Why tension-free living is a terrible goal

Christ GardenThose who follow much of the current pop-psychology and religious thought might be under the impression that perfect, unending peace of mind is the assumed goal for everyone; that one must strive to conquer one’s inner conflicts to such an extent that stress is altogether eliminated.


If tension-free living is your goal get ready for an incurably unhappy life.

There is nothing living that does not live by way of tension. Whatever is not in tension is dead. Otto Rank was one of the first psychologists to note that, “individuals seem to prefer to absolute rest a certain condition of tension, perhaps because absolute rest could only be death.”

Indeed, can the goal of attaining a state of perfect rest translate into anything other than death?

Besides, one is kidding himself if he thinks for a moment that he truly wishes to live a perfectly tense-free life. Take sports for example. What is a sport but a manufactured scene of combat, a way to bring tension to its highest pitch, albeit in a controlled environment? And nearly any pursuit one can imagine, whether relationships, work, school, games, etc., has tension already built in as a primary attracting feature.

This tension is a basic mode of life. By itself it is neither good nor bad; it is what one does with it that makes all the difference.

The Christian is often the first to object to the notion of a believer expecting anything less than perfect peace. He will quote familiar passages in the Bible of God supplying perfect peace to the one who puts his trust in Him. But the Christian should actually be the first to acknowledge that tension can indeed be holy. Christ Himself was no stranger to tension. So much so that He literally sweats blood just before His crucifixion praying “Not My will but Yours be done”; not exactly a great example of tension-free living.

One can even go back to the very beginning of the story. Adam, that original primordial image of perfection, made in God’s likeness and image, had yet one major flaw which displeased God—he was alone. Paul Evdokimov reflecting on the Biblical account of the creation of Eve saw that the story “set up the original archetype of the consubstantiality of complementary principles. The masculine and feminine form the archetypal human monad: Adam-Eve” (Carl Jung is famous for finding this archetypal human monad of both masculine and feminine—the hermaphroditic image—woven throughout the myths and legends of nearly every culture on earth, both ancient and modern, giving weight to the fact that this Adam-Eve monad is not an isolated story but something all people everywhere have been in touch with, if not unconsciously). Why was the original Adam-Eve monad made into a dyad? It is my guess that the Genesis account points to the fact that individuals are not truly whole beings until they are in Holy Communion. This is why the sacrament of marriage is so vital to the Orthodox Christian faith—two becoming one flesh. Self-perfection is not enough. Just as God’s own being is communion—the Holy Trinity—He created humans to have their being in communion as well, perfect communion with the God of infinity.

Tension helps teach the one who fears vulnerability and loss of individuality how to be in communion with the ‘other.’

St. Gregory of Nyssa taught that “every limit contains in its essence a beyond, its own transcendence, and this is why the soul can rest only in the actual infinity of God.” All human beings have in their very essence their own transcendence. This correlates to the natural drive in each of us to go beyond our limits, setting the stage for endless inner tension.

Mankind was designed to live in holy tension; the tension of overcoming our human limits and ascending to God via communion with Him and one another. It is not that peace is unattainable; rather peace should not be equated with the total removal of tension, not this side of heaven anyway. A human in tension is like gold in a furnace; it burns off the guck while refining the good stuff.

Besides, trying to attain a tension-free life is a very stressful way to live.

Thanks for reading!

53 thoughts on “Why tension-free living is a terrible goal

  1. Ha! So true:

    Besides, trying to attain a tension-free life is a very stressful way to live

    Beware Hegelian mediation! That’s how it starts…Hegelian mediation.

    • Oh man, I should know what you mean by Hegelian mediation since I studied him in conjunction with Kierkegaard many moons ago buy you’ll have to help me…

    • That’s funny because the problem is pretty much all of my familiarity with Hegel either comes from an Intro. Phil. course taken many years ago or via Kierkegaard, the general tenor to “Either/Or.” I’ve heard it expressed in multiple ways, actually. The thesis-antithesis model, where the synthesis is the mediation of the two. Or the idea that each concept “contains” its opposite. Or, perhaps especially, the idea that there are “all and only relative opposites.” Which may make the distinction of absolute contradictions somewhat puzzling to recognize.

      Quite honestly, at this point, I’ve heard so much rendition, I’d say I owe Hegel at least a fair shake to see what he said in his own words.

      Small beer, to be sure, when it comes to the quote from St. Gregory of Nyssa above 😉

    • Ah, the ol’ thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Yes, yes. With you now. I read a lot of him while writing my thesis on Kierkegaard years ago, but besides that I’ve sort of stayed away from him. Seems too vast a thinker-writer to get into without devoting a lot of time to. Kierkegaard is enough of a challenge on his own. Wish I had another lifetime to read all that I want to read (be a pretty pathetic second life, but…)

  2. I was reading this just today:

    “We must never forget that St Paul renounced, among other things, also the feeling of spiritual comfort; for this might be the last illusion, the error of the noblest minds, the idea that the interior life consists in a stable equilibrium, as if the Christian aim were to renounce the world in order to find peace and quietness. Certainly if that was what St Paul was looking for, he never found it: from the first moment of his mission, his life was incessantly beset with troubles….

    “We must remember that giving oneself to God, even in the contemplative life, is no way to get peace of mind, but rather to get into the thick of the fighting. One of the Desert Fathers said to a young monk who complained of temptations: ‘I have been here for sixty years, and never had a day’s peace. You will not find peace in the desert, but war.’ Of course this is not to deny that the Apostle found another kind of peace in the midst of all his tribulations, that peace ‘which surpasses all our thinking’, and is compatible with all that burden of suffering and anxiety which he was content to bear the full weight of, all the sorrows of the world about him. We must never look to find a separate peace of our own in God’s service, if this should cut us off from the world’s pain.

    “The following of Christ must always mean bearing a larger share of men’s troubles, because it means loving men more. If people believe, as is sometimes suggested, that the interior life is a kind of sublimated egotism, they are mistaken; they have not understood what the interior life is about. A balanced development of the personality, and psychological self-fulfilment, may be valuable human activities; but they are not what we have to expect from Christ our Lord — he has something quite different to offer us: a life of intimate involvement in the thick of suffering humanity, in a world of troubles. So St Paul’s life was, in his own vehement words, ‘the loss of everything’, of everything the world counts gain; honour, comfort, intellectual satisfactions, even the most refined pleasures: his ‘outward part’ might indeed be said to ‘wear down’.”
    (Jean Daniélou, The Lord of History)

    • Wow! I love this. This particular line stuck out at me: “The following of Christ must always mean bearing a larger share of men’s troubles, because it means loving men more.” That is a huge test that I’ve been wrestling with lately. Thanks for the great post, Corvus.

    • Hallo Corvus, I just re-read your contribution. I reckon this boils down to what is meant by ‘to get into the thick of the fighting’. That, I think, really needs debate. I wonder if anyone is open to it?

  3. Buttercup: You mock my pain.
    Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

    I couldn’t help but be reminded, the literal bloody sweat you mention appears to be scribal insertion; it’s not in earliest and best manuscripts, it disrupts a literary chiasmus, and it thematically counters Luke’s characteristic emphases of Jesus. Luke’s Jesus is calmer, cooler, and collected that Mark’s. Luke doesn’t have a Jesus with anguish of the kind that prays cups be removed and hours pass. Luke’s Jesus doesn’t end in the rawness of forsakenness. Instead, he’s in control and says smart things en route to the cross and ends it all with a rather tension-free “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

    The insertion appears to have been early. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Gaul, and Hippolytus of Rome each mention the passage in countering doceticism of their day.

    Similarly, there are textual reasons to consider an insertion within Luke’s, “This is my body. But behold, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me at the table.” In most manuscripts, Jesus says quite familiarly to us, “This is my body,” following with ‘”which has been given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'”

    Arguably such words of institution, also known in similar form from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, do not represent Luke’s own understanding of the death of Jesus. Nowhere else across the two volumes of Luke and Acts does Luke indicate that the death itself is what brings salvation from sin. Nowhere else is Jesus’ death described as “for you.” Different from Paul and Mark and other early Christian writers, Luke seems to less see Jesus’ death through an atonement metaphor and more through an example. Through Jesus’s death, guilt before God is seen, repentance is called for, and then God forgives the repentant.

    In saying that tension-free living is a terrible goal, you might have Mark and Paul and even the historical Jesus of Nazareth in agreement with you.

    But maybe not Luke. This isn’t just a matter of current pop-psychology and religious thought in sloppy Fourth Noble Truth-based Christology. Luke himself may not have been that all together Orthodox and may have been in need of anti-docetic corrections.

    • Hey Gary, great to have you on. Interesting note. I wasn’t aware that those verses were contested. I did a bit of my own research and I come down on the side that the blood sweating was likely not a “literal” happening but rather a way to describe the intense anguish that Christ suffered in the garden. I’m not altogether that interested in whether the blood sweating was literal or metaphoric, the interesting thing is that either way the story is clear – Jesus’ suffering was intense beyond words. Thus, He is not a shining example of a tension-free life. But neither are the lives of any of the apostles or really any prophet, martyr or saint that I know of. If I had to write the article over I probably would not have stated that the blood sweating was literal. Thanks for the hermeneutic heads up. 🙂

    • Contested in a modern / academic / eclectic / Alexandrian text’s context, but not in a traditional / Orthodox / ecclesiastical / Byzantine text’s context. It’s a fascinating possible replay of history. On the “way to describe the intense anguish,” Irenaeus uses the same passage for the same reason. These verses were quite likely inserted to combat doceticism as both you and Irenaeus use as device overlaid on Luke’s likely original theological emphases. Thus, in a traditional and Orthodox context, He is not a shining example of a tension-free life. But possibly in Luke’s own words, reflective of his beliefs prior to early Christological convergence, he shined a bit more.

      Perhaps my reflection is this: It’s easy for us to want that tension-free life; perhaps even Luke did a bit too himself.

  4. Eric – just read ythis post of yours – Did you not notice that Otto Rank purposely chose the words (in your quote), ‘perhaps’ and ‘could’? He was not sure and merely put it as a proposition. He evidently had not found it (peace) completely. Some find it in stages and most find it all comes together when the reach the end goal in life – to understand. I remember, I put a similar point to you once before, quite some time ago, by pointing you to sages and gurus. Some think they’ve got it (!) and later find yet another hurdle! All I’m saying is read his words again and rethink before being quite so certain. There are positions in life for others which are not exactly the same as yours. There is more often than not, more than meets the eye of the beholder. I think this is part of Jesus’ admonition to remove the plank in our own eye (ego), before trying to help our brother with his splinter. Don’t worry about a reply unless you need/want to. All my very best, Dichasium.

    • Sure, he was making a hypothesis as to why people prefer tension over rest, he was not questioning the fact that people prefer tension over rest.

      I’m curious about a couple of things you said. First, what does it mean to you to “find peace completely”? Seems to me that it is not possible to find peace completely as it would entail endless duration, which is simply not possible in this life. You may mean it strictly in a spiritual sense and perhaps that is possible (though I’ve yet to meet or even hear of that person either, there is always room to grow in ones level of peace), but surely you don’t mean on a psycho-physiological level? Second, you propose the end goal of life is to understand. Is life merely an exercise in understanding? If so, for what purpose? Is understanding an end in itself or is there a reason for understanding which makes understanding necessary and logically a means to something beyond itself (for example, is understanding who God is the means to holy worship or is holy worship the means to understanding, or do you see them as one and the same?)?

      That is my initial response. If time permits I would also like to know what it is about this post that seems to have stirred you up.

    • Hi Eric – that’s quite a tall order you’ve placed before me, Let me begin by saying I am not stating anything as fact, but just the way I see it.

      So, here goes – To the best of my knowledge, while we’re on this earth we can only attempt to live this life, so your reference to ‘duration’ becomes irrelevant, as a starting point. Hence, I mean ‘completely’ as far as this life is concerned. This life is the priority for me, at the moment. By ‘completely’, I mean to tie all things up (bury them), and not have to dig them up to visit them again and again, unless disturbed by something. Things crop up all the time but if you ‘know’ them, (recognise them for what they are), they will fit comfortably and not cause disturbance, tension or anxiety. Tension serves a good purpose but it is not good when it is not in order, when it gets out of hand, and creates pain to one and all. So here, I am, it would seem, referring to a pscho-physiological type and in this lifetime. The reward for me is that holding everything I’ve seen and considered up against the things I heard that Jesus and philosophers say , I found that all my findings brought (for me personally), dare I say, ‘revelations’ and insights into what Jesus meant and this has resulted in an inner ‘spiritual’ peace, free from tension. I am still a work in progress though! I think this covers your first part.

      For your second question – You say that I propose the end goal of life to be understanding, and you ask, is this an end in itself, is it necessary and logical for something beyond it, for another purpose; for example, is understanding necessary to lead to a proper worship of God or is worship of God a means to understanding, (or do I see them as one and the same thing)? Here goes:-

      Naturally, people approach life differently and there is ‘more than one way to skin a cat’ (I do not like that expression – I must fquickly search my mind for a nicer one!). Personally, as I grew up, I found life, mostly, as perplexing pain, everywhere I looked, or was faced with. I wanted to stop this pain that I saw us all suffering from. I automatically considered it from all angles I found. I gradually, from childhood, came across small parts of philosophy and religion in its various forms, and I looked at those small parts, intently. I found good in them all. I also found things in them which I considered to be ‘bad’ and ‘unworthy’. I found the ‘bad’ was not in the religions but in the interpretation. I found people had wills of their own and regularly interpreted things and religious words to suit their own limited ends, even to the point of harming others and even to killing them. I worked out that this was their misinterpretation and that their own purposes stemmed from fear for their own security in life. They also do not want pain in life, or death (though they know this is inevitable). They had not yet discovered that the good for one is indeed the good for others. Jesus gave his life in order to help those interested, to understand this, but in their anxiety, they rush it and get so much wrong. ‘They’ do not look ahead where Jesus also directed us. I looked at my own thoughts, words and deeds because I did not want to perpetuate this pain for us all. (Let me remind anyone here, who may be in a hurry to criticise (due to their own ego), that this is not arrogance on my part, I am, as said, ‘a work in progress, like all is. This is not a competition between people). Hence, I found that I required understanding to tie things up to my satisfaction, whereupon, I could relax enough to live without undue tension, recognise the type I no longer need, and to work for any good that I am presented with, by applying this understanding to the best of my ability. This too is a work in progress., like all things. So Eric, I personally found understanding to be necessary for me and it has helped with all things in my life, and furthermore on future matters. I can, after all, leave it in God’s almighty hands! It seems that for some, they do this without the need to understand and simply worship Him first, without the need to understand the details of why we, so often, work against him. I have found that some can merely be gentle, peaceful and loving regardless of what is going on around them. I also find that some people who believe they understand and those who just rely on faith, then go and act in the opposite way to God’s purpose. To me, this proves that they lack understanding. I’m sure that God will brings all things to His way. Though we (Adam and Eve), put ‘a spanner in the works’ because they did not recognise God’s order as truth, the first cause will become the end. Amen!

      Have I left anything out? Have I answered adequately for you? I have to get on with the other daily things day, but please let me know if you have further questions to put to me. I’ll happily oblige you, my friend. Sorry for spelling.grammatical errors –I’m no expert and in a bit of a hurry as I have been unwell for over 8 years (apparently due to a tablet I was on for hypertension!), plus the effects of what was supposed to be a minor operation, hence, I want to catch up on all areas in my life, to my satisfaction. Must remember though –‘More haste, less speed!’ 

      Oh yes, and, just a quickie reply for the added matter – I saw you as making an assertion (in your latest article), about something you, seemingly, have not experienced (like atheists about God). i think this is a danger and want you to think about it, just in case! Perhaps, you’ll want to tell me that you are not doing that, that i am wrong, and i need not be at all, ‘on the look out’ for your welfare – the wlefare of all.

      BTW, at some time, I worked out that no-one in their right mind does anything wrong. This maxim of mine does stand others in good stead, especially when they feel there are ‘others’ in the world and get cross towards them – the beginnings of hate and war – stemming form fear which i have found can be controlled by understanding, which brings us to love. Others seem to love without the need to understand. All go wrong at some point. We can only strive to lessen it. (And have some fun and rest during the ‘duration’ 🙂 )

    • Me againEric – I just thought, and just had to add it – i would now reply to Otto- ‘I am, at last, at this point in my life, at rest, but I am definitely, not dead’!

    • Also, Eric – Otto’s statement (that you offer us), suggested to me (as i stated originally), that he had concluded with the proposition that ‘perhaps’, the only way to peace, is death. That’s what my reply to him would be about.
      Jesus suffered physical pain and sorrow – i see that as somewhat separate from the day to day, psychological tension that I have thought you and Otto are talking about (which his disciples and other famous writers on religion and theology may also have suffered from). Could this need discussion?

    • Hey diachasium,

      You said: “while we’re on this earth we can only attempt to live this life, so your reference to ‘duration’ becomes irrelevant, as a starting point.”

      Not so. By finding “peace completely” one must be in such a state for the rest of their life, i.e., complete not only in quality of experience, but in duration of one’s life. Duration is highly relevant if you want to entertain the idea of “complete” peace. And this is what I’m trying to get you to see: complete peace is not possible nor necessary for the peace that comes supernaturally from God. Peace is not found in relation to one’s temporary psycho-physiological state or environmental pressures. It is one’s deepest core that is at peace with God which keeps one tethered in the storms of life. You seem to be requiring a storm free (tension-free) life in order for your vision of peace to be real. Not so. Go through Scripture and find a single example of a person of God operating in this form of peace. Not there. Not even in Christ.

      I’ve experienced peace on a level of bliss that I cannot capture in words. But I do not walk around with that state of presence in everyday affairs – nobody does, nor could and remain alive. But to my core there is a steady harbor where peace abides continually. That’s where faith lives. This article is to help steer people away from the foolish prospect of living a tension-free life, since tension is actually necessary to produce the peace that God gives in this life.

      Hope that all makes sense. And btw, don’t worry about your grammar. You’ve apologized many times, but nobody requires this of you. It’s the web, where linguists abound and grammarians go mad. 🙂

    • Eric – nice comment about grammar! I still am sorry (not ashamed), that i do not have a better command of my language. But I do realise that it has apparently not failed me yet!
      On to the matter of ‘duration’. now it seems you were referring only to a limited type (I thought you were referring to something greater), in which case, the matter does not arise at all, and your response becomes defunt, so to speak.
      In you next comment on Otto regarding our actions to avoid death – Again this is a limited view and my reply is based on something more than mere death. I see people doing all knids of diversive and distractive things on earth, not merely to avoid the inevitable death, but much more even- to avoid the slightest bit of pain or discomfort whilst living (and at the cost of almost anything else!)
      If you can put both my comments into this bigger frame you will need to start again with any questions or comments of your own.
      Keep talking! i may be pressed for time in the near future for a week or more but do not hesitate if you wish to communicate as i like my priorities as they are, and will do my very best, however, sometimes, needs must!!!!

    • Eric, i ought to add that I’m glad you said that i ‘seem’ to be requiring a storm free (tension-free) life in order for your vision of peace to be real. I assure you that i would not even dream of such a state! Hence, I have to say again that the rest of your reply form there is also irrelevant. Sorry, no offence, just fact. i do appreciate your efforts.

    • I too will be gone next week; out of the country for most of it and will not get a chance to reply. In summary, I think we may be talking past each other a little in this exchange. If we were to have a sit down chat on the subject I think we would likely come out agreeing on 99% of it. Just a hunch. Anyway, its been fun as always. Have a great week wherever it leads you. Cheers.

    • Yes Eric that’s what I meant by ‘Could this (area) need discussion’? So, sorry you don’t feel able to pursue it. I do believe it would be very useful to either or both of us and I consider it very important indeed to clarify, in order to find the issue at stake. Sad, but I understand. 😦

    • The trouble is you keep referring to Otto Rank and Ernest Becker whom you have not yet read. We could have an incredibly lively conversation if you read them first and then react to their actual arguments rather than to my mere quotes of them. If you do have time and are interested in the subject I recommend Becker’s “Denial of Death” first. Then you will understand the psychological depths at which death-anxieties animate us. It’s a subject worthy of investigation prior to forming opinions based on one’s own experience in life – an experience that often is clouded with a myriad of defense mechanisms making it difficult to weed out reality. Without first reading the texts we will not proceed very far down this path as I fear you will always be reacting to comments I make without the proper underlying context. Hope that all makes sense.

    • Thanks Eric. I may get round to reading it but perhaps not for quite some time. What I wonder is that if we cannot dig the depths of one sentence how will we ever manage a book. Each sentence has sufficient meaning in itself, especially, if it contains a proposed conclusion to much that has been said before. I suppose I want to tackle the conclusion. We ought to be able to understand the meaning of that unless it is in a foreign language. If you take on the contents of a book there will be so many concepts that one is likely to lose the plot and not dig deep into any of it. Not that I can’t understand concepts, but that there is too little to get to real grips with because it is spread too widely. Also it is often possible to see the whole in a nutshell of a conclusion. But mainly, I see no reason at all, (despite your protest), why the conclusiom cannot be assessed in its own right. Never-the-less, I have no option but to bow to your wishes or opt out. So, I will try to get round to it, but too many waiting already and too much else to be done, so we’ll see, and look forward to it if the day arrives. Have a good week ahead.

    • Hi Eric (when you get back on this scene). I owe you this opinion:
      Eric I like to persevere to find answers. I have thought of a new way for me to approach you with my fundamental question. So, if you will be a little more patient this time, we may be able to get further. If you will not, then that is enough and fine.

      I am now at peace with the world and all in it. I am at peace with God. I do not seek to change the world, I merely seek to improve myself in any way God wants me to, and this, is between me and God alone, God will provide the necessary means and correction. I am happy that he will use other people for their gain or mine. I have no tension over this or anything else. I am happy to communicate with others for the sake of enhancing understanding in the world. So, here is the ‘case’, I presented you with. I believe I have now worked out the tension in my life. You have categorically stated that this means I am ridiculous. I have asked you to justify your words. You are not prepared to. I think you owe it to me and to yourself to speak for yourself.

      If you are bold enough to tell me I am ridiculous (or dead), you must be bold enough to explain YOURSELF, as a strong man will. If you will not, do not lay the blame at other’s feet. If you are too busy, just say so, and beware of your words as they may come back to bite you with less ease at a later date frrm someone less gentle. I am writing all of this, and that which precedes it, with an aim to enhance understanding of our OWN thoughts, words and deeds. I am not concerned, (in tension), if you do not want to join me, but I owe you an explanation. I like to pay my debts when I see them.

    • Eric me again – you may have noticed that one of my strong points is persistence! So, I kept Otto Rank out of my last post as you clearly were confused as to where i was coming from ,and because, I was asking you for your response about tension, because it was your article ithat was interested in. So, perhaps this extra bit will clarify even further. You, and just recently crossbow, wish to insist that i live with tension. i have already asked you both to explain your understanding. crossbow has not returned and you, Eric, apparently, saw this as a tall order, also, you weren’t sure where i was coming from and you were busy, so, instead of trying to give me your answer you told me to go elsewhere. That was not what i needed or wnated. So, if you and crossbow are going to insist that you see tension in me, the simple and most importantly, truthful way forward, would be to tell me where (that is particularly aimed at crossbow), or how (for you to respond Eric). I am not afraid of your words and neither should you two be.
      Why not try me. i would appreciate that very much indeed (for i seek to find my errors). If you will not, kindly just tell me straight ,and i will know not to bother you anymore. (I like it straight. And that crossbow is why, I too, can appear a little blunt, but it gets to the point a lot quicker and the strong can take it, the weak, one tries to be more gentle with. I can take it!).

  5. I like your article Eric. And fully agree with it. You write succinctly, to the point. You are clearly well read, unlike myself.

    I hope you don’t mind me contributing some of my own thoughts on this interesting matter.

    It is apparent that tension, and related states such as conflict, stress, fear, regret, shame, anger, are nature’s great motivators upon us while living this earthly life, and they hold secrets of understanding for us about life, soul and the human condition. I agree that they are naturally existent to varying degrees in some form and type throughout our life and our progress, even if only as reference points from which to take bearings and to assist us in orientation. Mostly they are like ladders of learning, so that when we conquer or overcome one form of tension another one soon comes along, of a different sort, as the next lesson up. Enjoy respite while it lasts; more lessons, trials and growth are always on their way. Tension, stress, conflict, fears, peace, love, joy… are of different grades and types for the most base and carnal man to what they are for the most spiritual and Christ conscious man, and for every man on every step between. These internal struggles are like a spiral staircase of progress, every step the same but different, getting higher, finer as we climb, but each step or stage is difficult in its own way, always a test, a trial.

    Tension in the head can be eliminated by shifting the attention to the heart. Then later, circumstances change, different patterns come, the trials and tests move up a notch, and head and heart must again work together to mount another step, and then another, and another. And so we climb the stairs.

    Tension is toning. As physical tension tones the muscles and vessels of the physical body, so too, tensions in the soul, and solving the trials and puzzles of those tensions, tones and strengthens the soul, and refines and heightens it. We need spiritual tensioning to grow in spiritual fitness.

    By the way, have you noticed that such tension related physical/emotional conditions have corresponding but different conditions on a soul/spiritual level, which resonate not only on a higher more subtle level of our being but motivate us in different directions? One towards and one away from our soul. Consider fear; there is the low grade loud emotional/physical fear concerned with bodily life and circumstances, that would have us avoid or flee the object of our fear, and at the same time we have the more subtle whispering fear of our conscience, a fear that would have us step forward towards and even into the threat, in service and with courage, and against the opposing push of the lower and louder earthly/physical/emotional fear that would rather have us flee. And when we override the lower fear with the energy of the higher, the two combine and the lower fear is converted into strength, and aligns its flow with the flow of the higher and gives us combined power. Notice the same dichotomies exist for the conditions of regret, shame, love and so many other emotional conditions, with their earthly/bodily versions and their higher and finer spiritual/soul versions, and each version or level has a different direction of motivation upon us, and approves of quite different behaviour on our part. Seeing these levels and their respective motivations and approvals enlightens the meaning of the term, “God fearing”. We can often see the repercussions of various types of mismanagement of these levels of our being in conditions such as PTSD, major depression, chronic anxiety and other conditions.

    • crossbow, that’s great words! I have seen all the things you speak of and therefore agree with it all. But, I have never seen it written so well – Beautiful! Thank-you, Dichasium.

    • crossbow, not for one moment (even a nano one!), am i writing to change one iota (even a nano one!), of your words. But just ot say – our will is our driving force. I cannot speak for others, but, personally, I need to consider all, ( that I am aware of ), and be determined not to give up.

    • Yes, will is our driving force. That is a good definition. And there are other forces at play too. Motives, incentives, influences, resistances, emotions, irrational aversions and irrational attractions, beliefs, false and true reason, …. all contributing to or effecting upon the stream of force, our will. Will is intent; exertion; a pure determination. Back of will is choice. Back of choice is judgement. Be it poor judgement or better judgement, before choice there is always judgement.

      Consider the combustive, electrical, cooling, hydraulic and motive forces,at play throughout the systems and component parts of a motor car, so beautiful and complex, all in conflict and harmony together. And similarly the many forces at play throughout the systems of our physical body, and similarly the forces at play throughout our emotional layers, and our mental layers, and the workings of our central consciousness and how it all interplays together to make our human mechanism. Aren’t we wonderful creatures. And then the interpersonal dynamics between individuals and groups. And it all functions as it should, even in its dysfunction. Quite a wonder.

    • crossbow, yes, I have indeed considered the things, inluding those you mention, that have come before me. It is indeed almost incredible, if it were not the fact that God is in full control. The only point, I currently feel different to you on, is that, I think will is at the root of all the other motives, although, t may not always be immediately evident to the willer, or the observer.

    • You are correct. Will is the root. Our will is free though; it may manage itself poorly, may give way to, or give in to, other energies and pressures around it, emotions and such. It may even not realise its own existence and power, it may be half awake, latent, as if dozing in a floating dingy, and just bobbing along on the physical and emotional currents and impulses of bodily life, occasionally stirring, making a weak effort at rowing and steering, but mostly half asleep and just bobbing along.

      Consider the will of conscience, our highest sense within our self of what is good and right to do (for others), and which we might sense emanating from the skylight at the inner upper pinnacle of our being. And just below conscience, our conscious self, with our own will, freewill; free to obey or disobey conscience, and to choose from any option we perceive.

      As freewill may not be awake to itself, similarly, conscience may be latent too. Freewilled consciousness needs waking up to its own presence; conscience needs identifying, firing up and bringing forth.

    • crossbow, good! I am very glad you can agree with me about will.
      On your other thoughts – I have indeed considered all these things and i am very glad indeed that, al last, you can agree with me on something vital. Have you considered this – i use different words when explaining these things because we all have different experiences. We must sometimes dig a little more to discover that we are on the same wave length, so, it is very worth persevering with one another and not going silent or sending people elsewhere. No offence of course, but need to say so, as you do not ,yet, know me well. Perhaps then, you and Eric may feel safe enough to correspond with me without your unnecessary conditions!? I do hope so, else we will go backwards again – not good!

    • crossbow – Me again (Dichasium), I’m not sure if you are aware – but, just in case – i have not changed – I seek only The truth. So, it’s always good to speak with others with the same goal. So, if you ever feel inclined to let me have your thoughts on anything i say, I would like to hear them, (even better, with a view to aid our mutual understanding of anything, and never with any competition of ego’s.I will (with determination), not to let this come from my part). I have not changed, I never want anything other than this from communication. I believe, I have always shown this to one and all. But, I’m saying it just in case anyone (includng you), may have disagreed (for wahtever reason), – all are welcome to come back to me at anytime, with one aim – to progress understanding, and preferably with the less useful side of ego kept well in check, so that matters can progress without ‘spanners in the works!. But, I’ll deal nicely with spanners and use them as a tool, if necessary, and with the other party willing. I suspect you understand this, but, just in case, as I enjoy your views. So, please let me know (in due course), if you have any thoughts on my words, and perhaps, if you are silent, i will then be able to take it that you agree, or, you are thinking about it and may respond later. With my very best wishes. Yours, as ever, Dichasium. Have no fear 🙂

    • Don’t expect not to get hurt. Life is conflict; everywhere, at every place, stage and phase, conflict is there. Around us, within us, between us. Bruised and battered egos are part of the conflict of life and growth. We should expect that. We can play fair though; hard but fair.

      Regarding: “…So, please let me know (in due course), if you have any thoughts on my words, and perhaps, if you are silent, i will then be able to take it that you agree, or, you are thinking about it and may respond later.”

      Don’t lock yourself into narrow assumptions or expectations. That will lead to distress for you; and to voice such expectations to others, together with communicating a gentle non-confrontational nature, is to put pressure to comply upon susceptible persons. I am not susceptible though. There are more possibilities for my silence than just those you mention. I might not have checked into the website, or the page. Or, I might disagree with you and remain silent, or have thoughts on your words and not care to respond, or be disinterested in what you have to say. And there are further possibilities than these, and their sub possibilities too. Just take it as it comes, Dichasium. That is what we all must do.

    • crossbow – Seriously! I’m offering my last comment on the current matter that I’ve raised, (unless you wish to return ,of course). There is a reason why I needed to make my preceeding comments. The last time we conversed, you asked me to clarify what my question had been, as you had got lost and wondered if I had merely made a comment. I replied that I was not merely commenting but (as always), making a proposal for anyone who wishes to respond (in that particular case, we were in correspondence but, as is the nature of blogs, anyone can respond, unless asked not to). You did not respond so i was left without knowing where you now stood. As, i said, in the previous comments, I like to hear anyones response, if only to say that they are thinking about it or have no more time for it. I think this is a great thing to do, to add clarity and keep good manners. I always seek these two as an excellent aid to The truth. I hope you will join me on this. But, no worries if you prefer not to, for any reason whatsoever. I value your thoughts.

    • Ah, some tension. That is good; then we are growing, evolving. Yes, I will join you in exchanges of thoughts and ideas and the study of truth. I can be a little blunt and confrontational at times, but don’t let me offend you, Dichasium.

      I am interested in your frequent stating that you seek Truth.
      But I notice different people have different ideas about truth. So in your opinion, what is Truth? Do you have a definition for it?

      Of course my question is not in keeping with Eric’s article and this thread, so perhaps just a brief answer if you have one.

      Thank you,

    • Firstly cb, thanks for your concern, but, I don’t think you or anyone else will ever offend me. And, you can be exactly as you like (re. you speaking of you being blunt and confrontational – Can’t say I’ve noticed it , but everything is relative to The truth as we see it),as that’s what i meant by making use of ‘spanners’. I can only speak The truth as I have experienced it, otherwise, it is not my truth. I like to try to understen the directions frm Jesus Christ. That is The truth as far as i know. Others amay think differnetly, and they can try be if they will. The rest will happen in due course.
      As far as tension you mention – i see none. i have none, so i certainly cannot agree wtih you there. do continue if you will. It’s all for the ske of good. God’s good. Always, my opinion of course, so i won’t repeat that again for you. regarding your request, I see how often huge (unnecessary) chasm’s can appear for lack of explanation, so I try to clarify as i go, in an attempt to avoid this. We may have to exchange emails via Eric sometime, we’ll both see, of course. That’s definitely enough for now!

    • cb, me again -see what i mean about wanting to lay the ground properly before proceeding – it’s made me return quick as i can!
      That’s no tension by the way, just trying to improve everything, all the time, but no tension whatsoever, as i trust in God. So, if (as you words suggest. i must have tension for you are willing to chat with me, we may have difficulty proceeding. I must speak the truth as i see it. If i ever accidently (from force of habit, use any word that you think shows tension, I’ll be more than happy to improve upon it for you in order to show why it is not tension. i am growing and hopefully (in God’s eyes – no other judge), improving. i am definitely, not dead, far from it. will you proceed, I wonder. But, no worries about it, no tension. dc. You will do as you will , i expect. Hope you tough it out though, as ones man peace is towards peace for all. The sooner the better (to lessen the pain in others), but no tension, as it will be in God’s due time and not before. We just do our best to aid this.

    • crossbow – your reply of April 27 at 7:14am suggests you have at last found some faith in me. That will be good. I am glad i saw it after my last post for this reason – we ALL need to see what we have done wrong, at least, been slow to do right – otherwise, we will be slower in not repeating it. We can see our own errors quicker if we listen hard to the other person (they are reflected back to us from the other person, one way or another). The touble, is ego misapplied! The great thing is that where ego is kept in its rightful place (the church is meant to be a good example!), we can proceed without fear or hesitation. I seek friends like this. i hope you, Eric and I can proceed on this basis – this particular comment of yours shows your are recognising this in me – let’s hope it stays good and firm – let’s make every effort. Good stuff!

  6. Dichasium, Regarding your post high above: April 27, 2015 at 8:43 am. in which you request a response from me.
    There are too many issues to deal with here in written form at this time. So I will do the best I can with the medium and the time I have.
    Here is my suggestion:
    You and I will each put aside any thoughts that the other may have any misunderstandings about our self. Because it really does not matter what another thinks about us, nor does it matter if we are not fully understood by someone else, or if resolutions of minor points of exchange are left unattended and unfinished. These are little things along the course of a life and will be irrelevant in the future, so should not matter now.
    Our conversations to each other need not be in perfect mutual understanding, nor perfect contact, like the teeth of two cogs perfectly intermeshed with each other, or like two sides of a zip being done up. In fact, it can be unrealistic and hence unhealthy to seek to perfect a mutual understanding of each other. We can let things slip and slide a bit. Ponder on what another says. Wonder about it. In a gentle, easy sort of way; without necessarily having to engage and intermesh our conversation to closely. Almost like listening from a distance. And not being concerned by minor misunderstandings or disconnections along the way. Sort of reserved, mentally, emotionally, and conversationally. This approach can help us stand strong and independent of others, and provide us with a base from which we may extend a helping hand or word where it might be helpful, without falling into a tightly enmeshed conversation which can become confusing.
    Of course, I cannot speak for Eric, but I think that you and I should disregard prior misunderstandings and start afresh.

    I am sure we have much to learn from one another.

    And I would like to say that I admire your dedication to truth and Christianity.


    By the way. Regarding:
    “crossbow – your reply of April 27 at 7:14am suggests you have at last found some faith in me.”
    I have always had faith in you.

    • tcrossbow that is a good response. I must clarify though -I do not perfectly happy handling isunderstandings, I understand them fully and have no tension. what i said was to show you with all humility and truth that I think it is not useful to stay silent -a few words is all that is necessary, normally. but silence and sending people elsewhere are not porductive. Then at least one person (in these two cases it has been me is required to unravle them because fresh groung will come to light and produce stronger, quicker growth. I will not allow those sort of misunderstandings to go unattended to if i have a choice. I believe it to be of the utmost importance, otherwise the gap can grow bigger amking matters worse. It is really the philosophy behind ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. There is another vital point (though i can get along without it if it does not come), it is this. If we are to grow we would be better served by acknowledging our humilty and not for the other person, but for our own growth, offer an apology, rather than an escape route which only appears to let us off the hook. That again is our ego at work. It is better acknowledged. i have said nothing that i wish to apologise for. Each must look to themselves. i, as said do not require one from others, but i will be quick to give one if i think i have been wrong and quick to consider it and come back with any similar offer. I want people to let me know if i have erred. I only speak with a view to helping and I’m sure you and Eric do the very same. But we all must look at ourselves closely. i really hope this works for the sake of us all and thank you for your good reply. Its a start so let’s grow from here. 🙂 Eric is otherwise occupied a the moment. i’m still juggling and rushing so will speak again soon, (when opportunity arises). Very best wishes, dc..

    • BTW crossbow, i forgot to say this, and then i believe the matter to be ended (unless you wish to return). For me, what I’ve been asking you both for comes from good manners. It contains respect for each other – ‘Manners maketh man’ – for me it is a vital ingredient and principle. There is no point in discussion if we are not tested and just want ‘Yes’ men. Despie this, i will not pursue you further on your insistence that i am in tension and you will, I assume, not keep telling me that i am. i would expect you to tell me where you think you see it in me, to prove your willingness to be tested – that is true growth, i do not demand that you do, or worry if you don’t. i will defend myself though (to those who deserve it from me).. I am sorry we could not grow in this opportunity, but look forward to the rest now and the rest we need to face up to (the future challenge)
      Have a very good week.

    • crossbow – Eureka! (well, I think! Let’s not go overboard! 🙂 ) –
      I was thinking about my own words ‘I will defend myself ‘. I thought this is nothing to do with an egotistical defence of my ‘self’ not wanting to be misunderstood; it is a defence of truth which matters more than anything if my relationships are to grow and become strong. I think it is better to clarify sooner rather than later because it will come back to bite later at a damaging cost which is far greater than the lengthy work involved initially, if only people will make the effort. Although i truly consider this correct, I can differentiate the times when it is better left for the right moment (as they do come), but I did not consider that this being Eric’s site was the wrong place and time, since the disinterested can leave it unread, and the interested will benefit. So here’s the crunch – I think my eagerness to defend the truth of a matter may well be my ‘tension’. This definitely means we were thinking of a different type of tension. Just as your ‘faith’ in me was not the faith i was referring to (I meant the faith that knowledge can provide), so too, the tension i thought all were referring to was a tension with the ‘pain’ in life and the ‘other’ doers of pain. I went down this road because i see so many referring to ‘them’ and ‘us’ and i truly know this is the cause of wars. ‘Christendom’ is merely ‘sin’ (error), it exists in us all and we need to come to terms with this if we are to stop warring and find heaven on earth (knowing your (Eric and you), previous words,.I expect you will disagree). God will do the battle – he wants us to stop doing it between ourselves. We only need to battle with our own thoughts, WORDS and deeds. That’s why i want to battle with words and look for others to do the same with theirs, and to help one another with an open heart. We truly ought to seek justify our own words if we are to grow from our erros and help others do the same. I didn’t feel that from Eric, and then you, I have fought it (with your help), and now my ‘tension’ is over (till the next challenge), I hope you will understand, and realise now why this has been indeed been ‘worth it’, and that we can continue to be useful to each other (& maybe others), ‘along the way’. Will you provide support on this for me, or are you sick to death (!) with it, which would be a terrible shame?

    • I am pleased. Good on you, Dichasium. By your own gentle effort you have acquired clarity on the matter. Some gentle pondering, light and easy, with no expectations, so often does the trick. And it is a wonderful thing for us when we gently pray, and ponder, and the penny drops.

      It is better sometimes to discover our own answers, to have our own realisations, than to read them from someone else. Imagine if someone had told you the same thing, it would not have been as good or as true as realisation coming into your own heart.

      But, of course, reading, communicating with, learning from others, helping each other, is important too. Each in their right place.

      I am pleased you see that there are many kinds of tensions, even subtle and hidden ones that we may not be aware of at first. And they are not all painful, but sometimes just feelings, desires, emotions, fixations, and all sorts of sensations and experiences within our being human. And those many kinds of tensions are not necessarily bad, in fact, as you see they can harbour blessings for us, wonderful releases and realisations.

      Even the dove has tension in her breast and wings when she flies through the air, alternating between tension and relaxation with every wing beat as she progresses forward.

      Yes, certainly, I will support you. Remember this event, and the clarity you acquired. Remember that I did not give your acquired realisation to you, neither did Eric. But a loving disengagement between us was instituted, a gap was made and left, and although uncomfortable at first, with your gentle pondering and faith, your own realisation came in to fill the void. You did it on your own, standing independently. Remember how this worked, and continue to get better at it.

    • Thanks crossbow. I find it quite strange reading your words because I’m no youngster and have done all the things you speak of for decades, and off my own determination, so it’s really strange hearing you advising me. That’s by no means a criticism. I love the way you write, almost poetically. You must be a therapist of some sort, I think, It certainly doesn’t match you saying that you can be blunt at all! I’m beginning to wonder if Eric’s site is for discussion of the sort i like, There seems to be either much agreement or much disagreement but little discussion/learning? Perhaps I have the wrong idea of its purpose? Perhaps he’ll reply when he’s back ‘on duty’. Thanks for your help.Dc

    • I don’t mean to advise you, just remind you. We all need reminding at times. Especially me, as I am no youngster either and can be a bit forgetful. Like others, I can overlook the obvious too, so I take care to look for it.

      Have you seen a workman holding a stop/slow sign directing traffic past a road works site? That is me. I’ve done other jobs too though.

      Regarding you saying: “…I’m beginning to wonder if Eric’s site is for discussion of the sort i like, There seems to be either much agreement or much disagreement but little discussion/learning? Perhaps I have the wrong idea of its purpose?…”

      hmm, that might be something worth pondering: Agreements and disagreements, group think, and conflicting ideas, and conflict in general, internal and external, of all sorts, and how these relate to life and learning.

      What is the difference between life, conflict and learning?

      I expect you are aware of forum sites about religion, philosophy and many other subjects, where all sorts of discussions and debates take place.

      I do think we tend to find ourselves where we need to be, to learn what we need to learn, and to do what we need to do.

    • crossbow you are lovely in my books -My visitors arrive shortly so i don’t have much time to consider my answer, and i will no doubt, miss bits out, but, just my immediate thoughts. i have loved you when you listen to what i say and reply DIRECTLY to those points. The ‘lessons’ you have tried to give direction/reminders in, i have ALAWYS done my utmost to keep firmly lodged in my essence. Because, i do not feel the need for these reminders (I do it for myself constantly), I would prefer much more direct speech (others, as you know, cannot abide it and, with those, we learn to temper our ways to suit their needs). If you THINK I have said anything (this is why I attept to clarify as much as poss. in the time/space given), I do not seek and indirect lesson as I KNOW I will still not know what it is you think you are ‘reminding’ me of. With people like me it is far, far more productive to be what you call your ‘blunt’ side. I will not see it as that,I will appreciate it far more, i will be grateful and i will thank you. i will try my best to clarify, to see if you have been too quick to think there is something there that was not, and, if I fail to succeed in correcting your mistake, i assess whether you have still not managed to understand, whether you have given up too early for success (for whatever reason), or whether indeed i need to look to myself. I like to live without fear, (but with caaution). Fear is in my opinion the greatest ‘evil’, stemming from ‘Adam & Eve’ requiring to hide from God because they did not respect His authority. I know and respect that others cannot yet do that. I bow down to their needs as much as i am able. We WILL ALL get there – we must never underestimate the power of God.
      Are you telling me that Eric’s site is not open for a great deal of debate? If so, i must move on. You and i have debated much here (thank God), and i think it has served well. I will wait to see what Eric has to say on the matter, of course. God bless you crossbow. Keep up the good work! 🙂 Much love, Dc.

  7. Dichasium’s question: “Are you telling me that Eric’s site is not open for a great deal of debate?”
    Certainly not. Just reminding you that many forums exist where debates take place.
    Here is one I just found:

    Perhaps I may venture there myself some time. Some of the subjects look quite interesting.

    Thank you for the blessing. I thought I felt one fly my way.
    God bless you too, Dichasium.

    As for debates taking place on Eric’s site, I am willing to bet that he does not mind at all.

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