Good, Sweet, Pure, Whole

by Christopher Lovejoy on July 7, 2021

safeguard your sense of what is real, true, good, right, fair, fine and pure in all that you say and do;
as concerns everything else, receive what is given only insofar as you can make reasoned use of it ~
if you don’t, you’ll invariably find yourself unlucky, prone to failure, and hindered, or even stymied

I have Epictetus to thank for the fruits of this passage, which I took the liberty of elaborating from his Discourses, 2.14.7. It’s a reminder that reason comes first, before instinct, intellect, or intuition; it’s a potent reminder of what can happen when we fail to take heed of reason.

Having said this, it is not lost on me that emotion can all too easily override reason.

In the light of reason, let’s consider four filters through which to live and love a life.

The good life is a life of contentment, one of ease and comfort; the sweet life is a life of enjoyment, one of pleasure and pleasance; the pure life is a life of discernment, one of inquiry and discovery; and the whole life is a life of fulfillment, one of security, satisfaction, and significance.

Truth be told, the intrepid among us would very much like to have it all, but in considering these four filters, would it be safe to say that this is a lot to ingest and digest all at once, tending to bring to mind the not-so-good, the not-so-sweet, the not-so-pure, and the not-so-whole?

Alright then, in the interests of brevity and clarity, let’s do a quick reframe, as follows: the good moments (of contentment); the sweet moments (of enjoyment); the pure moments (of discernment); and the whole moments (of fulfillment). Might this be easier to ingest and digest?


Okay, multiple choice time.

I invite you to ask yourself . . .

Given who I am, given where I am in this world, at this time, my attention is presently (mostly) drawn to savoring . . . (a) the good moments (of contentment); (b) the sweet moments (of enjoyment); (c) the pure moments (of discernment); or (d) the whole moments (of fulfillment).

In contemplation of these options, do you feel at all inclined to recall memories of not-so-good moments? Of not-so-sweet moments? Of not-so-pure moments? Of not-so-whole moments? If so, might they serve you well in drawing attention to the kind of life you desire and deserve?

Might those not-so-good moments point to a fundamental desire for contentment? Might those not-so-sweet moments point to a fundamental desire for enjoyment? Might those not-so-pure moments point to a fundamental desire for discernment? Or, might it actually be true that those not-so-whole moments point to a fundamental desire for a constancy of flow, freedom, and fulfillment?

Now you might suppose that Option D is the superior option, one that includes all the other options, but consider that someone with a wealth of wisdom and experience might have “been there, done that” with the whole life (of fulfillment), such that Options A, B, or C remain viable.

Such a someone is inclined to indicate as follows: “I must admit, I’ve had a truly, deeply fulfilling life; I now know in my heart that it is time for me to settle down and savor the ___ (good, sweet, pure) moments in life.” Then again, might there be more to this than meets the eye?

Beginner’s Mind or Beginner’s Heart?

You’ve likely heard of beginner’s mind, but have you heard of beginner’s heart?

Beginner’s heart says “I am now willing to embody purely as loving, trusting, caring, and forgiving.” Beginner’s heart is either for (a) those who live inside their heads much if not most if not all of the time, or (b) those who tend to live with their hearts on their sleeves much of the time.

The intention to enter the heart of a beginner is the intention of someone who is willing to view and treat a condition, a limitation, or a situation with fresh eyes and ears, as if for the very first time, while processing and releasing any urge or impulse to fudge and judge, define and refine.

Here, the relevant catchphrase is “I do not ~ can not ~ presume to know.” Historical timelines are dropped; familiar ideas are forsaken. With a clean slate, the heart of a beginner opens to experience without preconception or prejudice to encounter experience with depth and breadth.

The heart of a beginner might feel uncertain, even awkward ~ a small price to be paid to have full access to infinite possibilities. Otherwise, the access is constricted by or restricted to any presumption to know. And so, “I drop everything I think I know ~ I forsake judging others, I forsake judging myself, and I forgo and forsake the lust to presume to know how things ought to be ~ or not be.”

A not-so-certain defenselessness obtains, a call to sink into the very depths of being . . .

Everfresh and innocent, I remain free of negative, repetitive commentary. Everfresh and innocent, I know what I know, without presuming to know. In receiving, reflecting, and responding to encounter and experience everfreshly and innocently, I embody the feminine principle.

In the face of dark, dense emotion and commotion, I stay in wonder: “so light, so lovely.”

It’s not that I don’t know anything; it’s that I don’t presume to know anything. I stay open to experience, to what is, to what could be, without feeling overwhelmed or overcome by any urge or impulse to act without adequate foresight ~ to hold my ground in being and becoming.

I invite you to drop any sense of neediness around knowing what you think you know, as best you can, allowing it to be just as it is; just for now, open your mind and heart to encounter and experience this moment without presumption ~ without pride, prejudice, or preconception.

Invitations Without Presumptions

Open . . . rest, relax, restore, refresh . . . begin at the very beginning . . .

Move through nature’s bounty and observe the familiar as if it were no longer familiar, finding ease and comfort in the not-so-familiar; dare to move past your comfort zone, beyond common sense, with a friendly curiosity: enter  a situation without memory or expectation, just to see what arises; show up with those you think you know without presuming to know anything at all about them.

The heart of a beginner pledges as follows: “In the bosom of Big Heart, I care not to presume or prejudge anyone or anything.” If the heart of a beginner knows anything at all, it is this: Big Heart is pregnant with presence, promise, patience, purpose ~ accessible to one and all.

Big Heart is vast, open, empty, as choiceless as a beach at the crack of dawn. Big Heart is alive, awake, aware, alert, with a vast potential to be supremely aware and infinitely creative, inviting you, reminding you, to release what you think you know and return to what you do know.

The most fundamental premise, promise, and purpose of a beginner’s heart attuned to, and aligned with, Big Heart is always and forever the same: “I am now willing to embody purely as loving, trusting, caring, and forgiving.” Loving, trusting, caring, and forgiving are the keys:

loving, as in “embody a pure love of self with grace and ease”
trusting, as in “cultivate a pure space to live at peace with love”
caring, as in “engender a pure path to joy in awe and wonder”
forgiving, as in “orchestrate a pure lust for life from joy to bliss”

Here, I am not talking about a love of self that is separate from Big Heart; not talking only about physical space; not talking about forging a path in the literal sense; not talking about a lust for life that is divorced from a love of life. I am talking about truly fulfilling your birthright.

In essence, I am talking about becoming and remaining attentive and receptive to all of the good, sweet, pure, whole moments that are missed when vital energy is used up by dwelling on negative, repetititve commentary when coming to terms with fear, doubt, worry, and regret.

But . . . What Role Masculine?

The presumption to know with negative, repetitive commentary happens when a catalyst for growth in consciousness causes indigestion; the presumption to know with said commentary occurs when a sense of safety or security is undercut by too much threat, real or perceived.

If the feminine principle is receptive, then the masculine principle is protective.

I could be receptive without feeling protective, but experience tells me that this is not always true for the simple reason that biological fear has a tendency to generate and perpetuate psychological fear, which, in essence, is not so much a fear of bodily death as it is a fear of envelopment and abandonment ~ a deep, dark, dense, pervasive primal fear of having to suffer and endure a living death.

By way of response, the masculine principle sets a very high standard: to bring the will into harmony with whatever expires or transpires, so that (a) nothing happens against the will, and (b) nothing required or desired fails to occur (inspired by Epictetus in his Discourses, 2.14.7).

In view of this standard, is it even possible to reconcile feminine and masculine?

If so, might such a reconciliation be the work and play of a lifetime?


be the keeper of your own flame ~ yes? or no?

~ yours

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