Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Ahuric vs. Devic, and eternal sexual identity

In my previous post, "Lucifer, Ahriman, and Ganymede virtue sets," I explored the possibility that, just as there is Luciferic and Ahrimanic evil, there might be two complementary types of good, which I called Ahuric and Devic.

Ahuric good -- to which Ahrimanic evil is opposed, and of which Luciferic evil is a distortion -- is characterized by (among other things) "courage, comeliness, glory, sincerity, plainspokenness, speaking out, breaking the letter to keep the spirit, trusting God to provide."

Devic good -- to which Luciferic evil is opposed, and of which Ahrimanic evil is a distortion -- is characterized by "prudence, modesty, humility, discretion, obedience," and so on.

Two things bothered me about this analysis. First, it seemed that Good ought to be a single unitary thing, not divisible as evil is divisible. Second, while theory demanded that the Christ -- Jesus -- be the perfect exemplar of both kinds of Good, in fact I recognized him as an essentially Ahuric character. In my last post I wrote, "And it is possible to be (like the Christ?) both perfectly courageous and perfectly prudent." Why the question mark? Because, while I suppose I would say if pressed that Jesus was prudent rather than imprudent, it hardly seems one of his outstanding characteristics!

In fact, the list of Devic virtues made me think of someone else: Our Lady -- Mary, the mother of Jesus, as idealized by the Catholic Church. While I have my doubts about how closely the figure of Our Lady corresponds to Jesus' actual mother, she does represent an ideal of feminine perfection, different from and complementary to the masculine perfection of Christ.

And then I realized that, as a Mormon, I shouldn't find either of those things disturbing. The Mormon teaching is that "[sex] is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose," and that even our Heavenly Father himself is not a self-sufficient monad of goodness but has -- and, presumably, needs -- his feminine complement, our Heavenly Mother. Doesn't this imply (a) that there are two complementary types of good, and (b) that no one being, not even the Christ, can fully embody both?

In fact, I believe that there are billions and billions of different and complementary ways of being good, and that each of us (potentially) contributes to the Good in a way that is unique and irreplaceable. If one being could fully embody every possible type of good, why would we -- why would anyone other than God himself -- even need to exist?

If sex is an essential premortal characteristic -- i.e., predating chromosomes, hormones, and genitalia -- then it must reflect some fundamental division of intelligences (at least the kind of intelligences that become humans) into two categories. Is each of us, from the beginning, either an ahura or a devi (feminine of deva)? And is that division reflected, or at least approximated, in sexual dimorphism when we incarnate?

(Coincidentally, Zoroastrianism deifies ahuras and demonizes daevas, while Hinduism does the opposite -- and Zoroastrianism strikes me as a much more masculine religion than Hinduism.)

Just a tentative hypothesis, of course. I don't think anyone -- institutional Mormonism least of all! -- has even begun to come to terms with the implications of sex as an eternal characteristic.


Bruce Charlton said...

You (should) mean 'sex' not 'gender' I think (whatever the modern not-Mormons term it!).

Sex is reality (in this world - approximately biology), but gender is assigned or adopted. An ever-more vital distinction!

Otherwise - Superb stuff! I have summarized, somewhat-adapted and extended them here: https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2021/04/why-categorize-evil-why-categorize-good.html

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Yes, I know sex is correct, but "eternal sex" just sounds too much like doing it like they do on the Discovery Channel -- forever! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

One of my professors used to insist on the etymologically correct use of those two terms: "Words have gender; people have sex" -- to which a voice from the back of the classroom replied, "Don't we wish!"

A said...

I thought this weirdness might be up your ally.

I'm guessing they're rounding up from 6.66...


Bruce Charlton said...

|@WmJas - OK, 'sex' is ambiguous in some contexts - which is why I tend to use sexual identity in this regard.

But surely 'gender' is just wrong - both in scientific And in common/ political/ media usage?

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Bruce - OK, fine. Changes made.

Serhei said...

A provocative ‘Steiner free-association’ thesis or two occurs to me:

1. The analysis fails to distinguish at least three types of masculinity & femininity: the natural tendency of each pre-mortal spirit vs the natural tendency of incarnated mortals vs the ideal image of these states. The “natural tendency of incarnated mortals” suggests some attributes of sex are eternal whereas others are not eternal, but an aspect of (in Mormon terms) the Plan of Salvation for the particular planet i.e. they were designed as a teaching tool that would be very useful for the types of spirits that would incarnate in those bodies. Of course a rebellion against these attributes rather misses the point of the lesson.

2. If the complete unit of humanity is a dyad expressing complementary virtues not combined in one person, the man and woman in each dyad may divide Ahuric and Devic virtues differently from other dyads. Some dyads may be more-polarized, others less.

3. Per (1) and part of the purpose of incarnation being individuation of the personality. Pre-mortal spirits may be undifferentiated from each other in a way that diminishes their uniqueness. They may share so much of their mind-space with beings of an incompatible nature that they cannot tell their own attributes or begin to develop them. A small part of incarnation is to heighten sexual differences (if not necessarily establish them from scratch). A larger part of this is to take the rather crude categories of one’s being (sex, less-essentially perhaps things like nationality) and elaborate on them in ways that are different from other beings in the same categories, creating something new. This happens roughly at the psychological level and did not need to be dwelled on previously, but because *everything* must be conscious now, the failures of individuation are multiplying. One can see the prevailing tendency of the age working against both these goals — blurring together what is distinct and reducing people to rather crude victim-identity groups that dictate their self-presentation and behaviour. Also, rather complex and subtle problems of mortal development are reduced by the System to gross unsolvable dysphorias. The sometimes one-size fits all archetype of mortal male/female invites some people to reach for a handful of their particular being’s eternal attributes that don’t fit into the scheme. Rather than take the thought to articulate what those attributes are, people take the recommendation of a psychologist to invert everything, rather like the Monty Python ‘Gumby brain surgeon’ skit where the doctor responds to complaints of a headache with

Doctor: “It will have to come out!”

Patient: “Out! Of my head?!”

Doctor: “Yes! All the bits of it!”

4. I was rather too nice to point out, at the time Bruce made a post on Beings in Time and asserted that “everything about a Being can change while it remains the same being”, that it rather contradicted his earlier argument to me about sex being immutable and eternal. In the end, when we had those arguments, what I found most convincing wasn’t any assertion about Beings in isolation (which, in isolation, might change any which way), but about beings in relation. Because relations between beings aren’t abolished, only built on (not always in positive ways), and because some of these relations are determined by sexual polarity, therefore sex must be an unchangeable attribute of those beings.

5. I wasn’t able to come up with a satisfying quadrangle for Honesty / Dishonesty according to the Ahuric / Devic scheme.

I’m not saying these are right, but they may be useful to consider and react against.

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