Thursday, June 23, 2011

I made up a new mide (middah)

Never Done: I made up a new mide (middah)

If you've been following this blog for a long time, you know that the heart of the Mussar practice is to meditate, write, and reflect upon thirteen mides (middot) -- which are ethical principles -- that help us to live an ethical life. They are:

Humility: seek wisdom from everybody
Patience: Do not aggravate a situation with wasted grief
Equanimity: Rise above events that are inconsequential
Truth: Say nothing unless you are 100% sure it is true
Decisiveness: When you have made a decision, act without hesitation
Cleanliness: Let no stain or ugliness on our self/space
Order: All actions and possessions should have a set place and time
Righteousness: What is hateful to you do not do to others
Frugality: Be careful with your money
Diligence: Always find something to do
Silence: Reflect before speaking
Calmness: Words of the wise are stated gently
Separation: Respect in sexual and intimate relationships

My Mussar va'ad (group) has found that as comprehensive as these mides are, sometimes we yearn for something else to help guide us, so we decided that when we finished a complete cycle of the original thirteen, we would make some up before starting the next cycle. The group came up with great ideas:

(Ethical thinking around) Attachment

Yes, Neediness. That one was mine. Ew, right? Neediness sounds so unattractive and ... needy. Do we really want to pursue it as an ethical value? When I brought it up, a shudder went through the group, and people started coming up with other ways to frame it. Ways like Reliance and Interdependence. Which I thought were both wonderful ethical values in their own right, and also thoughtful reinterpretations of Neediness ... but they don't home right in on the thing that I'm going for: the value of having, knowing, and communicating one's needs.

I'm not real good at that. I have a tendency to take care of everyone else's needs before (or instead of) mine, and then feel bad when people don't take mine into consideration the way I wish they would. As I'm sure you can imagine (or maybe have experienced) that's not a great formula for interpersonal bliss. So instead of running from neediness, I am getting ready to embrace it -- hopefully in the literal, and not the cloying sense of the word. I expect it will be a fascinating and uncomfortable exploration.

But first, a week of ENTHUSIASM!!!!!!!!

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