I am currently re-reading the Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s an intoxicating read if for nothing else but his use of language. I’m not sure I swallow Nietzsche whole, but at least I pride myself at digesting ideas that stretch my imagination and thought. You see, for me one of the crowing stars of “humanitarian civilized life” is literacy
In my belief system, if one is able to read and write then one is able to understand the world around them, and absorb the issues that create that world in both good and bad ways. As a result, opportunities increase, as do choices, and as an informed participant in the world of reality, one is able to guide their life in a positive direction and away from oppressive and exploitive situations. By continually choosing “good” one optimizing their life and a few fortunate ones eventually become Enlightened. In other words, literacy is a direct path to one’s highest and best use of personal attributes whatever they may be.
Simultaneously, I believe in spiritual attainment. I practice meditation, and devote a large portion of my life to a self-designed modern monk lifestyle. No, I don’t beg for a bowl of rice, nor do I live in a barren one-room monastery. However through good action, minimization of hubris and greed, I feel I have found the good and to a small degree experience heaven on earth, albeit with all the bumps and curves in the luscious road of life.
With that context in mind, I recently received an email from an Ashram in India who wanted to do some publishing business with me. I was delighted to receive the email, and wanted to participate in their efforts. We exchanged emails and shared information to gain a better understanding of each other. Then I received an email that contained this statement:
(Our Swami) …is a saint who is void of worldly education, yet internally organized by the grace of accomplished Guru that becomes possible after a long practice of meditation. He considers writing as an obstacle on the path to the Supreme Beatitude …
Okay!?! CONFLICT TIME!
All of a sudden a fork in the road on the path to Enlightenment appeared in front of me. One the one hand, the basic tenet of literacy in upgrading an individual’s life versus remaining absolutely true to the soul and letting the spirit of the universe, the It, the All, completely guide the way, not words.
When I thought about it, Jesus didn’t read and write. Yet, I’m sure Buddha did because of his royal upbringing. God wrote the 10 commandments down, creating a propensity to read as a fundamental understanding of human morality. I’m not quite sure about Lao Tzu, but I can’t think of too many examples of illiteracy in the spiritual world.
Then again, maybe everyone along the way compromised with the world, negotiating a treatise of social harmony. Minimization and deflecting intrusion is certainly a must for a soul-filled life, but the inability to scan SFGate, the New York Time or the Huffington Post seems mind crunching and maybe a little ignore-esque
Okay! Maybe I need more time to digest this dilemma. But for right now, I’m settling for the resolution of BALANCE and MODERATION. However, I also like cream and sugar in a cup of strong French Roast coffee. Maybe I’m just a moderate at heart.