Starting points: the issue of having a concept of man,
about patterns, processes and paradoxical behaviour.
Man as an individual and as an organized structure.

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Presuppositions and points of departure

One day it all started. I had no choice. I had to decide whether my life was worth living. Was it not worth living then? Not the way it had been up till that moment. And how did I want to live?
In fact two things started on that day:

  1. the search for a new practical approach to everyday life, for a different behaviour,
  2. the search for a personal direction in my life, for a personal philosophy of life, as a basis for such new behaviour.

Years before that I had dropped my bankrupt philosophy of life. That philosophy was (as an answer to the question: 'Why are we on earth?') in its first version: 'To serve God and by doing so gain a place in heaven', and in the second version: '... to be happy now and in the hereafter'. In my thinking some kind of vacuum had developed that needed to be filled. The ideal image of life as 'striving for an uncomplicated and perfect world' had crumbled. Thus, gradually, two questions had come up which were: 'What is life in general?' and 'Who am I in particular?'.

The answer to these questions I'll phrase now, based on my insights at this moment. The answer to the first question, what life is, is short: life is becoming, everything is process [ note ]. I don't think that is an easy thesis. It posed a problem for me (even for the religious organizations this has always been a difficult thing). Giving an answer to the second question, who I am, demands some refinement if I start from the thesis that life is a process (of becoming). The old question "Who am I?" will be replaced by "Who can I become?", and replenished with "Where in the process am I now?".

Searching for insight in life and the view of life as a process is very old indeed. Science has, like the church, long suffered from its dogmatic aspects. If life is becoming, then a logical consequence would be (and a matter of fact since Quantum Theory [ note ] has shown what happens on that level) that nothing can be repeated, not even for scientific purposes. Then all 'repeated tests' are in essence impossible. We would be fiddling a bit with space and with time. These methods are based on assumptions which are not always clearly defined and probably never can be defined. While I used to accept the theses and assumptions of experts without criticism, I am now more alert to a meticulous definition.

I shall start from above mentioned starting points, to which I shall later return in order to define them more precisely. I want to try to overcome my fear of (the power of) dogmatic scientists and dogmatic thinking (this is pretty, that is nice, I am good). As a consequence of this I shall also write about the potential the old science of astrology has to offer in describing people and events as a process of becoming and understanding them, including the creative roundabout ways. To this end I shall have to use some new designations and emphasize different parts than is customary in the astrological technique. I want to set down my ideas in writing, not force them upon others.

The ideal image has been replaced by the observation that all people have different unique possibilities and are engaged in becoming a unique person. Albert Einstein's famous metaphor of the train [ note ] strengthened that image of mankind. All people posess an independent subjective singularity which is based on a unique individual system. In the very essence I am alone in this uniqueness and thus the ultimate care for myself in becoming what I can become is mine and not that of my parents or my environment.

The human organism is, just like the world, endlessly complicated and accordingly interesting. The many 'standard components' are mutually related into perfectly individual configurations. I cannot make things less complex, neither do I want to offer cheap fashionable explanations. Rather I shall try to offer entries and information which present points of application for clarifying the individualistic within the structure of the organism. Everyone of us is an experience expert, and so am I. So let's not worry: I may be telling something new, everybody of course has known it all the time by himself.
I shall develop my ideas along different lines: - by way of patterns, - by means of the basic stucture, - and by stories from my own life's practice. Let me now introduce them.
 

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Individual patterns

We are accustomed to the perception that we can recognize different patterns in a person, patterns according to which this person talks, moves, initiates new things, handles his or her feelings, tends to weigh things, tries to realize personal goals, etc. Within the same person these patterns can be mutually similar to a certain degree, or on the contrary be very different. That is a very individual matter.
From the very beginning we can clearly recognize a baby's singularities in, for example, the expression of the eye, the effectiveness of movement, the response to their needs. As the years pass by, the singular manners develop, through experience and adaptation to it's surroundings, toward individual patterns. My point of view is that singularities are not subject to essential changes in the course of time, that the words 'develop' and 'adapt' are more appropriate than 'change'. However, this adaptation can continue at the expense of singularity.
The extent to which these singular manners are retained in later individual patterns, can only be established if we can identify the singularities, the interaction with the environment and the patterns which have developed subsequently. We can be certain that every person has singular manners at his or her disposal and that in general some adaptation or development of these manners is possible. In different areas of life (ways of conduct) one can recognize coherent individual patterns, all of which, in principle, stay connected with the original singular manners.

Right now we are talking about different patterns within an individual, but seen as a whole, patterns generally show coherence in some form. Certain distinctive traits in behaviour, in attitudes, etc., can also be found in other patterns of behaviour within the same person. That which differentiates one person from another, that which identifies somebody as an individual, is called 'the structure of the personality' or the 'character' of that particular person. The patterns as a whole show coherence and have a particular structure. Both patterns and structure are an individual organization of underlying processes which we humans have in common.
 

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The 'singular' human and the general process

A person has, within himself, many different processes at his disposal. We are familiar with various physical processes, such as the digestive system or the prophylactic system, but also in other areas and in our behaviour we can differentiate between processes. For example thinking, playing, handling needs like hunger or thirst, taking initiatives, organizing, and feeling, all follow a process-like course, a certain procedure. All have, like any process, a beginning, some intermediate stages, an end, and in consequence also a goal. This is implicitly based upon repetition. Repetition is the basis for learning and for the formation of experience - since we are, by necessity, selective in our interests, we therefore selectively remember, and adapt our conditions and needs accordingly - thus we can talk about circular courses, of circular or cyclic processes. Cyclic processes make it possible to describe the 'adaptation, or growth-mechanism' in human beings. Cyclic processes lie at the basis of individual patterns and of a person's personality structure.

The description of the underlying process, as the common form of the development of the stages, is the first topic in the search for the structure of the 'singular' human. It should serve as a model of thought and a background against which the many individual possibilities or specific variations can be identified and described.
In order to realize that goal the description of the common process should:

  • be based on contemporary man and philosophy,
  • be able to describe the individual under different influences and in relation with other individuals,
  • be able to be scaled, both in space and in time,
  • be verifiable and reproducible.
     
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The human paradox

As I mentioned above, I wanted to learn a different behaviour in order to live a life worth living. In order to stop the feeling that I was being lived. I discovered that I had to get to know my preconditions and my emotions. I found it quite paradoxical that it was inevitable that I would take my own aims and emotions as my starting-point and my essential subjectivity as a standpoint. It was not viable to take my environment as support and basis of my growing-process as this often led to the question of what I had done wrong. Not pushing through but being attentive became my motto. It was just as paradoxical that unpleasant experiences turned into valuable experiences. In retrospect, now that I pay attention to them, conflicts turn out to be forceful and intense means to bring me in contact with things which were important for me to learn. My own stories helped me to get to know myself better. This is an example.

decorated bicyclespacer.gif'On August 31 1938, Queen Wilhelmina's birthday and 45th jubilee, street-festivities were organized. There were all kinds of contests for children, like cycling, sack-racing and the nomination of the loveliest decorated bicycle / nice child combination. I would have loved to join the cycle race, but mother had been adorning the tricycle and dressing me up and that would be my contest. I felt very unhappy and was so angry that, if you look at my face on the photo, it will be clear why the nomination could not be a success for my mother. My big brother, who took part in the cycle race, provided for a hilarious but not successful ending. He stopped dead just before the finishing line which he had reached as first of all.'

That very day I ran into the hard fact that my mother rigidly held on to what she thought to be in my interest. Was it in my interest to join the race or to have this clash with my mother? I think it's the last. This and other stories tell me about my feelings and about the use of the event when I look back at it and try to see the line in my life-process. I really want to learn to form a realistic relation between my activities in the world and my goals in life. In the story line I shall compare experiences, which proved to be important enough to remember them, with the astrological data about my aims, my qualities of character and learning-processes. That combination has given me reasonable insight in my possibilities which in turn enabled me to make my choices in a controlled way.

Developing new conduct is always a very individual process as everybody is unique. In details and in some patterns however we can identify with other people. Perhaps you'll find something in my stories you can identify with.