Control Yourself: The Heroic Ideal

The Old Gurus used to say “To master the Universe, first master one’s self”. Well, in the terms we would use here in our Lucid Dreaming, we could render this Ancient Wisdom as “Complete Dream Control must start with controlling the Self”.

But to what end? In what direction should this Control be pointed? When it is suggested that one should Master one’s self, it implies that we must be our own Servant, but then, what should we have our self do for our Self? What should “I”, the Master, ask of “me”, the Servant? What goals and objectives do we establish? What Touchstone or Criteria do we keep in mind when making our choices?

This is where Moral Distinctions enter in. This may seem elementary, if it was not so discernable that many or most people are confused regarding the basics of Morality. Oh, yes, people can identify Extreme instances of Good and they can point to Extreme instances of Evil, but close to the line that divides Good and Evil, at the very inception where the motivation begins, before any consequences become apparent, there, most people are likely only to discern what they suppose is a uniform shade of Grey – not good and not bad. People perceive most actions to be morally neutral. If nobody is hurt, few people are likely to object. The popular wisdom expresses it as “No harm, no foul”.

But there is an important distinction that separates basic good impulses from basic evil impulses, even before results either good or bad can be tabulated. The distinction is between Selflessness and Altruism on the one Good side, and selfishness and predatory behavior on the other side – the evil side.

Yes, it is objected a thousand times, that ‘everybody’ must more than occasionally be ‘selfish’. Many people assume that people must think selfishly even just to get by, even minimally. Workshops and Seminars are booked solid, and books can fill a library that are written on ‘assertiveness’ as a positive thing. To think only of others is often described as a negative quality – “co-dependency”. But, even still, the basic moral distinctions stand, while all the common confusion only points to the unfortunate fact that most people are, in moral terms, Barbarians. They confuse their Moral Perceptions because they actually have no moral orientation, or not a very solid one.

The best example I can remember is the confusion that met Milton’s great epic poem “Paradise Lost”, the main character of which was Lucifer… Satan… the Devil himself. Well, here, a little bit of background History would be useful. “Paradise Lost” was written simultaneously as the Puritan Revolution was devastating what little there was left of Civilization in England. Oliver Cromwell became leader of the Puritans who were able to murder the King and assume power. Parliament became an dictatorial Oligarchy. And our author Milton was one of the leading Puritan bureaucrats.

Well, when “Paradise Lost” was published and first read, the character of “Lucifer”, clearly the most interesting character in the entire poem, was seen by the Puritan Establishment, to their extreme discomfort, as being noble, intelligent, decisive, proud, and strong – his most famous line being “Better to Reign in Hell then to serve in Heaven”. Most readers honestly could not find a single blameworthy quality at all in this Lucifer. Indeed, very troubling, was the coincidence that Milton’s Lucifer seemed to bear a strong resemblance to Cromwell himself. It was so unsettling, that many officials suspected Milton of satire, and so, more than a few times, investigations were conducted examining Milton – his life and his politics. But in each instance, Milton was found to be the most perfect and dutiful of Puritan Public Servants. They could decide only that his Poetic Artistry must have been somehow flawed, and being a bad poet could hardly be considered much of a crime against the State. The most that would be done would be that the broad distribution of the Poem would be interrupted, and only so “Paradise Lost” would achieve popularity only after the Restoration would overthrow the Puritans (when those in power would no longer mind that Lucifer would appear so much like the deposed Cromwell).

The Confusion with Milton’s “Paradise Lost” sourced only out of the moral ambiguity within the English Soul. While Milton was precise in delineating Lucifer with all the BASIC QUALITIES that foment EVIL (Narcissistic Pride, Predatory Pursuit of Self-Interest, Individualism), the English public were at a loss to see anything wrong, and indeed, found much to admire about Milton’s Lucifer. They judged this Lucifer from the standpoint of their innate Barbarism. We could liken the situation to lecturing an auditorium full of Vikings, Mongols, Apaches and Republicans about the evils of Attila the Hun, and finding that they would all be puzzled to know exactly what was so bad about being a Hun.

So what does all this mean in regards to our Dreaming, and how we are to guide our developing attitudes and behaviors? Well, we should always concentrate on thinking of others, and of being part of the collective, one of the team, and a friend to the crowd and a companion and partner to all of our various Dream Characters. We should not prioritize our own self-aggrandizement, but should emphasize the betterment of the Complete Dream Scene. Our happiness should be the Group’s Happiness. Nothing taken. Everthing given.

Well, if that seems impossible, well, yes, it is almost Saintly in its difficulty of achievement. But this is why I would term such a mode of accomplishment as being “heroic”. But be guarded when one looks at this word “Heroic”, as more often then not the Histories of Barbaric Cultures describe their barbaric exemplars as “Heroic”. For instance, in America they heap historic honors on the traitors who assassinated innocent Law Enforcement Personnel, holding them as the Heroes of their Revolution. In Capitalist Cultures, the individuals who destroy, stifle, and ruin more than they ever make are seen as Competitive Heroes. The best known of such people is one who suppressed all the Good Software that was ever made only to bury the world in software that is as expensive as it is defective. And then there is the most crowded Profession in America, and indeed anywhere in the World where their numbers are not actively restricted -- that of Lawyers – people who take pride in their ability to lie for either side of an argument, where the most ‘Heroic’ of Lawyers are seen as those who will ‘win’ their cases against the strongest of odds, that is, even when their side is completely in the wrong. So forget any popular notion of what is “Heroic” especially if one can begin to suspect that one lives amidst a burgeoning society of barbarians, while the last vestiges of a former Civilization grow faint and instances of goodness follow far between. It is no testimony for Barbarism that it should be popular and spread far and wide. Rot also spreads. Once rot starts in an Apple, the Apple will never be fresh again. One must grow a new Apple. We need a New Civilization.

And for a New Civilization, it is necessary for us to Dream Something Up.