We need to work hard to build the world that we want to be born into.

I am briefly picking up on a thread from my end-of-January update:

Very few of us are ever remembered, and even for those who are, you will likely reincarnate not knowing that you were that person. Meditating on Apollon, the Lord of Abiding Compassion, and tacitly dedicating my compassion meditation practice to him, I’m starting to grasp at a lot of things that have been difficult to conceptualize and overwhelming to think about how to tackle. We need to work hard to build the world that we want to be born into.

That is probably the best articulation of the why behind the content shifts you’ve seen on this blog over the past year, but also the rationale underlying efforts like The Soul’s Inner Statues — hence wanting to pull this out on its own. The compassion meditation post was born out of that, just as the ones on seirai, just as the ones I have planned on other topics. Most of what I have to say is obvious, but disturbingly unarticulated or unremarked upon by others. Like the majority of us, I’m not going to be remembered after I die — at most, someone will write something about the broader community trends in a footnote when talking about the men who do and will matter in a dissertation in two centuries — but there’s also a lot of freedom in being ephemeral, a trace of a fingertip upon the water. It means that I have much more leeway to play, to choose to do things I want to do. Even subtle perturbations change the patterns in the water, hopefully for the better.

We need to work hard to build the world that we want to be born into. This phrase also makes me think about the failures of Late Antiquity. Given reincarnation, I sometimes consider that I may have contributed to these failures: small things done or not done lifetime(s) ago, their impacts resonating alongside the actions of many others, all of us perturbations in the ocean. We are harsher on ourselves than we are on others. So, what now, how can we not f–k it up like the first time, I sometimes think. Finish the race without shrinking back, the oracle draw told me this week. Pray and contemplate, the anchors.

The hard part is figuring out how to turn conviction into positive, constructive action. The outcomes of Late Antiquity spawned the avalanche of conquest and destruction that followed, down to our current loneliness and isolation and climate calamities and alienation from the world and from one another. One tears up the sacred groves and endless hunger follows, eating first one’s own home and then one’s own children and then pillaging without end, breaking the spirit of others, ripping the Earth open to suck out whatever nourishment one can, just like in the myth. I wish people nowadays looked at Late Antiquity as a case study more often and thought about what lessons we could learn from it. What to do and what not to do. Especially how to give people what they need so they aren’t as vulnerable to apocalyptic movements that will result in widespread PTSD 1700 years later once (most of) the violent, fear-driven motivation of the apocalyptic movement has cooled down and the descendants start leaving, the world in tatters around them. It would be more constructive than the historical surveys and treatments that always seem to end without taking the comparative bits to their telos, as in Edward J. Watts’ Final Pagan Generation and its halfhearted, empty attempts at relating Late Antiquity to some majority-many-Gods places around the world today.

Those of us who agree with what Socrates said in the Phaedo are, generally speaking, highly concerned about the care of our souls (AKA, what is actually us) and avoiding doing self-harm (soul-harm) to ourselves now and in future lifetimes. Investing in real self-care rather than its ephemeral images. (Once one has a transformative experience of the Gods, it kind of makes it absurd to consider doing anything else.) As Simplicius wrote, “All of life is one, and the life you live is one, alternating between here and there.” We need to work hard to build the world that we want to be born into has metamorphosed into an affirmation, a gravitational center to orbit around when I think about the political/civic virtues, much like an athlete focuses before starting a race.

3 thoughts on “We need to work hard to build the world that we want to be born into.

  1. I don’t think any of us can go wrong if we have philosophy. Marcus Aurelius perhaps said it best: “Waste no more time arguing what a good person should be: be one.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A part of me legitimately wonders what people like us were like in our previous lives. Are we here because we didn’t do enough in the past for the Gods? Are we here because we are exactly what is needed for this time? If I do live another life, I hope I get to grow up in a proper Polytheist community.

    Do you think we’ll ever achieve our goal?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We would have made this choice because it was the best option possible, so either of those questions (or perhaps even other ones) could apply — it depends on the person and on our general environment overall. Whether or not we’ll be successful in making things better depends. It’s definitely something to ask the Gods about in divination and to request assistance with via prayer.


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