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January 2012 (First ever quote of the month!)

January 15, 2012

Some say suffer,

some say serve,

some say detach.

Who says find your highest right for yourself?

(Richard Bach)

Faun:

The characters of Richard Bach seek revelations, truths, and escape from mundane reality. They often take messianic form, distinguishing themselves as ‘special’ and then withdrawing from the ranks of the normal. I myself have constructed a probably juvenile sense of moral responsibility that is very preoccupied with visible effects and changes. Active, positive choices are what I try to work towards, and this has lent itself to a fairly busy and stressful student lifestyle, one that I’m sure will only get worse as I work towards a career. Escape, or withdrawal, still seems irresponsible to me- but is it really impossible to bridge the gap between trying to live peacefully, healthily, less stressfully and trying to make positive change?

The quotation above comes from a tongue-in-cheek work by Richard Bach called Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul. It is a collection of epigrams; to use it properly the reader is supposed to hold a question in his or her mind, open the book to a random page, and take the text on it as an answer. Feeling slightly fanciful (and also a little smug, as I am firmly not superstitious) I did so, asking ‘what is, simultaneously, the way to live calmly but responsibly and an excellent opening quote for this blog I’m starting with a friend?’

I am often shown up by books (some famous writers are clever; who knew?) but I continue, for some reason, to be surprised when it happens. While I may not always agree with what the writer points to, and I certainly don’t believe that a book has sentient properties, Richard Bach knows how to craft epigrams that undoubtedly do help answer questions indirectly by turning them around.

Miriam:

This little quote that my friend and colleague supplied is very appropriate for a first post. Who are we to foist our opinion on anyone? Is that ever a positive thing to do?

Well, we live in an age of the internet, where it is very very easy to foist your opinion on anyone, anywhere, with a computer. This is a reality of our time. In addition to this, you have sought out this blog, and so we presume that you care somewhat about what we have to say. I think I can speak on behalf of Faun when I say that we care what you have to say as well, and would be delighted to hear from you in the comments!

The first thing that sprang into my mind when I read this quote is the lifestyle which is known by some as ‘simplicity’. This concept is evident in most major religions, and quite a few major philosophies. The two main denominations in my religious upbringing, Mennonite and Quaker, both place great stock in simplicity. Plain dress, plain speech, and a plain lifestyle were very important.

Simplicity is, to some, a form of suffering. Cutting back on desires in the form of material possession requires some sacrifice, in some form or another.

To some, simplicity can be a way of serving. By living a simpler lifestyle, we serve each other and the planet. Conserving resources means more for other individuals, and better health for the environment.

And finally, rejecting a western culture of consumerism must cause some detachment from the surrounding world.

Simplicity by itself is not a cohesive philosophy through which to live your life. It is a common theme at the center of many philosophies, but it is not a be-all or end-all: a highest right. The myriad of philosophies behind the lifestyle of simplicity is a much more complicated notion. I believe that my work on this blog might eventually help to explain this further.

Stay tuned!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 15, 2012 7:17 pm

    Hello Faun, and nice to meet you virtually as well Miriam,

    So I get to be the first to comment on your Blog.

    One of the first “philosophical books I ever read when I was in the 6th grade was Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Which in so many ways mirrored my life, even though not so clearly at the time. Being a bit of an outsider, then eventually leaving the flock, and finding myself with a group of people who had found some higher meaning in their lives, and still being a bit of an outsider, but still finding some direction in my life.

    Nice work with the Blog, I look forward to keeping up with your adventures…

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