Crudely put, these are the orienting principles of my personal philosophy, or modus operandi. The order of the list is important; it is ordered from most to least important; former ones take precedent over later ones. So, let’s consider these in order.
Do some good. Note ‘some’: no Mother Theresa here, more a guideline (think of the Pirates’ Code, and the word ‘guidelines’ being said by Geoffrey Rush); or think of it as a test—is this course of action good? Never easy to define, nonetheless, everyone knows what is good; but sometimes we have a difficult time following that direction. We get distracted; we lose sight of the principle; we forget the order of the principles. This is human. To become a better human, we strive to fulfil this principle more often. When others are involved, this principle is reframed (as I have written elsewhere): what course of action will lead to the greatest good for all involved? Sometimes this means putting others before oneself.
Have some fun. Again, “some”. While the “pursuit of happiness” in enshrined in no less than the Constitution of the Unites States, used here, the term means something different. What we do in daily life is best experienced as enjoyable; I find the principle most helpful reframed in its negated form: if I am not happy doing what I am doing, either I am not present, or I am not doing what I want, or need, to be doing. Happiness, I have discovered, does not depend on others; and, if it does, suffering is inevitable. And one of my teachers said that the heart is only capable of two states (he used the word ’emotion’, but in his work, all the ordinary states psychology labels as “emotions” are actually blockages to the heart’s two fundamental movements as he described them). Experienced directly, the heart’s two states are simple happiness, or simple sadness. In some people, happiness is experienced as peacefulness. Happiness, or peacefulness, manifests naturally (spontaneously) when one is present and hence not enmeshed in the habit of thinking. One of the virtues of a daily sitting practise is the direct experience of this state; a reminder of one’s true nature.
Make some money. This is an explicit acknowledgement that we function in a capitalist culture. The least important of the principles, I have found that if the first two principles are followed, the last one takes care of itself. This is not the New Age perspective of “the universe will provide” (except in the logical necessity sense that all that we receive necessarily must come from the universe). No, one must pay attention to this principle to ensure that one is capable of supporting one’s dependents; to be able to have reliable shelter; and to put food on the table. This principle means simply that one’s income must exceed one’s outgoing; that one be capable of paying well the people who help you; and that one’s indebtedness to others be reduced as far as possible. Money is condensed energy; for many years, I recalculated the monetary cost of anything I wanted in “P.U.s”; or “patient units” (the dollar value of a consultation). I know precisely how much energy this is; that recalculation helped my consideration of the desired object (i.e., how much do I really want this?).