Ethics is the science of determining which ends man should achieve and technics is science of creating the means to achieve those ends. People act to achieve some good, usually without any deep consideration about those goods. Contemporary thought, both religious and non-religious, has relegated ethics to a corner of human life.
However, if metaphysics answers the question “who am I?”, then ethics supplies the answer to, “who should I become?” The general answer is that the good is to actualize one’s own nature. Here ethics is understood as all-encompassing and the opposite of mere moralizing. In other words, man is a compound of actuality and potential, and the task is to actualize all his potentials. Most people have an basic idea of this, for example, as revealed in the phrase “be all you can be.” People will say of someone that he is not living up to his potential, and so on.
A fundamental metaphysical principle is that only something already real can actualize a potential. In man’s case, the Real I, as the intelligence of the being, can bring about that process via his true will. The goodness, then, of a man or a woman consists in how close he or she actualizes the Absolute Man or Absolute Woman.
Unfortunately, the mass of men have no means to judge that. That is why sports are so popular. There is no debate about who the best golfers or footballers are. Similarly, in entertainment, we know who the most attractive personalities are. Other easily judged categories are wealth, power, and finally popularity, even if one is popular just for being popular. So, it is easy to conclude that one should actualize athletic prowess, beauty, power, or riches.
Clearly, these cannot represent the meaning of life, since they depend on external factors, not from one’s own specific being. But the idea of an absolute man or woman is far from easy to grasp, not to mention that it cuts against the general commitment to egalitarianism in the modern world.
For the few interested in that path, two questions arise:
- How do I know my nature?
- How do I actualize it?
These are intimately related since they represent knowing and being, which amount to the same thing. Esoteric psychology is the study of the soul, not empirically, but interiorly through direct observation. The more one knows about himself, the more being he will have. (The actual details will not be discussed here.)
Before proposing what the results may be, there are other competing notions for the ideal man or woman.
Better Living Through Chemistry
In researching a recent post, I listened to a business consultant interviewed by a popular radio personality. The consultant’s point of view was the actions should be taken that align with the “hard-wiring” of the brain. That is, the brain will respond by producing certain chemicals, specifically oxytocin, that makes us “feel good.”
The interviewer agreed, and spoke about how good he felt following a demonstration, because people picked up the trash after themselves. Now, I’ll agree that it is a moral good not to litter, but not because it produces certain brain chemicals. I’ll remind readers about the serial killer, Ted Bundy, who told one of his victims how good it would feel to kill her.
The actor John Cusack recently complained that in Hollywood, an actress is over the hill at 29. That assumes that American film is an art form, in which acting ability is foremost. Actually, the women in most films are there to represent sexual attraction, and the age range of about 22 to 29 is the peak of that, for obvious reasons. So this sounds like a futile path for the absolute woman.
I recall years ago as a boy, that a nun told us that in heaven (or perhaps at the resurrection?) we would have bodies around the age 25, since that is the best age, physically speaking. I have never read that anywhere else, but I doubt she just made it up.
The Dalai Lama
In earlier times, I had a rather romantic attachment to Tibet. Tibet was patriarchal, hierarchical, theocratic, autocratic, ancient, and traditional. There was occult knowledge and magical practices. There was the literature of travels through Tibet, the mythical Shambhala, and telepathic gurus.
My initiation and studies were very strict. I met many people who boasted to me that they had overcome their Christian religious upbringing. However, the requirements for the sangha were just as strict: no killing, no stealing, no lying, and no unnatural sex acts, as they are called in the West.
So it seems to me that the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has turned himself into a caricature of a holy man. He rejects traditional Tibet and would convert it to a Euro-style parliament system, even communistic, which he considers morally superior. He supports all the correct causes of the Left. It is difficult to see what Buddhism has to do with it.
Has he ever told an audience that their cravings cause their problems, they will likely be reborn as an insect, and their dogs are heading for the hell realms? I’m sure he never read The Doctrine of Awakening.
For many people, and for almost all women, George Clooney represents the ideal man. Handsome, suave, debonair, popular, wealthy, and articulate, he and the Dalai Lama support the same causes. However, Mr. Clooney is not at all religious, so his views must have come to him by some other means. If being fashionably liberal is your goal, just follow Mr. Clooney and dispense with the years of Buddhist meditation practice.
Mr. Clooney is the cosmopolitan man of today. He owns homes in the USA, Mexico, and Italy. He recently married a British woman from a prominent Lebanese family and the wedding was held in Rome. Her father is a Druze and her mother a Sunni Muslim. Just as Mr. Clooney is sanctified by his desire to end world hunger, the new Mrs. Clooney has her own high credentials. She is not an ambulance chaser, nor a sleazy corporate lawyer, but rather a “human rights” attorney.
Now, in times past, the idea of marrying an actor would have been considered a low-brow affair, but the ideals of feminine hypergamy have apparently changed.
The Warrior Ideal
In the olden days, the warrior, particularly if he was also a political leader, was glorified. This was embodied in the ideal of the nine worthies. There are no current figures that approach that ideal, and more recent candidates are now too outré to extend the list to include three modern worthies. Perhaps Joan of Arc can be fit in somehow. The worthies represent the state of the fallen world, in which it is necessary to toil and do battle against evil.
The Spiritual Ideal
The highest European ideals before the modern era are certainly the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Without intending to deny more popular notions, from an esoteric point of view, they represent the two ideals we have already discussed.
- The Virgin Mary, free from sin, is our model of the Primordial State
- Jesus, as true God and true man, represents theosis, i.e., the raising of the human nature to the divine.
Now whereas those two figures were born that way, we have to actualize those states. Along with the worthies, these are the three possibilities open to us, as best suit our own natures.