More on Authenticity

One of my favorite authors explores what it means to be an authentic human being in many of his stories and he sums it up in a 1978 essay:

“The authentic human being is one of us who instinctively knows what he should not do, and, in addition, he will balk at doing it. He will refuse to do it, even if this brings down dread consequences to him and to those whom he loves. This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance. Their deeds may be small, and almost always unnoticed, unmarked by history. Their names are not remembered, nor did these authentic humans expect their names to be remembered. I see their authenticity in an odd way: not in their willingness to perform great heroic deeds but in their quiet refusals. In essence, they cannot be compelled to be what they are not.” – Philip K. Dick

One way to understand authenticity is to understand what is is NOT. It is NOT like most interactions in human society — there is no deception involved in authenticity, yet deception is everywhere in the world. Lies and deceit in politics, advertising and personal relationships. The abundance of deception is why authenticity is valued so highly. Authenticity is such a rare thing. It is simple to have it, but simple is not always EASY.

I am making a personal pledge to become an authentic human being. I am not there, yet, but I am working on it. To be authentic means to be a member of what Albert Jay Nock called “The Remnant.” As Nock defines it, “The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.”

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Body, Mind, and Spirit – The Trivium Method and True Meaning of Spirit

Maximizing human potential rests on three successive foundations; Body, Mind, and Spirit.

The first two are fairly well understood. The body requires proper care; good nutrition, exercise, rest and cleanliness. The mind requires exercise, too, and it helps to have a systematic approach to learning. The best method I have heard to date is the modern re-working of an old system into a method for learning any subject. Its modern proponents call it the “trivium method” and it relates to the classic subjects of the trivium; grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The grammar phase involves collecting the data; basically gathering the nouns, verbs and adjectives of the subject at hand. The logic phase involves elimination of contradictions to arrive at some level certainty. The final rhetoric phase involves being able to effectively communicate the idea to another mind.

The mind rests on the foundation of the body. There is no mind without a functioning body. Spirit also rests on the previous two foundations. A functioning body and a functional mind is required for the third part of the actualized human being… the spirit.

The spirit level is the least understood and most nebulous foundation of human potential because it is shrouded in mysticism and wishful thinking. Some consider spirit to be part of (or the same thing as) the soul. The idea of an immortal human soul is a mystical idea that really depends on wishful thinking. This wishful thinking is virtually universal in human culture. When I write about spirit, though, I am not talking about anything mystical. I am simply talking about intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is an animating force that drives people, spurs them into action and gives them joy. It comes from within. When a human being is working toward a goal consistent with intrinsic motivation they tend to forget about fatigue and hunger… they get into “the zone” — concentrating intently on their goal. They also have a lot of fun and feel refreshed in the process. Working in “the zone” is not drudgery … it’s a calling.

I feel that I am operating only on the first two levels because I can’t remember the last time I was “in the zone” and I want to rediscover that … to be inSPIRed is to be SPIRited.

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Strengths

One of the first steps in my journey of finding my intrinsic motivation was to take the Strength Finder 2.0 assessment. Some self-actualization coaches recommend focusing on correcting weaknesses above all else. Actually, I think it is better to find strengths and take advantage of them!

My top strengths according to the assessment:

1) Input – A craving to know more.

2) Intellection – Intellectual appreciation.

3) Strategic – Able to quickly spot relevant patterns and issues.

4) Connectedness – Having faith in the links between all things, believing there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. This one was a bit of a surprise to me until I thought about it for awhile.

My long running interest in astrology actually comes from my sense of how everything is connected. I’ve come to the conclusion that astrology does not provide reliable answers to the meaning of life, but I have improved my sense of connectiveness by learning about it. After studying it for years I have concluded that most of astrology is bunk. It does not give reliable insight on personality nor does it help to find life’s purpose. I know many practicing astrologers yet I do not know a single astrologer who can make reliable predictions with it. I still appreciate the beauty and harmony of the system, its long and interesting history, and the universal impact it has had on the human psyche… world wide.

Some day I may post some of the most interesting things about the prevalence of astrology in the human psyche… things like the fact that each day of the week is named for a planet. Even the order of the names of the days of the week has a special significance. The technique of traditional astrology is really quite interesting and contemplating the underlying cosmology heightens my sense of connection to the universe.

I have concluded that the only reliable method of gaining information is by collecting stimulus from the five senses and using reason and logic to eliminate contradictions to eventually find certainty. Astrology does not lead to any kind of certainty. Still, I love the sense of wonder I feel when gazing at the stars and especially the “wandering stars” or “asteres planetai” as named by the ancient Greek cosmologists. Logic and reason does not provide that sense of magic and wonder.

5) Learner – Having a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve, which is what this blog is all about!

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I, the Living… Aye, the Living — or is it Eye the Living?

Everyone is searching for answers. Most are searching for answers to the primary human question, why am I here?

It comes down to this, what does it mean to be an authentic human being? The word “authentic” is interesting. It is rooted in self-authority.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Authenticity is a rare treasure in this world. Being authentic means being true to myself. In order to be authentic, then, I need to discover my basic purpose in life. Gnothi seauton… know thyself! This has been a lifelong quest but I have not been very good at it. I’ve been sidetracked and often even self-deceived. I’ve looked outside of myself; toward religion and toward heroes and, at the end of 53 years on earth, I can only say that I really do not know myself very well, at all.

Well, here in this humble blog is my chronicle of self-discovery late in life. This is my dedicated search to really finding myself. Finally!

Now what? 🙂

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