October 26th, 2007
|11:56 am - Walking the Path Again: Virtues (moderation)|
In reviewing the virtue of moderation last night, I noticed something interesting: I had trouble really defining it, cosmologically.
Now, I have no trouble understanding many of the other virtues from a cosmological standpoint: integrity is about the maintenance of relationships, piety is about reaffirming (or recreating) the cosmos, perseverance is about drive toward what is right, and hospitality is the central aspect of our ritual work.
I have spent a lot of time in these essays discussing how each of these virtues fits the Rta (or the orlog). I am a bit curious as to why I didn't relate moderation to the Rta as quickly as I have the others. I am feeling very much, at this point, like I have missed a key of moderation, a particular point that will cause me to see the Rta in this virtue.
So far, I think about it, basically, "as creating the fertile ground from which things can grow." There's a sense of quiet excellence that is formed from moderation, one that shines more brightly and more enduringly than the fast-burning excellence that lacks a long-range plan. Moderation creates a position from which things may grow healthfully, rather than recklessly.
I am not sure I like my moderation essay. I need to think more about how moderation affects the cosmos, and how the cosmos exhibits moderation, before I can say that I'm comfortable with the thoughts expressed in the essay.
Perhaps moderation, to me, is a synthesis between the chaos of potential and the ordering of the cosmos. It is maintainable, focuses on the ordinary, and creates excellence from a strong, supported place.
"Sail the main course, sail it in a simple, sturdy craft.
Keep her well stocked with short stories and long laughs;
Fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see,
Moderation seems to be the key!"
-Jimmy Buffett, "Barometer Soup"
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Music: "Brand New Country Star", - JB
I need to think more about how moderation affects the cosmos, and how the cosmos exhibits moderation...
I don't know that the cosmos does. Moderation is a condition valued by inhabitants of the cosmos who rely on it for their survival. For instance, the cosmos cares not one whit what percentage of Earth's atmosphere is oxygen and what percentage is carbon dioxide or methane. We, however, have a keen interest in keeping those levels pretty close to where they are right now.
Moderation is key for the continued functioning of systems. Systems exist to perform a particular function under particular conditions. If a bicycle has either too many or too few teeth on a gear, the bike won't work. It has to be just right. If it is, the bike will function...unless it's in an environment where the ambient temperature is 3000 degrees F, in which case it doesn't matter how well the gears are engineered.
We see this balance at play in every ecosystem--number of predators, of prey, amount of food for the prey, parasites that attack one or another of any of these...they all have to be in perfect balance for the system to continue. But if something changes, it's no harm to the cosmos. The system will fail, disintigrate, and another, more adapted one will rise in its place. The cosmos doesn't need moderation; those who wish to remain a functioning part of it do.
Interesting. Is moderation, then, just balance by another name? I'm not sure it is.
I do wonder about the idea that the cosmos doesn't need moderation. The cosmos, speaking purely theologically here, does need things in order to maintain it: the act of sacrifice must be carried out (this is a particularly important part of maintaining the cosmos), etc. We have an effect on the cosmos, which in turn has an effect on us.
I think you're speaking scientifically about it, and I'm thinking purely cosmically about it. I agree that we won't affect the cosmos if things go out of balance, scientifically, but if we go out of balance theologically, we can seriously break things.
I'm not sure we're at odds, but I think we're speaking in different languages about the same ideas.