The Tao of Roark

by Peter Saint-Andre

Chapter 11: Harmony

Previous: Chapter 10: Feeling

Roark's rule of building is this: "Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea, and that idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose."

Yet the integration Roark describes is more literary and aesthetic (making my life a work of art) than human and practical (being successful at the great task of living).

What level of integration is possible to me as an individual?

At root, it is the harmony of thought, choice, action, and feeling.

Integrating thought into choice, action, and feeling means that my knowledge is not an idle curiosity or an end in itself. Instead, I use what I learn about the world and myself as a firm basis for the choices I make, the direction I take, the people and things I attend to, the activities on which I spend my time and energy, the areas in which I focus, the things I judge to be within my span of control or influence, even the feelings and emotions I consider to be healthy and justified. When I integrate the power of thought into all aspects of my life, I achieve a great clarity, like the parting of the clouds revealing a radiant blue sky.

Integrating choice into thought, action, and feeling means concentrating my efforts at learning in areas that are congruent with my nature and my interests, taking seriously the responsibility to use my mind and weigh the evidence of my senses and draw my own conclusions, focusing my time and energy where I can have a significant impact on the world around me and within me, taking a systematic approach to realizing my values and decisions in action, evaluating what I know and do and feel in the light of what is important to me — and adjusting my direction in life accordingly. When I integrate the power of choice into all aspects of my life, I achieve a great simplicity, like the pure spirit and breath of every natural living thing.

Integrating action into thought, choice, and feeling means connecting what I learn and know back to the practical concerns of living, always preparing myself physically and emotionally for the realization of my ideas and choices in action, studying methods for becoming more productive and creative, increasing my competence and mastery in my chosen profession and the other pursuits that matter to me, actively investing in friendships and relationships that might bring me joy, choosing values that I can realistically achieve, cultivating thoughts and feelings that lead to successful action (and pruning those that don't), focusing my energy and attention on the value that I want to create in life. When I integrate the power of action into all aspects of my life, I achieve a great abundance, like a fertile valley overflowing with life.

Integrating feeling into thought, choice, and action means attending carefully to my emotional reactions, honoring my emotions as a form of awareness that yields evidence about myself and my values, using the possibility of joy as a great motivator for action, valuing the honesty of my feelings as a true indicator of how successful I have been in my thoughts and choices and activities, learning to enjoy what is good and valuable so that my ideas and values and feelings are a seamless whole. When I integrate the power of feeling into all aspects of my life, I achieve a great tranquility, like the serenity and peace of the earth at dawn.

This depth of inner harmony is hard to achieve. I do not need to also introduce the notion of integrity as a single theme or purpose that sets every detail of my life. Thus I pursue that which is humanly achievable, not that which is impossible to me.

Next: Chapter 12: Objectivity

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