Sunday 9 December 2018

There is no plan or blueprint for how to live well - 'the next step' becomes evident, a step at a time

People (including myself) often seek for a blueprint of how to live, a set of methods, a step-by-step plan so that we know in advance what to do and when. But this is an error.

The proper attitude to life is one that acknowledges as ideal a kind of steady state in which we are living, experiencing and learning; and therefore changing. As we change, this is growth. As we grow, the next step in growth becomes evident in a way that it could not have been before we grew.

We can know this is happening by our experience of this growth - with an ability to look back with a new comprehension. But, however far we have come - we can only look one step forward.

This growth is 'theosis' or 'divinisation' - the becoming more like to God, by learning from our mortal experiences, according to God's purpose in creation. This being the way that we grow in spiritual maturity towards the ultimate goal of being grown-up children of God.

The goal is very long term, and we are transformed in the process, so a blueprint is impossible. Because each person is different (from the beginning, and as a consequence of different experiences) there can be no generic stepwise plan - we, personally, can only know our next step after taking the previous step and receiving the validation of experience. 

The first step is actually to experience, self-consciously, a higher level of consciousness; and to learn from that.

And that first step leads onto the next.

Life is not something to delay, we ought not to wait to enter-into life; we need to be doing life now, and all of the time; as fully as we are now capable of doing.

No matter how low we start; once begun, that capability will increase, incrementally. 

That is what we are here for.

Note: Reflections after reading that most dense and pregnant chapter of William Arkle's A Geography of Consciousness, 1974 which is entitled 'Astrology'.


Michael Dyer said...

I think this is 0art of what is meant by walking with God. In proverbs it says that God will direct your steps when you acknowledge Him in all your ways. Steps is probably used advisedly. Of course God has given us general guidelines about commandments and virtues, but knowing what to do now, specifically for you is more of a mystery. It’s good because it emphasizes relationship. God is not an activity you can put in a box, He is someone you walk with.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Michael - That's another way of looking at it/ doing it. But God's basic modus in this world is (apparently) for us to work things out for ourselves as the basic default, as the first-line.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I think rather than "steady state" the proper analogy would be "forward momentum".

As we walk, of course we only actually concern ourselves with each step when it is time for that step, but we don't always or often need to pause long over deciding where next to place our foot.

On the other hand, it's quite as true that on any long walk, we often rest a while, to refresh ourselves physically or mentally with what is necessary to continue.