Words of Wisdom #51

“Remember that you are an actor who plays a part in a drama that is like the playwright wants it to be. A short part, if he wants it to be short, long if he wants it to be long. If he wants you to interpret the part of a beggar, try to interpret this role with skill: or that of a lame, or of a magistrate, or of a private citizen. Indeed this is your task: to interpret well the role that has been assigned to you. But the choice of this role is up to someone else”.

-Epictetus

Maybe it will be useful to remember that the “playwright” to which Epictetus refers is nothing else than the Logos, the divine essence that flows through all energy and matter of the Universe, the order, harmony, reason, logic and necessity that govern the Cosmos (from Greek “kósmos”, “order”, in reference to an orderly and harmonic system): there is no randomness, everything is in its right place, as in heaven so on earth, as in the macrocosm so in the microcosm, though apparently it may seem the opposite is true. It is not the first time that I propose such a vision of destiny, according to which literally everything that happens during our individual existences has been predisposed and “sewn” for us, without there being any real free will and any real possibility of forging our own destiny in the meaning that we usually give to this potentiality. However, even if we assume that predestination exists, we cannot but acknowledge that we live inside a sort of cosmic illusion, of such a power that we can’t live even a day without acting and thinking as if we were the real masters of our destiny. In this perspective the best thing to do would be to see our individual being, our external appearance and the way in which we tend to think and act, as the result of our previous lives, of our conduct in a previous existence: so we start with a basis, a shape that comes to us from the past, but we can choose in which way we should live our lives and act accordingly, affecting in this way what will be our future existences.

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Marcus Aurelius: about Destiny, Time and the Cyclicality and Metamorphosis of the Universal Nature

“Love only what happens to you and is woven in the great weft of life: there is nothing that suits you best”.

-Marcus Aurelius

“Whatever happens to you was intened for you since the time of times, and an impenetrable interweaving of causes, starting from then, has bound your life to that specific event”.

-Marcus Aurelius

“Don’t live as if you still had thousands of years ahead of you: destiny, fast, chases you. As long as you live, as long as you can, become virtuous”.

-Marcus Aurelius

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“Many are the superfluous and annoying things that you can eliminate, because they exist only in the opinion that you make about them: in this way you will be able to give an ampler space to your mind, embrace with thought the whole universe, reflect on infinity and eternity, see how rapid is the transformation of every single thing, how short is the time that flows from birth to death and what infinite abyss is the one that precedes birth and the one that follows death”.

-Marcus Aurelius

“All the things you see will soon be transformed by the universal nature, that from their substance will give birth to others, which in turn will transform into others and so on, and this in order for the universe to remain forever young”.

-Marcus Aurelius

Observe the course of the stars and participate in their movement, then think intensely about the continuous and mutual change of the elements: you will feel purified of the filths of earthly life”.

-Marcus Aurelius

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Bhagavadgītā (Part 2 of 2)

The verses quoted in this second part describe the existential condition of the āsura human being, the doctrine of the three guṇa and the hierarchy of the Hindu caste system.

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 Sixteenth Chant:

4.”Hypocrisy, arrogance, vanity, anger, hardness and ignorance: all this, Pārtha, belongs to he who was born for an āsura condition”.

6.”In this world there are two categories of beings: daiva and āsura, the daiva one has been extensively described; now listen from me, Pārtha, the āsura one”.

8.”They state that the universe is without truth, without fundament [or moral basis], without a Lord, devoid of regular causal connection and originated from passion”.

9.”Firm in their way of seeing [things], these unhappy, devoid of understanding and full of violence, come into the world to destroy it”.

10.”Abandoning themselves to an insatiable passionate desire, full of pride, hypocrisy and arrogance, professing, because of ignorance, bad inclinations, they act with impure motive”.

11.”Dedicated to endeavors without measure that end [only] with death, they pursue the aim in the satisfaction of passions, convinced that this is everything”.

12.”Kept in slavery by the thousand bonds of desire, dedicated to pleasure and anger, they seek wealth with unfair means, in order to satisfy their lusts“.

13.”<<Today I obtained this, this other I will have tomorrow; this good belongs to me and also this other, in good time, will be mine;”.

14.”I killed this enemy and more I will kill; I am the ruler, I enjoy pleasure, I am perfect, powerful, happy,”.

15.”I am rich, I am of noble birth, who else can be similar to me? I will make offerings, gifts and I will rejoice>>, thus [speak] those who are deluded by ignorance”.

16.”Agitated by the most disparate thoughts, enveloped in the net of illusion, committed to satisfy their desires, they fall in an unclean abyss”.

21.”Triple is the door of the abyss in which the identified soul finds ruin: passion, anger and possession. Therefore man should abandon these three qualities”.

The verses 4./6./8./9./10./11./12./13./14./15./16./21. describe the distinctive features, worldview and existential condition of the āsura human beings, which judge the divine harmonic structure that can be seen in the cosmic becoming as the mere result of a fortuitous coincidence of universal proportions; these men place themselves exclusively in an anthropocentric and selfish perspective, and consequently have no scruples in relation to the unbridled exploitation of the living reality that surrounds them, in order to satisfy their insane subhuman lusts: this is the only purpose, meaning and destiny of their existences.

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Eighteenth Chant:

30.”Pārtha, that intellect that knows the action and non-action, what must be done and what must not be done, what it must and must not fear, what binds and what frees, is said [pervaded] of sattva”.

31.”That intellect, Pārtha, that erroneously intends the just and the unjust, what must or must not be accomplished, is said [pervaded] of rajas”.

32.”That intellect, Pārtha, that, enveloped by darkness, intends the unjust as just and mistakes what must be done for what must not be done and vice versa, is said [pervaded] of tamas”.

41.”The duties of the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras, Paramtāpa, are distinct according to the qualities (guṇa) originated by their very nature”.

The verses 30./31./32./41. distinguish the innate qualities related to the three guṇa (“constitutive quality”, “attribute”), respectively called sattva, rajas and tamas; the sattva guṇa belongs to che caste of the brāhmaṇas and is characterized by knowledge, harmony, equilibrium, order and light; the guṇa rajas belongs to both the caste of the kṣatriyas and that of the vaiśyas and is characterized by energy, vitality, action, will and passion; the guṇa tamas belongs to the caste of the śūdras and is characterized by ignorance, disharmony, disequilibrium, disorder and darkness: each guṇa implies in particular a more or less deep innate intuition concerning the meaning of the universal reality that surrounds us and the place that our existence and our actions occupy in it.

42.”Tranquility, self-control, austerity, tolerance and rectitude, wisdom (jñāna), distinctive knowledge (vijñāṇa), compassion are qualities inherent to the action of the brāhmaṇa and stem from his very nature”.

43.”Heroism, vigour, firmness, ability and not flee in battle, generosity, leadership skills are attributes inherent to the action of the kṣatriya and originate from the essential characteristics that are proper to him”.

44.”Agriculture, caring for livestock, commerce are the qualities inherent to the action of the vaiśya and originate from his very nature. The work of the śūdra, inherent to his nature, consists in [providing] services”.

45.”Whoever finds himself to have pleasure in his duty achieves perfection. Listen, then, in what way he who fulfills his duty achieves perfection”.

47.”It is better one’s duty [inherent to one’s own nature], however imperfectly accomplished, rather than the duty of someone else well practised. He who fulfills the duty inherent to his very nature makes no mistake”.

The verses 42./43./44./45./47. describe the distinguishing characteristics of the four castes that form the traditional Hindu society, consisting of a top-down order based on a true hierarchy (“rule of the sacred”): the first caste is that of the brāhmaṇa, composed by the spiritual leaders; the second caste is that of the kṣatriya, composed by the warrior aristocracy; the third caste is that of the vaiśya, composed by the landowners; the fourth caste is that of the śūdra, composed by the slaves. The belonging of an individual to a specific caste, only within which he could bring harmoniously to completion his existence, was determined by means of the identification of his specific innate nature, corresponding to a particular way of being and acting. The three higher castes were referred with the term “ārya” (from Sanskrit “ar” with the meaning of “noble, superior”), quality that on the one hand was passed down at birth by means of a noble blood, on the other necessitated to be actually achieved through the initiation that led to the formation of the “dvija” (“twice born”).

“The castes, before defining social groups, define functions, and typical ways of being and acting. The correspondence of the fundamental natural possibilities of the individual to one or the other of such functions determined his belonging to the corresponding caste: therefore in the duties proper to his caste, in what this one was traditionally called, he could recognise the normal execution of his very own nature”.

“It can therefore be said that not the birth determines the nature, but that the nature determines the birth; more in particular, that one has a given spirit because he is born in a given caste, but at the same time one is born in a given caste because – transcendentally – he already has a given spirit. Hence the inequality of castes, far from being artificial, unjust and arbitrary, was nothing but the reflection and institution of a deeper and intimate preexisting inequality”.

-Julius Evola

Krishna reveals his “vishvarupa” (“universal form”) to Arjuna:
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Words of Wisdom #49

Kang-zi said to Yan Hui: <<Hui, come here. Your family is poor, your condition is humble. Why don’t you try to obtain a task of any sort?>>. <<No,>> said Yan Hui << I don’t want it. I have a small field out of the suburbs that produces the necessary for my soup and a little bit of land in the city that produces me silk and hemp; playing the lute is enough to distract me; meditating on the Tao is enough for my delight. No, I will not try to obtain a task>>. <<Excellent is your idea>> said Kong-zi, that had changed expression. <<I heard this: “Who knows how to be happy with little doesn’t care about profit; who cares only to find himself doesn’t grieve for any loss; who seeks his own inner perfection doesn’t grieve for not having a social position”. For a long time I recited these words of wisdom. But only now I see them applied by Hui. The profit is mine>>”.

-Zhuangzi

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