The degradation of love and the fallacy of reason.
A person who follows rules,
ethics or morality without examining what these are, or striving to
understand them, is, like the monk in the previous chapter, a slave.
There is an underlying
form to rules and ethics, which once understood leaves us entirely free
of them even whilst following them more closely and reverently than one
who does not understand them.
There is a school of
thought, attributed to satanic origins, which says, ‘Do what you will
shall be the whole of the law’. ‘Right’ minded people meet such
thinking with repugnance. It is suggested by such ‘right’ minded
people that doing what you like means it is ok to rob, steal, rape,
pillage and generally behave in as destructive, narcissistic and selfish
Governments and religions
subscribe to this theory of descent to our lower nature at the least
opportunity; that we will revert to our base nature if we are not
controlled. When Thoreau said, ‘That government governs best which
governs least.’ he was suggesting, amongst other things, that people
are capable of making ethical and moral decisions without the imposition
of rule or law. Is it the case that we are inherently unfair, grasping
and base creatures? Certainly, many religions teach this, and the one I
am most familiar with, Christianity, expounds the fallen nature of
‘man’ in need of redemption, and offers a place of eternal torment
if we do not mend our ways. Many Christians will argue that it is simply
in accepting the Saviour that we are saved, but those very same
Christians will also say that continuing to do what we like is not on.
Doing what we will is the same
as doing what we like. Even in choosing to do an unpleasant or
altruistic task, we make a choice for whatever reason, to do what we
will. A devout religious, in saying, ‘Not my will but your (God’s)
will be done’, is making a choice to do what they like, more than
that, to do what they think is ‘best of all’, as Christ did.
A family man or woman might
argue, ‘This is all very well, but I have responsibilities, a home and
children to support, I can’t just go around doing what I like’. But
that man or woman chose that course in life, chose to marry, buy a home
and have children. Whilst they probably did not fully understand the
responsibilities or suffering these life choices entailed at the time
does not mean that they did not do what they liked at that time, nor
does it mean they are not free to renege on those responsibilities at
any time, as current divorce rates testify.
Still others may argue that
doing what they liked has been restricted by circumstance or the
behaviour of others towards them. So the impoverished beggar in a
destitute country or a rape victim who raises the child of that crime or
the victims of war and oppression could reasonably argue against this.
But can they? Even under the grossest oppression life is about making
moral, ethical, and behavioural choices at all times.
Consider the following:
First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
And I did not speak out –
Because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out –
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me –
And there was no-one left
To speak out for me.
In not speaking out the person
who wrote this was doing what he liked or willed, which was protecting
himself. Had he spoken out that too would have been making an ethical
and moral choice for what he believed in, what he liked, despite the
Part of the fallacy inherent in
the repugnance against doing what we like or will, is the assumption
that we will always seek pleasure or comfort for our own selfish ends.
Is that the case? Are we all rampant hedonists hell bent on pleasure? I
could make a statement from an examination of history, but I need not go
that far. If I examine this writer, myself, I can make a reasoned plea
that hedonistic, self-seeking pleasure is not inevitable. As anyone who
has ever written will aver, writing is a painstaking process, it
requires self-discipline, a working knowledge of language, a critical
mind, the ability to withstand incredibly low feelings, and much more,
in short, it is hard work. Writing is about following a personal
predilection and is not without pleasure in amongst the hard work. In
writing I am certainly doing what I like, but that is far from a descent
into barbarity, though my treatment of language might argue otherwise to
more informed writers.
In as much as we follow rules or
law, we are no better than children in adult clothing, and in as much as
we do not do what we like, examine who we are and make informed choices,
we are impoverished creatures at best.
The monks in the previous
chapter are a clear example of what is best and what is worst in being
human. The monk, who raised the issue of the rule, had never examined
what the rule meant. What was the rule made for, what was it’s intent?
Was it meant to restrict or to liberate? If I choose to live as a monk
and to be celibate then I had better be aware that at some point my
sexual needs are going to make a loud internal noise, clamouring for
attention. The rule of celibacy is there to help me in the struggle to
accommodate to the very pressing needs of my sexuality. It is there to
help me at the time when my sexual needs are most keenly felt and most
oppressive in my chosen life, a fall back place to help me overcome this
most basic and fundamental need. If I never overcome this need, then I
either embrace the rule as a friend in my chosen life, or, in as much as
I find it oppressive and restricting and I resent it, it would be far
better to give up being a monk and do something about it, for whilst my
sexual needs demand my attention I am far from the spiritual life it was
my intent to follow. In as much as I overcome the need, I no longer need
the rule. Its application in my life is no longer pertinent because I am
truly a celibate man. So carrying a woman across a puddle is no more
meaningful than carrying a stone, though perhaps a greater kindness.
‘Do what you will shall be the whole of the law’, is a
satanic creed, then the underlying form may well be absolute hedonism
without thought for the consequences or impact of that on the lives of
others. If it were enacted without thought for ethics or morality or any
regard for society, then it would be a kindness if everyone acting out
this creed in this way were exterminated because they are setting
themselves above society like a virus attacking a higher life form;
eradication is the sensible and ethical option.