The Gorean Compass is a class given every Thursday by Master Gorm Runo. Classes are held at the Gorean Campus and are given at noon and 6pm SLT. All are encouraged to come and join in the amazing discussions. This class was held on January 10, 2019
Tal and greetings,
Last week, I said that we would be asking questions this year in this seminar. I said that I did not have a lot of answers.
The advertisements for this course, that the campus is nice to provide for the seminar, sometimes refer to me as “an experienced educator”, and I think that actually suggests that I know the answers and people should come here and learn them from me.
When a class is given on just about any other topic here at the Campus, it is important to do what is called “citing from authority.” That is when we use a book, or the words of someone qualified and educated, to back up the facts that we are presenting. This method works well, and is essential when the subject is any of the trivia that makes the Gorean world so rich and unique.
When you are teaching the geography of Gor, or the customs of the people of the Tahari, you are presenting facts and you need to be prepared to back these facts up, usually with the appropriate book quote. The idea of a seminar on the philosophy underlying Second Life Gor, and our participation in it, does not work that way. In fact, it is fairly important that I avoid “citing from authority.”
I think it is also wrong to try to pretend to some special insight or secret knowledge, or even worse, to some authority of my own, to attempt to impose my beliefs or interpretations of Gor on the people that attend.
In the third book of the Counter Earth Saga, Priest-Kings of Gor, there is a scene at the end that serves as a bit of a guide to this approach.
Tarl has spent most of the book in the Nest of the Priest-Kings, high in the Sardar Mountains, and is involved in the Nest War, and arguably understands more about the true nature of things there than just about any other man on Gor. When he leaves the Sardar, the gravitational field of Gor has been weakened, and of course, this is felt, but not understood, by the Goreans below, and the High Initiates from the various Gorean cities, and thousands of worried people, have gathered to perform sacrifices and rituals to appeal to the “Gods/Priest-Kings” to have mercy on them, and save them
Tarl, for a moment, is tempted to use his position as one who has “seen the Priest-Kings in person” and knows their will, to try to instill some positive values in the people.
Every time I read that part, I think of our Earth culture and its insane habit of thinking that there are people who have wisdom and should be listened to based on something other than displaying wisdom. For example, if a person can throw a football well, he obviously is an authority on which razors shave best, and which jeans are the most comfortable.
Perhaps, the most insidious example is that if a person is a good actor, he must be an authority on politics and we should listen closely to his opinions.
In any case, Tarl says he is tempted. This is the quote.
“I had hoped that might have used these moments, that priceless opportunity, before the men of Gor realized that the restoration of gravity and normal conditions was occurring, to command them to give up their warlike ways and turn to the pursuit of peace and brotherhood, but the moment, before I realized it, had been stolen from me by the High Initiate of Ar, and used to his own purposes.”
Priest Kings of Gor, page 297.
Tarl had just come “from the Gods” so to speak, and thought to take advantage of this situation to command people to behave the way he thought they should behave. He watches as the Initiates steal the spotlight, and even clearly try to prevent the people from knowing the truth that Tarl had actually emerged from the Sardar.
Later, however, Tarl discovers a strange truth about the High Initiate. Here is their conversation.
“And how do you differ?” I asked.
“I –and some others—” he said, “wait for man.” He looked at me. “He is not yet ready.”
“For what?” I asked.
“To believe in himself,” said Om, incredibly. He smiled at me. “I and others have tried to leave open the gap that he might see it and fill it—and some have–but not many.”
“What gap is that? I asked.
“We speak not to a man’s heart,” said Om, “but only to his fear. We do not speak of love and courage, and loyalty and nobility–but of practice and observance, and the punishment of Priest-Kings–for if we so spoke, it would be much harder for man to grow beyond us. Thus, unknown to most members of my caste, we exist to be overcome, thus in our way pointing the way to man’s greatness.”
Page 300-301 Priest Kings of Gor
That quote captures the experiences of many of us that come to Second Life Gor. We do not always come here worried about love, and courage, and loyalty, and nobility. We get wrapped up in trivia, practice, and observance, and rules. Even most of our best role play sims have focused on getting details right at the expense of the big picture.
This was the problem with the BTB approach to Second Life Gor. It was not speaking to man’s heart either, but only to his fear. It was a fear of not doing the little things the way the books were written.
Yet, this kept our eyes focused on little things, and not on the deeper truths, and hidden meanings found in the books. Perhaps, the BTB movement, like the Initiate Caste that Om spoke of, existed to eventually be overcome, too. Maybe it was there only to point the way to man’s greatness?
I, personally, believe Gor is very much about believing in yourself, and being true to yourself. It is an extremely individual journey into an alternative way of thinking. This is why I have never found anything of benefit in creating alts, or in establishing a role play persona where my attributes are determined by choice, or the role of dice.
What was I going to learn about myself by pretending to be someone else? Or by changing the reality of who I was, day to day, with the fluidity that is so popular in our modern day society?
I wanted to address those more important things. My experiences in first life, on Earth, had only created confusion about the meaning of love, and what true courage was like. I had seen way more displays of disloyalty than of loyalty, and I thought much of what constituted nobility was slowing seeping from out culture.
What if “Counter Earth” had some insights into what was going wrong, and how I might, as an individual, take a stand, and not be swept up into the increasingly foul cesspool of a failing society on Earth?
So, jumping into an online world of Gor made a lot of sense to me. Despite the demands on my time, and despite the handicaps of an online world, I thought and hoped to find something different here, and maybe some insights. I was willing to learn the trivia, and the practices, and the observances, but I did so with the idea of eventually “overcoming” all that and finding the greatness of man.
Many of the past seminars have focused on how bringing the baggage of Earth to Second Life Gor has messed up that process. Way too often, we are men of Earth with all our warped ways of behaving, dressed in Gorean clothes, and observing Gorean customs, while making the same mistakes that have marred our First life experiences.
I have been listening to people urging that we need to take a much harder approach to Gor. If we are going to be a true Counter Earth, we have to leave the baggage behind, and, perhaps, be much harder, much more demanding of excellence, and much more aware of the importance of Honor.
The problem is that a lot of people take the other side of the issue. They claim that online Gor is nothing more than a game, or a way to relax after the hard daily struggles of real life. They view it as pure recreation and do not buy into the idea that there could be something more.
At the end of Priest Kings, Tarl is in a symbolic way, in that same position. He is being asked to go to the land of the Wagon Peoples and search for the last egg of Priest Kings. The mission is going to be dangerous, difficult, and with little chance of success. The alternative is to continue his search for his true love, talena, and to enjoy the physical pleasures available in the wild and primitive world.
So, I guess I really did identify with him, when long ago, I sensed something deeper in this Gorean thing than simply the flesh of women, and the intoxication of paga. Why embark on a journey to the difficult, dangerous, and little chance of success land of self discovery, and honest reflection? Why not just lighten up and enjoy it. So, what if you didn’t really understand love? Or knew what it was to possess true courage? What did it matter if you had never really had your loyalty tested? Who cared if your existence was more base than noble?
You could have fun, focus in on little by the book technicalities to prove how cool a Gorean you really were.
But, when Tarl is standing talking to Misk at the close of the book, Misk suggests this idea of recurrence. What if existence was a recurring cycle, and we found ourselves facing the same choices again and again. Here is what he said.
“Perhaps,” he said, “we have stood here, on this hill, thusly together, unknown to either of us, already and infinite number of times.” The wind seemed now very cold and very swift.
“And what did we do?” I asked.
“I do not know what we did,” said Misk, “But, I think I would now chose to do that action which I would be willing that I should do again and again, with each turning of the wheel. I would choose so to live that I might be willing that I should live that life a thousand times, even forever. I would choose to so live that I might stand boldly with my deed without regret throughout eternity.”
Wow. That is a pretty high standard.
I think from the first time, I read this passage, my decision was made on how I was going to approach Second Life Gor. It is something so different, so unique, so full of potential, that to waste it was going to be a shame.
Yet, what a standard.
Each action I took, would be taken in such a way, that if I was to find myself in some loop, facing the same circumstances again and again, I would always behave the same. I would take the high ground, and behave so that if I did find myself repeating events in some future cycle of life, I would act the same always, standing boldly with my deeds, and without regret.
Obviously, I have fallen way short of such lofty goals, many times. I have a whole lot of regrets, and would act differently if given another chance. But, that does not matter, and as we read the books, we are told again and again that failure and falling short is not the end, but just a lesson and a learning experience on the way. It is holding up that standard and striving for it that really matters in the end.
But, my friends, this is me.
I am not speaking from any position of authority. I am not advising people how to approach Second Life. I am not sure my way is not a waste of time, and maybe I have missed out on some physical pleasure, and hedonistic joy, by pursuing it. I think looking for something more in the Gorean experience has enriched my life, and that has made it worthwhile to me. I can only hope, whichever course you all chose to follow here will do the same for you.
I wish you all well on that personal journey.