Perfection or power? It is indeed heard to decide. Perfection leaves you marveled, charged with emotions. A magic show for example, a beautiful music, a painting, a story, all these leave the mind in wonder incapable to resolve the mystery of that feeling, that perfection. Power on the other hand is about knowing. When one knows about things, one has power over them. However, once things are known they no longer are a mystery, and therefore no longer produce emotions and wonder. Perfection on the other hand leaves you wonder: How is that possible? How did they do it? WOW! How? Can one live their life in the extreme ends of wonder or knowledge, perfection or power? Maybe. Maybe there are beings that prefer one extreme over the other but we as humans, we definitely prefer the mix of both. I think that is as the result of how we are created. It must be because of the proportion of matter and antimatter in us that makes us suffer and to bounce back to balance when we are pulled in one extreme or the other.
Greek gods may have realized this human condition of preferring the golden mean and the balanced states of being instead of the extremes, when they experimented with Sparta and Athens. As Reberto Calasso stated in his deep analyses of Greek Mythology in his book The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, “…unlike Athenians, the Spartans had no illusions about winning over and manipulating.” Both these states lived in prosperity for a while until they both realized that each of their systems could easily be corrupted. Athens was corrupted by wondering how much freedom can one acquire and when should a democratic system start putting orders and rules in place. Spartans were corrupted by the very idea of power and secrets and guardians who started killing everyone that may have seemed like a threat or potential threat of their power by bringing their secrets out in the known. Was Athena such weapon in gods’ hands that guardians would prefer to rather kill their own blood than letting those secrets out to the world? It could be,because if we accept this version then the story of Athena and how she was born from “Zeus’ head” is no longer a mystery. Nevertheless, Greek gods also lost Athena when they realized that their democratic system was also corrupted. Zeus may have known the worth of Athena when he sent her away into that village where Athena was raised by some strangers, whose daughter Pallas looked exactly like her. And the story of Athena becomes even more intriguing when we learn that as Athena and Pallas were playing with real weapons just for fun, somehow Zeus distracted Pallas and the real Athena kills her best friend Pallas. From that day on, Athena carries two names Pallas-Athena. Strange eh? And then we hear the story of Hades and how he goes to Zeus asking for “the girl” which they called the Cora. Greek gods were smart enough to change the story as if Cora was Persephone, Demeter’s daughter. But of course they can do that, because they create all the stories, they had such power.
So, everyone was looking for the “Cora,” the girl with secrets, but stories of her keep changing and the secrets still remain secrets. Why? Because one side wants to prove to the other that wonders are better than knowing, as the other side wants to prove that knowing is better than wondering. It may have come to the point that Athena had to decide for herself which side she wanted to take, if she indeed came to realize her real worth, and not lost in the lies of both sides. Did she keep her secrets to herself because she feared that her own people, those who Plato called guardians, could have killed her so that she would not have revealed these secrets? Was she that type of girl, afraid of death? Or did she prefer to keep these secrets to herself as indeed she was betrayed and abused by those gods who declared to love perfection over knowledge? Indeed they loved perfection and mysteries too. Therefore, they loved the twisting of facts, just a little bit so they could bring awareness but also guilt. So which side would Athena choose in the end? I am not Athena, and I do not know what she is thinking right now, but I know something about her that we all do: She is the goddess of wisdom and war. I do not think Athena is scared of the guardians nor she could be fooled by the gods. This leaves us with only one path, the golden middle path, that is the path where wonders and powers both meet, where knowledge and mysteries interchange places without resistance and all energies remain in balance. I believe, Athena may have chosen us, humans, because we are the best tool for keeping this balance of energies. I believe we are the middle path. If you think of it, we love wonders and that’s why we can easily be fooled and wowed to generate emotions which Greek gods are after. On the other hand, we are such curious beings, and it is in our blood because of Athena, our very own glorious origin, that we love to acquire knowledge, power and hence learn more and more, produce more, and create more. And at the end of the day, when we feel tired and go to sleep, we still remain valuable to both sides because in the next morning we will again start the same routines of producing more wonders and acquiring more knowledge. We are the food, the delicious food of energy for both extremes. So, no worries my fellow humans because both extremes, knowledge or art, power or perfection love us.
To understand how both extremes work I would like to use the example of a pendulum and how it works. Imagine that each of the highest points this pendulum reaches while swinging left or right, represents the wonders or the knowledge, while in the middle of the swing where pendulum reached the highest speed but lowest point it has enough kinetic energy (momentum) to swing itself to the other side; and that’s where humans stand. We are everlasting kinetic energy that swings from wonders to knowledge and vice versa, with more knowledge we create more wonders, and the more we wonder the more we become curious to learn.
But there is something I cannot understand yet. These guardians worried that Athena may reveal their secrets. What secrets? Secrets are secrets for as long as they cannot be comprehended by human mind. No one should worry about those secrets, because even if they are open on the table no one goes around looking for things they cannot understand, asking, “Gee, show me the formula of kinetic energy, or how the quantum physics works.” If one asks that question it’s because their mind is ready to comprehend that knowledge. The more we push these acquiring minds away the more hurt they will feel, the more curious they will become, the more damage they will cause until they gain the power they acquired through so much pain and look for revenge to easy their pain and humiliation they endured while acquiring this knowledge/power. Having said that we also know that knowledge in the wrong hands may indeed become a dangerous weapon. The problem is that we could have prevented this if we did not pushed these acquiring curious minds to that point. A strange question that my son asked me the other day, was, “Mom, would you rather be an evil genius or a stupid nice person.” I answered, “A stupid nice person.” My answer surprised my son, because he did not expect that from me. Loving knowledge and being a teacher he thought I would choose the evil genius. I explained to him that I love knowledge but in the evil genius’ heart there is pain; and that is the reason why the genius turned evil in the first place. I would prefer no pain. So, we can say that some safety around certain knowledge must be applied, but we must also be cautious to not reach the point where we have to apply violence to keep these secrets from falling into the wrong hands. The goal is to avoid violence at any cost because every action will be followed by a contra-reaction. As gods did not know all the secrets of guardians, in the same way guardians do not know all the secrets of gods. But most of all, we must all become aware of one fundamental truth that it is true for every group, including humans, that, any act of violence brings imbalance to the energies to the universe, and at that point the universe will be forced to act in a way that will bring these energies back to balance. Hence for every action there is a contra-reaction. Universe works like a clock, tick-tock, tick-tock.
We can all wonder at this point, how can this knowledge be available for exploring it and yet be guarded? Can Athena do that? Is this why she was called the goddess of wisdom and war? We do not really know much about Athena, because, no one ever saw her. Most of the stories we hear about Athena could also be made up by Greek gods themselves, or they could be the stories of the Pallas not the real Athena’s. If the girl with secrets is not found, then the search has not ended, or it could be that they have found “the girl” but she has to decide to reveal herself or not. It seems to me that Athena may not like to reveal herself, and that is why she earned the nickname of the mysterious whisper. As Odysseus said “Oh Athina, please whisper to me, please love me one more time as you always did before.” The way Athena is described in many Greek myths it reminds you of another myth, that of the Theos, the indeterminate divine of the invasion of the mind, while Eros, her opposite, was often depicted as the body’s invasion. It is said that these two were enemies, fighting over who will dominate all the creations and the being of the universe. Each started to do the job of the other. It is said that Greek gods gave into the power of Eros. He was too delicious to resist, and Greek gods crave emotions more than anything else. While I am assuming that probably guardians gave into the powers of Theos, with power of the mind and knowledge. Hence we now have two groups, each powerful. But as life has taught us, and as Mother Theresa put it in simple words for us to understand, “What I can do you cannot, and what you can do, I cannot, but together we can do wonders.” I think it is time for Theos and Eros to make peace, as Athena and Apollo will too, and so it goes and it reaches us human, as above so below.
When we will realize the need for both sides, the need for the balance of energies, we will realize that we need to start building a new life style, where our little children will be free of stigma and judgement, and will acquire knowledge on their own with their own unique styles of learning and comprehending. But this is not such an easy task, because it is not so easy to realize where is the silver line that this balance of energies applies and when is this balance tipped over. We have such a hard time realizing that because we are totally taken by the power of money. Success, worth and happiness are all measured by money.
When I asked my students in the psychology class to think about how their life will look like if there were no more worries about the money, some answered that there will be no more motivation for them to get up in the morning and go to work. Some others answered that they will be the happiest people on Earth, because they would be free to travel wherever they wanted and enjoy the wonders of the world without having to pay anything. To such logic I challenged them with the following questions: “If you get up in the morning to go to work because money is the only motivation for doing so, then you would not get up if your child is crying and needing you, right? If you were a doctor and you could have saved someone’s life lying unconscious on the floor, you would not do it if there were no money, right? If you are an engineer and you know how to build a bridge and you can see that those who are building a bridge right now are doing it wrong, and this is going to put many lives in danger but you would not intervene to give your contribution to this task, since you would not be motivated without money, is that correct?” As to the one who said that he will be the happiest man on earth to travel for free I asked, “So where would you travel if people would not like to serve you to any of those luxurious hotels you will be checking in because they too will be busy traveling somewhere else. Also, will free stuff be sufficient enough to make you happy even if you will never find love in your life? Will you be happy still when you can get everything for free but your health may be denigrating and you’re getting older?” They thought deeply about these questions and arrived to the conclusion that indeed it is not the lack of money that stops us from being happy, for feeling motivated and worthy in life. In the same token having lots of money to pay for our entertainments and physiological needs does not fulfill our psychological needs to belong and be loved. Hence, there are other important things in life and these are: Love, Health, and Worth. Unfortunately as we can see, money is not our problem, but our mentality of measuring our worth and our happiness with money is our problem. Hence, it seems to me that creating a new system of living life, exploring and obtaining knowledge that will allow our children to freely choose their own paths instead of being forcing into certain controlled knowledge, is a necessity to leave in balance and peace. When everyone will not need money to know their worth and make themselves happy then there will be no more need to safeguard the secret knowledge. Can we do this? I think we can.