Let us look at the many forms idealism can take. Sometimes it is difficult to identify idealists, because they wear such pessimistic clothing that all you can see are the patterns of a sardonic nature, or of irony. On the other hand, many who speak most glowingly, in the most idealistic fashions, underneath are filled with the darkest aspects of pessimism and despair. If you are idealists, and if you feel relatively powerless in the world at the same time, and if your idealism is general and grandiose, unrelated to any practical plans for its expression, then you can find yourself in difficulties indeed. Here are a few specific examples of what I mean.
One evening, in this very [living] room, a small group was assembled not too long ago. One visitor, a man from another part of the country, began to speak about the state of the nation, largely condemning all of his countrymen and women for their greed and stupidity. People would do anything at all for money, he said, and as his monologue continued, he expressed his opinion that the species itself would almost inevitably bring about its own destruction.
He cited many instances of nefarious acts committed for money’s sake. A lively discussion resulted, but no countering opinion could enter this man’s mind. Roger, let us call him, is an idealist at heart, but he believes that the individual has little power in the world, and so he did not pursue his personal idealism in the events of his own life. “Everyone is a slave to the system.” That is his line of belief. He took a routine job in a local business and stayed with it for over 20 years, all of the time hating to go to work, or saying that he did, and at the same time refusing to try other areas of activity that were open to him because he was afraid to try.
He feels he has betrayed himself, and he projects that betrayal outward until betrayal is all that he sees in the socio-political world.
Had he begun the work of actualizing his ideals through his own private life, he would not be in such a situation. The expression of ideals brings about satisfaction, which then of course promotes the further expression of practical idealism.
Roger speaks the same way in any social group, and therefore to that extent spreads a negative and despairing aura. I do not want to define his existence by those attitudes alone, however, for when he forgets the great gulf between his idealism and practical life, and speaks about other activities, then he is full of charming energy. That energy could have sustained him far more than it has, however, had he counted on his natural interests and chosen one of those for his life’s work. He could have been an excellent teacher. He had offers of other jobs that would have pleased him more, but he is so convinced of his lack of power that he did not dare take advantage of the opportunities. There are satisfactions in his life [however] that prevent him from narrowing his focus even further.
If you want to change the world for the better, then you are an idealist. If you want to change the world for the better, but you believe it cannot be changed one whit, then you are a pessimist, and your idealism will only haunt you.
If you want to change the world for the better, but you believe that it will grow worse, despite everyone’s efforts, then you are a truly despondent, perhaps misguided idealist.
If you want to change the world for the better, and if you are determined to do so, no matter the cost to yourself or others, no matter what the risk, and if you believe that those ends justify any means at your disposal, then you are a fanatic.
Fanatics are inverted idealists. Usually they are vague grandiose dreamers, whose plans almost completely ignore the full dimensions of normal living. They are unfulfilled idealists who are not content to express idealism in steps, one at a time, or indeed to wait for the practical workings of active expression. They demand immediate action. They want to make the world over in their own images (louder). They cannot bear the expression of tolerance or opposing ideas. They are the most self-righteous of the self-righteous, and they will sacrifice almost anything, including their own lives or the lives of others. They will justify almost any crime for the pursuit of those ends.
Two young women visited Ruburt lately. They were exuberant, energetic, and filled with youthful idealism. They want to change the world. Working with the Ouija board, they received messages telling them that they could indeed have a part in a great mission. One young lady wanted to quit her job, stay at home, and immerse herself in “psychic work,” hoping that her part in changing the world could be accomplished in that manner. The other was an office worker.
There is nothing more stimulating, more worthy of actualization, than the desire to change the world for the better. That is indeed each person’s mission. You begin by working in that area of activity that is your own unique one, with your own life and activities. You begin in the corner of an office, or on the assembly line, or in the advertising agency, or in the kitchen. You begin where you are.
If Roger, mentioned earlier, had begun where he was, he would be a different, happier, more fulfilled person today. And to some extent or other, his effect on all the other people he has met would have been far more beneficial.
When you fulfill your own abilities, when you express your personal idealism through acting it out to the best of your ability in your daily life, then you are changing the world for the better.
Our session is late this evening because Ruburt and Joseph watched the beginning of a (television) movie in which a young woman, I will call Sarah, appeared as an actress. Sarah wrote Ruburt a letter, telling him of the movie. She has abilities, and she is banking on them, developing them in a practical way. She believes that she forms her own reality. She quenched doubts that she was not good enough to succeed, or that it was too difficult to get ahead in show business. Her satisfaction of performance leads her to more expansive creativity, and to her natural sense of personal power. Through developing those abilities personally, she will contribute to the enjoyment of others. She is an idealist. She will try to bring a greater sense of values to the screen and she is willing to do the work necessary.
A young man from a nearby town came here recently, a highly gifted, intelligent young person. He had not gone to college. He attended a training school, however, and has a fairly technical position in a nearby factory. He is an idealist, given to great plans for developing novel mathematical and scientific systems, and he is highly gifted in that area. He wants to change the world for the better.
In the meantime, he looks with horror and disgust at the older men who have worked there for years, “getting drunk on Saturday nights, thinking only of the narrow world of their families,” and he is determined that the same thing will not happen to him. He has been “called down” several times for “things that everyone else does,” though he protests that no one else is caught. His mood was despondent. At the same time he did not consider trying to go to college, to get a scholarship or whatever, to better his knowledge in the field of his choice. He doesn’t want to leave town, which is the place of his birth, to find a better job; nor does it occur to him to try and understand better the experiences of his fellow workers. He doesn’t believe that he can change the world by beginning where he is, and yet he is afraid to count upon his own abilities by giving them a practical form of expression.
Youth is full of strength, however, so he very well may find a way to give his own abilities greater expression, and hence to increase his own sense of power. But in the meantime he is dealing with dark periods of despair.
Idealism also presupposes “the good” as opposed to “the bad,” so how can the pursuit of “the good” lead to the expression of “the bad?” For that, we will have to look further.
There is one commandment that can be used as a yardstick for others because it is something you can understand in practical terms: “Thou shalt not kill.”
Under most circumstances you know when you have killed. However, when you read or hear a Commandment like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you may find it confusing. If you don’t love yourself, how can you love your neighbor? The hope is, if you love your neighbor you will not treat him poorly, much less kill him.
Now, the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill,” says you shall not kill your neighbor no matter how you feel about him.
So let us say in a new commandment: “Thou shalt not kill even in the pursuit of your ideals.”
What does it mean if this idea is your prime directive? It means, do not wage war for the sake of peace. It means, do not kill animals in experiments or take their lives in order to protect the sacredness of human life.
“Thou shalt not kill even in the pursuit of your ideals”, for man has killed for the sake of his ideals as much as he has ever killed for greed, or lust, or even the pursuit of power on its own merits.
You are a fanatic if you consider killing others in the pursuit of any ideal (including war and order). You are a fanatic if your ideal is the production of endless energy for the use of mankind and you believe so fervently in this ideal, this added convenience to life, that you accept the risk of losing lives along the way.
When you argue that “Certainly some lives may be lost along the way, but overall, mankind will benefit,” it means you’re unwilling to take steps to protect lives in order to achieve your ideal. It means you believe the end justifies the means.
The sacredness of life cannot be sacrificed for life’s convenience or the quality of life itself will suffer. It is the same when you give generations of various animals deadly diseases and sacrifice their lives in pursuit of the ideal of protecting human lives. Your justification may be that people have souls and animals do not, or that the quality of life is less in animals. Regardless of these arguments, it is fanaticism. When any kind of life is sacrificed unnecessarily, respect for all life is lost to some extent, including human life. The ends do not justify the means!
SESSION 850, The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, May 2, 1979, 9:49 P.M.Wednesday. Copyright © 1981 by Jane Roberts. Published with permission from current copyright holder, Laurel Davies-Butts, Seth/Jane Roberts Yahoo Group
Published on Seth, Practicing Idealist by “Oceanside Rick, Friday, May 6, 2011
To be continued…
When I first read The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events in 1980, I thought Seth was talking to me. At the time, I published Coordinate Point, a Seth related magazine, and Jane occassionally commented on articles. We also exchanged cards during the holidays. When a trip to Maine came up, I thought it might be a good time to visit her and Rob. Although I had their home address, I stopped at Prentice Hall in Princeton, New Jersey to ask Jane’s editor, Tam Mossman, to call ahead to see if it was okay for me to visit. Being ill, Jane said “no”.
I identified so much with the “Roger” in Seth’s discussion about fanaticism in his book, I wanted to talk with him about it. It was scary to think I might spend my life stuck in a psychological vortex of anger, cynicism and contempt like him. What I failed to see at the time was that I was already expressing a healthy idealism in publishing Coordinate Point. My identification with the “Roger” in Seth’s discussion reminded me of when I took a class in Abnormal Psychology. I identified with almost every disease symptom the book described. Fascinated, I switched from a biology major in pre-med to psychology, even though I knew I didn’t want to be a Psychologist any more than I wanted to be a doctor.
Is looking for fault in ourselves something we all do or is it just me? I look for the good in myself now but back then, I was still under the spell of beliefs like “we’re all bad” and “we can’t trust ourselves”, religious beliefs from the bible. Anyway, this is an excellent discussion. Enjoy it!
Thank you for putting this subject out there, Rick!
Roger/Pete Peterson – http://realtalkworld.com
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having (creating) a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Instead of money, power and privilege, wouldn’t love, truth and joy be a better measure of success? One set of values isolates us in the material world of separation, scarcity and competition, while the other not only acknowledges our oneness as well as our individuality, it acknowledges our role in creation itself. Using love, truth and joy to measure success provides us with a moral compass. It encourages us to live for the love of Being and Creation, instead of running from the fear of poverty, suffering and death. It inspires us to find and express what’s best in us and ALL that we’re a part of, instead of giving in to the least of what we can be.
“How you define yourself and the world around you forms your intent, which, in turn, forms your reality.” – Seth
In other words, we create our own reality from what we choose to believe about ourselves and the world around us.
If we don’t consciously choose the ideas we accept as beliefs, attitudes, values and expectations, we unconsciously absorb them from our surroundings.
If the ideas we accept as beliefs, attitudes, values and expectations create our reality, can we afford not to question them?
The more we love and appreciate ourselves, the better we treat ourselves.
What do we want most for our children, ourselves and the world?
What can we do today for the selves we’ll be tomorrow?
The secrets of the universe lie hidden in the shadows of our experience. Look for them!
Affirm what you believe!