* Peter's Seven Vows *
An Open Letter to the Seeker of Human Excellence
You have been barked at, scowled at, discredited, and assigned a servant’s place. As new laws replace old ones, a tangled web is woven. Entrapment is the name of the game. How can you seek human excellence and in the same breath believe you are a criminal and a sinner?
The pursuit of human excellence is the state of trusting your own mind. You must seek out the soil of liberty on which to plant your feet and walk. All dictatorial states stifle human growth. It is only in a free society that human excellence becomes more than a dream.
Are you mentally tough enough to truly aspire to grapple with your conscience? To fight failings every day in order to present yourself as one improved human unit? It is indeed a noble quest. Yes, to create value where none existed yesterday is to become the architect of your life.
No one but you can create a being that is more than enough for itself. If your actions are not self-preserving, then they are self-destroying. You must have freedom in order to grow. That means your choices must be voluntary; any choice that is not voluntary is not yours, but another’s. If you are forced to forfeit the work of your hands or surrender the creations of your mind, you have been reduced to the status of a slave. When governments tether the people, they chain themselves. When the means are corrupt, the ends will reflect it.
Since morality is the science of self-preservation, anything that does not nourish and sustain the quest for human excellence is immoral. This has nothing to do with the arbitrary laws of convention; it has everything to do with the laws of nature. As with all things in the natural world, you are either growing or dying. In order to grow, you must create. In order to create, you must think. In order to think, you must reason.
When you couple reason with purpose, you have set your feet on rich soil. You must be free to choose your goals unimpeded. You must be free to choose value in order to exist. You must be free in order to trust your own mind. Trusting your own mind and knowing you are appropriate to life results in self-esteem.
Self-esteem, that is, honoring the self, must have an environment of freedom in order to fully flourish. You cannot blossom as a human if you are drowned in laws that haven’t a thing to do with nature.
I take it as a personal affront to be told not to steal, kill my fellow man, or lie, for I know only too well that the means reflect the end. These acts are by nature contrary to my ultimate value—life. In order to have life, I must be free to pursue it. Hands off! I also know the forces that oppose it, but refuse to rent them space in my head.
So, what should you do in order to seek human excellence? First, realize that conscious life is the highest of values. Consciousness must be cultivated in order for you to evolve to the state of becoming more than enough. When you are in a state of human excellence, cherishing life, then all life matters. If you take care of the means, the end will take care of itself.
What is the means? Virtue. Virtue comes from the root word vertu. It means moral strength, valor, excellence, and a particular power of efficacy: a virtuous person understands the means and ends of an issue and acts accordingly. Reason results in the means to pursue your highest value: conscious life. Thus, it can be said that reason is the ultimate virtue, for excellence is impossible without it.
Now, who should be its proper beneficiary? Naturally, the one who established the value and used reason to attain it. If the value is as lofty as presenting an enlightened being to the world, and rational means were used in its attainment, the end speaks for itself. The highest human flowering has occurred.
What does it mean to be enlightened? It means you are in an expanded state of identity. Suddenly, everything matters. The food you eat, the air you breathe, the water you drink, the earth you walk upon—yes, they all matter! You have become your own highest value—life.
Thus I vow:
1) I vow to respect, honor, and expand my conscious awareness of how precious life is to all creatures, and I will not knowingly bring pain, injury, or death to any of these, if it is within my power to refrain. However, I will protect the sanctity of the lives of others and my own as the nature of aggression dictates.
2) I vow that I will honor all human interrelationships as voluntary and will use no coercive behavior or action to the contrary. I know that the end is always reflected by the means, and I do not want my victories to be more disgraceful than my defeats.
3) I vow to consciously shun or eschew all organizations, clubs, political parties, and governments who are blind to the nature of cause and effect or the principle of how the means determine the ends.
4) I vow to live quietly, simply, and honestly, respecting the earth that shares its bounty with us all.
5) I vow to resist tyranny using nonviolent strategies and by the withdrawal of my cooperation.
6) I vow neither to be enslaved by anyone’s demands on my life nor to be robbed by their tears. My life is mine, and only I can choose how I want to live.
7) I vow not to pursue vain desires. I will use the razor of reason to cut away all things not in harmony with my major purpose in life.
Human excellence will always be elusive until you can honor and respect the person you are and what you stand for. You must first love yourself before you can follow any injunction such as “love your neighbor as yourself.” Once you have recognized your own human excellence, your eye will be keen to spot it in others. Then, you may realize that all injunctions, both civil and religious, are insults to your intelligence. They are morally criminal because they use force and coercion, thus alleviating your responsibility to reason the means and ends.
Any interactions, state, social, domestic, or otherwise, that are not based on a voluntary agreement will be coercive by nature and should be avoided. While some of us may wholeheartedly agree that you cannot create peace by creating war, because we recognize the voluntary means-end insight, we can yet remain blind to it in social, domestic, or religious issues. That’s where the second vow comes into play again. “I will honor all human interrelationships as voluntary and will use no coercive behavior or action to the contrary.” This means even refraining from disapproving facial expressions.
You may be thinking I’m just carping and overly fastidious. But remember, if a principle applies and it works, it works on subtle levels as well. This is why my first vow to expand conscious awareness applies to all interactions. As an example, how can you respect one life form without respecting all? Wouldn’t you be led to question even your choice of what goes on the dinner plate?
On another issue of life extension, if conscious life is your highest value, wouldn’t you do everything possible to preserve it? Wouldn’t reason now begin to govern your decisions regarding health, weight, exercise, diet, and lifestyle? Again we come around to the voluntary means-ends insight.
So, to seek human excellence requires scrutiny of every thought, action, and behavior. Remember, you can’t scrutinize what you do not see, recognize, or remain conscious of. For this reason, I stress the importance of stilling the mind and ridding it of “vain desires.” To dissipate your life force in folly and aimless fun is to rob yourself of the greatest fulfillment of attaining human excellence.
As you polish the many facets of your multidimensional self, you’ll realize it’s all a voluntary endeavor, but certainly worth the undertaking. Before you can polish, you must chip and cut—that’s the painful part. You must decide what your highest values are, how they can be attained, and the proper means to use. If you have done all you ought to, you will shine in the eyes of all who recognize human excellence!