The Only Certainty That Exists; Erich Fromm

Metaphorcast 8/2-8, 2021

Listen to this episode here

Have you ever thought about to what extent your doubts color your attitude towards life?  Or for that matter your faith?  

In his book Man For Himself, psychologist Erich Fromm makes a distinction between different kinds of doubt and faith: the rational kind and the irrational kind.

Irrational doubt iis tied to an uneasy feeling that “nothing is certain.”  For some it is an attitude of indifference, for others it is more compulsive.  Rational doubt on the other hand is how children learn to think for themselves, and how adults go on to further develop their personality.

Rational doubt is essential to modern thought, and all the discoveries that have contributed to what we know now.

Irrational faith, he says, is “rooted in the submission to a power”.  This type of faith has made a muck of many things, from witch hunts to the Inquisition.  It is easy to see why this is not a good idea.

Perhaps less easy, however, is to see the value of embracing a “rational faith”; a faith that is rooted in one’s own experience and in “the confidence of one’s own power of thought, judgement and observation.”    

Whereas irrational doubt gives a vague sense of nothing being certain, and irrational faith strips one’s power away, rational faith restores power by providing the only certainty that exists. 

Any guesses for what you think Fromm’s definition of “the only certainty that exists” is?

Remember this certainty is based on the powers that come from within, and a dedication to rationality.

Ok so here it is:  the only certainty that exists is the certainty growing from productive activity.

For Fromm, the basis of rational faith is productiveness, and to live by faith is to live productively.  In this way, we connect to our true powers and find certainty.

These are real powers; powers of reason, love, strength and potential.  In embracing meaningful and productive activity you can count on the certainty of your own growth, the certainty of your own powers.  There’s no denying them just as there is no denying the productive activity of an apple tree making apples.  

Henry Miller said that “the goal of life is not to possess power but to radiate it.”

Happy radiant Leo Season and remember: when in doubt, stay productive to revive your faith and keep in touch with the certainty of your own powers.

As always, 

Happy astro pondering!

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

The (Active) Art of Loving. Venus enters Aries

In the previous post, the very verdant verity of an inner spring was examined via Erich Fromm’s two existential modes of “having” and “being”.  It seems natural to stick with Fromm for this next transit on Sunday March 21st, as Venus, the Love Goddess goes into action-oriented Aries.

Fromm begins his very popular book, The Art of Loving (1956), with this question:

“Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one “falls into” if one is lucky?”

As the title suggests, he believes it is an art.  A “faculty” rather than a “feeling”.  A verb rather than a noun.  He sees love as an “activity” rather than a “passivity”, centering primarily on giving rather than receiving.  

For Fromm, we have it all wrong when we try to make ourselves more lovable to attract love.  Thinking this way turns ourselves into self-made commodities, looking for the commodity in others that fit the bill.  The problem becomes a passive problem of being loved, rather than an active affirmation of our capacity to love.  

Fromm himself was an Aries, born right around the time of the vernal equinox.  Spring is a clear display of life, and for Fromm, so is the art of loving.  The name of his book is The Art of Loving, not The Art of Love.  Love, like life, is not a noun, but a verb.

And what does the dedicated artist of love give to others, and to the world?

Fromm says, “he gives his life”.  This, however, is not a sacrifice. He further explains,

“he gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness—of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him. In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the other’s sense of aliveness by enhancing his own sense of aliveness. He does not give in order to receive; giving is in itself exquisite joy. But in giving he cannot help bringing something to life in the other person, and this which is brought to life reflects back to him.”

Maybe this is why springtime birds sing so much.  They are skilled and knowing artists practicing the liveliest art.  The art of loving.  

How can you turn love into a verb?  Venus will delight in Aries until April 14th, when it will cozy up in Taurus.

Happy Astro Pondering!

Astro Art by Johhnie Day Durand

https://www.happyastropondering.com/

A Very Verdant Verity! Spring Begins.

On Saturday, March 20th, at 5:37 am, the Sun will move into Aries, commencing the vernal equinox, the long-awaited first day of spring.  

Buckminster Fuller said, “I seem to be a verb.”

There is some very verdant verity embedded in these words, and in this time of year, when life becomes obvious again. As the green takes back over the scene, we might ask ourselves, where does spring begin within?

Where is the verifiable and veracious place inside from which we renew ourselves?

From his last written book, To Have Or to Be? psychologist and philosopher, Erich Fromm described two primary modes in which people orient themselves to the world: the “having mode” and the “being mode”.

The “having mode” is based upon possessing and owning, whereas the “being mode” is more about “aliveness” and “authentic relatedness to the world”.  

He writes that modern society has become overly materialistic, and prefers “having” to “being”.  He sees this leading to a loss of one’s inner self.  An out-of-touchness with one’s own inner activity

Of the two modes he writes,

“Having refers to things and things are fixed and describable.  Being refers to experience, and human experience is in principle not describable.”

He asserts that in every mode of life, people should ponder more on the “being nature” and not towards the “having nature”.

“The mode of being has as its prerequisites, independence, freedom, and the presence of critical reason.  Its fundamental characteristic is that of being active, not in the sense of outward activity, of busyness, but of inner activity, the productive use of our human powers.” 

Happiness, from the having mode lies in “superiority over others”. From the being mode, it lies in “loving, sharing, giving.” This is the very verdant peace and naturalness of green. The ease on our eyes and in our hearts. No games, just truth. Just aliveness, in relating to the aliveness in others and the world, and not in some deadened status-charade.

Is this why the Ram’s horns turn inwards?  Inwards to a place of verdant inner activity?  Towards a true and vernal orientation?  The place where “I” is a verb? Life is you, you are life?

Novelist Charlotte Perkin Gilman said “life is a verb not a noun.”

Some scientists now believe that life may have begun on Mars, symbolically the primordial verb.

A very verdant verb indeed.  Verifiable in the vernal internalness.  

Happy first day of Spring and as always, happy astro pondering!

Astro Art by Johnnie Day Durand.

https://www.happyastropondering.com/