The new year has passed but the calendar date isn't really important to me. Heck, I just sent out my holiday cards a week ago, though I had them in plenty of time for Christmas. So I like to think that I took my time to think about my goals instead of going off half cocked.
I recently bought a copy of the book The Wisdom of Hypatia. One of the dangers of working at Quest Bookshop is that I want to buy everything. But after just reading the back and flipping through it, I knew it was exactly what I wanted.
What it is: A 9 month program of study and practice in Greek philosophy, including Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Neoplatonism. If you've read the about page on this blog, you know I'm all about Epicurus. He was an ethical vegetarian (not sure if vegan) who advocated living simply, tranquilly, and free of fear.
The book purports to be usable by people of any religion or no religion, including agnostics and atheists. Pretty cool. The idea is that philosophy was never meant to be a set of doctrines or just food for thought; it was meant to help us lead good lives.
If I start this program at the beginning of February, I'll finish right around Halloween/Samhain and that's meaningful to me.
Why I'm so excited: I have a broad spiritual interest that's gone off in many directions. Buddhism, shamanism, chaos magick, and ceremonial magick are just a few of my interests. In the last few years I've fallen in love with Aphrodite, which led me to start worshipping all of the Greek gods and become interested in the classical Greek religion. Hellenismos, a modern reconstruction of Hellenic religion, really frowns on magick, for one thing. For another, it's a hard form of polytheism and while I'm a polytheist, and do think the gods exist as themselves and not as metaphors or psychological complexes, I'm also a monist or panentheist. Which means I think all the universe, including the gods, humans, rocks, and atoms are part of one consciousness. So I've had a lot of tension about that. I think this book will help me in resolving it. At the very least, I think it will help combine serious polytheism with a hermetic belief in The One, and also get into theurgic magick. A lot of the philosophical practices also seem very Buddhist in the idea of emphasizing tranquility, compassion, and detachment while still engaging with the world.
As I was flipping through the book, I saw a passage that says according to the Chaldean Oracles The One has three qualities: Beauty, Goodness, and Wisdom. (I also so want to read Radha Burnier's book Truth, Beauty, and Goodness). "Corresponding to the Chaldean Virtues are three primary relationships: Love, Truth, and Trust (or Faith); we love beauty, we seek wisdom through truth, and we trust (or have faith in) goodness." Later it says the philosopher Hypatia suggested that if someone worships a love deity, that the love/Beauty path might be the one for them.
A long time ago in meditation Aphrodite had told me something very similar. She said that she's not primarily a goddess of love, but the Goddess of Beauty. The action of the Beautiful is to love, and love is the proper response to Beauty. She was using Beauty in a very deep sense; to mean not only physical beauty but also harmony among people and moral goodness. Everything we mean when we say someone is a beautiful person. This informed my belief that when we truly love someone, we're seeing the real beauty in them. Or as I oft quote Iris Murdoch: "Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real." So when I saw the above passage in the book, I knew it was right for me.
I've been blogging, regularly at the Pagan Activist blog and way too irregularly here. I want to continue and also get better at it. For a long time I've wanted to write a book on ethics, and I think that might eventually coalesce as a compilation of articles. I want to really focus more deeply into ethics here on Those Vegan Hedonists, since at Pagan Activist I'm focusing more on vegan activism.
I also am setting the intention to get healthy. I'm an ethical vegan rather than a health-focused one, and I could really stand to pay better attention to my health. I've never consistently gotten enough sleep because I've always had something to see, read, or do, but I'm really making an effort. I feel so much better when I do. And if I'm going to do dream yoga, well, then, I have to actually sleep!
I was always naturally skinny until I hit 25 or so. I could eat anything, or not eat. I could exercise or not. My weight didn't change. I don't know what eventually changed this -- age-related metabolism change, stress, or the short period I was on Lexapro. I've heard of Lexapro causing permanent weight gain. Even now, changes in diet and exercise don't really seem to make any changes, so it really might just be a stress thing. I hope that a combination of sleeping enough, meditating, watching what I eat a little more, and some exercise will help. I worry that I won't keep up with the changes so I wanna find something fun that I will stick with.
I've always been a very tranquil, kind of blasé person. As I've worked on expanding my heart and being less of a Vulcan (seriously, I worried that I had schizoid personality disorder), I've also become really stressed. Somewhere along the way I became a workaholic frantically treading water. My heart rate goes up when the phone rings. I need to get some equanimity.
I'm really loath to make huge goals that I'll then ignore, so I'm just going to try to develop healthier habits, starting with meditating and getting enough sleep. Following the program set out in The Wisdom of Hypatia will probably involve meditating anyway.
Since I've worked at the Theosophical Society for a year, I'm finally availing myself of the awesome programs there. I recently went to a talk on the Boddhisattva's Path by Geshe Pema Dorjee, and I'm signed up for a meditation retreat and a yoga retreat in the next two months.
As I write this it all sounds very self-centered to me, but I believe in what Geshe Pema Dorjee taught me recently. One of the most important factors in attaining enlightenment is the strong desire to become enlightened for the sake of every sentient being.
Enlightenment, in my view, consists in becoming essentially sane. Tranquil and content without lots of ups and downs. Full of compassion. Seeing things very clearly, with as little bias as possible, and so better able to really help others in the ways needed. Something like that.
I'm already blogging about animal rights, and supporting my friends in their activism with my money, voice, and presence. I want to continue doing that and then see if there are other ways I can help make positive change. My main concern has long been animal rights, simply because there are more non-human animals victimized every year than there are even humans to victimize, so I view it as the largest area of suffering in the world. But I'm also really concerned about all areas of justice including issues of gender (especially transgender), race, poverty, and war. I'm hugely concerned about money in politics. Maybe I'll find a way to support these causes, even if only through more blogging, giving money, and not hurting animals by not eating them or their secretions. And I think I make pretty yummy vegan food that I'm more than happy to share with my friends.
I also intend to play around with more sorcery, for deep spiritual purposes and also for fun. Lately I'm really interested in chaos magick and sigils. I also would really like to practice more with Tarot and possibly the Greek astragolai dice oracle, but I may be biting off more than I can chew.
Some of my friends have been posting lists of fun goals, numbered lists of things they want to do in the coming year. Like go to 10 new restaurants, learn 6 new recipes, and so on. I may decide to do something like that but I think I've already set myself up for a lot!
I think it's funny that most of my goals are spiritually or magickally centered, but my ethics are entirely secular. I also like that I'm deep into the woo but Kimberly is decidedly not. It makes Those Vegan Hedonists an interesting blog, when I get on my butt and do it!