A Way of Being

I’ve been reading some Carl Rogers lately, specifically A Way of Being, which is a collection of some of his later work. He becomes particularly mystical here, referencing the possibility of multiple realities and so on. But he also lays out a retrospective on some of his theories on learning and personhood, which are of course where my interest lies.

I’ve always been a bit suspicious of the idea that the goal of — anything really — was to “be oneself” or “get in touch with the inner me” or whatever. Mostly, I’m still suspicious of the language; a lack of usable terminology makes any attempt to talk about self-actualization sound like the worst New Age claptrap. But I’m now pretty convinced that this indeed is what the actual purpose of life is: to get in touch with what Crowley called the True Will, and what Rogers seems to think is an inborn tendency toward health.

What Rogers skirts around is that this true will means embracing criminality. If the rest of society offers only approval or disapproval, to become a person in his sense is to declare oneself an eternal rebel against society. It’s to become a criminal. And if we live in a place where the choice is between being sick or being a criminal . . . the choice is a hard one to make. (Of course, it doesn’t follow, please, that every criminal is mentally well — in fact, most of them are the opposite: they’ve embraced the wrong kind of criminality, the wrong rebellion, but the fact they embraced a rebellion at all is evidence of a true will working in them).

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2 Responses to “A Way of Being”

  1. Patrick, I was struck by your hypothesis – “But I’m now pretty convinced that this indeed is what the actual purpose of life is: to get in touch with what Crowley called the True Will, and what Rogers seems to think is an inborn tendency toward health.”

    For ever since I can remember, I found myself hunting for my Reason for Being Here. At certain points in my life, I would implore, “God, just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.”

    In my forties, I think, I found the answer which, to me, made perfect sense.

    “In the province of the mind, what is believed to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind, there are no limits.” – John C. Lilly

    From that point on, I believed (and continue to believe) that this is the answer I’d been searching for. Lilly’s construct is the very foundation of my being. On top of that, I (originally) placed Saint Francis of Assis, simply because I feel a great affinity for this man. I try to emulate him as much as humanly possible. And, many many times, I have fallen short.

    Now, in just the past couple of months, I discovered something called Chaos Magic (and your text, Postmodern Magic, which I consider very complementary to CM). Both your text and CM seem to fit very nicely atop Lilly’s hypothesis. So, at this point in my life, there’s Lilly (on the bottom), Cm and PMM (Postmodern Magic) atop that, and, atop those two lies Saint Francis.

    I wonder if, when I die, I’ll get some answers to some pressing quesions.

  2. Patrick Says:

    I hope I don’t get the answers. I’m developing a real appreciation of the questions.

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