The Ethic of Personal Growth

“… A true striving toward realization of supreme possibilities should fill the greater part of human life as a most essential and engrossing occupation.”

~ Helena Roerich (1879-1955),
Russian philosopher,
in Agni Yoga

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.

Yet making a living, raising a family, paying bills and taxes, ceaseless to dos, the innumerable drudgeries of sustaining our lives can numb us to the Mystery. The horizontalness of our daily obligations can so consume our attention that we forget the verticality of the wonder which enfolds us. Indeed we may become so entranced as to believe that there is nothing more to life than living comfortably with the most toys.

However luminaries of past and present note that the Mystery which animates the whirling of the galaxies above also animates the awareness within us with which we peer at the Mystery. They suggest rationales for how we might engage this Mystery other than ignoring it in comfort. Some speak of the Buddha nature within; others of the Kingdom of Heaven within; others of Essence or Being, etc. However they label it, they agree that within you and me the Mystery abides.

Additionally, psychologists have their views about human possibilities. They write about a psychological drive to grow and actualize our human potential. Depth psychologist Carl Jung referred to that drive as “individuation”. Psychologist Carl Rogers called it as an “actualizing tendency.” Abraham Maslow, founder of humanistic psychology, wrote about “self-actualization”. A. H. Almaas addresses Being’s “optimizing” tendency.

Altogether it seems that the Mystery endows human nature not only with magnificent potential, but also a drive to bring forth that magnificence into actuality. Those of us who share this vision of human potential undertake to commit ourselves to the ethic of personal growth (which leads to spiritual unfolding, for what is the “spiritual”, if not the farther reaches of human nature).

Other persons may critique personal growth as narcissistic navel gazing. Perhaps they have forgotten Confucius’ admonition, ‘If the root be in confusion, nothing will be well-governed.’ Perhaps they really do believe that it is possible for chaotic psyches to develop a just and harmonious society.

As for myself, I affirm the ethic of personal growth as a human duty, if not an act of worship to that Mystery which leads Linda Ronstadt and I to sing those lyrics from “Heat Wave”, “Sometimes I stare into space, tears all over my face…”

What are you doing to promote your personal growth?


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