Monday, February 11, 2008

Delphic Maxims - #2

I'm not writing about these in any particular order. Today's Maxim is:

Think as a mortal (Φρονει θνητα).

This one caught my eye this morning. It stands out, being somewhat different from the others, although it certainly belongs. If the writer is exhorting us to, "Think as a mortal," that implies that we might think otherwise, that we might see ourselves or think as IMmortal.

The Maxim tells us not to elevate ourselves to the status of the Gods. We have the spark of the Divine within us, yes, but we ourselves are not Divine. We are the children of the Gods, as it were, and adopted ones at that. No immortal blood runs through our veins. We are simply mortals, with all the foibles and emotions there attached.

When we label others as wrong, or criticize others for their beliefs, we are thinking as immortals. We are allowing ourselves to think along the lines of the Gods themselves. Certainly there are times when someone is wrong: 2 + 2 does not equal 5, no matter how you manipulate the numbers. However, when dealing with spiritual matters, issues that do not have hard facts to back them, we must be more circumspect.

It is one thing to say, "I disagree with So and So about the Gods. I think X, Y, and Z." That is a statement of opinion, human and very mortal opinion. We are entitled to our opinions! It is entirely different, however, to make the statement, "So and So is drowning in hubris because they don't believe X, Y, and Z." That is thinking as the Gods do, and that is not for us to do. We are not the Gods, and it is not our job to label someone's thinking (or actions!) as hubris. That is between the person and their God(s).

The very act of labelling another person as suffering from hubris, is hubris itself. Overweaning pride and arrogance is thinking like the immortals we claim to worship. This is something that the Maxims, and many of the myths, warn us is incorrect thinking. How many people, in legends and myth, are harmed because of their own presumptions? I am reminded of the myth of King Midas, and his hubris, thinking he knows more than Dionysus.

Should you see someone that you feel is acting as though trapped by hubris, the correct action would be to lead by example. If they ask your opinion, you are free to give it. That is a mortal asking the opinion of another mortal, and that's acceptable. However, if your advice is not solicited, beware falling into the trap of thinking like the immortals. It is not your job to inform others where they are wrong.

All that said, there are times when our brains simply take over. We're human, and we have failings. If I catch myself criticizing another person, or accusing them of hubris, or telling them they are wrong without good, HARD facts to back up my claims, I need to step down. I need not apologize for my opinion - that is mine, given by the Gods. I do, however, need to correct my thinking. I need to remind myself that I am not the Gods, and that I should not be stepping blithely into their territory.

I must ask anyone who feels they must meddle in the affairs of others, why do you think the Gods have appointed you to be the judge of others? What special trait do you have, that the Gods have asked you to intervene in their worshipper's lives? Do you believe that you can do something that the Gods cannot?

I ask myself these questions, too. I am not God, either. Each day, I learn more, and become a better priestess, both to my Gods, and to those who chose me as their leader. That is the point, isn't it?
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