I was having an IM conversation with a friend this morning where she reminded me of one of the four virtues: Ruthlessness. Since I could only remember 2 of the 4: sweetness and ruthlessness, I wanted to remember the other two. I could have looked to my books, which was what I did at first, but lacking finding the volume I wanted in 1 minute, I returned to my computer and googled the two words. The very first item that came up - was a post on the subject from my old Aikido teacher, Nick Walker. Reminded they are
- and Patience
He's got a good overview of them:
Patience and sweetness are almost universally regarded as virtues, even by those who don't possess them, while cunning and ruthlessness are generally not regarded as virtuous traits. This is because so much evil is perpetrated by those who possess cunning and ruthlessness but are deficient in patience and sweetness. Ruthlessness, as I understand Castaneda's use of the term, isn't the same as callousness or bloodlust. It's the ability to draw a line, to stand firm, to do what has to be done no matter who it pisses off, to do the right thing even if it's not the polite thing. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were masters of combining ruthlessness, patience, and sweetness.
Cunning, as near as I've been able to figure out, is largely the ability to make clear-headed tactical decisions, including decisions as to how and in what measure to apply the other three virtues in a given situation.
Cunning is indeed one of the trickiest virtues. And that is part of the meta-phor. (Oh I love that one!) It's akin to trickery - which might seem like betrayal, and it is, and yet not. Cunning is the mobius strip. It is the trickery of the spirit. It's controlled folly. A Godel reflection on PM aka a strange loop (I can't help Hofstader jumping in after reading 3 chapters on proofs, godel, and PM aka Principia Mathematica). Cunning uses you as a puppet, or tool and with full awareness of the use and still being used. And cunning is using things and situations for your use to explain, create synchronicity, magic or any number of other illuminations.
But all these virtual have many layers. And I have been on both sides, meting out and receiving blows from each of them time and time again. And each provides a deeper layer of the onion. Today, was the ruthless reminder. And it did not go unnoticed. Thank you!