Wholeness v. goodness as ideals

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

4:30 a.m. For some reason, my mind casts back to 1997, the year I rented a cabin to live in, and wrote the first draft of Muddy Tracks. I’d get up in the morning, fire up the computer, which took forever to boot, go make coffee – in a percolator, if I remember rightly – and then sit down to work. A very happy time, decompressing after so many years of doing everything but what I wanted to do. Anyway, that was the routine, and I found it very comfortable, very pleasant, as I do now, more than 20 years later.

All right, let’s resume. Goodness v. wholeness.

Perhaps it has not yet become evident that this is a conflict of perception, not of essence. It isn’t better for a person to be whole than to be good, it is better for that person to conceive of, to picture, himself, herself, as whole rather than as good. If it were possible to be entirely good, fine, who could argue against it? But it is destructive, or let’s say obstructive, to be one thing and think oneself another.

Well, that puts it in a different light entirely. I don’t see why you couldn’t have said that in the first place.

Context is all.

This, then, is a conflict of ideals, rather than of states of being.

Yes, but that will take some spelling-out.

I don’t see why. It’s simple enough. If our ideal is to be good, we will suppress awareness of every part of ourselves that is not good; we will suppress manifestation of it. But all this will do is force that part of ourselves into the unconscious, where it will be beyond our control. If our ideal is wholeness, though, we will welcome awareness of what we are, without manifesting it deliberately but without disowning it when it does manifest, hence keeping it more in our consciousness, hence more under our conscious control.

Occasionally you surprise us.

It suddenly clicked, and became clear. As I said, I don’t see why you couldn’t say this a good while ago.

Perhaps we could have; there’s no knowing, even after the fact. At any rate, here we are.

It never ceases to amaze me, how things can be murky one minute, clear the next.

What should concern you by contrast is how murky how much of life remains and will remain.

I guess I’ve long since given up hoping to bring it all to light.

You have sort of given up. We would say you refocused, and focusing usually involves narrowing of field.

So I guess we’re finished with goodness v. wholeness.

Very funny, as you would say. After a flash of insight comes the work of assuring that the new insight remains in context, so that it does not become like the cryptic scribbles that are left from a dream in the night.

Bear in mind, this insight is a very practical insight. It tells you what to do, how to live. It does not shade off into the question of why evil exists or even how it exists (that is, how it manifests) in the 3D world. But practical is worth more than theoretical, if you have a choice. It’s just that sometimes you need to re-examine the theoretical in order to provide new practical awareness.

So we’re bailing out of the larger question?

We are anchoring an important insight before proceeding to that or any other matter.


Everyone lives according to an ideal, or to multiple, often conflicting, ideals. If you were the units you think yourselves to be, you could have one ideal, perhaps. As it is, each of your constituent selves (or, call them sub-selves, it that helps) has its own ideal. How are they all to be harmonized so that you are not working against yourselves? One way is to have one over-arching ideal that all can agree upon.

This will not be possible at all for some self-divided people. It will be possible to some extent for others, and possible to a great extent for a relatively few others. Someone fused into one thing, such as Jesus, can have – will have – cannot not have – one ideal.

We keep coming back to Gurdjieff and his multiple “I”s that take turns running us.

It is a key insight, and as you apply it to different situations and conditions, it sheds light on them.

So, one over-arching ideal. What can serve so well as wholeness?

I see. Every possible attitude, value, or combination is contained within wholeness.

Yes, and what other ideal can contain everything? Goodness, by comparison, is continually choosing, discarding, rejecting, criticizing. You can measure up to an ideal of wholeness, for after all, what is it but acceptance of what you are and how you have been created and faith that you are as you are for a reason. But how can you measure up to an ideal of goodness?

Is this why you had me get so close to Hemingway, for more than a dozen years now? He is a case-study of a man whose impossible ideals tormented him, wracked him with guilt, led him to deny what he had done, filled him with remorse and despair and yet continued valiant attempts to reach the unreachable.

You could write about that and provide people insight into him. An essay, not a book.

But my point?

He certainly provides a valid example. He would provide insight into the faith filled despairing lives of the saints in terms comprehensible to your age.

Except it is too late for me to do it.

You don’t know that.

In any case –

To have as your ideal to be good is to invite repression of all in you that is evil, and to set yourself an impossible task, because one man’s evil is another man’s good. This refers not to other 3D beings around you; it refers to the multitude of strands within you.

It almost sounds like the proper ideal is tolerance.

If tolerance did not shade so soon and so easily into indifference, that would be so. Anyway, wholeness is a belter ideal. Tolerance will come in its wake, but it will be a judicious tolerance. There is no great advantage in learning to be tolerant of mass-murder, or torture, or any of the manifestations of individual or social insanity that are liable to pop up.

Again – or perhaps we haven’t yet quite said this –

[Prolonged pause]

And I went drifting off. Again? [Pause.] I see it’s lost.

Things are never lost; they may be beyond reach at a given moment.

This went surprisingly well, very fluently.

And you needn’t prolong it merely to fill out the hour. The point is made.

I sure wish I knew what you had started to say, though.

In due time, perhaps. Or perhaps it didn’t need saying, or was best left unsaid, or perhaps it is waiting for its time to come round.

If you say so. Well, thanks for all this. We really did light up the subject, in a way I wouldn’t have expected. Till next time.


3 thoughts on “Wholeness v. goodness as ideals

  1. Really love this! I can see how there is a tendency (in me), when aiming for goodness, to chooose things to do that make it possible to be or do good. And that activity can be completely counterproductive from the perspective of wholeness. Having the guts to aim for wholeness – this is where creative people go. Making art at the expense of health, family and food. Even though aiming for wholeness does not have to be obsessive, per se. But absolutely brilliant stuff, thank you Frank&al.

  2. Thank you Frank. This is thought provoking material. It prompted me to revisit some of Jung’s writings about the archetypes and the Self archetype in particular. As I was surfing I found this (partial) quote:

    …… man’s task is …… to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious. ~Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Page 326.

  3. Karla’s Jung quote is right on IMHO … I strongly agree as (I suspect) do many here.

    It’s useful to remember much of humanity would not! agree …. as examples “the sole purpose of human existence is to”
    – glorify God/live by God’s rules (as espoused by organization A and/or guru B
    – pack as much into this single lifetime as possible as it’s all there is
    – understand that there is no purpose to human existence
    – leave some tangible material evidence of one’s existence
    – (etc.)
    Such beliefs are not going away any time soon … maybe a useful ‘purpose’ is to understand more about them and how to (at least) co-exist.

    For me a significant part of growth toward wholeness is finding/choosing/growing into my own purpose for existence.

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