A Consideration of the Higher Emotions, Serenity, and Enlightenment
To citizens of Hallifax, the Higher Emotions are well known. These constitute those feelings which, it is thought, most ennoble a person. These feelings are contrasted with Low Emotions, those which debase a person who feels them and which stand in the way of personal growth. Significantly, it is thought that by cultivating the Higher Emotions and avoiding the Lower Emotions, one can approach a kind of perfection of being. While these concepts will be expanded on within this work, the authoritative source regarding them is "On Perfection" by Llesvelt Shevat.
Similarly, the followers of Lady Maylea are familiar with the Way of the Blossom. Those who follow this Way walk the path of Enlightenment and pursue Serenity. Enlightenment is a state of complete self-awareness, where one acts in harmony with their true inner self. Seekers pursue a nine-step path of Serene Truths that culminates in their Enlightenment. Serenity is the act of remaining true to one's self when faced with obstacles, letting hardships wash over the soul without harming it, and bending without breaking in the face of adversity. As with the Higher Emotions, the Way of the Blossom will be expanded on in the following pages, but "On Serenity" by Lief Myeras-Silvermoon, written by Lady Maylea's Avatar and Crafter of Visions, remains the one of the best sources for information regarding Lady Maylea's teachings.
Both the Higher Emotions and the Way of the Blossom offer guidance on how to conduct one's life. Both deal in the management of emotions to better achieve one's goals. Finally, both are intended to allow a person to perfect themselves in some way. After further discussion of each, these similarities and the key differences between the philosophies will be discussed.
Higher and Lower Emotions
It must be noted that the Higher and Lower Emotions address perfection from a uniquely Hallifaxian perspective. An ideal citizen contributes to the well-being of the Collective with their work, valuing the good of the many over the good of the one. It is for this reason that otherwise subjective virtues like Altruism constitute the highest virtues of Hallifax.
There are five Higher Emotions recognized in Hallifax, being Love, Beauty, Truth, Honour, and Altruism. Each inspires the one who feels it to be better than themselves in some way.
Love is a deep affection for another person, whether from a sense of community or out of a recognition of personal qualities. Love for others inspires a person to strive harder on behalf of those they care about. With the consolation of Love, one can endure great hardships on behalf of others. Love promotes unity and loyalty between those who feel it and enhances cooperation.
Beauty is a quality born of artistry that gives pleasure as a consequence of some characteristic of the work. An appreciation of Beauty can inspire emotions and lead one to greater efforts in their life. The pursuit of Beauty can lead to new creative heights. Those inspired, either by beautiful works or in the pursuit of Beauty itself are able to reach new levels of ability.
Truth is that which is genuine or factual. Regard for Truth compels one to live honestly and sincerely. A commitment to Truth protects a person from the dangers of self-deception. A well-earned reputation for honesty makes one trustworthy. Truth in governance reduces the need for administrators to verify and evaluate the claims of their subordinates.
Honour is a commitment to one's values. Care for Honour instructs a soul to live an upright and dignified life, regardless of their station. As with a commitment to truth, an honourable reputation establishes one as reliable. The State can trust honourable citizens to serve the whole rather than themselves, and so can entrust high positions to them without fear.
Altruism is a concern for the needs of others and allows us to put others before ourselves. By removing self from considerations, one can contribute to the greater good without resentment. Even better, one can come to enjoy helping others, being motivated by the pride they take in the positive changes they make in the world.
These Higher Emotions are contrasted by the Lower Emotions, being Fear, Greed, Hatred, Lust, and Envy. These emotions impair the ability to perform one's duties to one's self or others in various ways and stand in the way of personal development.
Fear is felt in the presence of danger. Fear takes control away from a timid heart. Without control of one's self, one cannot necessarily take the best actions for either themselves or the state. Fear may cause one to compromise their principles as a result of their aversion to some consequence.
Greed is the desire for material things, whether wealth or property. Greed distracts from duty. Under the influence of Greed, one may compromise their morals for profit. Even if one still performs their duties justly, the desire to acquire more than one's fair share deprives other members of the Collective.
Hatred is a strong animosity towards another individual or group. Hatred biases one's judgments. Cooperation is all but impossible under the influence of Hatred. Hatred also distracts from duty, as energy is expended in resentment or even hostile actions against the hated party.
Lust is a craving for something or someone. Lust serves as a distraction from proper behavior. One can come to neglect their duties as a result of their overwhelming focus on the object of their Lust, pursuing that focus in lieu of their proper occupation.
Envy is to be dissatisfied with one's station or possessions. Envy gives rise to resentment and may distort one's view of the objects of their envy. Envy inhibits one's ability to participate in the greater good.
Analysis of the Higher Emotions
The Lower Emotions are flaws that prevent one from acting in accordance with perfection. Some lower emotions distract one from good behavior, while others actively encourage bad behavior. In any case, one cannot be considered perfect while their actions are governed by the Lower Emotions.
Higher Emotions strengthen and encourage noble behavior. In some cases, they give strength to endure adversity, while in others they provide inspiration to achieve new heights. Some Higher Emotions make the one who holds them a more reliable member of the Collective. While the absence of a Higher Emotion is not a flaw, one cannot achieve their true potential without the influence of the Higher Emotions.
One pursues perfection by cultivating the Higher Emotions and overcoming the Lower Emotions. In time, one becomes free from their baser impulses and is motivated entirely by noble motivations. In this respect, the Higher Emotions ask of a person that they temper themselves until their inner self is perfected.
Pursuing perfection is an active process in which one trains themselves to avoid the Lower Emotions and to embrace the Higher Emotions. This is a process that requires practice and a resolute commitment of will. The transition towards perfection will be difficult as it requires the practitioner to fundamentally change their personality and to achieve this end.
The Way of the Blossom
Those who follow the Way of the Blossom undergo nine distinct realizations, called the Nine Serene Truths. Each draws them closer to their goal until they reach their ninth and final realization, Enlightenment. Understanding a Truth requires an understanding of how it applies to the self and is part of the process of uncovering one's true self. As one progresses through the Truths, one begins to live with greater intent, becoming more deliberate in their actions and aligning those actions with their true self.
1. Communion - Lady Maylea teaches that "The goal of all creation is Communion." Communion is the bond we share with other thinking beings. Communion is less a step in personal development and more a foundational concept required by every step along the way to Enlightenment. In contemplating Communion, a practitioner seeks to understand the bonds they have created so that they may attend to them with greater intent.
2. Introspection - Lady Maylea teaches that "The first communion is Introspection, the examination of oneself" and prospectives to the order announce "I have discovered that I am more than I knew I was." Self-examination is the first step in coming to know one's true self, a spiritual taking of inventory that gives one grounding in themselves as they are. Practitioners contemplate themselves and how they react to the world they live in.
3. Inquisitiveness - Lady Maylea teaches that "From introspection grows Inquisitiveness, the need to explore and know the world apart from oneself". It is the extension of communion beyond one's self to the people around them. Inquisitiveness requires the death of assumptions as one embraces curiosity. Practitioners contemplate something they have learned about another person in order to refine themselves.
4. Aesthetics - Lady Maylea teaches that "Knowledge of oneself and the world is the cornerstone of Aesthetics." Aesthetics is the appreciation of the beauty found in the world, uncovered by inquisitiveness. It is also an understanding of how beauty is appreciated by different people. Practitioners contemplate other cultures and seek to find beauty within the foreign ways they examine.
5. Expression - Lady Maylea teaches that "The vitality of existence is the Expression of this aesthetic knowledge." To express is to act on the world to bring about new beauty. More than artistry alone, Expression encompasses all deeds that bring beauty into the world. Embracing Expression is a transformative process wherein one begins to act upon the world with intent. Practitioners contemplate a moment of inspiration and consider the effects their efforts have on the world around them.
6. Kinship - Lady Maylea teaches that "Wisdom is shared through overlapping expression in the form of Kinship." Kinship is the connection shared with all other thinking beings. It requires an awareness of the similarities and differences between oneself and others. Kinship is the manifestation of Communion with others. Practitioners consider how their expressions of Kinship help or hurt others in order to act upon the world with intent rather than to proceed aimlessly in their expression.
7. Perspective - Lady Maylea teaches that "Every such Perspective can be equally sacred." One's Perspective is how they see the world, but the practice of Perspective is learning to see the world through the eyes of others. It is empathy practiced at a universal scale, understanding the motives and beliefs of all those who are not the self. Perspective does not ask that you put aside your beliefs and make common cause with foes, but that you come to understand even your enemies. Practitioners speak with those who hold different perspectives to refine their own ability to see through the eyes of others.
8. Wisdom - Lady Maylea teaches that "Discerning between true and untrue perspectives is the root of Wisdom." Wisdom is the distinction between accepting that everyone's perspective is valid and the understanding that not every perspective is true. False perspectives are born of deceit, and Wisdom is learning to recognize deceit both from and within others and within one's self. Practitioners contemplate Wisdom in others and whittle away at their own false internal beliefs to approach their true inner self.
9. Enlightenment - Lady Maylea teaches that "The ultimate fulfillment of the soul is Enlightenment." Having walked the path of the other eight Serene Truths, one arrives at last at Enlightenment. The understanding and form of Enlightenment differs in every soul but is characterized by the attainment of absolute Serenity. Though the inner self is ever-changing and ever-growing, one who has reached Enlightenment comes to understand their inner self in full and make peace with it, living in accord with it. Practitioners consider how they have arrived at this point in their lives and how they will proceed from it.
As one masters the Nine Serene Truths, they learn to live with ever-greater intent in their words and deeds as they align with their true selves. Accompanying this progress is the growth of Serenity, which reaches its pinnacle with the achievement of Enlightenment. Serenity is not passive acceptance, but a way of being that allows one to endure and grow in the face of adversity. Serenity is a property of the soul, not a state of it, allowing it to whether hardship without lasting injury. In a favorite analogy of the Unbroken, one of the Lady's Cults, it is bending in the wind so that one does not break.
Having reviewed both the Higher Emotions and the Way of the Blossom, we are now prepared to see where they share common ground and where they differ. Both are a means by which one refines themselves, striving ever-closer to a sort of perfection. Both provide clear methodologies on how to grow. An appreciation of beauty is key to each, though it is noted that the Higher Emotions regard beauty as strictly a property of artistic effort while the Way of the Blossom focuses on beauty as a consequence of expression. Most importantly to this author, both are paths that connect one to the society around them, whether through Collectivism or Kinship, for as it is said, "The goal of all creation is Communion."
While the Higher Emotions and the Way of the Blossom share common ground, they none-the-less contrast in how they reach perfection and in what perfection means to each school of thought. Students of the Higher Emotions seek to perfect themselves by purging the Lower Emotions from their psyche. Through an act of will, they continuously work to sever those parts of themselves that bear their flaws, leaving only a perfect self remaining. This differs substantially from the Way of the Blossom, which is strictly affirmative; the practitioner of the Way looks ever deeper into themselves and learns to act with greater intent. While a practitioner may regret their past actions, committed without intent or in contrast to their true self, they do not purge these feelings but instead resolve to act in accordance with their true selves in the future. Rather than dwell on their mistakes, they bloom, die, and are born again new by the Way of the Blossom.
There is a lesson in this for Hallifaxians who would perfect themselves through the Higher Emotions. The excision of emotions can lead to self-hatred, as one rails against their flaws. Hatred is a trap that can ensnare an otherwise noble spirit, for even directed at the self, it is an emotional defect that bars the way to perfection. Self-hatred cannot be overcome by further self-hatred. Instead, to reach perfection one must release their old self and embrace being something new. The Way of the Blossom is a model for healthy self-growth, where one grows into a better self rather than fighting one's nature.
There is no reason the methodology of the Way of the Blossom cannot be applied to the pursuit of Higher Emotions. Rather than carve away their base nature, these emotions can be addressed with Serenity, letting the base feelings come and go without allowing them to touch the heart. As one learns to live with intent, they may embrace the Higher Emotions and escape the Lower Emotions naturally. One might even reach a sort of Enlightenment, living their life with absolute intent and abiding in ceaseless Serenity. This author's hope that the wisdom of Lady Maylea's ways may reach his comrades in Hallifax, that all might discover their true selves and become more than they already are as part of the Collective.