“Who (then), my friend,
Can climb up to the sky?
Only the gods live there,
In company of Shamash, forever!
Men, for their part,
(Have) their days numbered:
Everything they do
Is (nothing more than) wind!”.
-Gilgamesh to Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh
Everything we do is nothing more than wind, but when a strong wind hits us it remains imprinted in our minds and we remember it, because it has challenged and fascinated us at the same time. Then someone among us will try to improve himself, with the aim to be able to oppose to that wind, and ultimately to prevail on it. When this happens, an even stronger wind is born!
Related posts: Sumerian Mists (Part 1 of 3), Sumerian Mists (Part 2 of 3), Sumerian Mists (Part 3 of 3)
“This man was convinced to know while he did not knew, and instead I, as I did not know, so neither I thought I knew. Anyway, I seemed to be wiser than this man, at least in this little thing, namely for the fact that I do not think that I know what I do not know”.
“The knowledge of not knowing is the supreme knowledge.
Not to know believing to know is the disease”.
-Tao Te Ching
“But man is still too much mortal to conquer the knowledge of the immortal things”.
We don’t really know the mystery of life, the mystery of death, the mystery of the universe, the mystery of eternity and the mystery of time. We can only aspire to get closer to the truth, and at best we will be able to discern something that is merely similar to it. Ultimately, we’ll have to accept of not knowing, and give up the presumption of owning a metaphysical knowledge that might give definitive answers to the fundamental questions. This awareness is the fundamental reason that will push us to seek our personal answers to these dilemmas. We are surrounded by a mass of conceited ignorants, sure to know the truth and to have the answers to every question. Ignorants unaware of being such. Beware of these individuals! The best among us are those who know that they don’t really know!
“The body dies, the person disappears, nothing remains alive on the earth, except the memory of the virtue and actions of the deceased”.
“Be dead but not forgotten is longevity.”
-Tao Te Ching
One of the ways to conquer immortality is to live your life so that your descendants and/or your people will remember you as an example of honourable man or woman. In this way you will become a role model and surely someone will try to live following your footsteps and imitating your deeds. Your name will live on and you’ll have surmounted death!
“Remember that you are an actor playing a part in a drama that is how 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 play the part of a beggar, perform this role with skill: or that of a lame, or of a magistrate, or of a private citizen. In fact this is your task: to perform well the role that has been assigned to you. The choice of this role, however, is up to someone else”.
Maybe it will be useful to remember that the “playwright” referenced by Epictetus is nothing else than the Logos, the Universal Law, the divine essence that flows through all matter in the Universe, the reason, order, logic, necessity and harmony 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 lives was 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 this is the truth, i.e. predestination, we can not but acknowledge that we live inside a sort of 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 very 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 base, a form that comes from the past but we can choose in which way we should live our lives and act accordingly, affecting in this way – for the better or for the worst – what will be our future existence.
Other posts about Epictetus: About Stoicism, Words of Wisdom #32
“In this Land rest all those who have preceded us. To this Land are inextricably linked and in it are ingrained all our memories, all our warrior glory, all our history”.
-Corneliu Z. Codreanu
Blood and Soil, our only law! For Europe and for our Ancestors!
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 bit of land in the city that produces me silk and hemp; To play the lute is enough to distract me; meditate on our Tao is enough for my delight. No, I will not try to obtain a task>>. <<Excellent is your idea>> said Kong-zi, who had changed expression. <<I heard this: “Who knows how to be content with little doesn’t care of profit; who only cares to find himself doesn’t grieves for any loss; who seeks his own inner perfection doesn’t afflicts himself 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>>”.
“The lazy term <<evolution>> blinds us to the real complexity of the past”.
-Giorgio De Santillana
“To have confused the history of civilization with a process of gradual evolution has deprived us of any reasonable chance to shed light on the nature of civilization”.
-Giorgio De Santillana
What I want to stress here is that the concepts of “Evolution” and “Progress” are strongly interconnected and used in a religious and dogmatic way to influence the vision of the world of the masses (especially the youth). The educational system hammers that sort of dogmas in our heads to make us think that we started from the bottom of the barrel, to then experience an evolution/progress that may only get better with time, taking into consideration exclusively the material and technical aspects of a civilization, and totally excluding the spiritual and qualitative elements that give shape to the human being. Their purpose is to let us take for granted that the past was in every way worse as much as we go back in time: they absolutely don’t want us to look at it, to then find what we have lost, what we were, and finally see the modern world with open eyes! You must do that instead! If you understand the past – your past – you’ll be your own master, until death!
“The good fortune, is Zeus who distributes it to men, to the good and the evil, as he wants, to each one. To you he gave this fate, thou must endure it”.
-Nausicaa to Odysseus in the Odissey
“It is easy for the gods, that the vast sky possess, to do splendid or miserable a mortal man”.
-Odysseus to Telemachus in the Odissey
“Not even you despise them, the gifts of the glorious gods, those that they offer us: we can’t choose them by ourselves”.
-Paris to Hector in the Iliad
In this consists Stoicism: in understanding what is beyond our control, accepting it as well as it’s destined to us, in any way it will affect our lives, and then act accordingly!
“The being is, and can’t not be…the non-being is not, and can’t be”.
“Nothing can be born from nothing nor end in nothing. The universal substance therefore has always existed and is imperishable”.
With this sentences Parmenides and Zeno affirmed that nothing is created from nothing and nothing can be destroyed into nothing. Everything in the Universe is eternal, has always been (how it could not have, if nothingness doesn’t exist?), will never cease to be (how could it, if nothingness doesn’t exist?) and has never come into being (how could have it, if nothingness doesn’t exist?).
Try to tell this to the religious fanatics of Creationism and of the Big-Bang…
Related post: Eternal Regret (Part 1 of 2), Eternal Regret (Part 2 of 2)
“When two go together, if it is not one, it is the other that finds the best solution; but one alone, as much as he reflects, has the thought more slow, the mind more weak”.
-Diomedes to Nestor in the Iliad
“The Country goes to ruin for lack of men, not for lack of programs. This is our conviction. Therefore we must not develop new programs, but raise men, new men”.
-Corneliu Z. Codreanu
United we stand, divided we fall: we should remember it when we meet good Europeans that doesn’t have a worldview completely identical to ours. We are all, some more and some less, affected by this modern degeneration with which they “educate” us. What we can do – when it can be worth it – is try to correct each other, and become better!