The Ethic of Personal Growth

Sometimes on a Thursday night when I take the garbage cans down the driveway for Friday pickup, I find myself standing still amidst the winter cold, looking up. Just looking up into the night’s sky with joy, curiosity, and wonder.

Consider that our Milky Way galaxy is thought to have 200-400 billion stars; the Andromeda Galaxy 1 trillion stars! Astronomers estimate there are 100 billion galaxies – within only the part of the universe which we can perceive!

You and I live and move and have our being amidst an incomprehensible Mystery. We are its children. From the unknown we have been brought forth; into it we return.

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Life as an Automaton vs. Presence

Perhaps it was in a junior high science class that I first saw this half-minute video of ping pong balls exemplifying a nuclear fission reaction. It comes to mind today when I consider how we live mostly as automatons in reaction to the day’s sights, sounds, and events – mostly devoid of an inner life.

The ball drops into the chamber with the first thought that stirs you from a night’s sleep. Perhaps it’s a worry, or a news item on the radio which woke you, or remembering an early morning meeting for which you need to rush. With that first thought, the mind’s chaos begins, and continues throughout the day until the last thought is expended, and sleep stills the mind.

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Love of Truth – A Skill of Authentic Living

For me the love of truth is of utmost importance, and it is one of the psychological traits which foster authenticity. In the preceding post, I wrote about the nature of personal truth. Here I want to explore how the love of truth expresses itself.

Let me first share several favorite stories from history which exemplify the love of truth and whose examples move me. To begin, imagine that the religious and political powers of your kingdom have targeted you. You are called before the very emperor himself and his court to defend yourself. Previous defendants have been known to have been captured and executed in transit. Such was the situation which Martin Luther faced in 1521 when he was called before Emperor Charles and the Diet of Worms to defend his 95 theses which refuted Catholic doctrine and founded the Protestant Reformation.

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What is the truth which personal authenticity expresses?

I don’t presume to know what “The Truth” is, for I agree with the postmodernist view that there is no such thing as objective truth, a truth independent of the observer. As quantum physics demonstrates, the very act of observing something, alters it, and so you can not objectively experience or know anything. Moreover in the unity of the quantum soup of existence, nothing exists separate from me or objective to me.

Yet elsewhere I have written of the love of truth as one of the skills which enable personal authenticity. So seemingly I am suggesting that there is a truth with which our authenticity comports. And I am. But where might we find it?

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The Heart: A Different Way of Knowing

If we do not hear the heart’s intimations of how we might live more authentically, perhaps it is in part because we are entranced by the content of our lives, and oblivious to the qualities of our experiencing.

The average person thinks 70,000 thoughts a day! In an average day, we are exposed to more visual images than a person in the mid 19th-century experienced in a lifetime. The average American watches 5 hours of TV per day, and spends 2.5 hours a day in front of a computer. Daily we live amidst a hurricane of mental stimulation, embellished by the cacophonous sounds of urban life, the day’s multitude of to dos and events, and relationships.

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