Words of Wisdom #30

“The gardener became angry, changed color and said scornfully: <<I learned this from my master: he who uses machines, uses mechanisms and his spirit becomes mechanized. Who has a mechanized spirit no longer possesses the purity of innocence and loses the peace of the soul. I don’t ignore the merits of this machine, but I would be ashamed to use it>>”.

-Zhuangzi

Positive Technology: hand tools, simple, silent, light, an extension of the human body, actuated by our physical movement, they require skill and dexterity in applying them and are of simple access and maintenance.

Negative Technology: machines and tools actuated mostly from fossil fuels, complex, noisy and heavy, man becomes their prosthesis and simply helps their work, the personal experience is decreased or canceled. Devised to be of exclusive management of a circle of experts and specialists of their maintenance, that is impossible for all the other men.

All that can be defined as Negative Technology has been developed, consciously or not, as a compensation to our physical and mental degeneration. Although in our limits, we should always remember it and act accordingly!

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Words of Wisdom #28 & #29

“As a fish that swims in the water and doesn’t understand the nature of the sea, or a bird that flies in the air and doesn’t understand the sky, so man in his finite mind doesn’t understand the infinite. The only reality is for the bird to fly and of the fish to swim. So, in the same way, the only reality of man is to live: live your own life, die your own death. Live consciously every moment, accepting not to understand the ultimate meaning, this is illumination”.

-Eihei Dogen

“Time, place and space are illusions, having no existence save in the mind of men which must set limits and bounds in order to understand”.

-Robert E. Howard

Related post: Eternal Regret (Part 1 of 2)

The Harmony of Opposites

Heraclitus was an enigmatic Greek philosopher, defined because of this as “the obscure”. During his last years of life he became a hermit of the mountains, being an aristocratic spirit that disdained the multitudes: not bad for one who lived in Ancient Greece! He should have seen the world as it is today…

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Anyway, one thing that is clear from the fragments at our disposal is his doctrine concerning the harmony of opposites:

“The opposites concordant, and from the discordant comes beautiful harmony, and everything happens according to contention”.

“The same thing are the living and the dead, the awake and the sleeping, the young and the old: these indeed changing are those and those again changing are these”.

“What is cold becomes hot, what is hot becomes cold, what is moist becomes dry, what is dry becomes moist”.

“Immortal mortals, mortal immortals, living their death and dying their life”.

“One and the same is the path that goes upward and the path that goes down”.

“The same is in fact the beginning and the end in the circumference of the circle”.

“God is day-night, winter-summer, war-peace, satiety-hunger”.

“Junctions are entire-not entire, concordant-discordant, harmonic-disharmonic, and from all things the one and from the one all things”.

Listening not to me, but to the lógos, it is wise to agree that all things are one“.

Heraclitus understood that the Law of the Universe, the Logos (intended as “relation” or “connection”, in reference to the infinite series of relations/connections generated by Nature and operating in it, through the mediation of opposites that alternate), is the relation of contraposition, complementarity, interdependency and alternation between two opposite concepts (being-becoming, one-many, eternity-time, infinite-finite, life-death, past-future, inhalation-exhalation, peace-war, hot-cold, etc.) that are apparently in constant conflict with each other, but in reality, at the same time, they need each other because everything originates from its opposite: the opposites can indeed be defined only for opposition, and they can never be independently determined: nothing would exist if there were not, at the same time, also its opposite.

Note: here lies the meaning of the figure of the Androgynous (from Greek androgynos, composed by andros,”male”, and gyne, “woman”), the complete and undivided being best known for its description given by Plato in the Symposium. The symbolism that lies in this figure refers to the coexistence of opposites and their interdependence, the underlying unity hidden by their apparent separation and opposition: in biological terms it refers to the restoration of the absolute and primordial unity of the being. The coincidentia oppositorum (a Latin phrase meaning “coincidence of opposites”) is the state of being in which the opposites coincide: for example, at the climax of sexual love there is a coincidence between man and woman, a momentary emersion of the androgynous state of being, the erotic impulse having its deepest meaning in the reintegration and reunification of the two divided parts of the human being; this biological coincidence, in specific cases and conditions, allows to momentarily experience a purely spiritual and trascendental state, what in philosophy would consist in the culmination of the metaphysical speculation, namely the inner realization of the coincidence between the concepts of Being and Becoming (therefore two ways of appearing of a single reality), union that results in a single principle, a metaphisical reality that is beyond the opposition between contraries, that in it instead coincide: the Universal Reality.

androgino

If there was no night, what would give us the opportunity to define the day as such? If there was no winter, what would give us the opportunity to define summer as such? If there was no war, what would give us the opportunity to define peace as such? If there was no death, what would give us the opportunity to define life as such? The same on the contrary and for all the opposites that exist. They are two faces of the same coin, bound in the same way as an upward path seems a path that goes down if seen from above.

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As it’s evident from the fragments cited above, Heraclitus thought that everything is destined to pass eternally from one state to another: what is cold and becomes hot will cool, what is slow and becomes fast will slow down, what is alive and dies will return to life. I’m alive (again) because I died, and I am destined to die (again) and then to return to life (again), in the same way as I’m awake (again) because I fell asleep, only to be destined to fell asleep (again) and then to return to be awake (again). The end of the circle coincides exactly with its beginning. There is no immobility, only an eternal and unceasing metamorphosis, a current with no beginning and no end, a constant change and transformation: panta rei (“everything flows”). As Heraclitus said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river (in its perennial flow) and he’s not the same man (in his perennial becoming)“.

We can affirm that Heraclitus believed in the immortality and eternal rebirth of the individual spirit: if it is possible to be reborn then it is necessary that the spirit exists (from what we would return to life if not from it that is eternal and immortal, while the body is temporary and mortal?) and that it doesn’t disappear after death, but that it continues to exist even outside the body.

Anyway, we need both the opposites and there will always be both: their result is harmony and equilibrium: war will come after peace but at a certain point there will be peace again, winter will come after summer but at a certain point there will be summer again, etc. In this Heraclitus saw the Logos, the Universal Law of Nature!

hendrik_ter_brugghen_-_heraclitus

Words of Wisdom #27

“To know that against which we can do nothing and accept it as Destiny: here is the supreme virtue”.

-Zhuangzi

Freedom (Will) and Necessity (Destiny) coincide, are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other. It is right for each one everything that happens to him, that is what has been decided by our blood, spirit and destiny!

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Related posts: About Stoicism, Words of Wisdom #12

About Stoicism

Stoicism is one of the most interesting European philosphies, and has as prominent representatives Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. It is often poorly understood due to the fact that it has not, apparently, a specifically “technical” language concerning its doctrine. The consequence is that while the texts about Stoicism that we have today are quite easy to read and understand superficially even for the casual reader, a deep and authenic understanding of them is often ignored.

The essence of Stoicism consists in distinguish between what depends on us and what doesn’t depends on us:

Depend on us: -desire or aversion (to something), -impulse to action or to non-action, -judgment (positive or negative) of our desires and aversions, impulses to action or to non action. These things depends exclusively and totally on us, we have power over them, and they may correspond morally to good or evil wether they are compliant or non-compliant to Nature.

Doesn’t depend on us: things external to us, on which our will has no power or in need of fortune to be obtained: wealth, health, fame, work, family, poverty, disease, death, etc. All that doesn’t depends on us is neither a good nor an evil but something indifferent that must be accepted as it stands, in any way it will affect our lives: it should be seen as the work of Fate/Destiny. However, Stoicism doesn’t say that we should not worry or that we should give up about these things: we should only remember that they doesn’t depend on us and then act accordingly wathever happens in relation to them.

“Among the things that exist, some depend on us, the other doesn’t depend on us. Depend on us: value judgment, impusle to act, desire, aversion, and in one word, all that are properly our business. Doesn’t depend on us the body, our possessions, the opinions that others have of us, the public positions, and in one word all those that aren’t properly our business”.

-Epictetus

“Suppress therefore the aversion that you can feel for all the things that doesn’t depend on you and transfer it to the things that, among those who depend on us, are contrary to nature”.

-Epictetus

“Equability in the face of events that come from external causes, justice in the works generated by a cause that comes from you; impulse and action only in view of a common good: this is for man to act according to nature”.

-Marcus Aurelius

“I am a mixture of body and soul: for the body the sensible things are neither good nor bad, because matter has no power to grasp the difference; for the mind, instead, are indifferent the activities not falling within its sphere of action, while those that depend on it are all under its dominion. Even these, however, affect the mind only in relation to the present, because those relating to the future and to the past are, in that moment, indifferent for it”.

-Marcus Aurelius

According to Stoicism you have to dislike exclusively what depends on us but isn’t compliant to Nature (it is not virtuous, moral, honourable…). To distinguish the things that depends on us from those that doesn’t depends on us we have to look at every object or event for what it really is, removing the represenations of the mind, the instinctive judgments that these things/events projected upon us: “The stormy sea upsets my mind. It is the stormy sea that upsets me? No, it is my judgment on it. It is not something that depends on me, therefore it is neither a good nor an evil. The stormy sea is only the stormy sea”.

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Judgments in relation to things/events that doesn’t depend on us are hard if not impossible to remove immediatly but yes, we can remove them after asking ourselves if what we are judging depends on us or not and if our judgment in relation to that particular thing/event is nothing else than a representation of the mind: at this point we can see that particular thing/event for what it really is. Therein lies Stoicism, in seeing things/events for what they really are, without representations of the mind.

“Therefore train yourself to immediately add to every painful representation: <<you are only a representation, you are not at all what you represent>>. Then examines this representation and put it to test with the help of the rules at your disposal, in first place and above all of this rule: we have to count it among the things that depend on us or among those that doesn’t depend on us? And if it is part of the things that doesn’t depend on us, keep in mind that it does not concern you”.

-Epictetus

“What disturbs men are not things, but the judges that they formulate on things. For example, death has nothing terrible, otherwise it would have seemed like that also to Socrates. But it’s the judgment we formulate about death, namely that it is terrible, to be fearsome in death. Therefore, when we encounter difficulties or are troubled or sad, we should not impute liability to another, but to ourselves, that is to our judgments: it is indicative of who has not yet been educated to impute to others the liability of his evils; it is indicative of who is at the beginning of his own education to impute liability to himself; it is indicative of who has completed his own education to not impute liability nor to others nor to himself”.

-Epictetus

“Look at things as they are, in themselves, distinguishing matter, cause and purpose”.

-Marcus Aurelius

“Therefore don’t go beyond what you see and don’t add anything personal to the immediate impressions you receive from things or facts, and nothing bad will come thee”.

-Marcus Aurelius

“Many are the superfluous and annoying things that you can eliminate, because they exist only in the opinion that you create about them”.

-Marcus Aurelius

“Throws away the opinion, and you will be safe! Who prevents you to get rid of it?”.

-Marcus Aurelius

Whereby, what disturbs men are not the things/events but the judges that they formulate on these things/events. The proof of this is the fact that not all men would express the same opinion about things that doesn’t depend on us. Not all men would be disturbed by the stormy sea. Not all men would be disturbed by poverty. Not all men would be happy about their wealth. Not all men would be happy about their fame. Not all men would be disturbed by their disease. Not all men would be disturbed by the premature and/or accidental death of their son/daughter/wife. Not all men would be disturbed by the approach of their death (so the ancient European warrior had a stoic attitude towards death), etc.

It means that the things/events can’t be the real cause of our reactions, that must be found inside us: our reaction depends on the individual structure of our minds, although it may seem that it’s the thing/event itself to determine our positive or negative reaction towards it.

These examples and all the other countless things/events that doesn’t depend on us should be considered by the stoic man, as it was intended to be, neither a good nor an evil but indifferently, if these happen to him: what is not under our control should be seen as something that is not under our control.

On the other hand, concerning the things that depend on us, there is no man that would do something that depends on him but that is not compliant to Nature without having the same awareness of having done something bad/wrong, whether he likes it or not. If you think about it, it’s indeed impossible for that to happen.

A man must judge the situation he faces and act accordingly using his skills, he must survive doing all that is in his power (this depends on him), but this doesn’t mean that he should blame something that doesn’t depend on him or project personal opinions on a certain thing/event in relation to his situation: e.g. he shouldn’t judge the stormy sea differently only because HE is on a ship in the middle of it, the stormy sea doesn’t change in relation to that…it doesn’t become good or bad in relation to its role in a man’s vicissitudes. The stormy sea doesn’t depend on us and it remains always and exclusively only a stormy sea, both for the pilot and the observer who doesn’t risk anything.

If you keep in mind these stoic precepts you’ll find new meanings, depth and rigidity in the texts of the philosophers cited above. Stoicism as it was intended to be was much more challenging, demanding and even extreme than it is commonly perceived, remaining in any case among the most important and suited classical philosophies for the European man, possibly in an “attenuated” form in relation to a certain type of events!

Guénon: about the Materialist Man, the subversion of the Traditional Order and the destructive Western diffusion

“Wanting to bring everything to the measure of men, taken as an end in itself, we are ended up with the fall, step by step, until the level of what there is of most inferior, and with the exclusive search of the satisfaction of the needs inherent to the material side of human nature; search, tough, really illusory, as it creates more and more artificial needs, that it can’t satisfy…on the other hand, more needs has a man, more likely he will lack of something and then of being unhappy. Modern society aims to multiply the artificial needs and, as we said before, it will create much more needs than it can satisfy, because, once taken this road, it’s hard to stop, and there is not even a reason to stop at a certain point. Men couldn’t suffer for not having things to which they never thought of; they instead suffer out of necessity if these things comes to lack after they have known them, since they have become accustomed to regard these things as necessary and that these things have become really necessary for them. Whereby they seek by any means to obtain what can provide them all the material satisfactions, the only ones that they are able to appreciate. It is only a matter of “earning money”, being money what allows them to obtain these things, and the more you have, the more you want, because new needs are continuously discovered; and this passion becomes the only purpose of life”.

***

“But in the world of modern decadence where you could still find the concept of a true hierarchy? There is no thing or person that is in the place where it should normally be. Men doesn’t recognize anymore any effective authority in the spiritual order, any legitimate power in a higher and sacred sense in the temporal order. The “profane” allow themselves to discuss about sacred things, of those disowning the character if not even the existence. It’s the inferior that judges the superior, it’s ignorance that imposes limits to wisdom, it’s the error that undermines the truth, it’s the human that replaces the divine, it’s the earth that goes to predominate on the sky, the individual making himself the measure of everything and pretending to dictate to the universe laws all taken from his relative and defeasible reason…indeed today you see everywhere blind men leading other blind men and drag them fatally into the abyss, in a common end, if they will not be stopped in time”.

***

“Very singular epoch, this one, where many allow themselves to be persuaded that the happiness of a people is done enslaving it, taking away what is most precious to it, that is its own civilization, forcing it to adapt to customs and institutions made for another race and forcing it to the most painful works to let it buy things that for it are completely useless! It’s like that: the modern West can’t tolerate that some men prefer to work less and be content with little to live. Since only the quantity counts, and since that which doesn’t fall under the senses is considered as inexistent, it is believed that he who doesn’t shake and that doesn’t produce materially is a “loafer”. In such a world, there is no place for intelligence, and so even for all that is really interior, because these are not things that you can see and touch, that you can weigh and measure. There is only place for the external action in all its forms, including the most nonsensical”.

-Réne Guénon

Note: These extracts are taken from a work of the author dated 1927. The last extract refers to the westernization of the peoples in the Far East (India, China, Japan, etc). I personally consider the ongoing westernization of the world a consequence of Capitalism and of the Christian “tradition” (i.e. obsession) to invade and convert: whereby it is definitely appropriate to define this process as a result of the Judeo-Christian modus operandi.

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Evola: about Christianism, Chivalry and the Nordic-Germanic vision of Life

“The power of the tradition that gave its look to Rome became clear, in respect of Christianism, in the fact, that if the new faith managed to subvert the ancient civilization, it couldn’t really conquer the western world as pure Christianism; that where it reached some greatness, it has exclusively been able to do that by betraying in a certain extent itself: it succeeded more in grace of elements taken from the opposite tradition – thanks to Roman elements and pre-christian classical elements – than in grace of the Christian element in its original form. In fact, Christianism <<converted>> the western man only externally; it constituted its <<faith>> in the most abstract sense, while the effective life of these continued to obey to forms, more or less materialized, of the opposite tradition of action and, later, in the Middle-Ages, to an ethos that again had to be imprinted essentially by the aryan-nordic spirit. Theoretically, the west accepted Christianism, – and that Europe was able to accommodate, in such a way, many motives related to the jewish and levantine conception of life is something that ever anew fills the historian of wonder – practically, it remained pagan. The result was then a hybridism. Even in its attenuated and catholic romanized form the christian faith represented an obstruction, that took away to the western man the possibility to integrate his authentic, irrepressible way of being through a conception, congenial to him, of the sacred and of relations with the sacred”.

“Catholicism took shape through the rectification of various extremist aspects of the Christianism of the origins, the organization of a ritual corpus, dogmatic and symbolic beyond of the simple mystical-soteriological element, the absorption and the adaptation of both doctrinal and organizational elements drawn from the romanity and the classical civilization generally speaking. That is how Catholicism presents sometimes <<traditional>> traits, which however must not lead to misunderstanding: what in Catholicism has a real traditional trait is very little christian and what in it is christian is very little traditional”.

***

“By having as an ideal the hero more than the saint, the winner more than the martyr; placing the sum of all values in fidelity and in honour more than in the <<caritas>> and in humility; seeing in vileness and in shame a worse evil than sin; knowing very little about not to resist evil and of repaying evil with goodness – intending much more to punish the unjust and the wicked, excluding from its ranks he who literally adhered to the christian precept of <<do not kill>>; having as principle not to love the enemy, but to fight him and to be magnanimous only after having won it – in all this the cavalry affirmed almost without alteration an aryan ethic within a world only nominally christian”.

***

“The life of the ancient nordic-germanic societies was based on three principles of personality, of freedom and of fidelity. To it was totally alien both the promiscuity of communities and the inability of the individual to valorize itself if not in the context of a given abstract institution. Here freedom consists, for the individual, in the measure of nobility. But this freedom is not anarchic and individualistic, it is able of a dedication beyond the person, it knows the transfiguring value proper to the principle of fidelity in front of those who are worthy of recognition, and to which one subjects himself voluntarily. In this way were formed groups of faithful around leaders to which could well be applied the old saying: <<The supreme nobility of a roman Emperor is of being not a master of slaves but a lord of free men, who loves freedom even in those who serve him>>; and the State, almost according to the ancient aristocratic roman precept, had as center the council of chiefs, each one free, lord of his land and in his land, leader of the group of those faithful to him. Beyond this council, the unity of the State and, in a certain way, its super-political aspect was incarnated in the King, as these belonged – differently from the simple military leaders – to one of the strains of divine origin: Amals, the <<heavenly>>, the <<pure>>, was a name of the kings among the Goths. None impersonal <<duty>> and none impersonal <<service>> existed, everywhere there were relationships of command and obedience strongly personalized and based on freedom, on agreement and on fidelity. In this way the idea of the free personality remained the foundation of each unit and each hierarchy”.

-Julius Evola

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Words of Wisdom #26

“Fame doesn’t die entirely, if many people spread it: it too is a god”.

-Hesiod

Hesiod is absolutely right: a noble reputation – to possess much honour – is what ensured us to be reborn in the bodies of our descendants, in our distant past! This is the goal to which we should aspire to, even today! Be remembered, fight for the future of our descendants, return to be glorious and noble mentally, physically and spiritually, ensure that our culture doesn’t vanish definitively! In this way we can bring back Europe as it was in its golden age!

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We Set Sail!

An interesting and quite always ignored episode of the Greek mythology is the one where the ship Argo, built to carry the Argonauts to the conquest of the Golden Fleece, passes through the Symplegades, the clashing rocks. The characteristic of these rocks was to clash each other when someone or something tried to pass between them, killing or destroying everything in their grip.

They freed a dove to let her pass through the rocks and, while these retreated after having clashed among themselves to kill the bird, the Argonauts made readily and quickly pass their ship through them. They came out unscathed, except for the aplustre – an ornamental appendage made of wood, placed at the stern of a Greek or Roman ship, where was believed to reside its spirit/life essence – destroyed by the following clash of the rocks.

An aplustre:
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Mostly in fairy tales, but also in the myths, the difficulty in passing through a door or other type of passages (as well as being swallowed by a monster) are images for the entry in the realm of the dead (the grave/burial mound). The same is the case with the Symplegades, which symbolize the border with Hades (i.e. the burial mound). They are simply another version of the various animal jaws that hinder the passage, of the doors with sharp teeth, of the slamming doors, of the doors that bite and of the propelled mountains that threaten and impede the entry to a certain place: all are typical motifs found in traditional fairy tales around the world. The opening and the closing, the crushing and the bite all fall in the same custody function.

In any case, remember that only the dead could have free access to the realm of the dead: you had to be one of them to gain access to that place. This is the reason why the ship Argo loses the aplustre, the part corresponding to the spirit/life essence: in this way the ship “died” and gained the right to enter the grave/realm of death.

The realm of the dead:
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Finally the Argonauts arrived in Colchis (the grave/burial mound), where Jason has to accomplish the initiation ritual: there are the challenges to overcome, the sorceress/priestess that helps him (Medea), the snake/dragon and the Golden Fleece hanging from an oak.

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Gold is often present in fairy tales and in myths, always connected with events that take place in the realm of the dead/burial mound. Examples are the Golden Bough of Aeneas, the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, the Golden Horns of the Hind (in the European mythologies and in foklore the deer [deer’s antlers were used in the Stone Age to dig the entrance of the graves/burial mounds], the reindeer [like the reindeer that pull the sleigh of Father Christmas], the horse, the swan and the goose [both are migratory birds associated with waters, i.e. the amniotic fluid: the migration is a periodic and regular movement linked to the alternation of the seasons and associated with the cycles of death and rebirth] are psychopomps animals in the context of initiation rituals: they reveal the path to the realm of death) during the labors of Heracles and obviously the Golden Fleece.

In all these cases it is not the object itself that matters but the golden element, connected to the dead and to the grave because it is an element that never oxidizes (or with the passage of long periods of time), therefore being a symbol of immortality/eternal life, a solar and regal symbol, in the context of the rebirth of the memory and knowledge of the ancestor in the grave, reincarnated into one of his descendants. The hero must obtain the golden object in order to conclude his task and return from the place where he found it, just like the child who had to face the initiation was tasked to obtain (in more recent times, compared to the primordial structure of this ritual) the treasures made of gold inside the grave of the ancestor, to accomplish his rebirth and successfully return from the burial mound!

Eternal Regret (Part 1 of 2)

“Lives eternal the one who lives in the present”.

-Ludwig Wittgenstein

ludwig_wittgenstein_1910

Eternity (the term derives from the Latin locution “ex” (out) and from “ternum” (triple/triad), that is “out of the triad [of time]”: past, present and future) consists on one side in a perpetual passage of time, without beginning and without end, and on the other in the atemporal point that we call instant (the Parmenidean being is nothing else than the instant), that is out of time and coincides with the real present, of which we can’t have experience; an instant proceeds without interruption to another instant, they add up over time but they remain elusive for us; it is we who are in motion while the instant is immutable, even if it seems to shift, as the apparent motion of the Sun; the elusive and uninterrupted flow of instants constitutes the course of time, which is an illusion, since there is nothing but the endless eternity, whereby:

“Time is the moving image of eternity”.

– Plato

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***

Once, we fathomed eternity: both as an infinite temporal duration and as timelessness. Too much time has passed since we have only been able to speculate about it, only able to see the door of eternity from a more or less favorable position, with the silly illusion of being able to reach its handle. The same applies to the concept of infinity, we are no longer able to deeply understand and fathom the infinity of the Universe. Only a finite space is within the reach of our minds.

It’s exactly here that lies the meaning of what Mircea Eliade called “nostalgia for paradise”, that is nothing else than the nostalgia for the Golden Age (i.e. the primordial state when we fathomed eternity, since gold is a symbol of the metaphysical concept of “being”, which is not subject to the laws of the temporal becoming), the aspiration to regain an existence outside of time, as when men were unaware of it and, as a consequence, free from the terror and anguish of history. Here lies one of the deeper meanings of all religions, being one of their most important functions (reached through initiations, rituals, ceremonies and festivities) that of creating the momentary illusion that we are living once again that lost primordial condition to which we can not help but aspire, as a heartbreaking necessity that, if not satisfied, leads us to despair.

***

If every now and then you find yourself immersed in similar thoughts, then maybe you will suffer, as a consequence, a sort of metaphysical vertigo/desperation: it’s the only way you have to find the answers you need, the only way to awake yourself!

Eternal and Infinite, this is the Universe!

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Part 2: Eternal Regret (Part 2 of 2)