It seems an unfortunate human characteristic that so many (including Men of genius) want to make Life (especially other-people's lives) into A Job. And doubly-unfortunate that so many Men seem to want this for themselves...
This came to mind when I was reading an excellent summary and analysis of Rudolf Steiner's ideas about relationship with the 'so-called' dead during our mortal lives. And then, I realized that Steiner's followers were (with his encouragement; during his life and since) spending as much as possible of their own lives studying Steiner's works, often in Steiner's prescribed order; doing Steiner's meditations and exercises; learning Steiner-facts and Steiner-interpretations...
This reminded me then of how so many Christian denominations urge their converts in the same direction... "OK, you've joined our church... Here is a program of study, prayer and good works that will occupy (as much as possible of) your life for the next several decades"...
This is like a recreation of at least one conception of the monastic life - where all is prescribed for every moment of every day, according to a program stretching ahead without end...
There is a sense in which all attention, all thought is being prescribed, at least as an ideal.
And then, in contrast, a little remark by William Arkle at his wisest; when he reflected that God does not want us to be 'thinking about God' all the time - but wants us 'to live in the way God wants us to live'; which mostly means Not thinking about God, but thinking about other people and things... Attending to what we are doing that ought to be done.
Arkle gets this by thinking how he, as a father, would like his growing children to live. Certainly Not to be thinking-about their father all or most of the time; certainly not to be participating in rituals directed to maintaining focus on their father a great deal of time...
Such an idea regards all Men as ideally and essentially the same, so that there is a single pattern to which each should try to fit himself.
Yet do we really want to wake each morning with a detailed plan of how the day will be spent - and such mornings and plans stretching forward to the grave?
This may be (to some extent) be inevitable in modern life; but is this really to be an ideal towards which we strive? Is it to be our hope for Heaven?
Not me, for sure. My ideal would be to live in a loving family environment; and to wake up most days with (at least substantially) a sense of freedom and possibility; to take stock of my-self and the people around me and the way life currently is - and to act accordingly.
It seems easy for people to regard life as mostly the fulfillment of plans, but destiny is not ultimately about plans - because each step forward changes our perspective and possibilities.
In a nutshell; I am saying that the ultimate principle of the ideal life is creation.
Creation is neither law nor chaos; but a living and developing through time; with purpose, and connected-with and deriving-from the past.
Thus we are free, because creation is an attribute of freedom, of agency, of living from the divine self; and our freedom is the reason why (my) ideal life can be, must be, and really-is free from rigid plans; why (my) ideal living is open-ended and exciting - while yet secure 'within' the chosen, indestructible Love that characterizes resurrected life in Heaven.
This is a great insight. Its an inchoate annoyance I share which you have chrystallyzed for me. I recall the work of Toynbee in which he describes the difference between the internally driven versus the externally driven characters and that the former are key to a flowering civilization. As I get older, I find those for whom life is an externally driven trial of rectitude to be in a sense spiritually dead. For many the rituals of religous observance have become just that empty rituals (much like voting I suppose) rather than a means to lead a virtuous life.
As a young man I was involved for a short time with a church that turned Christianity into a chore. It was a kind of "system Christianity" which stifled my own growth and interest, but God was teaching me a bigger lesson. I made them kick me out over some trivial thing.
@COp - The thing is, if you look at the sociologists of religion (such as Rodney Stark) they observe that high-demand Christian churches (who insist on all kinds of heavy duty behavioural stuff from members) are the only ones that thrived through the 20th century.
This is what sustained 'chore-Christianity'; because although people put-in a lot, they also got-out a lot as well - a real community, with demands and mutual aid.
But in the 21st century, these churches all declined among native Western populations anyway (significant numbers of converts were restricted to non-Western countries or among recent immigrants to the West).
And of course All the Christian churches (indeed, all the religions I have heard-of except ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel - but I'd be pleased to hear of any others) capitulated willingly and enthusiastically to The System at the first whiff of the birdemic.
I know the Georgian Orthodox Church never closed the churches, (sometimes in defiance I think, like in Easter) and they refused to sanitize the communion spoon. This gave me some hope, but I don't know if the other Orthodox churches did the same.
I’m not so certain. I know that when I’ve committed to certain practices ~ praying the hours, for example ~, I’ve felt that sense of entering a room that is “bigger on the inside”. I also have a sense~ & this is something a priest (RC) friend encouraged ~ that one should “want to want” holiness; there are prescribed conditions we should seek via established practices (established because they work, one could argue). Does this describe a “job”? I’m not sure. Caring for a loved one could feel like a “job” at times, but most understand it’s fulfilling a purpose that supersedes our individual psychologies, feelings, etc.
I very much resonate with this condition of freedom you’re describing having metaphysically real value, but my Question is whether/to what extent engaging in obligatory or prescribed rites/rituals, etc arbitrarily limits said freedom vs honing it, focusing it . I genuinely don’t know, but my intuition is that it’s a both/and
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