Paul R. Martin - 1/1/88
We should continue to grow all our lives.
Growth means adjusting our model of how the universe works and how we relate to it.
The major important relationship of us to the universe is an answer to the question: What should I do while I am alive?"
The main important things we should do while we are alive are a mixture that we feel compelled from the inside to do from the following list:
1. Enjoy experiencing the universe
2. Create things for ourselves and others to enjoy
3. Help others to have a joyful life
4. Figure out how the universe works
Different people have different compulsions: Some are heavy on number 2 to the exclusion of the others; we call them artists. Some are heavy on number 4; we call them scientists. Some are heavy on number 3 to the exclusion of the others; these are the Albert Schweitzers and the Mother Theresas of the world. Some are heavy on number 1; these are the adventurers and hedonists among other types. For most of us, it is a more even mixture of two or three or even all four things.
The most important thing for us to do is to work on number three by loving others.
Love is putting ourselves out, either by acts of work or acts of courage, in order to help another in their personal spiritual growth. (This definition comes from "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck, M.D.)
We can't force another to grow, but we can help them when they are ready for it.
Stages of spiritual growth: (from "The Different Drum" by M. Scott Peck, M.D.)
1. Chaos - antisocial behavior. This is where we start out when we are born. Some people stay stuck in this phase into adulthood. We get out of this phase when we learn manners and respect for others.
2. Formalism - institutional. This is where we live by a code of morals and behavior that we got from some outside authority. This authority usually starts out as the belief system of our parents and later in life changes to some religion. Many, if not most adults remain stuck in this phase all their lives.
3. Skeptical - individual. This is where we come to realize that the true source of morality and ethics comes from within ourselves and that the moral codes developed and fostered by organized religions are unhealthy both for individuals and for society.
4. Mystical - communal. This is where we come to a personal awareness and communion with God. Few people arrive at this state and those who do are alone because they cannot communicate to others what they know.
Growth involves outgrowing and giving up
1. The state of infancy, in which no external demands need be responded to
2. The fantasy of omnipotence
3. The desire for total possession of one's parents
4. The dependency of childhood
5. Distorted images of one's parents
6. The omnipotentiality of adolescence
7. The "freedom" of uncomitment
8. The agility of youth
9. The sexual attractiveness and/or potency of youth
10. The fantasy of immortality
11. Authority over one's children
12. Various forms of temporal power
13. The independence of physical health
14. And, ultimately, the self and life itself.
©2003 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.