You can think of it this way: there are two kinds of idealism.
The first kind is positive. Though you are reaching for something impossible, you will inevitably achieve something worth while along the way. This kind of idealism operates on faith. Blind faith? Well look, for it to be faith, there has to be the element of blindness. Something you can’t see, or else it wouldn’t be faith. Faith, as I’ve said before, according to teacher Ken, is doing something, taking action, that you know to be right, even though you do not know the outcome. So the first kind of idealism, the positive one, is based in faith. It moves you to do something.
It is possible to have this kind of idealism without being idealistic. In other words, you may very well be aware of the impossibility of your task, but you don’t lead with a sense of being right. You lead, already accepting that you don’t know. You lead with humility. Humility, according to teacher Ken, is an honest statement of what is. Dig? An honest statement of what is.
Now, the second kind of idealism is negative. It seeks to destroy. It says that everything is corrupt so why even try? The world and nothing in it is good enough for this kind of idealist. This kind of idealism leads with the ego.
“Why are we having this converrrsation?” asks Mr. Octopus.
“Because I have an idealistic student on my hands.”
“Which kind? First or second?”
“Sorry. That must be difficult.”
“It’s a pain in the ass, but, if I remember correctly, I was a pain in the ass at that age too.”
“Hard to believe.”
“I think it’s confusing for young people to have something they love and hate at the same time. They haven’t realized yet that everything has a shadow. Even themselves. And so, when something does not work out the way they want, they chose to hate it instead of doing the work of acceptance and growth.”
“I blame Chrrristianity.”
“Damn straight. Look, let’s face it, whether or not you call yourself a Christian, you are under its influence by the very nature of being here, in this country, or in modern Western culture. In this heavily Christian-influenced culture, we are constantly torn between extremes: good and evil, heaven and hell, sinner and saint, virgin and whore, etc.
There is not a symbol, an emphasis, even a discussion as far as I know (and I went to Catholic school) around balance. The object in Christianity seems to be to extinguish the dark side. But in reality, we have a shadow. In a way, we are a shadow: a shadow of a shadow of a shadow. I think it must be infinite in each direction. Anyway, duality is what it means to be here, alive in this world as a human-a-being.
In the Eastern traditions, well, things just seem a little more grown up to me. You have the symbol of yin and yang: in the darkness there is light and in the light there is darkness. The goal is to find balance between these two.
“So what does all that have to do with your rrrebellious student?”
“Well, she has to understand that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. All a’s or life is not worth living. She has to accept her own shadow. Only in doing that will she ultimately find her power.”
“Now, don’t go getting all seduced by the darrrk side of the force on me.”
“Of course not. That’s why I have you.”