The Five-fold Path of Learning
Beings in Creation may learn any of the fivefold-by-five paths, and all beings pass through the same five levels, or Dan, of understanding in a path.
The first Dan, the White Belt, is Foundation. A novice must first learn the basic founding principles at the center of his skill, and cannot truly perform that skill with competency until he masters them. Thus, the novice is sometimes called the Central Fool.
The second Dan, the Green Belt, is Growth. The apprentice must understand just how little he knows, and understand how to adapt and apply his potential to his innate prowess and basic knowledge before he can progress. Thus, the apprentice is called the Eastern Wanderer.
The third Dan, the Blue Belt, is Expertise. The journeyman must come to understand his craft inside and out, in all its myriad technical nuances. Most mortals never surpass the third Dan even in those Abilities they base their livelihood on. The journeyman is sometimes known as the Northern Sage.
The fourth Dan, the Black Belt, is Adaptability. The Master must learn the thousandfold ways that Creation and Fate can conspire against him, the infinite permutations that strive to undo the perfection of his vision, and overcome them. Some mortals reach the fourth Dan with one or two of their Abilities, and those may truly be called Masters, the Sekers of the Utmost West.
The fifth Dan, the Red Belt, is Passion. No amount of understanding can ever reach the pinnacle of understanding; it takes a true movement of the soul to reach the ultimate peak of perfection. Heroic Mortals may achieve the fifth Dan in their most Favored of Abilities, while Exalted - with their Passions already so close to their Essence - regularly reach this pinnacle in most, if not all, of their Chosen circles of puissance. True paragons of Ability are sometimes known as the Southern Lions.
For those beings who can transcend earthly knowledge, whether through the true enlightenment of a Transcendent (6+) Essence, the innate understanding of Godhood or the alien perspective of the Raksha, may find further Dan, but each is a unique experience, and no two Arch-paragons have ever described such enlightenment the same way.
I've always believed that there must be IC descriptions and understandings for both 'dots' and the 25 core abilities, but I worry that this is far too martial arts focused. Perhaps it might be how one or two old-school Sidereal theorists looked at it, but it seems odd for even a Copper Spider to use such references. I'd imagine that there's some other metric that's much more globally applicable. Something about which charms you can learn and use, and how easily. Something that includes skill at performance, the occult, and even linguistics into the description, rather than purely spiritual martial arts terms. After all, the vast majority of people in Creation will probably find these descriptions odd and cumbersome, and something much simpler would serve to identify "That craftsman over there is a Journeyman" - implying that he has say, 3 dots in his area of expertise. People can fudge it too (in common life) with things like specialties and lucky rolls. After all, while you might understand the concept of quantized skill (not a big leap, once you've got excellencies and quantized motes), measuring it directly is difficult, due to the inherent nature of rolled dice. Still, all just my thoughts. -- GreenLantern
- nods* Well, that's why I provided several different descriptions. Someone mystically-bent might say "he is a Northen Sage of the Banner", while someone more martially-arts oriented might say "He's third Dan in the Ways of Upright and Noble Bearing", while your average denizen of Creation, if they can even tell, will just say "He's a Journeyman of Presence". -- Ialdabaoth