Seek the solace of your own distress
"Seek the solace of your own distress by extending the hand
of relief and consolation to your fellow creature in the hour
of their affliction."
-- Masonic charge.
While considered by some an artificially flowery expression of
the simple concept "try thinking about somebody other than yourself
for a change", the concept is still communicated, and i believe most
eloquently. At a superficial level, this maxim reminds us of the
enormeous personal benefit to be gained by the habbit of placing our
private concerns last and helping those around us, but it is
essentially a short hand for something much deeper indeed.
In considering the well-being of
our fellow creatures as inseparable from our own, we are released from
the slavery of such debilitating notions as the urgent need to attend to our
own short-sighted interests, a very real mental block that most of us
face from time to time, and quite liberating it is indeed for the chance
to forget about our perceived troubles, especially when we realise, once
loosed from the thrall of our our egos, that like most issues, it was only
one of our own perceptions.
When our limits are challenged such that we
almost tangibly sense the end of our wits, it is common
enough after "taking a break",
in whatever form that may take, to return not only
refreshed, but quite often with a solution allready formed at a
subconscious level, a resolution not possible while
attempting, as we find ourselves so often doing while under the stress
of considering only ourselves, to force our minds to work "just so".
would suffice for a portion of these benefits, but experience reminds us
the greater portion is afforded only by dropping entirely
our own worries, by immersing ourselves in the assistance of others.
In these aspects alone, the hand of relief and consolation can and
does prove a kenny investment with great returns.
In extending oneself the very least possible, one learns little.
In helping others wherever
you can, you learn significantly more. A life led along this latter
principle, over time, acquires myriad
skillsets otherwise missed, a practice teaching us how better to tackle a greater
variety of problems and indeed a sense of how better to avoid them altogether.
Dragging (perhaps unreasonably) the investment metaphor, these benefits
provide such great returns for so little investment as to be considered
robbery and i doubt not that eventually, like most other investments,
they will attract some form of taxation legislation, so enjoy them
while you can.
By this approach, in the most positive ways, one becomes well known by
one's community, who can not help but be aware of and take interest in
your own interests, and if for no other reason than their own good, are
far more likely to ensure as best they can that things go well for you,
or where this is not
possible, to appraise and assist you where possible.
I leave to the reader
as an exercise, to estimate the value of such insurance.
Each of us comprise a peculiar mixture of strengths and weaknesses, in
effect constituting a unique set of answers to the questions or
opportunities posed by Life, infinite in their number and variety and
so few of them to be actually realised, demanding of us the decision
how best to invest the time alloted to us.
How long that will be is a wisdom few of us are afforded, and each moment
being potentially our last, it behoves us to know (and where neccessary,
consciously craft) ourself, the better to prepare those wits required for
timely recognition, and acceptance or rejection accordingly, of each
fortunate opportunity and unfortunate pitfall that wends itself through
our place in the world.
Even the most skilled at their craft will peel an eye and prick an ear for
outward signs of their inward growth and what better reflection could be
sought than the encouragement, advice and criticism we elicit
when assisting others? Our own hearts' responses, quite suprising at times,
to these activities can be just as important to watch out for.
It being so unlikely to score so many opportunities otherwise, developing
the habit of assisting our fellow creatures in the hour of their affliction
tends so effectually to highlight hidden (i.e. potentially wasted) strengths,
much harder to divine otherwise, by yourself or anyone else, had you failed
to extend the hand of relief and consolation.
For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the practice is recognised as
the password or key to a more comprehensive appraisal of yourself, your place
in the world and an understanding of how best to engage them with each other.
If the world is your oyster bed, then this is the aqualung - it's probably
cheaper and is definitely more comprehensive and usefull than the offerings
of any team of "life coaches".
Truly great stuff! Mighty works indeed can be accomplished by such
technologies alone. But if considered solely at this level, the
technique is more than somewhat self-centered, despite the effects.
We could hand the governance of our lives over to this maxim,
virtually assured of success in whatever
adventures Life chooses to offer,
and still, in our heart of hearts, would know there is more, even though
we lack the skills to express what nature of thing that might be.
Whether you subscribe, (with the author), to the Grand Architect of the
Universe model, or to the Blind Watchmaker, is of little moment in this
Whatever you make
of the human being, it can be considered most fruitlessly at the individual
level, and indeed such attempts have produced little if any sense or
relevance, let alone value.
Nor is there any advantage to be gained from studying "snapshots" of human
condition wrenched from their supporting context, as severally and wholly,
these creatures stretch, recline and dance their existance
about space and time, awareness, and such dimensions that lesser
now grudgingly acknowledge a possibile existance thereof.
In these vastly varying spaces, humanity weaves out it's story, building the bridge
from wherever it finds itself, to wherever it perceives the need to go. None of it has
been particularly easy, the canvas requiring extensive maintenance and in parts entire
reworking throughout the millenia,
and it is only the assistance that each have given the "other", accross the perceived
divides, accross the generations, accross the infinite impossibilities that have
lesser technologies, that has made this at all possible.
Without extending the hand of
relief and consolation to our fellow creature in the hour of their affliction, we
would each of us have succumbed to the consequences of our own peculiar shortcomings
and quite literally be not.
In short, humanity is part of a journey, a process, however you wish to view it,
in our exodus from, or cleansing of, the relative ignorance we find ourselves mired in
for the moment, which i doubt not will prove, once accomplished,
only the first baby steps to a vantage point from which we will envisage
much more. This passage, this transition, this quest, is what has been designed
for us, or probably more to the point, what we have been designed for.
It is what the fatalists would call our destiny, what the
humanists would say describes our potential, what prophets have alluded to since
time immemorial as a divine principle upon which so much else rests. The ability
and indeed propensity to follow the way is our foundation and our firmament.
This is the stuff of Life.
Thank you to Jacquilline for her learned criticisms.
To provide criticism or any other support, please contact:
c r o m w e l l @ h u m a n - i n t e r e s t . o r g