Author Topic: Idealists  (Read 129 times)

Offline jbseth

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Hi All,

In NOME, Seth had a lot of things to say about idealists.

In this book he tells us that there are actually several different kinds of idealists. There are idealists, pessimists, misguided idealists, and fanatics.

While he warns us about fanatics, he doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t be idealists. In fact, he actually asks each one of us readers to be a “practicing idealist”.

Here’s some of the interesting things that he had to tell us about this topic.



NOME, Ch 7, S850:
If you want to change the world for the better, then you are an idealist. If you want to change the world for the better, but you believe it cannot be changed one whit, then you are a pessimist, and your idealism will only haunt you. If you want to change the world for the better, but you believe that it will grow worse, despite everyone’s efforts, then you are a truly despondent, perhaps misguided idealist. If you want to change the world for the better, and if you are determined to do so, no matter at what cost to yourself or others, no matter what the risk, and if you believe that those ends justify any means at your disposal, then you are a fanatic.

(10:14.) Fanatics are inverted idealists. Usually they are vague grandiose dreamers, whose plans almost completely ignore the full dimensions of normal living. They are unfulfilled idealists who are not content to express idealism in steps, one at a time, or indeed to wait for the practical workings of active expression. They demand immediate action. They want to make the world over in their own images (louder). They cannot bear the expression of tolerance or opposing ideas. They are the most self-righteous of the self-righteous, and they will sacrifice almost anything — their own lives or the lives of others. They will justify almost any crime for the pursuit of those ends.


NOME, Ch 10, S873:
In a manner of speaking, you must be a practicing (underlined) idealist if you are to remain a true idealist for long. You must take small practical steps, often when you would prefer to take giant ones — but you must move (underlined) in the direction of your ideals through action. Otherwise you will feel disillusioned, or powerless, or sure, again, that only drastic, highly unideal methods will ever bring about the achievement of a given ideal state or situation.

[…]

You will understand, if you are a practicing idealist, that you cannot kill in the name of peace, for if you do so your methods will automatically undermine your ideal. The sacredness of life and spirit are one and the same. You cannot condemn the body without ultimately condemning the soul. You cannot condemn the soul without ultimately condemning the body.

I would like each of my readers to be a practicing idealist, and, if you are then you will automatically be tolerant of the beliefs of others. You will not be unkind in the pursuit of your own ideals. You will look upon the world with a sane compassion, with some humor, and you will look for man’s basic good intent. You will find it. It has always been there. You will discover your own basic good intent, and see that it has always been behind all of your actions — even in those least fitted to the pursuit of your private ideals (with gentle irony).


-jbseth

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Offline jbseth

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Re: Idealists
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2021, 10:02:38 AM »
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  • Hi All,

    In regards to this topic, I think that one of the things that really stands out to me here, is the fact that Seth actually asked us to "be" something (a practicing idealist). While Seth spent a lot of time talking about his ideas, and philosophy, he rarely ever asked us to "be" anything.


    In the beginning of Session 850, the session where he talks about the various types of idealists, Seth talks about a man who recently attended a group at Jane's house. Seth refers to this man as “Roger”.  The spoiler below, contains some of what Seth had to say about Roger.

    In my own life, I too have run into people like Roger. Furthermore, in times past, I’ve also expressed some of the same ideas that Roger has expressed here as well and so I kind of understand where Roger is coming from.

    Roger's ideas however, are very different that those held and expressed by a “practicing idealist”.


    Sorry, you must be logged in to view spoiler contents.


    -jbseth



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    Offline leidl

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    Re: Idealists
    « Reply #2 on: January 08, 2021, 12:35:09 PM »
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  • Quote from: jbseth
    In regards to this topic, I think that one of the things that really stands out to me here, is the fact that Seth actually asked us to "be" something (a practicing idealist). While Seth spent a lot of time talking about his ideas, and philosophy, he rarely ever asked us to "be" anything.

    Hello jbseth!  Interesting quote and observation, yes.  In calling us to be practicing idealists, Seth also tells us that "being" must become "doing."  At the moment, what I'm doing is pacing around my house in a bathrobe with one eye on an internet newsfeed and two hands wrapped around a cup of tea.  I'm pretty sure this is not an example of "practicing idealism"...what say you?    ;)  But I do feel that my perspective on the world is fundamentally changing, and this will result in different actions and outcomes.  We live in interesting times, and I'd like to not only bear witness to them thoughtfully, but respond to them in a way that is helpful.
    « Last Edit: January 08, 2021, 08:10:47 PM by leidl »
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    Offline Bora137

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    Re: Idealists
    « Reply #3 on: January 08, 2021, 03:50:25 PM »
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  • Hi Jbseth and all. An insightful highlighting of Seth's examination of idealism jbseth. It is so pertinent at this time. We can see now at this time and in our political systems that both sides are idealists. They each seek their own ideal world. There is almost a Nazism contained within each. Nazism is characterised by a lack of respect for the 'other'. On each side it is impossible to objectively assess the  aspirations of the other side. I apologise for straying into  politics. But I take neither side for both are undermined by their idealism. One seeking a moral purity the other a cultural purity. All purity is an illusion and has its roots in judgement and Seth rejects all judgement (although he does advise on profitable paths and ways of being that are fruitless).

    Trying to be a practicing idealist means I think understanding both sides without alignment or agreeing with either. Seeing the good and confusion that each of us experience within this distortion.

    Quote
    You will look for man’s basic good intent. You will find it. It has always been there

    Brilliant

    « Last Edit: January 09, 2021, 12:30:52 AM by Bora137 »
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    Offline jbseth

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    Re: Idealists
    « Reply #4 on: January 08, 2021, 06:55:52 PM »
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  • Hi All,

    Deb has said on several occasions that she doesn’t want us to get involved in any discussion of politics and I completely agree with her on this.  Please, let’s not get into any of that.


    My point here was to show that there are many different versions of idealism (idealists, pessimists, misguided idealists, and fanatics). We don’t always recognize people who exhibit these other versions as being some variation of an idealist.

    Seth didn’t ask us “not” to be idealists. In fact he actually asked us to be “practical” idealists.

    A practical idealist, however, isn’t a pessimist, a misguided idealist, or a fanatic.  Instead he described them as people who are tolerant of the beliefs of others. Kind in the pursuit of their ideals. Willing to look upon the world with a sane compassion, and willing to look for man’s basic good intent.

    I think that this sounds like a great way to be in the world.  :)



    -jbseth




    Offline leidl

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    Re: Idealists
    « Reply #5 on: January 09, 2021, 01:20:50 PM »
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  • Hello jbseth and all,

    I hear you on the concerns of discussing politics on this board, jbseth.  You and Deb have had far more experience with it than I, and if even tangential references to politics lead to trouble, then by all means, we can do our best to navigate around the subject.

    But I would like to offer an alternative perspective, which anyone is more than welcome to challenge, and Deb as our generous and seasoned host naturally has the final say.

      A distinction can and should be made, in my view, between talking politics and talking about how to talk about politics.  My intent, which was unclear in my above post, is not to present a political perspective, but rather to express humility about my own capacity in this unique political moment to be an effective practicing idealist.  I am bearing witness to the moment, collecting my thoughts, and hoping to play my part not in presenting a political viewpoint, but in healing the gap between political viewpoints.  Building a bridge between those viewpoints.  Transcending those viewpoints.  To me, this is what a practicing idealist does.  Bora137, in my view, was not talking politics, but talking about how to talk about politics.  He/she went out of his/her way to make it clear that both of our political parties have failed to be effective practicing idealists, which is the kind of talk that promotes healing, rather than division. 

    Like both jbseth and Bora137, I love Seth's reminder that we all embody good intent, and if we look for it in each other, we will always find it.  It is a balm to my heart to look out on the world this way, and this is one of those concepts I should write out and tape on the wall!  But I don't think Seth wants us to completely refrain from making political judgments:

     "The political arena was the practical working realm in which those ideals were to find fruition. Hitler’s idea of good was hardly inclusive, therefore, and any actions, however atrocious, were justified."
    —NoME Chapter 7: Session 852, May 9, 1979

    Judgment in itself is not the problem; it is large part of what our brain is designed to do.  Each day I make nutritional judgments, pedagogic judgments, social welfare judgments, parenting judgments, aesthetic judgments.  The problem is when these practical judgments become moral judgments, and the judgment stops being a practical matter about "what works" and becomes one about "good and evil."  For some reason, political and religious judgments seem very prone to morphing into moral judgments.  To me, this is precisely why it is so valuable for us to explore the topic of how to talk about politics.

    I teach philosophy, primarily Ethics, and thus the toxicity of the good/evil framework is something I think about a lot.  I have appreciated the comments others in this forum have made about good and evil, and you all have genuinely helped me become better at relaying these concepts in a nuanced and useful way in the classroom.  Starting in March, for the first time I will be teaching Philosophy of Religion.  I look forward to reading some of the threads on religion here in the near future, and maybe getting some of those discussions going again.  The students who sign up for this course will be mostly religious, and I am not religious.  Here again, I want to be helpful in bridging the divide between perspectives, helping all in the room see the good intent of the other.

    My apologies that I was not clear about my own intent in my above post; my goal there was more about expressing my experience of these difficult times.  I am not looking to sow division--I'm looking for comfort!  But I will move past that and answer Seth's call to be a practicing idealist.  It is what I am made for, actually.  The Myers Briggs personality assessment, for what such things are worth, scores me as an INFP--an idealist healer.

    Respect and gratitude to all.



    « Last Edit: January 09, 2021, 01:28:05 PM by leidl »
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    Offline jbseth

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    Re: Idealists
    « Reply #6 on: January 09, 2021, 08:11:00 PM »
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  • Hi leidl, Hi Bora137, Hi All,

    I’ve been here in the forum now for several years and on several occasions, I’ve seen what started out as a normal discussion, very quickly evolve into a discussion that became very, very ugly. Many times this had to do with politics.  In the past, whenever this occurred, it was always somewhat disturbing and distracting to the other forum members and a real headache for Deb.  After going through several of these, Deb finally had enough and said, no more. She doesn’t want anyone here getting into a discussion on politics, and given what I’ve seen here, I don’t blame her.


    There are always new members who join us here in this forum. I’m not sure who is and isn’t aware of this issue and so I thought I’d better say something about it.



    leidl,

    I read your message, reply #5, and I completely understand what you’re saying here.  It seems like people here should be able to talk about, “how to talk about politics”. However, I’m not sure that even this wouldn’t insight some angry responses, based upon some of the things I’ve seen here in the past.  Some people just really seem to be extremely emotional about some of this.


    I’m impressed that you teach philosophy. That’s way cool.  :)


    You were talking about good and evil and morality and just today, I was looking through NOPR, Chapter 13. This is the chapter where Seth has all those columns titled “In a State a Grace”, and “Out of Grace”.

    In this chapter he talks about belief systems and how we apply the concepts of good and bad to areas where they don’t belong. In this chapter Seth also talks about “morality”.  I’ve often thought that what he talks about in this chapter really has a lot to do with why racism and some other “isms” exist.


    -jbseth



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    Offline leidl

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    Re: Idealists
    « Reply #7 on: January 10, 2021, 12:12:54 PM »
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  • Quote from: jbseth
    It seems like people here should be able to talk about, “how to talk about politics”. However, I’m not sure that even this wouldn’t insight some angry responses, based upon some of the things I’ve seen here in the past.

    jbseth, you could be right.  Free speech seems like a great idea, and I like the American Civil Liberty Union's view that the answer to hate speech is not censorship, but more speech!  Let us all learn to defend ourselves in a debate, and get all the perspectives out in the open.  However, I totally understand Deb's view.  We know the intent of everyone here is good.  We know that when someone creates conflict, that person's entity may possess massive wisdom, and may be exploring conflict in one probable self, perhaps for the good of others!  Even so, that doesn't mean that one shouldn't make leadership judgments. 

    I will avoid referencing politics.  Perhaps instead of trying to learn how to talk about politics, I can focus on trying to learn how to talk about binary constructs.  The same principles apply. 

    I will look up Chapter 13 of NoPR--it sounds right up my alley.  Thanks, jbseth.
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