Avra Chayim 5782: ReMembering Ethics & Eros ✡️🕯

Cherubim — one male and one female — atop the Ark of the Covenant, an artifact that captivated me as a child. Kabbalists interpret cherubim as mythic symbols of sex, which models the erotic experience of life (extending far beyond the sexual). Many believe the goal of life is to achieve this integration of the masculine and feminine in all facets of existence.

😌 I Just Want To Live Better

Nearly two years after publishing the 2020 intentions piece, I’m struck by how alive the meta-intention still is: to simply be present for life. Something so simple, and yet so unbelievable hard. lolz @ thinking I’d crack that one quickly. I feel humbled by how “slow” the “progress” has been here. Despite a year of serious slowing, down-regulating my “doing” life in order to be more present (I spent the first four months alone in a yurt in the woods, and have never “worked” less in my adult life), upon reflection I notice all the ways I am still living out of alignment with my intentions and values and words, failing to show up fully and cultivate right relationship with all my relations. Walk the talk.

What is Ethics, actually? What’s Eros?

I’ve been researching ethics for a few months now, in exploring how to make a livelihood out of supporting entrepreneurs who want to create and live more ethically. The research has sparked more questions than answers. I find myself deferring to philosopher Forrest Landry, who describes ethics as the study of the principles of the most effective means of self-expression, in both words and actions (see pg. 6 of Aphorisms of Effective Choice). It’s about how to make one’s choices more effective and life enhancing for oneself and others. The most effective choices are those which are optimal in supporting creativity and experience, wholeness and integrity, self and world. Ethics is internal to oneself, whereas morality is an externally defined set of rules (‘right’ or ‘wrong’). How can we make ethics more coherent, central, and attractive to our lives?

Rita Fei illustrating an erotic scene

☯️ How can we make ethics erotic, & the erotic ethical?

I have much more to learn about ethics and eros. Which brings me to something I hesitate to say, at risk of coming off as self indulgent, but I believe my job right now is just to live my life. To become. To come alive. Do less, be more. Be the story of the change I want to see in the world, serving as a role model for my communities and the next generations wandering through the desert of climate resilience. I sense that how to live an ethical and erotic life is a long-term question to live into, that can hold my thirst for adventure, creativity, learning and growth. I acknowledge the stack of privileges that allow me to do this (as well as the ambitions for material wealth I’ve let go of), and the shame, anxiety and fear that prevents me from fully stepping into it. Yet I am a global 1% millennial with an exorbitant carbon debt (+ human suffering debt) and the affordances to take the risks to model a different way. I think it’s on those who can afford to do so, to just do it. I will do my part to set an example. To be a way finder.

“If not me, who? If not now, when?” — Hillel the Elder

It’s a radical act to become your true self in modern society, and a great challenge to do so in harmony with the natural world. My north start is to cultivate a way of being in the world and with the world, that nourishes the context of my life, within the context of our monumental times. A sort of Doughnut Economics for the self. Hone my craft of service to the world, without getting caught in cycles of wealth accumulation. Put down my sword to get rich and powerful, but not step away from working towards collective liberation. Build home in the cultural wilderness, but keep one foot inside institutions. Accepting Jamie Wheal’s proposal of “Ecstasis without the Crave (of addiction to peaks states), Catharsis without the Cringe (of self indulgent self help), Communitas without the cults (of unreliable leaders and followers).”

“The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.” — Mother Teresa

James Jean

☸️ Wheel of Life

Let’s take a quick look at what this intention means for me in the coming times. I appreciate the Wheel of Life as a reflection tool for getting a quick snapshot of the health of your life and feeling into next steps in each domain. For a much deeper, embodied, and culturally relevant version of this exercise, check out friend and teacher Sara Wolcott’s Circular Time exercise.

Wheel of Life example (not mine)

✒️ Livelihood

• Avra Home — 2021 has been a big year of transitioning from founder/operator in service of getting rich/powerful/recognized, to coach/consultant/advisor in service of creating a sustainable livelihood with my true gifts. I’m positioning my business — named Avra Home — as a sandbox to integrate my writing, studying, and art (e.g. 36 Questions, Gifting Games) together in away that supports individuals and teams in living and working in a more ethical and erotic way. Which feels very Ikigai: I live, I learn, I integrate, I share, I help, I refine. The cycle continues. I see myself as an Ethics Director for hire, and am most excited to work with younger versions of myself (male, early stage founder, growth mindset) asking the big and increasingly obvious questions. Please keep me in mind for those in your network who might benefit from being in conversation with me, from high school students thinking about purpose to professionals considering a lifestyle transition.

📚 Education & Personal Growth

  • Lifelong Learner — 2021 was the year I claimed the identity of writer, artist, and lifelong learner. Robbed of a good education growing up (designed instead of raised to actualize my human potential), I am endlessly curious and find learning to be joyful and synergistic with all other aspects of the wheel. Learning from both “the book and life.” I’m celebrating that much of the learning I do is for its own sake, and that it often integrates into the professional work I’m doing in the world, sometimes down to the very project I’m being paid for. I recall being on the cusp of this prioritization of learning back in India in 2013, but wouldn’t allow myself to dive in, because of intense guilt around needing to focus on my career. What’s in your Learning Journey? I’ve created an exercise to help you get clear on what you can learn in order to create and live in a more life-honoring way.
  • Embodiment— I want to call out the importance of balancing how much effort I put into learning on the ethics side of the scale and the eros side, as the former is much easier for me. Further, reading books (knowing through the mind) is one thing, while my learning edge is certainly the embodiment piece (knowing through emotions and body). So bring on more opportunities to practice dancing, making art, bodywork, music and rest. I believe I’ve reached a limit on how much written word I can metabolize.
Tree of Life

🕍 Religion & Spirituality

Forrest defines these often conflated terms as:

😽 Romance / Sex / Love

Partnership —I’m neither calling in my beloved every night, nor in a deeper period of abstinence, but feel very open to meeting people and exploring what’s there. Zak Stein’s Love In a Time Between Worlds essay introduced me to the concept of whole mates who understand the evolutionary and world-historical context in which their relationship take place, looking with eyes to the horizon, knowing their shared love becomes the power to engage and heal a troubled world and participates in a universal evolutionary love. Ya. Meanwhile I have become increasingly clear on needs and preferences, leaning monogomish, gender playful, pansexual. Know anybody with a secure attachment style who might appreciate my energy?!

I ♥️ sex, drugs, and God! It’s all one…

Okay that was a little crude. What I mean is I am endlessly fascinated by the inter-connectivity of sexuality, plant medicine, and the transcendent.

James Jean

🏘 Community and Home

  • Winter — I’m feeling nourished by several seasons in the New York area, and starting to look ahead to winter and beyond. Two of the big questions on my heart lately have been “where is home?” and “who are my people?” Being a bridge is confusing and lonely at times. Being a wanderer has its pros and cons. None of the dreams in this essay are possible if I’m not living in community designed around shared values and intentions. I’m calling in community homes and land to ground into for weeks to months at a time. Some of the communities I’m drawn to include psychedelic earth-based Jews, ethical technologists, mystical and radical queers, new paradigm visionaries, permaculture communitarians, metamodern monks. Places where I can commune with nature regularly. Express myself freely. Speak my heart. Have a balance of solitude and social connection. Be inspired. Play! Cuddle. Feel. Practice living ethically and erotically. My astrocartographer recommends: Hudson Valley and Berkshires; Vancouver, btwn Portland and Seattle, btwn LA and Santa Barbara, Baja; Lisbon, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Friendships — I yearn for deep connection with loved ones. Groups tend to be more challenging for me, with greater likelihood of idle chatter and missed opportunities. If you and I have been through life together, nothing would bring me more joy then a good ole catch up. 1:1 real and vulnerable connection is my nectar. I want to learn, reminisce, clear, and celebrate in ways that are mutually supportive. Please forgive me if I have been slow to communicate or challenging to connect with in recent years. I’ve been on one.
Blue lines and circles = good! Astrocartography is how the placements of the planets affect the energies we feel in certain places we live or visit, depending on when and where we were born. It’s just more information.

🌿 Health

• Anxiety — Oy yoiy yoiy. Essay on anxiety coming soon. I’ve become more sensitive to what’s happening in my body — from involuntary twitching to flutteryness in my chest — and am keen on coming into a healthier relationship with it. While I’ve championed therapy for years, I’ve never actually seen one! Recs? I’m also making small changes throughout my daily life to better support my nervous system health. I live under the tyranny of my mind and the future, constantly planning and mulling over potentials (surrendered to the lifetime/season/month/week, still in the shackles of the day/moment). I worry in my dreams and upon waking. It’s a gift, curse, and teacher. And it ends with me — I will not pass this on to my family. Time to start meditating again..

Moïse devant le buisson ardent by Marc Chagall

Here’s to a more ethical and erotic year!

That’s [a small slice of] my story, and I’m sticking to it. Lightly 😹

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Regenerative Tech | Business | Culture | Life. Co-founder @getsiempo, Digital Wellness Collective, @Wharton Wisdom. www.andrewmurraydunn.com

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Andrew Murray Dunn

Andrew Murray Dunn

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Regenerative Tech | Business | Culture | Life. Co-founder @getsiempo, Digital Wellness Collective, @Wharton Wisdom. www.andrewmurraydunn.com