An Introduction To The Improvement of The 3 Aspects of Living   1 comment

Back when I was in High School, in keeping with my desire to grow in experience and knowledge, I sought to improve myself in Body, Mind, and Spirit. Elsewhere I had written that:

“I also at this time came to the awareness that in keeping my desire to still self-improve I came to the conclusion that I needed to live life from the perspective of improving the health of My Body, My Mind, and My Spirit.”

Out of these 3 aspects, what I found to be more naturally attainable was Improvement of the Mind, through learning, reading, and writing as an expression of what I have learned. Spiritually speaking as I mentioned [in an earlier post] I sought a spirituality that would allow me to justify where I was in my life and Physically speaking, in my body it was the hardest to attain, I sought to grow in Bodily Strength and Size since I was [and still am] more on the thin side. The only pursuit that has been fruitful thus far, is the improvement of the mind, everything else has failed miserably. However, I have arrived to a point again where I want to begin anew on all 3 Aspects of Living and I want to share it with you in hopes that perhaps it may inspire you. Elsewhere I have also written regarding the 3 Aspects of Self that:

“The point here then, is to improve oneself regarding these 3 aspects of living; all three ought to be strived for the maintenance and improvement of these three aspects of living. Some have a more pre-dominant focus on others, and others have a pre-dominant strength in one aspect while the other two could be pre-dominantly weaker. However, just because one finds them weaker in one field it does not mean they should neglect it even more, lest they want to have that particular area go through complete atrophy, but this will only lead to an imbalance in self.”

This is an Introduction to The Improvement of 3 Aspects of Living. According to Plato’s Book 3 of The Republic, Plato states that The Guardians must be trained from youth in Proper Bodily Discipline, he makes his point clear that:

“… Simplicity in gymnastic [was the parent of temperance] of health in the body.” (1)

Simplicity in this case refers to a Regiment that one follows bodily and does not stray from that Regiment. Plato speaks rather boldly in his claim that the True Guardian is an Austere individual and finds commonality in The Straightedge population of todays counter-culture. The Work of Improving the Body is to have it submit to an Austere Regiment that is equivalent to Straightedge philosophy that allows it to take in the adequate nutrition proper to growth and development that a Guardian would need in the defense of The Republic. According to Scripture we see a similar vein of thought that One’s Body is the Temple in Which God Dwells (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); therefore we must strive to keep the Temple Holy in order to allow it to be able to carry out God’s Work in the World.

According to Pope Pius XII, improvement of the Mind through Education is Key to Further Development and Improvement of Ones Whole Being, he wrote the following:

“Classical studies remain unequalled for the exercise and development of the most valuable qualities of the mind: penetration of judgment, broadmindedness, finesse of analysis and gifts of expression. Nothing helps to understand man today as much as a profound study of history. Nothing can teach one how to weigh the value of words, to grasp the nuances of an expression, the logic of an essay and the strength of an argument as well as the exercise of versions and themes in classical languages.”

Scripturally we learn from The Wisdom Books of the Old Testament that we ought to Seek Wisdom (Proverbs 8:11) and Instruction (Psalm 78:1), to Understand the Creator also through Creation (Romans 1:20) as well as to know the Order that we may fulfill Our Calling in it (Genesis 1:28). From Plato’s Book 4 of The Republic we see that Education of the Mind aids in creating the necessary Self-Discipline of the Body, he makes this clear when Plato asks the question:

“And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited principle to be the subject and ally? And, as we were saying, the united influence of music and gymnastic will bring them into accord, nerving and sustaining the reason with noble words and lessons, and moderating and soothing and civilizing the wildness of passion by harmony and rhythm?” To which the person being asked says, “Quite True.” (1)

Finally, we see here that all things end in The Spirit, Wisdom is the highest aim of The Philosopher, Wisdom in this case is, “discernment and judgment; transcendent knowledge; spiritual knowledge; mental skill, agility, subtlety; discretion; mental dexterity; knowledge of best ends and means.” In Plato’s Republic, this is what the Philosopher King was and why he must rule! In Plato’s Phaedrus, we are given the Chariot Allegory, showing that,

“We will liken the soul to the composite nature of a pair of winged horses and a charioteer… First the charioteer of the human soul drives a pair, and secondly one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore in our case the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome…” (2)

In the case above St. Jerome in his Commentary on Ezekiel speaks of a similar understanding as he comments on Ezekiel’s Vision. (2) According to Christian Thought, The Nous or the Eye of the Soul, that part which is capable of being aware of the Transcendent must be cleaned and purified because as St. Gregory of Palamas has said,

“The nous which has rebelled against God becomes either bestial or demonic and, after having rebelled against the laws of nature, lusts after what belongs to others…” (3)

Spiritual Improvement is at the Heart of any Christians desire to Improve his being, all other parts are for this particular aspect. In Spiritual Work, the Body is supposed to submit to the Mind; and the Mind to the Spirit/Nous. In a fallen, darkened state this Pyramid of Order within the Person is turned upside down. Therefore, upon looking back on why I have failed in the past in Bodily and Spiritual Improvement and only was capable of a partial Mental Improvement was due to the fact that, I was in conflict with myself. If one’s will is not aligned but fragmented then how can one ever succeed especially if they are not seeing results? I plan on writing a series of 3 posts regarding The Improvement of 3 Aspects of Living each post dedicated fully to one of the 3 Aspects and I will expand and share with you more in-depth the How’s and Why’s a Christian Ought To Achieve within the Health of these 3 Aspects of Living.

Sources: (1) The Internet Classics Archive: The Republic by Plato (2) Plato’s Chariot Allegory (3) Orthodox Psychotherapy

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One response to “An Introduction To The Improvement of The 3 Aspects of Living

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  1. Pingback: Happy New Year Continued: A Word on New Year Resolutions « Reality and Illusions

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