Third Order Desires

The 2020 Summer Olympics are over, a year after they should have been. The athletes went home before the closing ceremonies. The 2022 Winter Olympics are only a few months away, and already there are stories about how draconian the pandemic safety measures will be in Beijing. Don’t fault the Chinese. They are showing us what a world with an ongoing pandemic looks like.

We live in a social media world and a pandemic world and a global warming environment. We have neuroscience, and gene editing, and mega-farming. We have dysfunctional governments. We have the end of oil on the horizon. Major and irreversible change will occur. Last week, I got from the library a history book on The Enlightenment (1680 – 1790), published in 2020 (Ritchie Robertson, HarperCollins). It has been said that The Enlightenment had a major effect on how we approach today. I don’t know, but maybe I will learn. The book is 2 inches thick. It might take me a while. I hope to report back on any ideas I glean from the book.

In The Enlightenment, scientists such as Isaac Newton (law of gravity), Nicolas Copernicus (earth revolves around the sun), Galileo Galilei (telescope), Christopher Huygens (blood circulates), changed our world. There were philosophers. Hume, Kant, Descartes, Locke, Voltaire. There were wars. The French Revolution. The American Revolution.

Many parts of today’s world seem hopeless. How am I governed by thoughts that occurred in 1790? Do I bury my head in the sand, because after all, I’ll be dead in 30 years? Do I have anything helpful about today to comment on? Most of the people in the US suffer from lifestyle diseases. The pandemic is taking them out. Since I am not part of the ultra-rich elite, and I have only one vote, what impact do I have? How should I live?

I offer you Jordan Peterson:

Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life: Peterson, Jordan B.: 9780241407639:  Amazon.com: Books

Read the books. Follow instructions. Have a happy life. Peterson deals with third order desires, although this concept is not mentioned by him. What I mean is: First order desire is the immediate thing you want to do. Second order desire is more of an internal moral principle for why you shouldn’t follow the first order desire. Second order desire is in conflict with the first order desire. The conflict is a psychic irritation that cannot be endured for long. Third order desire is even deeper into spiritual values. Third order desire is difficult to figure out since it is expressed more in feelings than emotion. Third order desire is discerned with slow deliberative thinking, not the ego’s fast thinking. Happiness comes from discerning third order desire because it resolves the conflict between the first and second order.

Third order desires have nothing to do with the US Congress, whether you should get a vaccine, Olympic medals, or peak oil. Daily life can be fruitfully lived within third order desires. I myself never even heard this proposal of ordered desires until just now in my sixty second year of life. When I list out my third order desires, they clearly point the way towards what I should aim my life at. Deep thinking. Spiritual connection. Financial independence. Writing a master piece. Solitary contemplation. Athlete.

Book Review — "Beyond Order" by Jordan Peterson

 I am a Jordan Peterson fan. I often eat dinner and listen to his lectures. I read his first book, \”12 Rules for Life\” several years ago and was thoroughly engaged with it. Jordan Peterson claims to be a psychologist, but he is a very well educated man. Well educated in subjects beyond psychology, such as philosophy, religion, and even biology. He is a university professor and taught at Harvard for several years.

The book \”Beyond Order,\” a kind of sequel to the first 12 Rules book, was written during a very difficult time in Jordan Peterson\’s life. His daughter and wife had some severe health problems over a span of a few years; then Peterson himself had to go through a very difficult detoxification from benzodiazepines, an anti-anxiety drug. I think this journey through a dark valley is reflected in Beyond Order. While the cover of Peterson\’s first 12 Rules book is white, Beyond Order has a black cover. The darkness shows up in the writing. Beyond Order is much more complicated to read than Peterson\’s first 12 Rules book, and projects a much darker, or deep, human ethos. Peterson\’s favorite word in Beyond Order seems to be malevolent. I think that I only understood portions of Beyond Order because I have listened to many of Peterson\’s podcasts.

It was at rule eleven and page 353 that I received a great message. Rule eleven is \”Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful, or arrogant.\”

     After seemingly endless discussions of how the world and other people are malevolent: \”The right attitude to the horror of existence–the alternative to resentment, deceit, and arrogance–is the assumption that there is enough of you, society, and the world to justify existence. That faith in yourself, your fellow man, and the structure of existence itself: the belief that there is enough of you to contend with existence and transform your life into the best it could be. Perhaps you could live in a manner whose nobility, grandeur, and intrinsic meaning would be of sufficient import that you could tolerate the negative elements of existence without becoming so bitter as to transform everything around you into something resembling hell.

    \”Of course, we are oppressed by the fundamental uncertainty of Being. Of course, nature does us in, in unjust and painful ways. Of course, our societies tend toward tyranny, and our individual psyches toward evil. But that does not mean that we cannot be good, that our societies cannot be just, and that the natural world cannot array itself in our favor. What if we constrain our malevolence a bit more, serve and transform our institutions more responsibly, and be less resentful? God only knows what the ultimate limit to that might be. How much better could things become if we all avoided the temptation to actively or passively warp the structure of existence; if we replaced anger with the vicissitudes of Being with gratitude and truth? And if we all did that, with diligent and continual purpose, would we not have the best chance of keeping at bay those elements of self, state, and nature that manifest themselves so destructively and cruelly, and that motivate our turning against the world?\”

It occurred to me that I don\’t see such great malevolence in the world as Peterson. I see greater well-being. Especially, I see Being as benign. Nature is not out to get me, and neither are most people. I can take Peterson\’s advice and live in such a way as to make the world a better place. I do not at all have the temptation to warp the structure of reality by doing evil. I have a conscious and continuous practice of gratitude. I have tools to deal with my resentment and anger. And, all I need to do is continue to live in the energy of well-being. Manifesting well-being is the purpose I carry out and my contribution to the world. These realizations about myself reflect many years of emotional work on myself, so it is awesome to feel as wonderful about myself as I do. 

Ode to Joy

This is a little story of synchronicity, of paying attention to the Universe, of cooperative components coming together. And most of all, appreciating the spiritual entities who can help us accomplish meaningful lives.

I noticed yesterday how a respected 104 year old scientist, David Goodall, had died peacefully listening to \”Ode to Joy\”. I wondered what was so important about that music, by Beethoven, that this highly intelligent and deep person would chose to die to it. But I didn\’t pursue it at that moment.

Then today, I was on page 201 of Jordan Peterson\’s book \”12 Rules for Life\” where it says, \”What is meaningful by contrast is the organization of what would otherwise be expedient into a symphony of Being. Meaning is what is put forth more powerfully that mere words can express by Beethoven\’s \”Ode to Joy,\” a triumphant bringing forth from the void of pattern after pattern upon beautiful pattern, every instrument playing its part, disciplined voices layered on top of that, spanning the entire breadth of human emotion from despair to exhilaration.\”  I deeply want to feel my life as a symphony of Being.

Suddenly, I had to pull out my phone and ask it to play \”Ode to Joy.\” Well, yes I know this song. But as I listened to it in the context of the 104 year old scientist plus \”symphony of Being,\” I realized my life being lived for the Universe and my gift to the Universe. I felt the truth of the emotion. I felt the symphony of my life and all its ups and downs as a wonderful gift given and gift received.

I wouldn\’t have felt that depth of my life\’s worth if I hadn\’t been paying attention to the clues, the little trail of bread crumbs left by my higher consciousness, my soul or spirit. Feeling high on life is wonderful and seldom felt by me.

I wouldn\’t mind dying to this magnificent truth either.