Dangerous or Beautiful
Ta eis heauton
My mentor told me to start running. He said running puts you in a state where you want to get things done. In contrast to walks, which puts you in a philosophical space. I run in the mornings now to escape philosophy. My default move when things are bothersome is to philosophize. You can overdo this. Sometimes the wisest thing is philosophizing with your body by getting things done with it.
I roll out of bed at 6 am and put on my new Nike shoes, then I walk around the block first, allowing the cold morning air to slap me. Then I run. I like the walk before the run; I can squeeze some philosophizing in and have to do so efficiently. I cannot build careful arguments, premise by premise, to arrive at a robust, defensible conclusion. No. I must trust my intuition and get to the heart of things quickly.
I had a pre-run insight the other day. It was related to writing here. Three years ago, I used to write daily; to do that, I had to stop caring about something. I had to stop caring about getting into other people's heads, guessing what they thought of me, then adjusting my behavior and words to cultivate a favorable impression. I am not saying "impression management" does not have its place. The careful manicuring of personal information to influence others can be a means of social survival.
The beliefs we hold, the decisions we make, and the desires we have could stigmatize us, excluding us from others, even those we love. Even if that is not true, it often feels true. My impression management feels overactive sometimes; I am not in my body. I am adjusting my body to be inside others' heads. This is a safe and unbeautiful way to live.
I need to have a practice to stop doing this. That practice is this. I start each entry with "ta eis heauton," things to one's self, as a reminder I am writing to my self. It takes discipline to write like this, knowing unknown others will read it. The prerequisite is to be truthful to my self. Speaking truthfully is speaking what you believe to be true.
How can I be truthful when I do not even know what is true?
Give my intuition of truth a voice, or use more spiritual languaging: allow the spirit of truth to speak through me. I must settle into my body, ask questions, and see what answers emerge. And answers always emerge. They have a channeled quality as if something is speaking through me internally.
These spirit-to-self conversations happening in my body have an aggressive essence. A righteous anger emerges against the empire of useless thoughts occupying my mind. This truthfulness burns through the illusions, bringing a spiritual demolition. I become punchy, losing patience for the bullshit surrounding me.
Running before my journaling at Collective Journalling is a practice stack I will stay with. When I write to my self by being truthful to my self, I do not know what "content" will come because this is not about the content. This is about embodying the speed that comes with the aggressiveness of spirit.
Writing without trying to be impressive, then sending whatever words that emerge to thousands of subscribers feels dangerous, with a rough beauty. Philosophy should be dangerous or beautiful; anything else is masturbating with the mind.
On the other side of the paywall, there will be Zoom links to the Collective Journalling session every weekday at 8 AM ET, and Collective Inquiry which starts today at 6 PM ET about the “alivelihood question.”
Collective Journalling is a communal practice that started in May 2021 during Rebel Wisdom’s Becoming a Live Player course, continued to live on at The Stoa, and will now live with Less Foolish. The sessions happen via Zoom and are 90 mins, with check-ins in chat at the beginning and an opportunity to connect with fellow journalers in breakout rooms at the end. The session concludes with sharing a passage in the chat. Most of the time is spent in silence together, individually inquiring about what matters most. A beautiful group of people has formed around this practice.
Collective Inquiry is a communal practice that emerged out of my philosophy practice. The inquiries in my practice were often beautiful and surprise-filled, leading to insights for my inquiry partner and me. I want to make these inquiries have a collective essence so many can enjoy them. I have tried different group inquiry practices, with therapeutic or spiritual framings, but I am left dissatisfied with what I have experienced. I want us to create something new and experiment with different ways to “live the questions” together.
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