Thursday, August 2, 2012

Avoid bad; do good; pursue peace

Turn from evil and do good; request peace and pursue it...
King David

King David meditates
while playing the harp
According to Kabbalah, there are two basic approaches to life:
a) avoid bad and b) do good. These are highlighted in David's sagacious instruction quoted above.

This theme applies to the entire gamut of human function. For instance, in the cognitive sphere one desires coherence, a harmony between the apparently disjointed or contradictory ideas, facts, and impressions within one's mind. Yet, two basic forms of coherence exist: negative and positive. 

In Negative Coherence one avoids inconsistencies and contradictions, averting the distressing tension they produce. In Positive Coherence one creates meaningful patterns out of the diverse contents of one's mind so they gel and cohere. This is acheived by discovering the 'cause and effect' relationships between them, through the correct categorization of information, through logical deductions which reveal the relationships between premises and beliefs, or through the identification of common denominators.

Similarly, when refining one's character traits, one can focus on removing negative traits such as stinginess, cowardice, arrogance, cruelty, etc. Alternatively, one can focus on cultivating their positive counterparts: kindness, courage, humility, and compassion, respectively.

Health-wise, one can centre on curing or avoiding disease, or one can work towards increased health and fitness levels as part of a more general pursuit of fulfilling one's purpose in life.

In skateboarding, both approaches are necessary. One should identify errors and correct them and one should also envisage the correct way of executing manoeuvres and apply it. In practice, the difference can be subtle - a mere shift in attitude.

But what did David mean by his conclusion where he urges the pursuit of 'peace'? And how is it relevant to the preceding theme of his instructions?

'Peace'' refers to the harmonization  and combination of the two approaches that David initially highlights. Particularly, it suggests that the most effective way to 'avoid bad' is by actually 'doing good'; 'doing good' usually includes 'avoiding bad' within it. To explain: whereas refraining from hurting people doesn't neccessarily entail or result in actively helping them, if one's objective is to help people, one automatically avoids harming them aswell as that's counterproductive to the objective.

Recently, I observed someone learning how to perform a kickflip. After every failed attempt he muttered that he has to stop leaning back. He was right, he was leaning back too far. However, it was only after I helped him imagine the correct technique for a kickflip - such as proper foot placement, the angle one flicks one's foot to get the board rotating, and how the overall action is similar to an ordinary ollie - he landed the trick for the first time ever within five minutes. And know, this was after months of failed attempts! By focusing on what he should rather than shouldn't be doing, he automatically corrected his habitual error as well.

  In essence, his success resulted from living David's ancient wisdom of how to create  'peace' between 'avoiding bad' and 'doing good'...

                  Long live the King!                    

No comments:

Post a Comment