Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, burned at the stake in 1600 after being declared guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition, in consequence of his criticism of Christianity and the cosmological conclusions he had reached in his search for truth through philosophy. Bruno considered Christianity as a degenerative process that reached its climax during the Counter-Reformation, however what actually interests me is to expose briefly his cosmology, because it makes sense and is very similar to the vision of the cosmos that the Europeans had during Prehistory and Classical Antiquity.
Bruno’s Universe is eternal and infinitely extended (if it was finite, in what would be contained?), whereby motionless and without a center. It consists of a single and vast living organism, animated and endowed with intellect, a homogeneous and indivisible whole governed by the interdependence of all its parts, which are in relation to the organism in its unity (i.e. an organism made up of organisms), unity that coincides with the concept of divinity: consequently the divine resides in the multiplicity that exists in the Universe, throughout Nature and, therefore, also in ourselves. For Bruno everything is matter, that is life, and the Universe consists in infinite matter that changes perennially, able to transform itself continuously in an incessant becoming, passing from one extreme to the other, from an opposite to the other. The universal matter is infinite energy provided with intellect, unity in which lies a multiplicity, multiplicity in which lies a unity!
“Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it”.
Related posts: Words of Wisdom #51, Eternal Regret (Part 1 of 2), Eternal Regret (Part 2 of 2), The Harmony of Opposites
“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)
“Gold is tried by fire, brave men by adversity”.
“Has relevance not what you have to endure, but how you are able to endure it”.
“To know yourself is necessary to prove yourself; only in this way a man can know what is his worth”.
“The safe road is followed by the weak and the cowards; the virtue seeks high and steep trails”.
“Is it any wonder that do not reach the summit those who have faced an arduous climb? If you are a man, however, admire the one who attempts great feats, even if you see him falling”.
“Wellness can happen even to the common and modest people; dominate the adversities and the misfortunes is precisely of the great men. Always be happy and go through life without the bite of pain means to ignore half of life”.
“Therefore we accept with serenity all that for law of the universe we have to bear. We are committed to this, to tolerate our mortal condition and not be disturbed in relation to what is not in our power to avoid”.
“The right man differs from the divinity only for his mortal condition”.
The best men are tested by destiny and consequently their existence is studded by adversities, so that they can manifest their virtues before the eyes of ordinary people, so that they can become role models. They are born to serve as examples, to become archetypes and teach to endure and overcome the difficulties of life. From the best we demand more, and destiny acts in the same way!
“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!
“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
“Why then all the Ancestries have fought, fight and will ever fight for the defense of the Land? The Land is the base of the life of the Ancestry. As a tree, the Ancestry stands with the roots impressed in the Land, from which draws life and force. As there is no tree that lives suspended in the air, so doesn’t exist an Ancestry that can live without its own Land. Without possessing its own Land an Ancestry can’t live – unless it settles on the Land of another Ancestry or in its very body, sucking all its energy”.
-Corneliu Z. Codreanu
“The law of honour: go along only on the paths of honour. Fight, and never be a coward. Leave the path of infamy to others. Better to fall fighting in the path of honour than win by infamy”.
-Corneliu Z. Codreanu
“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”.
“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)
“One who submits to destiny suffers, but fate protects him“.
-Giorgio De Santillana
Always embrace your destiny, literally everything that happens in your life is decided by it. You are your destiny and your destiny is what you are, it is your shadow, you can’t run away from it, but only, if you are wise, accept it. It takes shape from your honour, from what you have accomplished in your previous lives. So, in a way, you yourself have decided your actual destiny and it fits you perfectly. It is nor good nor bad and no one merits a better or worse destiny instead of the one he is experiencing or has experienced. However, life will always make us think and believe that we are in possess of our destiny, that we can shape and change it to our liking…our mind is trapped in a sort of illusion, that probably protects us from a sort of metaphysical despair, a despair that maybe we can perceive when we realize even for a moment the true nature of Destiny, the most powerful of all deities!
“He who learns who he is, will also know where he comes from”
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