in no way sexist – despite being gender specific.  The writing is so in response to the lack of manly qualities demonstrated by modern time and seeks to address the issues by targeting a direct audience.)

Perspective

The most powerful tool a man may wield is his brain and its capacity to reason.  The capacity to reason is quite obviously a major factor in the rise of humanity as a dominant species.  Reason enables man to rise above his primitive past, and elevates him to better circumstances.  That is the way in which society has progressed, and that is how its growth must come.  Before considering what it takes to become ideal, one must first adopt the added perspective that disciplined reasoning is the key to personal growth.  In short, the process of becoming a version of the ideal man cannot adequately begin or finish if the right perspective qualities are not adopted. 
One need not change perspective in order to adopt this idea.  Since individuals are limited in their perceptions of the world to only their own unique perspective, the proper thing to do is to keep the individual perspective while adding to it with a new idea.  This new idea should be the method of disciplined reasoning.  Always consider new data, but never commit to its adoption into individual perspective without running it through reason.  Allow reason to be the filter in which all things are to be run through.  Keeping an open mind, while remaining skeptical, provides an added safeguard against defective thoughts.  Only the individuals may decide what is added to their own unique perspective. 

 Corruptibility

While adding reasoned additions to an individual perspective, it’s important to consider corruption.  Corruption of the mind is why reason must be in place to filter.  Corruption happens when the individual stops considering his own thoughts but blindly adopts the ideas of others.  It is perhaps easiest to think of this as similar to how a good court judge considers his judgments without being influenced by anything but written law.  An ideal man would never allow his mind to become corrupted by someone else.  An ideal man would not even corrupt himself with too much or too hard of thought.
The reasoning against corruption of the mind is quite simple, to guard against biased or prejudicial ideas.  There is arguably no larger threat to reasoned thinking than a bias.  Harboring a biased belief suggests emotions (not reason) are at the helm of thought.  Prejudicial beliefs are no different, because leaning to any particular side of an argument by anything other than logic is detrimental to mental purity.  One may keep individual perspective in-check, but its impossible to do so for others who may not be as disciplined.  One must constantly be aware of outside influences on individual position. 

Conclusion

            After understanding these first two considerations, its necessary to close with a few notable points.  First, in order for a man to become a better version of himself, he must truly want to be better.  Better, as in the sense of more righteous, more correct in moral and ethical behavior.  Also, a man need not change his personality (unless his personality is geared towards the destructive ends of others) but merely mend his habits.  This mending need not be sterile of pleasure.  The process towards becoming more like an ideal man should provide satisfaction in knowing such improvement makes a man more desirable to the world.  Others should immediately appreciate the efforts of becoming a more valuable person to society.  However, it’s most important to remember that the pursuit of becoming more ideal a man should be motivated by nothing other than the need to do well to others.  Let that need fuel the progress.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Inaugural Post


The purpose of starting this blog is to rediscover classic virtues, particularly as those virtues relate to masculinity.   There already exists countless blogs that seek to do the same, however all seem to come short to fulfilling the encouragement of true righteousness.  Explored will be the concept of an ideal man: A man who values both wisdom and technical knowledge, though preferring the former - A man who is utterly incorruptible by any and all means, even from himself - A man who respects women, and does all in his power to both protect and provide – A man who never ceases to attain a more perfect version of himself, and makes himself, more than anything else, the true project of his life.
This is all in response to a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile towards traditional virtue, chivalric values, honorable traits, and morality in men.  The best defense against anything and everything is a well-informed and well-directed mind.  The author of this blog hopes to provide both reflections to himself and to others who may feel the need for the same.  More to come…