The Gospel of Life, As I see It

by Bruce Carley       * Site Map *

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This page is a summary in a nutshell of my most deeply cherished principles, attitudes and values, - ethics of basic importance to me that I feel were meant to be shared. Far from being invented fancifully, these principles came to my awareness gradually as I came to know myself through deep reflection, and then I merely organized and edited them for clarity. More than a mere personal code of living, this summary represents to my perception nothing less than the core essence of a true, universal law, one which perhaps could be defined roughly as Respect for Individuality. (Some of my other writings listed in the links below elaborate extensively on where I am coming from.) These principles, like them or not, are what I most would want to be remembered for in the event, God forbid, of my sudden death, as they constitute the very kernel of what I stand for and have to teach the world, and what therefore should live on after me above all else.

Principle 1: Kindness. The most basic spiritual principle, in my view, is that of compassion, gentleness, and sensitivity to individuals, of being understanding and accepting of others as they are. This principle to my way of thinking means a number of things, none of which is without qualification, as it may need to be balanced carefully with a due acknowledgment of one's own rights and needs (for no form of considerateness ever should be confused with a hypocritical "sensitivity" to the mindless, collective quirks of a culture, such as may be manifest in various fashions, conventions, and institutions which stifle or disparage individuality). Being sensitive to others means listening empathetically without interruption when someone is speaking earnestly from the heart (as long as the person is not verbally trespassing), trying to be encouraging with a show of confidence in a person. It means being forgiving and patient with other individuals in the face of their human weaknesses (drawing the line only at their inhuman ones), and avoiding a raised voice or impulsiveness in showing anger. It means being tolerant of differing individual styles (other than those that involve an inherent intolerance of individuality or disregard for basic morality), and judging others with impartial objectivity. It means withholding personal advice or criticism when it is not absolutely necessary, unless such feedback is specifically requested. It means taking care to show a reasonable degree of respectful reserve in approaching another person, - that is, to tread respectfully in connection with issues known to be personally sensitive (assuming that such sensibilities are free of hypocrisy), and to avoid forwardness and excessive affection in one's manner of approach when such elements are not known to be welcome. It means opposing what is called "punishment" with outspoken contempt, proposing in its place some form of firm limit-setting that teaches the vital lesson of personal respect and facilitates "rehabilitation." In short, it means going out of one's way to avoid hurting other living beings (unless a need to uphold personal integrity makes hurt unavoidable) and to do everything in one's power to help them when they are afflicted with misfortune, provided that they are not made to feel patronized or smothered.

Principle 2: Humility. Freedom from pompousness, egotism, and vanity is basic to my sense of ethics and values, as excessive pride is undoubtedly life's most common and notorious trap. A modest sense of one's own importance or so-called "rank" in relation to others is consequently vital, with all due respect to the value of a healthy self-regard. This principle applies especially and no less to the role of "grown-up" in relation to that of "child." Stereotypes and prejudices on the basis of ascribed physical characteristics (such as young age) or chosen pursuits or life-styles which may be "unorthodox" but which do not necessarily interfere with the individual rights of others (such as homosexuality or mysticism) are manifestations of the blinding effect of false pride and deserve no place in one's perceptions. (It may be sound and sensible, however, to uphold certain prejudices in regard to bureaucratic occupations and their agents, such as officers of the law, specifically because they exemplify modes of conduct which do not take into serious account the fact that their profession requires them to operate strictly by the letter of the law, often disregarding conscience and ethics of fairness and humanity in their "standard" treatment of others.) Rigidity and dogmatism are manifestations of excessive personal ego and deserve no place in one's outlook. True wisdom demands a humble renunciation of the status and power of so-called "authority" out of respect for the inalienable integrity and liberties of the individual, and one should not conceive of wielding such power over self-respecting individuals (including children) against their wills, unless absolutely necessary for safety reasons, and even then not without respectful compensation. Those in positions less "lofty" likewise need to refrain from arrogantly interfering with the chosen personal styles and peculiarities of others (such as private-natured aloofness), as by applying pressures to conform to some popular fashion or formal convention; for we have no right, morally, to judge what is "appropriate" for another person except in direct connection with infringements upon the personal rights of others, nor to offer unsolicited criticism or advice in regard to people's personal habits unless they are directly interfering with the individual rights of others.

Principle 3: Integrity. Important as it may be to be flexible, there are certain basic principles that never should be compromised, and one's personal integrity is foremost among them. Apart from one's treatment of and regard for others, the most vital guiding principle in conducting one's own life is, in my view, "Be yourself always, no matter what people say." Being true to one's inner essence means being absolutely genuine and sincere in one's communication to others, manifesting a complete freedom from phony, shallow ritualism and hypocritical role-playing. It means avoiding superficial games of vainly courteous mask-wearing which stifle the expression of the true, inner self, and placing full confidence in one's inner essence, being utterly true to it on the outside (in appearance) as well as the inside. It means paying due attention to one's conscience or inner voice and taking it seriously. It means having the courage of one's convictions and the inner substance to be different from the mainstream, standing by one's deeply held beliefs with unswerving loyalty and expressing them regardless of popular prejudices or public attitudes. It means asserting oneself firmly in situations in which one's personal rights are being slighted or disregarded, yet not to the point of violating in turn the individual rights of the trespasser. It means following through on one's promises without fail and being consistent in one's attitudes and actions. It means resisting all pressures to conform to popular fashions, compulsory rituals, and formal conventions that do not suit us, as most of them (being oriented around physical age, gender, and material ambition) will not, if we are tuned in to the deeper dimensions of ourselves. It means refusing to cater to the prejudices and dogmas of a bigoted mainstream, and instead cultivating a uniqueness or individuality (in dress, manner, life-style, and way of thinking) that clearly and honestly sets one apart from everything one knows one is not, with a complete and unabashed non-attachment to the possibility of disapproval from the "orthodox."

Principle 4: Originality. The vital element that keeps life worth living is, in my perception, the very element which Einstein identified, namely, the experience of the mystical, of that which majestically transcends the ordinary and commonplace with a novel freshness that sweeps away all monotony and stagnation from excessive association with stifling conventions and brings with it the unshakable charisma of an imaginative child which is the essence of true maturity. To maintain this element in one's life, one must cultivate it deliberately, endeavoring to remain young at heart always, forever retaining the innocent mind and heart of a child, never allowing oneself to "grow up" or to become "mature" or "appropriate" in the superficial, dogmatic sense. Cultivating the primeval spark of creativity means fostering simplicity of mind and of life-style, as well as carefree humor and playfulness, especially in one's work, making it recreational. It means living habitually for the present moment, with fresh appreciation. It means maintaining purposely a sense of wonder and inspiration and an insatiable curiosity about life, never losing touch with living vitality or a sense of closeness to the natural world, and always retaining a sense of the magical, of magical visions and ideals. It means being a true eccentric, thinking independently and deeply about the mysteries of life with the aid of a vivid and whimsical imagination, engaging in free exploration and discovery of wonder, and ultimately, in an organized quest for cosmic, spiritual truth. It means transcending completely one's prescribed societal identity, dissociating or divorcing one's true sense of self or personal, divine heritage from the outer ego which merely represents a presumptuously defined cultural role, and thereby transcending all false identification with any narrowly defined ethnicity or particular polarity in the dichotomies of manhood and womanhood, childhood and adulthood, youth and old age, and instead conceiving of oneself chiefly in accordance with an attunement with the sublime essence of something beyond.

Now, suppose we all make an effort not only to live by principles such as these, but to incorporate them into our ailing institutions of education, religion, health care, law enforcement, and criminal justice?

Related Articles:

What is Reality? An exposition on the metaphysical nature of being and the meaning of fullness in living. This article discusses in greater depth the foundation of the above principles.

Celestial Systematics. An exposition offering a possible scientific basis for and interpretation of astrological complexities - how and why every event may inherit the character of its time.

Working With Lunar Cycles. This article summarizes an interesting system by which farmers have worked for centuries, purporting that the time of the lunar month at which a plant is sown or transplanted may influence the developing characteristics of the plant in predictable ways.

Depths of the Arcane. A collection of deep, speculative thoughts on an assortment of topics relating to the psychic realm and its implications.

Musical Inspirations:

From 2001 to 2003, I composed and rendered with quality sound fonts the following short pieces of music, listed here with titles followed by subtitles:

Expiration: Somber nostalgia and departure from Earth
Relativity: Timeless voyage through the dimensions
Absolution: Healing magnanimity at the end of the tunnel
Prophecy: Sinister wonders at the edge of the abyss
Nirvana: Wistful prayers and a magical reunion
Psychic Journey - 15-minute suite combining all five above

Xerophilia: Arid abandon closing in from below
Transgression: Creepy infringement upon cosmic harmony
Ordination: Imperative remedy under divine command
Concoction: Brainstorming trip on an unworldly brew
Zeitgeist: Archetypal heritage in timely transit

The Creeps - 18-minute suite combining the last five above

(c) 2003 by Bruce Carley. These music files may be shared privately, but please do not post or alter them in any way.

(c) 2003 by Bruce Carley. The text of this article may be shared freely in its entirety if it is left unaltered.