The Judgment of Paris, and the Path of Personal Sovereignty
In our lives there are moments of truth, when we must choose that which we find most precious. For different people this happens at different times, and multiple times to those who live a long life. There simply come points in life where you must drop the illusion of “having it all” and choose one, most precious, important thing and devote your life, your energy, and your will to its realization.
In ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Discord threw a golden apple with the inscription, “To the Fairest,” into a wedding feast of gods and high personages. Three goddesses, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite squabbled over which of them was the fairest, and worthy of receiving the golden apple. Zeus wanted no part in the choosing, and so he left it to Paris, Prince of Troy, to decide. Who Paris chose is a point of ancient historical allegory that started the great Trojan War.
Confronting Paris in his task of judgment are no less than the formidable forms of Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. These goddesses represent all that stands before a person in their path to identifying their deepest wishes. Power, wisdom, and beauty, each in their own domain. Paris, of own free will must choose. In so doing he knows he will get one, but alienate the other two. Yet still, his choice puts one goddess on his side, and in return for his choosing, she grants him what he most wishes.
Even though his choice led to ten years of terrible war and siege, and ultimately his own death and the downfall of his city, I imagine that Paris did not regret his choice. For when we choose that which we truly love and find most precious, and dedicate our lives to it, we are connecting to our own deepest inner truth. We let the chips fall where they may.
Of course, on this human path, there is no Zeus to lay the task at our feet, but there it is. Choose we must. And the question arises, how do we do that best?
The search for one true path and direction faces each of us, and many voices of many “gods and goddesses” cry out to us through people, places and things. We look for signs, we ask for direction, we pray for guidance. To find and land on solid support can be elusive and quixotic.
One day we believe we are fighting the good fight against true demons and monsters. the next day we awaken to find we have been tilting at windmills!
In these complicated multi-cultural times, the search for true, wise allies and a reliable, mature mentor is fraught with difficulty. To find and select a solid direction for your life can be elusive.
For common folk of earlier times, the art of looking for wisdom and guidance was a simple matter of following the orders spoken by those in possession of the accumulated wisdom of the world. Gods and demi-gods, deities, and those born into divine lineages reign over all choices. A commoner had but to admit their ignorance and defer to the golden ones who hold the orb and the scepter.
The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Norse peoples all had their gods. Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all look to the God of Abraham. The East Indians have their Ramayana and Upanishads with a vast array of deities. Native Americans, Polynesians, and Indigenous peoples the world over have their guides, their above and below Beings. All peoples have had versions of Priests, Ministers, Shaman, Chiefs, Kings, Queens, Emperors, Pharoahs, Popes and Professors.
Slowly, over millennia the mortality of these “god-men” became exposed. Poison god-men appeared, corrupted by powers vested in them. Fragile, mortal, fallible men, attempting to deflect all power back to some divine source, became transparent.
“Look, he bleeds!” the people cried. A spear lanced the side of the god-man.
So, what is the divine force? Who are the immortal beings? How can common person have access to this divine realm? Over and over dynasties and regimes have claimed exclusive access to divine right. Time after time they have crumbled in the face of their own mortal vanity, power hunger and ultimate ignorance.
“Ignore the man behind the curtain” is no longer possible.
Smoke before the mirror is blown away by the breeze of insightful perception. Sham leaders, would-be god-men, so-called infallible leaders have been brought down at every turn.
Enter the modern scientific method. Our blue planet orbiting the sun. We activate our personal, human powers of observation. We make hypotheses and test them. We accept both “success” and “failure” of our experiments as the ultimate arbiter of truth.
Even here we find the “observer bias.” Facts become murky. True only in so far as the eye of the observer sees what it wants to see. A world of alternative facts emerges, all fades into shades of gray.
White light shines through a prism, breaks into all the colors of the rainbow!
Where is the true font of wisdom? Where in the ever changing flux of matter and energy does one find a solid truth upon which to stand, to hold true? Where, who and what can one turn to when searching for enduring truth and ultimate reality?
For each human being, this is a journey. It involves a deep dive of discovery of ultimate personal sovereignty. On this personal journey, five freedoms have been articulated.
Awaken your Five Freedoms! Perceive, think, feel, choose and imagine!
Personal sovereignty calls for personal accountability. If you do not have the right to your own perceptions, thoughts, feelings, if you defer to the god-men, or goddess-women to tell you what to see, think and feel, then your own desires and choices are of no account. It does not matter what your point of view might be. From there you cannot be held accountable.
How grand and easy that seems to be! And yet how fraught with peril. How many times must a woman hear the words, “Don’t worry your pretty little head!”? How long must we suffer with ignorant men pulling levers and playing god, and telling us “Father knows best!”? How intricate and treacherous this path to discovering personal sovereignty when in community or family. How thick the weaving of interdependency, how thin the line of co-dependency.
When the cloak of personal sovereignty is thread bare, ripped, torn and poorly fitted, we are in trouble.
So where do we turn to affirm our perceptions, refine our thoughts, discern our actual feelings? When emotions rise and fall like tides, how can we root down into that place from which one can honestly discover true desires and guide oneself to wise choices?
We may still turn to holy scriptures, stories handed down through generations. Poets, prophets and visionaries in their meditations and creative expressions bring piercing insight to life. Be careful now that you not find oneself again in the grip of some ancient dogma, some “laying down of truth,” a so-called “truth for all time.” The apotheosis of man to god has been repeated over and over in the history of peoples all over the world.
Decide rather to simply develop yourself through the guidance of old tales. Rather than follow a dogmatic bonding allegiance to another’s truth, begin to use discipline to help you find your own path to authentic, personal sovereignty.
It has been said that, “Personal vision is the highest authority. In the absence of personal vision, follow tradition.”
Wise tradition can guide us in a daily regimen, an embodied practice, an education that gives us tools, builds our skills to discover our true self. What is required is a method to clarify perceptions. To sort through myriad thoughts that flash through consciousness. A reliable path of introspection and slowing down into truly feeling, and developing emotional intelligence. And accompanying this pursuit, the necessity of that solemn vow to personal responsibility.
Gather wise allies around you. True allies don’t do your thinking for you, or tell you what you “should” feel. Rather they support you in your authentic personal inquiry, and ownership of your point of view. And they watch as you hold yourself to it.
True allies show themselves through supporting your personal expression, authentic desire and empowered choice.
We find ourselves at play in the fields of life. Air, Water, Fire, Earth and Space surround us. These are the ultimate arbiters of the conditions of our life walk. We breathe the air, drink the water, warm ourselves by the fire, nourish ourselves by the good earth, and take inspiration from the rotation of the heavenly spheres. Light and shadow dance before us, day in, day out, season by season, breath by breath and step by step.
These are the Gods, goddesses, deities, devas, kings and queens, lofty ideas handed down in stories, through priests and prophets, poets, songwriters and great Nature. They guide us to awaken wisdom within. Our greatest allies are not those who seek to rule over our consciousness, but rather those who recognize and support our unique and beautiful personal expression.
Find your allies in this way, and you will be forever satisfied with the abundance of life that supports your every breath, in body, mind and spirit. With every step you take, every move you make, your creative expression is your greatest gift to the ever unfolding story of the world.
Play your part! Add your voice and vision to the great tapestry of life!
Find for yourself the allies that do not insist that you to see it their way, but guide you to see it your way! Wise allies help you honor yourself and bring forth that which lies within you. Good mentors, help you refine the genius that is your contribution.
Like Paris, I ask you here, what do you choose? Hera, Athena or Aphrodite, or some other high virtue? What do you hold most precious? What qualities within you will you water and grow into the genius of your contribution to the world?