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Forces of the Soul, Part 4
All together, balance and equilibrium
Note: This is part of the “Forces of the Soul” series. The introduction to the series links to other essays in this series.
The previous essays tried to describe and recognize some of the forces acting upon the soul. The first was the force of anticipation, patterns, and constraints. The second was the force of agency. The third was the force of connectedness, rootedness, supportedness.
In each force of the soul I tried to indicate how, as concepts, the forces are neutral. What is important is to attune ourselves to where the forces are pushing us and how they compel us to act. Sometimes they push us towards exhilaration and bliss, other times angst and pain.
Oftentimes, whether the force pushes us towards positive or negative feelings is liable to change with context and perspective, underscoring the inherent neutrality of the forces, and pointing at the potential for more skillful ways of engaging with these forces.
At the risk of over-reaching, I suspect that the wise thing is probably to find a balance and equilibrium of these forces in our lives. These forces are a useful starting point for thinking about how we want to live a flourishing life, but they are an insufficient guide.
An essential missing piece is that these forces of the soul, well, focus largely on just the soul! To further root ourselves in a coherent way of acting, we will need to make contact with the external world. The “real/external”world will provide additional important constraints we can use to guide our actions, perspectives, and behaviors. With these two things in mind, we seek a place of flourishing where we are grounded in ourselves and grounded in the world.
Before continuing, the next series will be an interlude where we touch on some of the inspirations and thinkers that I drew heavily upon for this series. I’ll compare and contrast how some of their ideas connect with or diverge from what I’ve discussed.
The series after that will re-engage with constraints of reality, as we start to converge on a practical meta-ethics.
Lastly, I did not mean for the list of forces to be exhaustive — it’s just a helpful mnemonic and starting point. There are definitely things that are missing or don’t quite fit in to the aforementioned categories — let me know if you think of any!
I know I know, “real” is a very mushy word. Here, take it as a vaguely pointing to the body of observations or aspects of life that are beyond our direct control. These aspects of life need not be permanent or eternal/“essential”, but they are nevertheless tangible enough to work with.