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What Is A Lifestyle?

Every individual exhibits a lifestyle. It is the visible portion of that individual's entire cultural makeup. There are many other aspects of the overall cultural makeup that are not immediately manifested in the actions of that individual. But, in time, many of the traits, whether conditioned by the heritage, or by the environment, or by habituation and so forth, tend to bubble up to the surface, resulting in a cogent lifestyle.

What Is A Cultural Makeup?

Any time we work in close accord with our true nature we lay another brick into the edifice of our cultural makeup. This definition implies that we are also capable of working in discord with our true nature. We can indeed refuse to accept our intimate nature, and to indulge in focusing on some derivative worlds (as in imagining things; see Reality, and also The Power Of Imagination). When we elect to do this, all our efforts end up being wasted. In other words, we are investing a lot of effort without contributing even a bit to building our cultural makeup.

The question that immediately pops in our minds is: if we accept the above to be true, are we to conclude that, by working in discord with our true nature, we are actually deconstructing, ruining the edifice of our cultural makeup? The answer is probably "yes". However, there is some hope that this ruining is not an irreversible process. It all depends on the correctness of our understanding of our true nature.

The illustration that gets surprisingly close to indicating the true state of affairs could be found in a strange custom in Medieval Orthodox Christian art. Very valuable icons (for example, Virgin Mary with the baby Christ) tend to get embellished over time not by modifying the actual painting, but by building the golden and silver ornamentations that are installed on top of the icon. After a while, the eagerness to embellish the object of worshipping results in obscuring the real object.

Is the real object (the icon itself), thus obscured by the ornamentations, actually damaged? The answer to this question depends on a number of other factors. If, for example, the artificial construction on top of the painting inhibits the moisture from shedding and evaporating, it can in due course cause the icon to rot.

Thus we see that it is not entirely harmless to attach artificial constructions in order to overlay the real objects. Although we are never actually touching the real object, and are therefore convinced that no harm could be done, indirectly we may be ruining it.

Conversely, when we cease obsessing over this whole embellishment and artificial construction delusion, we are naturally drawn to work with the matter at hand. We find ourselves handling the real thing, not its derivatives. This activity is actually the only thing that contributes to building our cultural makeup.

When Is The Building Of A Cultural Makeup Finished?

Never. The very nature of a cultural makeup is that it is a process of building, not a finished product. The moment we stop and say: "This is it, it took me many, many years of hard work, but now I have finally finished building the edifice of my cultural makeup!" we turn it into an ornament, into a delusion, and consequently we suffocate it.

On the other hand, whenever we discover something about the Reality, we are building this cultural makeup. Since the Reality is vast and boundless, with no beginning and no end, it follows that there could be no end to discovering something about it. There is no way to ever exhaust it, and therefore we continue our building, our cultivating of the lifestyles with no end in sight.

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