synthetic zero

October 14th, 2009

One thing I wanted to clarify about my “bad boys” post, yesterday; I said that I don’t do things for people because I want to be “nice” — which is true. But I do things for people, all the time, and I find it very satisfying. It’s not that I don’t feel sympathy for people at all; like most people, I feel sympathy and affection for people (and in the case of romantic love, I feel tremendous emotion and passion, see below); but I don’t do things for other people for that reason, for the most part; it doesn’t play a large role in my motivational structure. What motivates me is something else — an aesthetic sense of flow, of what feels right, of trying to reduce waste, of wanting to help create something beautiful and interesting in the world. Helping people, attending to the needs of others (while not, of course, ignoring my own), strikes me as simply the most sensible way to live. So while I am not strongly motivated by any feelings of sympathy I might feel, I am strongly motivated to help others in many situations.

This may sound rather cold; in a way, it is, but as I said before it’s not that I don’t feel things for others; I do, of course, especially people close to me. But the reason I think I act this way is that it’s a kind of impartiality; that is, if someone does something bad to me, so I would have reason to dislike them — that doesn’t mean I will then try to “get back” at them. Unless there’s some reason why I should do something about it (i.e., the person is harming others so I need to intervene in order to stop that, etc.), I tend to simply withdraw my help or support, etc., as I wrote below — but even that isn’t done in anger, it’s simply because I am going to turn towards other parts of the universe (people, etc.) where I think I can be more effective or helpful, where I won’t have to fight against the tide, so to speak. However, even if someone has slighted me or otherwise attacked me, I might still help them if I think that help is necessary or useful at that moment.

In ancient times there was a proscription against samurai killing in anger; if one kills someone (which is a terrible act, of course), you should do it not because of anger, but because you are forced to, in some sense. I think the same applies to my sense of helping others; I don’t do it because I feel sympathy, even if I do, but because I feel it is aesthetically beautiful, it contributes to the world, it makes sense, it fits. And I’d do it even if I don’t like you.

Love is something else, on the other hand — I love with tremendous passion and emotion. Love seems to me to be something different from compassion as I’m defining compassion, above; it’s a domain where feeling and sentiment are very important. Love is not just a matter of aesthetic beauty, it’s very particular, it’s about the unknowable, mysterious Other, someone in your life who is both inseparable from you and yet radically unknowable in their entirety, it’s not comprehensible, it’s not necessarily practical or logical. I don’t really have a theory about love or why it seems to be a place where feeling is both paramount and seems to me to be necessary; but it is somehow different from the case of compassion, for me. So, in a way, I don’t think of love and compassion as the same thing; romantic love is a kind of insanity, but a necessary, wonderful one; compassion is an expression of beauty, of interdependence, of interconnectedness, but for me is less about feeling than about natural expression of existential reality.

permalink |

comment trackback

3 responses to this post:
  1. Gaya says:

    I’m still puzzled by the word ‘arrogance’ in your last post though …

    October 15th, 2009 at 5:23 am
  2. mitsu says:

    On the one hand, I feel humble, in the sense that I don’t intuitively think of myself as any different from anyone else, but at the same time I have this feeling which I suppose I have to characterize as a kind of arrogance, in that I don’t think it is entirely warranted yet I feel it anyway. It’s a mixture of a pure kind of vajra pride, so to speak, and ordinary pride in my abilities or resourcefulness, even though I’m also quite aware that to speak of qualities as one’s own is in many ways self-contradictory. I’m not sure what else I can say about that — it’s not something I’m entirely proud of (my pride isn’t something I’m entirely proud of) but, on the other hand, I do have a certain definiteness about the way I do things, the way I relate to situations, which I believe is appropriate to a large degree, even if it may come off in some ways as arrogant.

    October 16th, 2009 at 12:13 pm
  3. Gaya says:

    To a simpleton like myself, it sounds like you’re happy and contented with yourself rather than ‘arrogant’. I will get that trick one day I hope! :D

    October 16th, 2009 at 1:22 pm

leave comment


synthetic zero is powered by WordPress

posts(rss) . comments(rss)