Dialogues of Nodin and William - External Behaviors #14
(PD) Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - Ein Christus
Copyright ©2008-2019 - updated May 11, 2019
William: Sitting here, upon the same hill, and under the shade of the same trees as we sat in days past, again we are in a discussion of Alo's choice of dwelling style, and I am with a confliction of mind. In previous months I well-learned that I cannot know a man's heart, nor his mind, by my gazing upon his appearance, nor even by his behavior, and yet we are here today speaking of how we can discern the heart and mind of a man by what manner of dwelling he might live within. Are you leading me down another slippery path, Nodin? Has that been your purpose, of allowing me to linger too long in an incorrect belief about the inward nature of Alo?
Nodin: Ha! It is with a pleasure that I have been allowed the gift of observing you discover within your own mind that the conflict exists. But before I answer your question, please allow me to ask of you your interpretation of the nearby dwellings. Observe and tell me, what is your interpretation of the dwelling located towards the sun's rise?
William: The land is open, unprotected by a wall, but marked with a wire fence, of a manner of fencing that men commonly use when raising livestock. The dwelling itself appears to be constructed of store-bought wood, a mixture of pine and cedar, and the dwelling is of a geometry not too dissimilar to Alo's dwelling, that of a golden mean. The style of the whole is commonly termed to be of a western influence, one that a city dweller might think to be the home of a cowboy, but since I do not see cattle, nor horses, nor even horse stalls, I must therefore conclude that the owner is not a true cowboy, but rather only that of an individual who simply enjoys the manner of style.
Nodin: Very good, but what about the owner's philosophy? Is he a religious man, a poet, or perhaps of a specific ideology?
William: Since I do not see religious symbols on the land, nor do my eyes perceive any ideological influence, I must conclude that the manner of styling of the dwelling and land might indicate that the man is more interested in his lifestyle than in a philosophy of mind. But too, upon careful inspection, I find that the dwelling does not have modern technologies, such is obvious since there is no power line to the dwelling, nor are there photovoltaic panels to provide electricity, and since I see that a round metal chimney exits the roof, I therefore must conclude that the man is living within a style that is of a low technology, and that the man himself might either be ignorant of energy production or else he might have purposefully chosen to live without technology.
Nodin: Very well then, now please tell me of the following property, approximately two hundred steps further toward the sun's rise.
William: The land is well-manicured, which exhibits considerable effort by the owner, the land is bordered with what appears to be an expensive black iron fencing, and the red-bricked house is of a style that we commonly refer to as Victorian, or perhaps more closely to that of a Queen Anne fashion. To me, the land and dwelling give the air of wealth, class, education, etiquette, and good taste. I would expect that the owner, if a man, would wear a fine tailored suit of silk and wool, and if the owner is a lady, then she would likely wear a flowing full-length dress that matches the Queen Anne period. It is a common belief that individuals of such a manner of style are of an atheist belief, who deem themselves intellectuals, and whose primary goals in life are the accumulation of material wealth and prestige.
Nodin: And now observe the next property further in line towards the rising sun.
William: The land is not manicured, nor does it appear to have been influenced at all by the owner. The dwelling is unique in size and shape, perhaps what we might term to be futuristic, and I am marveling at the technologies that are in use for the dwelling. There are several photovoltaic panels as well as a strange device that appears to be as an energy producing apparatus that is powered by the wind, but I cannot see any manner of blade or turbine as is commonly required by wind generators. It appears that the owner enjoys a style that is technologically advanced, much of which is self-designed and self-produced, which lends me to believe that the man has for his preferences a lifestyle wrapped within his technological creations. His land too exhibits no ideology beyond that of having chosen to live with technology.
Nodin: For the moment we will bypass the observation of the several other nearby properties, while we focus on these four that you have given your attention to. Tell me, William, which of the properties' owners would you feel most profited to meet?
William: Alo's manner of style is appealing to me due to it raising my curiosity of why the style was chosen, the western style has no attraction to me, the Victorian style holds a degree of interest to me, and the technology style, though initially interesting to investigate, quickly dulls my curiosity. So for myself, I believe I would feel most profited from the experience of meeting Alo.
Nodin: Look back down upon the many properties before us, and observe closely, not the lands and dwellings, but the environments that exist within and around the properties.
William: I have observed as you said for me to observe, but I must confess, Nodin, that I discern little more than what I had observed before.
Nodin: When we first approached this hill of trees, you spoke of an observation about the path. Now remember the observation, and connect the observation to what you now see today.
William: Yes, I did state that the path was not well-traveled, that it appeared to be more as a rabbit's path than a road. Oh... I now recognize what you are surely pointing to, that the lightly worn path leads to Alo's property as well as all the other properties that surround Alo's. But this is a curious thing, Nodin, for it appears, if my eyes are not deceiving me, that the several properties are connected by the single path, not as a path that leads to each property, but rather as a path that shares an intimate connection of one property to the next. Does this not imply that Alo and his neighbors must be friends, for their having traveled to each other's properties by way of the path?
Nodin: And how many different men must there be to have formed the path?
William: I had assumed no fewer than one man per land, and if we were to count the lands, there would be a dozen or more men having made the path.
Nodin: Did you not earlier state that we cannot know the heart and mind of a man by his external behavior?
William: That is true, for indeed that is what I believe must be a valid conclusion.
Nodin: And so then, by what logic are you using to conclude that there must be a dozen or more men?
William: My logic is based upon the numerous different styles of dwellings and lifestyles; one man for each.
Nodin: But what if the man in the Victorian house might have constructed the western house, or the house of technology? By what evidence do you possess that declares a man must only live and choose one manner of life?
William: But Nodin, if we were to admit that a man is free to choose any lifestyle he chooses, and to make such a choice at any time in life he chooses, then we could just as easily believe that there might be only one man that built all the dwellings, including Alo's.
Nodin: That is correct.
William: No, surely not: for if, if what you say is true, then are you telling me that Alo himself is the owner and builder of all the properties before us?
Nodin: That is also correct.
William: Forgive me of my hesitation in replying, Nodin, but my mind is racing with the appreciation of having gained the knowledge of experience that validates my previous question, that no man can know the heart and mind of another man even if the observed man might exhibit a specific manner of behavior, but now I am with the question of why Alo would build so many different styles of dwellings?
Nodin: Why else? Experience, the firsthand experience of having lived a life as a scientist, as a monk, as a cowboy, as an intellectual, as impoverished, as a musician, as an environmentalist, and as the many other lifestyles that are in view of your eyes.
William: But what profit or reason is there in living so many different lifestyles? Is it just for entertainment, or perhaps a psychological quirk that drives him willy-nilly from one fleeting interest to another?
Nodin: If I were to choose a different lifestyle, it might be for the reason of my gaining an understanding of what that manner of life entails, or I might use the knowledge to gain an insight that could be useful for a research into a topic within the lifestyle, or I might have any number of other valid reasons, none of which anyone can know except myself, unless of course a person were to ask, and if I were willing to answer.
William: And so then my earlier question has been answered, not in words, but through the logic of my having seen with my own eyes that though a man might exhibit the behavior of one style, it must then remain a truth that the external observation cannot bring a man to know the heart and mind of another man. But please, Nodin, now I crave deliverance from another question, one that I am in part understanding, but in another part not recognizing the significance of: I believe that I grasp the reason why you continue to lead me into circumstances, as this one of today, where I can learn through my own observation and rationale, but brightly lighting within my mind is the realization that if a man like Alo might enjoy the experiencing of many lifestyles for the purpose of learning of the lifestyles, then I wonder, why have you chosen to teach me in the manner that you do? If Alo can choose, if I can choose, if all men can choose, then why have you chosen your choices?
Nodin: What you ask is a very private thing, one that you might not enjoy discovering. When you open a wooden box, and a toy snake jumps out, surprising you, are you with a satisfaction of knowledge, or are you with a different conclusion of your choice of action?
William: I see what you are pointing to, that not all discoveries are wanted, but Nodin, you are not a box, nor do I expect a toy snake to jump from your head. With politeness I will not further press my question, for to me I place a greater weight on the respecting of your privacy than I give weight to my shallow curiosity.
Nodin: Within the dwelling style of Alo's walled gardens, there is the opportunity to experience at length the inner peace that is structured upon positive emotions and creative principles. Within the Victorian style there exists the opportunity for the gaining of worldly knowledge, of fine qualities in furniture and possessions, and an inner peace that is structured upon satisfied emotions. Within the technology style there exists the opportunity to be creative with one's hands, to produce technologies that allow for human comforts, but not at the cost of disturbing Nature more than necessary. Within the western style there is the opportunity to experience the joy of being a creature within the Created, to walk as friends with wild animals, and to enjoy happy emotions that cannot be experienced within any other lifestyle.
William: Did you just answer my question, and my not know it?
Nodin: If you cannot know the heart and mind of the monk, the cowboy, the intellectual, nor the technician, then how can you gain knowledge of the lifestyles? Read a book perhaps?
William: Ha! I remember well our discussion of religion and the game of ball, that a man must actually live the life himself before he can become its master, and I now recognize what you may be pointing to, that if a man, such as Alo, were with a desire to learn of a lifestyle, then he might choose to become the lifestyle, so as to gain a firsthand understanding. But then, that might mean...
Nodin: Your pause is significant, William, and your face, its expression tells me that a star of light has lit within it, with thoughts of your having formed a theory that you believe may be a valid answer to your questions.
William: I have learned well from you that I should bring into mind all memories to be compared to each new observation, and within the comparisons I am now recognizing a trend, one that I can mathematically divide and multiply with addition and subtraction, that leads my mind into a reasoning that I had not before considered possible. Within one's observing of a thing, there should arise a fullness of thought of the thing's existence, not just its visual appearances, but also of its duration of time, and of its manner of expression. I know from my own firsthand experience that each of Alo's properties required of him several years to shape into what manner they now exist today, and if I add the years of each property, I can then reasonably estimate the age of Alo, for indeed if what you say is true, that he learned of each lifestyle through the act of living each lifestyle, then he would not have chosen to build all the properties simultaneously, but rather sequentially. And if I do not allow myself to jump to a belief that the properties before us are the only ones that Alo might have formed, then there may exist other properties that are not directly connected to the ones nearby, which means that Alo could choose to live anywhere he chooses, whether here in the country among the wild animals, or even in the village if he should choose, and, well, I can see in your eyes that you are recognizing my own recognition within myself.
Nodin: And so, William, have you learned a principle?
William: Yes, and it is pressed deeply into my heart and mind, that I cannot know the heart and mind of anyone or anything other than myself, and the principle is no less firm than that of firsts. Thank you Nodin, for I began the day with a mental conviction that I cannot know another man's heart and mind, but now, the conviction is not merely of the mind, but of the soul, and it is firmly planted, unbendable; unbreakable. But Nodin, you avoided my comment, that of your recognizing what I myself believe to have recognized.
Nodin: As the principle of understanding must arrive through firsthand experience, and as the principle of unknowing must arrive through the firsthand experience of recognizing the unknowable, so must the answer of your question arrive through firsthand experience. It is man's choice to choose, whether to believe in myths of knowledge, or to understand.
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Updated May 11, 2019
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