The Path of Wisdom
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July 14th, 2021
The daemonic horniness is back. It came on hard yesterday, and it is making me want to journal publicly again. I do not know how long this daemonic horniness will be here, so I will make the most of it while it’s here.
A lot of thoughts are bubbling up, and the most relevant thread is my coaching practice. I am taking a break in August, and wondering if it is the right move for me to restart in September. I sense it needs a revamp in framing if I do restart it. I did not know what to call myself when I launched the practice at the beginning of the year, so as a semi-joke I titled the practice “daemon whisperer.”
Okay, cool, but what does that mean? Despite the jazzy name, all of my available slots were fully booked, and I have had over 100 conversations since the practice started in late January. So, what happens in my practice? I can do coaching, and sometimes I go into coaching mode, but what I do is not really coaching.
It is closer to the philosophy practice my friend Andrew Taggart has, which is what I modelled my practice on. Some would call that “philosophical counseling,” so maybe I should adopt that label, or maybe I should go with the same title that our friend Pamela J. Hobart runs with, and call what I am doing “philosophical life coaching.”
I really love doing philosophy, in the way that Andrew and Pamela do philosophy, so perhaps I will go with a title that has a philosophical flare. I will need to reflect on this more, and there is no better way to reflect on something than journaling. I do not know where to start with this reflection though. I do have something that is alive which might serve as a roundabout inquiry for figuring out how to frame my practice, so I will roll with the aliveness and see where that takes me...
I am noticing, within my practice and in the culture at large, that when people have something that deeply bothers them, and cannot put their finger on what it exactly is, they rush to whatever help is readily available, in a way that strikes me as very flailing. I will stop writing in a way that gives the impression that I am above this flailing, because my whole philosophical journey thus far has basically been one huge existential flail.
Here are some of the things I have done during my existential flailings ...
Going to therapists.
Going to life coaches.
Taking online courses or in-person workshops.
Purchasing yet another self-help book as if reading it was going to be a silver bullet that solves all of my problems.
Getting excited about whatever practice is fashionable, aka mindfulness, Wim Hof method, trauma work, etc.
Reading super deep books to overhaul my entire worldview.
Being awestruck by galaxy brains.
Getting fixated on a culture war battlefront with the illusion that culture warring will make my life better.
While all of these ultimately disappointed me, they all did help to some degree. I am not special in the way I was existentially flailing either, as I see a lot of people existentially flailing in similar ways. I have had no good framework to house all of these activities in, and without a framework, it was hard to get them to make sense.
All of this flailing was in service towards discovering some good frameworks though. Things like Ken Wilber’s four facets of transformation (waking up, growing up, cleaning up, and showing up) were helpful, but it never fully clicked for me. The framework that resonates for me the most right now is one from Andrew.
In a recent journal entry of his, Andrew writes about three paths that might be converging towards a second Axial Age. With a slight reframing from me, these paths are …
The Path of Wisdom
The Path of Awakening
The Path of Love
I would say that the first path is about navigating reality, the second path is about witnessing reality, and the third path is about loving reality. Given my panentheistic proclivities, I am comfortable with swapping the word God with the word reality, so feel free to do so as well.
The Path of Wisdom maps over to Socrates and the various Hellenistic schools that sprung from the original gadfly, such as the Platonists, Epicureans, and Stoics. Lots of fruits of this path are with us today, but a lot of the praxis of this path went missing, hence why our friend Adam Robbert encourages us to take a “side view” of philosophy. To quote Adam:
The side view of philosophy does not describe philosophical knowledge, systems, concepts, disputes, or figures as ready-made objects of investigation. Instead, it traces the history of practices and techniques that enabled those who engage in philosophy to perform their work.
This philosophical praxis, or procedural knowledge, has mostly become “intellectual dark matter” today, and I sense many of us, like Adam, Andrew, and Pamela, are in the process of rediscovering this.
The Path of Awakening maps over to the Buddha, and the various Buddhistic lineages, and Hinduistic ones as well. According to Andrew:
Buddhists and Hindus (NB: I’m only familiar with Advaita Vedantists) both urge us to see that we are neither the mind nor the body and also that the world is unreal. The invitation is to understand, as fully and intuitively as possible, that what we really are is the Unborn, Unmanifest Reality. While they lay out different paths, they aim at the same goal: liberation from the suffering brought about by mind-concocted ignorance.
The Path of Love maps over to Jesus, and to some Christian denominations. When talking about this path in his journal, Andrew correctly quotes Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
This makes a lot of sense to me. The Jesus Prayer, which is a practice associated with the denomination I was baptized in, really provides one with an embodied way of loving. Also, for whatever reason, I noticed a lot of the people who are deep in the “we-space” scene, aka doing what I call communitas, were women who came from a Christian background, who wanted to forgo the dogma of the religion and plug into Christ consciousness directly. We-space is really a space where you can experience deep loving communion with others.
I do really like this framing, and I sense these three paths track nicely to the good, true, and beautiful. Wisdom allows us to live the “good life,” the life that is virtuous. Awakening allows us to witness what is, aka the Truth, and not just propositionally correspond with it like the nerds who adhere to Scientism advocate. Beauty, as I have written about in a previous journal, is found in the deeply loving social cohesion that is communitas...
With this sacrifice, you have a chance to see reality, and the reality is that you find beauty in connection, in community, in communitas. This gives birth to a culture. We currently do not have a culture, we have a cult. A cult of control, of fear, ruled by developmentally stunted sociopathic boy kings.
What is the correct order of operation with these three paths? Perhaps multiple configurations could work, but ultimately if you are strongly called to one path, you are probably going to walk down that path. When in doubt though, my recommendation is to choose the Path of Wisdom, because the Path of Wisdom allows you to walk down the other two paths when it is wise to do so.
As I have argued before, you can bypass in many different ways, such as spiritual bypassing (Path of Awakening) and communitas bypassing (Path of Love), but I do not think wisdom bypassing exists. You can wisdom signal of course, but that is a different thing from wisdom bypassing. I also think the Path of Wisdom is the path that may lead to the synthesis of the three paths, which Andrew advocates for at the end of his entry.
How do we walk down the Path of Wisdom though? Well, that is what we are trying to figure out here at The Stoa, and this is the path where “wisdom energy” is cultivated. Wisdom needs to be discovered, hence why one of the first “Stoa Experience” I am going to be doing will be with Andrew and we are thinking of calling it “Discovering Wisdom.”
I want to journal about the three negative (or hellish) paths, but this feels like a good place to end today’s entry. I will conclude with a caveat though: this framework probably has a masculine bias, Western bias, and ultimately a Peter bias. The good news is that I am way too weird to assume that Peter’s bias offers the best framework, or one that should be widely adopted. It does not cleanly factor in Indigenous knowledge, or New Age movements, or witchy lifeways.
Overall, I am not interested in defending this framework. Defending frameworks is boring. I am more interested in using the framework in a way where it ends up not being needed anymore. The thing about the Path of Wisdom, at least in the way I am understanding it, is that it will not only wisely include and interact with the other two paths, but also whatever falls outside of them.
We have probably had 1000+ events at The Stoa since we opened for spiritual business last year, and surely there has been a path bias here, but just glancing on the YouTube feed you can see that a heterodox eclecticism is the name of the game at The Stoa. I sense this is the wisest way for me to explore, for now.
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