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[Xmca-l] Re: Habits (Greek: ethos)



I've been coming across all kinds of references to Aristotle as of late, and I'm curious about what makes him valuable to us in modern times, given he is a thinker from Ancient times.


If anyone would like to pitch in on that question, I'm a willing reader.


Just as I'm writing this, I saw Rob's post come in, and in reply to his post, I could offer that for the Vedic paradigm of habit, which is held in the ethical sense we have been speaking, would be considered a "spiritual practice" or "sadhana" in Sanskrit. This is something an individual chooses to do as an act of renunciation, or practice, with the anticipation that there will be a beneficial result of some kind for that practitioner.


In fact doing "tapas," which is a self-imposed austerity, is a way of acquiring boons in much of the Indian mythologies, but of course this is in the extreme and has the feeling of comic-book superhero drama.


Sadhana is more like polishing, or cleaning, or letting go, "simplifying," and this is very similar to the notion of habit in that it is repeated and is not a singular event; it is practiced, with the hope it becomes a habit.


One reason this seems relevant to habit/ethics discussion is because this is an action (activity), and there is considered in that paradigm particular actions that will provide particular results.


What is interesting to me is how these considerations are very historical and culturally specific for the time, but in some ways they seem to have some scientific basis, if only because there is an echo of the modern worldview that pertains to activity and development of mind.


What bothers me is the way this can get problematic if one considers notions of "creating" purity through activity. I can't adhere to that, because of so many contradictions such a position creates, and how that worldview can exclude huge swathes of people.


So in light of the recent Chandler article, here is an example of a contradiction as being indicated in mature thought, because considering it logically, it would mean that everyone is impure and requires a lot of "laundry activity" in order to be considered "pure enough" to be ethical. That isn't true generally or specifically, so to me, this is taking the logic too far, and is where the centering is needed in order to balance this logical approach to personal experience and reasonableness.


I'm not sure if I'm making sense in this, and I feel tentative about writing it, as if I'm not standing on terra firma, but it's something I've been thinking a lot about lately and so it's serendipity to be able to discuss it (Thanks to everyone participating).


It seems reasonable that particular habits one practices will create a particular kind of person (because of the mind that is created), and also those consequences of building character, as Rob indicates in the Greek word of "ethos". (Funny how we say "building character"?)


So it seems that the ancients did have some understanding of this, East and West. But how do we make sense of it for ourselves? "How" meaning: what is that process that we practice?


Kind regards,


Annalisa