There are two topics which I had thought about previously, which only now I see are related.
The first: the motivation, or aim, of being saintly (or, what we can simply call “good”) is greater than the fulfillment of being saintly.
The second: I must stop aiming for the “best” and start aiming for the “new.”
Putting these two ideas together, I think I am realizing that the aim of saintliness is not to be “best,” but to ride upon the ever present, ever eternal wave of the “new.”
“Best” is an abstraction–impossible to implement in reality, often impossible to measure. What makes it “best” is merely the quantity of its human support, or a result of a man-made measure. “New,” on the other hand, is concrete. It is what we are and what we are experiencing. It is objectively our present place and point. It is what we make manifest. “Newness” is a qualitative point of reality.
If this is the case, then, being “saintly” or “good” becomes more simple than I thought. To be saintly is to be qualitatively new–to embrace the present flow of experience–to not get sucked into the illusion of living “best,” of comparing oneself to another. Only by living presently can we live well. To aim to live “best,” then, is to aim to live in a kind of hell.
So this is what I need to work on, especially in my work as a teacher and writer. I do not need to aim to be the “best” at these things. Perhaps I even need to stop aiming at being a “good” teacher and writer. I need to start being a “new” teacher and writer, one who brings the reality of experience into the present. This is not so much a shift in practice as it is a shift in mindset. But those are sometimes the hardest.
And so I will aim for a childlike embrace of what is new. I need to seek newness instead of the best, child-like freshness instead of frequently used practice. In this, I am worried, as chaos seems to be on the other side of that door. But even chaos has its own kind of order. And within that confused order is newness.
Originally written 10/28/19.