eThoughts : September 1, 2008: Purgatorians

Traveling, as I said in the last post, is, among other things, about learning the art of saying hello and the art of saying goodbye. This is a valuable learning for Purgatorians, especially those with that darn helper gene, when it comes to the latter art of saying goodbye.

All right, stay with me through the set-up, I think I have a point.

I’ve talked about Dante’s Divine Comedy and the three levels—that actually only appear to exist on separate planes—of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso before. While I claim no Divine Comedy expertise, the following is my character take on the various occupants of Dante’s three-level world: Infernians are trapped and cannot help themselves or others, though they’d like company in their agony; Purgatorians are trapped and would like company in their agony, yet they can actually help each other a bit, though the catch-22 is that their helping is usually about deepening the trap; and Paradisians can move about freely, including through the “lower” levels, they like company in their beauty, and they can actually help, though they are not likely to get trapped by the agony or cries for help by either Infernians or Purgatiorians. In other words, Paradisians know about passageways, which is not something that Infernians know at all and that Purgatorians know only vaguely and elusively.

I think that I and, to the best of my knowledge, everyone I know are Purgatorians. Some are teetering on the edge of Inferno, some are tantalizing closely to Paradiso. Certainly Purgatorians have their moments of behaving and seeing as do Paradisians. But, as Purgatorians, those times are transitiory, perhaps as are those times of acting like Infernians. Nonetheless, I think it is possible to slip back into Inferno, to become even more trapped and unaware. It is not possible to slip permanently into Paradiso, though one can find themselves there on a temporary visa. Entry into Paradiso requires heightened awareness. Entry into Inferno requires giving it up. Giving up awareness is like giving up the keys to the doorways, it is a recipe for stuckness.

Enough of the set-up, here goes the point.

Everyone I know wants to help, to make a positive contribution. But I think we are trapped by a basic Purgatorian story—the ego-epic. This is the story of the mighty sacrifice, of the ongoing suffering required to overcome the oppression that grips us, to vanquish the darkness and embrace the light. It requires an enemy, a basic component of the Purgatorian ego-epic—that which keeps us oppressed.

I don’t agree with the definition of sacrifice. If it’s a good thing down the road, just what are we sacrificing? I don’t agree with suffering, seeing it as a mostly psychological imposition upon our perceived or achieved ineptness. I don’t believe in enemies, except those that allow us to hang onto our stories of suffering and sacrifice. Can you imagine Paradisians having an enemy? They’d just leave through that Paradisan doorway, beyond the reach of souls bent on treachery.

I do believe in the struggle, but not much about the rising up against any enemies, more about the struggle with our Purgatorian selves. If we learn the doorways, our “enemies” will be rendered impotent. But the Purgatorian ego-epic requires us to vanquish our enemies. That seems like too much emphasis on guard-dog vigilance and too little on fog-clearing—like spending our time looking over our shoulders instead of lifting our eyes to the horizon.

It seems to me that the degree of hatred for others and for groups and their respective beliefs abounds in our world and is an arrow of direction pointing towards Purgatorio. Infernians don’t have enough clarity to see past their own imprisonment and Paradisans have no hate. I think/feel that hate is powerful in its ability to hold, love is powerful in its ability to release. I do not think/feel this means we should sit around loving being chewed upon any more than we should love our ego-epics (which chews on us). I think it means we should seek the doorways so that we can move about freely, rather than being stuck and pretending otherwise, or being stuck and blaming others and their beliefs for our “fate.”

So, about that helper gene: Purgatorians with that gene are not the same as Paradisians with that gene. Purgatorian-Helper-Gene People do not realize the importance of saying goodbye, or of saying goodbye without malice. We tend to not like those that resist our help or our love or anything that involves denying our contribution. Paradisian-Helper-Gene People just help if they can and don’t get bogged down in the outcome, especially if the outcome is not forthcoming. In other words, we can actually help each other as well as ourselves, but I think/feel that helping is not about enemies, suffering, or sacrifice, it is about pointing out those doorways much more than prying away the hooks in our beings.

Leaving others to their own machinations is not abandonment, it is a component of freedom. We can only do so much and being bitter or making up defamations about others is decidedly no help. I’m not saying that watching people ding themselves and/or others is not painful, I’m saying that sometimes we have to move on. I’m saying that moving on can actually be humanitarian, assuming we have done the best we can, as opposed to coming in and upsetting the reigning ecology—whether it’s biological, psychological, sociologically, or environmental—and then just walking out and leaving the mess for others.

On the other hand, if the ego-epic is the point, I’m quite sure we’ve got plenty of messes to deal with. I suspect we’ll still be Purgatorians as we apparently haven’t noticed that cleaning up one epic mess is followed by another, but we can sure feed that ego by getting up on that high horse and sallying forth to conquer whatever is in the way. Still, I think we might be better off, even if Purgatorio remains, to find the doorway to Paradiso.

Hey, does anyone feel like helping?

You must be logged in to post a comment.