CHAPTER 16

 

VICE IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE

 

 

The social costs of drug abuse, including loss of work and disability have been tabulated at $166 billion annually. On top of this, crime and related violence costs Americans another $500 billion a year.                 

–Armstrong Williams

 

 

Have you ever watched teenage boys trying to get the attention of a group of girls? Since many young men are not taught how to approach young women or engage them in conversation, they fall back on biology instead. Showing off, fighting, verbal posturing, grabbing at breasts and backsides, insults directed at peers and adults, all are part of the repertoire. This is an early stage of FIKI (fuck it-kill it), and is rooted in evolutionary biology. In the animal kingdom, the strongest male generally gets rewarded with the pick of the females. This isn’t a question of right or wrong for animals. It is rooted in natural selection, whereby the strongest survive and reproduce. This is an ecology of the most elemental nature, the interrelationship of organisms with their environment. By showing their prowess, young men are re-enacting a dance between biology and ecology older than the Stone Age.

For human beings, controlling residual animal or biological instincts that are on a continuum with the ASS and FIKI must be the basis of a new moral and ecological paradigm. The behavior of teenage boys as they try to impress females may be classic biology, but when this behavior spills over into violence and various acts of juvenile delinquency (in order to get attention or out of frustration) it becomes a moral issue. Remember, the definition of morality we are using: making good choices regarding appetites. Teenage boys will have these and many other appetites to contend with as they grow up. The most important issue, however, is what they do with the appetites that they encounter. Do they move with the energy of every appetite that happens to come along–like trees in the wind–or do they try, akido-like, to move with the flow but make it constructive? The kind of mindfulness that is required for this kind of psychological akido requires an awareness of the energy flows of appetites and urges.

Prudence is the ability to govern oneself through reason, and is the hallmark of the energy conscious individual. It is a funky word to the modern mind–perhaps too redolent of “prude” and “prune”–but it is also one of the key activities of an awakened soul. Without the virtue of prudence it is not possible to be wise or to cultivate an ecological understanding of vice. The disciplining of the life energy required for virtue simply cannot proceed without a moral schematic that accounts for Chi misspent or well spent.

            Vice for most of the early Greek philosophers was simply a habitual defect of behavior in regards to the regulation of the appetites. Mental illness or temporary insanity as an explanation for bad behavior would have been regarded as lunacy by the ancient Greeks. They knew that an undisciplined mind and will would jump from one vice to the other. No sooner was your average Greek dandy finished with one vice than he would find another. One minute an orgy, then large quantities of wine, followed by a visit to the stadium for a bit of betting on the chariots–then a great belch, a shit and finally sleep until late morning at which time it could all begin again! Aristotle lists the following vices. A modern day example is listed next to each.

 

gluttony eating three deserts
greed charging exorbitant rates or making excessive profits
laziness constantly postponing study or work
intemperance allowing yourself to “fly off the handle” 
incontinence whacking-off every time the urge hits
cowardice habitually avoiding healthy challenges
injustice allowing what is wrong to stand without challenge
lying   telling your girlfriend you love her when you don’t
stinginess  withholding resources and compliments from others
rudeness  shouting at other drivers from your car
ill-temper allowing yourself to be mean-spirited
impatience not taking the time to listen or care
violence physically abusing others
hatred  allowing anger to burn out of control and mutate

      

Go ahead, check a few boxes on the chart below!

 

DAILY

WEEKLY

INFREQUENTLY

ALMOST NEVER

 

gluttony

 

 

 

greed

 

 

 

 

laziness

 

 

 

 

intemperance

 

 

 

 

incontinence

 

 

 

 

cowardice

 

 

 

 

injustice

 

 

 

 

lying

 

 

 

 

stinginess

 

 

 

 

rudeness

 

 

 

 

ill-temper

 

 

 

 

impatience

 

 

 

 

violence

 

 

 

 

hatred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

            These states of character are considered vices, inasmuch as they take away from the perfection of the individual (that is you pal) by allowing the appetites to rule instead of being ruled. A bad neighborhood in Los Angeles or the Balkans is where vice and brutishness–poor Chi management–is the rule. Have you ever wondered why we instinctively shy away from people with “shifty” eyes or “bad vibes?” Remember that the original meaning of the word vicious is vice-ridden! The motor force of vice is the ASS. We might even want to say that the vice-ridden are ASSES (Appetite Survival System Errors) devolving into something less than human.

While Aristotle’s calculus of virtue and vice is pedagogically useful, its true value is as a steering mechanism that the soul or life force uses to allow itself to disengage from its absorption with the body and to consider its own greater reality. The insights of the Buddha in regards to non-attachment reflect this truth. The less the core self is attached to the outside world, the more it can focus on the multi-dimensional reality which generates the whole universe. Why focus on a part when you can have the whole? Selfishness and desire simply limit your exploration of who you really are. This is not to say that you should have no desires, but rather, that you see each desire in context and remain in the driver’s seat.

            We have this terrible idea that some psychologists have implanted, namely that desire should not be repressed, that all repression is bad. This idea has unfortunately “morphed” into the idea that repression and self-restraint are one and the same. They are not! Repression involves unconscious appetite suppression imposed on us by someone else, or unconsciously through circumstance. Self-restraint is the willful attempt to exercise some degree of choice over obvious appetites. For example, if my neighbor is playing loud music during the early morning hours, my immediate reaction might be annoyance, followed by anger. I might feel like wringing him or her by the neck–this is the biological or appetitive response that is rooted in FIKI and the death instinct. The civilized and prudent response, which involves exercising the virtue of patience and temperately suppressing anger (the first manifestation of FIKI) is to first go and politely ask the individual to turn the music down. This is moving with the energy of the basic appetite and prudently transforming it to a higher level. It also allows you to rationally gather additional information about your neighbor or learn something that may change your perception of the circumstances. Sometimes there are factors that make all the difference in the world.  

            Suppose your neighbor just got married or received a long-awaited job promotion? Perhaps you will end up dancing with him or her, or having a drink and becoming friends.

            You will never know unless you think first and snarl later.

            A friend of mine told me an interesting story in this regard. He was driving out of a parking lot when he noticed the attendant was shouting at him. Not thinking, he assumed the attendant was just being bossy, so he stuck his head out the window , cursed him, and continued out of the lot. Just as he was leaving, he heard his tires pop. The attendant had been trying to warn him that there were spikes set up to prevent exit at that particular location! A moment of self-restraint would have saved him several hundred dollars worth of damage and a badly deflated ego.

            The ASS and FIKI are evolutionary survival tools, but for modern humans, they both need the moral adapter of prudence to be properly grounded. Our present reliance on psychology without prudent morality is like using ungrounded power tools in the rain. What good does it do, for example, to instruct young boys that they should not repress their sexual feelings, when, by and large, they live in their libidos to begin with? What they need is not just more information but formation. American institutions and schools are in dire straits because everyone has forgotten that FIKI and virtue actually exist. The first step in moving to solve problems such as teen pregnancy and juvenile crime is to understand that the solution to these problems involves managing the ASS and FIKI by cultivating the development of social ecologies of virtue. This means that without a moral code, we are bereft of the necessary structures to contain the ancient enemy of mankind. This enemy is not the devil or any other excuse for the evils that we all do; it is our reptilian-minded ASS who is the snake in the Garden of Evolution.

 

 

 

For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from the law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony.

–Aristotle, Politics

 

 


MANAGEMENT TIPS

 

·        Watching too much TV can become a really bad habit and waste an enormous amount of your time. Turn it off!

·        Managing your dick requires that you cultivate moral and intellectual virtue.

·        Your identity is more plastic than you think. Anger and lust are identities that you can assume faster than Clark Kent can change in a phone booth.

·        Being generous may mean doing something your life force’s ASS really doesn’t want to do–like visiting Grandma or being patient with a screaming child.

·        Who you are is largely a matter of what you do and the efforts you make to become that person you know you are. What you think about yourself is only the first step. The second step is to redeem your non-local identity from your local ASS.

 

 


 

Chapter 1 Chapter 3 Chapter 16 Chapter 24 Chapter 29 Chapter 35