Synopsis of The Way of Pathei-Mathos
Synopsis of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos
Last Modified: 27/June/2012.
The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos
The Way of Pathei-Mathos is a spiritual (a numinous) philosophy – an individual ethical way of living – based on the virtues of compassion, empathy, humility, and personal honour.
The foundation of this Way is that of empathy. As used and defined by The Way of Pathei-Mathos, empathy is a natural human faculty: that is, a noble intuition about another human being or another living being. When empathy is developed and used, as envisaged by The Way of Pathei-Mathos, it is a specific and extended type of sympathy and a means to knowing and understanding another human being and/or other living beings
Philosophically, empathy presents to us, or can present to us, a type of knowing – a perception, an awareness – quite distinct from that posited by both conventional philosophy and experimental science. The Way of Pathei-Mathos thus adds the faculty of empathy to our physical senses; adds the perception of empathy to the perception of Phainómenon, and thus to the Aristotelian essentials of conventional philosophy and experimental science.
The use and the development of empathy makes us aware of how what we as individuals do, or do not do, affects or can affect other human beings and the other life with which we share this planet we call Earth. In effect, empathy reveals the natural living, the affective, connexion we are to Life, and how our normal perception of ourselves as a singular, a separate, individual is incorrect.
An awareness of this connexion therefore inclines us toward compassion, toward the human virtue of having sympatheia (benignity) with and toward other living beings. To be compassionate is to try to not cause or contribute to the suffering, or to aid in the alleviation of the suffering, of other living beings, where suffering is understood as what is distressing, painful/injurious (physical and emotional), unfair, redolent of grief and sadness.
One way in which we can avoid causing or contributing to suffering – and aid the alleviation of suffering – is by living, by acting, in an honourable way. In essence, honour is an expression of the natural balance of Life – the harmony of human living – and in practical terms honour is manifest in fairness, reasoned/balanced judgement, manners, wu-wei, and an awareness and appreciation of the numinous.
Honour and compassion are thus practical consequences, practical manifestations, of empathy.
The numinous is what manifests or can manifest or remind us of the natural balance of Life; of what is harmonious, or what reminds us of what is harmonious and beautiful. In a practical way, it is what we regard or come to appreciate as ‘sacred’ and dignified; what expresses our humanity.
We are reminded of this natural balance, of what is numinous – we can come to know, to experience, the numinous – by pathei-mathos. That is, by the process of learning from personal adversity/personal suffering/personal grief.
An aspect of this learning is an appreciation, an awareness, of The Cosmic Perspective: of ourselves as one fallible, mortal, fragile biological, microcosmic, nexion on one planet in one Galaxy in a Cosmos of billions of galaxies; one connexion to, one emanation of, all other Life. In essence, pathei-mathos teaches us humility and the value of personal love.
Wu-wei is a Taoist term used in The Way of Pathei-Mathos to refer to a personal ‘letting-be’ deriving from a feeling, a knowing, that an essential part of wisdom is cultivation of an interior personal balance and which cultivation requires acceptance that one must work with, or employ, things according to their nature, their φύσις, for to do otherwise is incorrect, and inclines us toward, or is, being excessive – that is, toward the error, the unbalance, that is hubris, an error often manifest in personal arrogance, excessive personal pride, and insolence – that is, a disrespect for the numinous.
In practice, the knowledge, the understanding, the intuition, the insight that is wu-wei is a knowledge, an understanding, that can be acquired from empathy, πάθει μάθος, and by a knowing of and an appreciation of the numinous. This knowledge and understanding is of wholeness, and that life, things/beings, change, flow, exist, in certain natural ways which we human beings cannot change however hard we might try; that such a hardness of human trying, a belief in such hardness, is unwise, un-natural, upsets the natural balance and can cause misfortune/suffering for us and/or for others, now or in the future. Thus success lies in discovering the inner nature (the physis) of things/beings/ourselves and gently, naturally, slowly, working with this inner nature, not striving against it.
Living according to The Way of Pathei-Mathos
Living according to Way of Pathei-Mathos is simple and means:
- being compassionate or inclining toward compassion by trying to avoid causing, or contributing, to suffering;
- being honourable – fair, reasonable, well-mannered, just, dignified, balanced;
- appreciating the value and importance of personal love;
- inclining toward a personal humility;
- cultivating wu-wei.
The Way of Pathei-Mathos is an ethical way of living which individuals are free to choose. There are no spiritual techniques or esoteric exercises; no supplication to some-thing or to some posited Being. No expectation of reward, in this life or in some posited next life. No goal. There is just a living of life in a certain natural way.
The Way of Pathei-Mathos is not a religion; that is, it is not an organized way of worship, devotion, and faith; and there is no belief in some deity/deities, or in some supreme Being or in some supra-personal power or in some after-life or in karma as karma is understood by the Way known as Buddhism.
Essentially, The Way of Pathei-Mathos is a way of a gentle interior personal and individual change; an inclination to live in a certain ethical manner so as not to intentionally cause suffering, so as not to upset the natural balance of Life.
The answer as to why someone would want to live in this numinous, this particular spiritual, way, is the answer of empathy; of the knowledge of ourselves, of others, of Life, of Nature, that empathy provides.
This is the knowledge that the separation-of-otherness is an illusive, a deceptive, appearance. The knowledge of our affective and effecting connexion to all Life, which is a knowledge of The Cosmic Perspective, of ourselves as just one microcosmic emanation of Life on one planet in one Galaxy in a Cosmos of billions of galaxies.
In respect of other religions, there is tolerance and respect, since any Way or religion which manifests, which expresses, which guides individuals toward, the numinous humility we human beings need is good. For according to The Way of Pathei-Mathos such personal humility – that which prevents us from committing hubris, whatever the raison d’être, the theology, the philosophy – is a presencing of the numinous since it is a personal humility – whatever the source – that expresses our true developed (that is, our rational and empathic) human nature and which nature many other Ways or religions make us aware of or can remind us of.
The separation-of-otherness is a term used in an attempt to describe how our normal perception of ourselves as a singular, a separate, individual is incorrect, an error which empathy can correct.
Empathy involves a translocation of ourselves and thus a knowing-of another living-being as that living-being is, without presumptions and sans all ideations, all projections. In a simple way, empathy involves a numinous sympathy with another living-being; a becoming – for a causal moment or moments – of that other-being, so that we know, can feel, can understand, the suffering or the joy of that living-being. In such moments, there is no distinction made between them and us – there is only the flow of life; only the presencing and the ultimate unity of Life itself.
Politics and Social Reform
The Way of Pathei-Mathos, being a personal spiritual way, is not concerned with the theory or the practice of governance, and is therefore apolitical. Its concern is with individuals, with their interior change; with ethical living.
The Way of Pathei-Mathos approach to the problems of society – to reform and social change, and to The State – is also an individual one, deriving from the faculty of empathy, and from the uniquely personal judgement that empathy and a personal knowing reveal in the immediacy-of-the-moment.
Reform and change are understood as personal, direct; of and involving individuals who are personally known; and of necessity begins with the necessary inner change in the individual. That is, that inner, personal, change – in individuals, of their nature, their character – is understood as the ethical means to solving such personal and social problems as exist and arise. That the only effective, long-lasting, change and reform is the one that evolves human beings and thus changes what, in them, predisposes them, or inclines them toward, doing or what urges them to do, what is dishonourable, undignified, unfair, and uncompassionate.
The basis for numinous social change and reform is aiding, helping, assisting individuals in a direct and personal manner and in practical ways, with such help, assistance, and aid arising because we personally know or are personally concerned about or involved with those individuals. In brief, being compassionate, empathic, understanding, sensitive, kind.
A shared, mutual, love between two human beings is regarded as the most beautiful, the most numinous, the most human virtue of all.
For The Way of Pathei-Mathos, it is the exercise of the judgement of the individual – arising from the use of empathy, pathei-mathos, and the guidance that is personal honour – which expresses our human nature.
It is honour, the understanding that empathy provides, and the judgement of the individual, that are legitimate, moral, numinous, and thence the basis for authority. This means that authority resides in and extends only to individuals – by virtue of their honour, their empathy, their experience (deriving from pathei-mathos), and manifest in their own personal judgement, and therefore this always personal individual authority cannot be abstracted out from such personal judgement of individuals. This is a new type of authority – that of the individual whose concern is not power over others but over themselves, and which type of power is manifest in a living by honour, and thence in self-responsibility, self-control, and being fair.
Honour, being a practical, a human, manifestation of the natural balance of Life, of individual authority, is a means to living in a numinous way and thus both a means to avoid the error, the unbalance, that is hubris and also a means to restore the numinous balance that the dishonourable, undignified, unfair, and uncompassionate, personal deeds of others have upset and which deeds one is personally aware of in the immediacy-of-the-moment. Thus to defend one’s self if attacked is the natural, the honourable, thing to do, as is valorously defending someone in the immediacy-of-the-moment who is faced with someone or some many acting dishonourably, unfairly.
An Ethical Life
The Way of Pathei-Mathos is simply the living, by individuals, of an ethical life: individuals cultivating empathy, compassion, humility, wu-wei, dignity, and honour, who thus are inclined to avoid causing suffering and inclined to doing what is fair.
There is no dogma, no organization, no officials, no supra-personal authority, no theology, no theories, no authorized or recommended praxis. There are no codes of conduct, no scriptures, no ‘sacred’ – or official/authorized – writings.
There are only honourable individuals individually aware of, and respectful of, the numinous.
This synopsis has been compiled from The Way of Pathei-Mathos, and other essays.
Image credit: NASA/HST – NGC 5194