I can’t believe that I didn’t notice that my book is being published on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. I have been a Star Trek Fan my whole life. I am an MIT science guy, turned marketer, turned spiritual seeker. I am excited that The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions is for sale on Amazon. But I am GAGA through the roof that the publication date is on Star Trek Day. It is a spiritual convergence. It must be. It’s the Spiritual Practice of Star Trek.
I even wrote about Star Trek in the book to illustrate The Evil Inclination. Here is an excerpt.
In the episode called “The Enemy Within” a transporter accident splits Captain Kirk into the good Kirk and the evil Kirk. The evil Kirk gets into fights, swigs brandy from the bottle, and even tries to assault the beautiful Yeoman Janis Rand. The good Kirk is kind and empathic, but he can no longer make decisions and thus has lost his ability to command. Spock says to McCoy, “And what is it that makes one man an exceptional leader? We see here indications that it’s his negative side which makes him strong, that his evil side, if you will, properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strength.
There is a story in the Talmud that follows a similar theme. The Rabbis trapped the Evil Inclination, and initially rejoiced. Soon, however, they noticed that no one did any work and the chickens stopped laying eggs. Just as the Rabbis needed to let the Evil Inclination free into the world once again, the two halves of Captain Kirk needed to be reunited.
The Evil Inclination is a fundamental part of who we are. Our challenge is to guide our Evil Inclination towards positive contributions. For example, ambition is good when it helps you achieve things in the world. Unbridled ambition, however, can lead to unethical and anti-social behavior. – “The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions” Llewellyn p. 35
That is what I love about Mussar – it shows up everywhere. We all have what it takes to be a Mensch, a person of outstanding character. But we have this thing called the Evil Inclination that holds us back. We are faced with choices, and when we practice Mussar, we learn to channel the Evil Inclination to make us outstanding people.
If you have not already done so, please go buy a copy of The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions. People love it, and you will too. If you are a regular visitor to American Mussar, you probably have have some idea of what it is about. You’ve seen snippets – maybe the Soul Trait Profile Quiz, maybe an excerpt, and maybe the American Mussar Sampler. In the book, I bring it all together, using my own story and many stories from friends and students to illustrate how Mussar can change your life.