The Wisdom of the Ancients – Part One

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The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts”.  These are the words of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who lived from 121AD to 180AD.  It’s such a simple statement with immense impact for those who challenge themselves to consider it further.

Following a recent theme we have been discussing here on POM regarding the need for adversity in the world as a prerequisite for personal growth and development, the conscious effort to enhance the quality of our thoughts should be structured as a tool which can be used to manage adversity and maximize our growth potential.

This existence is full of things and matters which cause much stress, confusing thoughts, and mixed emotions.  Most of us stumble around looking for answers and someone to make sense of it all for us.  This is the base human need which governments and religions evolve from.  It’s almost as if we are genetically hardwired to force someone else, or something else, to be responsible and accountable for our lives.

With that projection and externalization comes the inevitable shift-blaming:

I’m unhappy because so and so did something mean to me.”

“My job is horrible because the company has no clue how to run a successful operation.”

“I’m not passing because my teacher sucks.”   

“I’m poor because rich people are greedy.”

“I’m dying because corporations are putting poison in the food.”

We can come up with an endless list of such statements, and though some statements may be partially true based on evidence, each statement also suggests that the speaker is helpless to do anything about it, and as such, has accepted a state of victimhood.

There is a well-known phrase which says that if we don’t live our life based on our own plan than we will be living it based on someone else’s plan.  Another way of saying that is “plan your life or someone else will plan it for you.”

What we are experiencing in this existence and within this world is an overabundance of people who are allowing others to plan their life for them.  This is the baseline for the master and slave dynamic.  We are either a master or a slave to varying degrees.  We can be our own master or a master to others.  Equally so we can be our own slave or a slave to others.  We can even be all of those things at the same time depending on environment and situation.

As an example, a rich person could serve as a type of master over a thousand men but could be a slave to his own weakness to greed and avarice.  Likewise, a man could be master over his own inner thoughts and feelings but still be subjected to a master-type influence by things in his environment which are outside of his control.

The difference which Marcus Aurelius is drawing our attention to is that we have full control over our own thoughts and how we want to perceive that which we have control over and that which we don’t.  We have full control over our own thoughts which when managed consistently can begin to alter and adjust those things which we originally perceived as being outside of our control.

The suggestion is that if we accept a state of victimhood the quality of our thoughts will always be negative and detrimental to our overall well-being.  If we do not accept a state of victimhood, no matter the situation, and focus the quality of our thoughts on what we can control we will soon begin to realize that the area which we do control will grow larger and larger.

This is called re-framing our thoughts.  We can even re-frame the thoughts of others.  This takes us back to the master and slave dynamic and how someone else will plan our lives for us if we don’t plan it ourselves.

You need to focus the quality of your thoughts on your own frames and how to re-frame those frames which put you in a victimhood type mentality.

We are bombarded every waking minute of our lives with messages that are attempting to force outside frames upon us.  We are never told this because than we would not accept the frames that are detrimental to us and beneficial to others.

The world is the way it is today because there are more people who are allowing “masters” to formulate plans and frames for them as opposed to being their own masters.  It should also be considered that we are both our own master and slave while simultaneously being master and slave to others as well.

The statement about quality of thoughts by Marcus Aurelius is a great place to start this series on the Wisdom of the Ancients, as it provides us a common frame to begin the discussion.  This series will be primarily focused on self-discovery and self-improvement.  We explain and trend the things in the world which we feel matter but let’s also begin the process of understanding what we can do to promote and encourage change in the world.    – JC

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JC Collins can be contacted at jcollins@philosophyofmetrics.com

20 Comments on “The Wisdom of the Ancients – Part One”

  1. Man this is a beautiful piece friend. I’ve read from different authors similar instructions although not quite as thorough as this, and sadly I can only quote them. But you! You’ve taken those old accounts and…and mixed them all up together and presented them in your own beautiful way. Great works, and it’s a series!

    Thanks for lifting the spirit, its greatly appreciated 🙂

          1. When you say get out of the Earth, I take it to mean learn the lessons that have been confining our soul to the repetition of this place/space/dimension…

            This idea sounds similar to what the ancients in Egypt were teaching before Akhenaten.

      1. This brings to mind the Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tail. After she finds the right porridge the right chair and the right bed she lays down to rest and wakes up and leaves the bears’ house never to return again (gets out of Earth. . .) .

  2. This is a great series Dear JC Thank you,

    It seems life is a challenge for any person alive regardless of their wealth and luxury or status. In every level of the social order there exists multiple challenges and obstacle which one must get through to continue life. Without these challenges and obstacles none of us will learn and grow or even evolve as an individual.

    In some ways, when I look back at my life, I come to the realization that my character is to a bigger part the result of all the misfortunes that directed my path in a similar way to a pinball game when an obstacle redirects the ball. I have had major disasters in my life which now call, the wet slap in the face by universe! Without those hard slaps in my face, I may have turned out to be a different individual in terms of my character. So I guess I am grateful for those people who did me injustice and were harsh, cruel or even aggressive with me and I consider everyone of those people a great teacher.

    I sincerely believe that we attract the disasters subconsciously towards ourselves in majority of cases because we need to deal with a trait that the soul realizes it to be undesirable. In some ways, an idea of incarnation is within this realization. The next stage is the act of compassion which is the hardest challenge but it is possible and it allows us to be free as well as freeing the person who did us injustice. In this way compassion provides a major release for both parties.

    Adversity is our friend and our great hidden teacher. By looking at our life past events in a different perspective the act of compassion begins to make sense. Emptying the heart from the ill feelings of injustices of those who were harsh to us is a supreme and noble act and it is the key to the cultivation of our soul.

  3. I have no problem with the milquetoast masses or the manipulative puppeteers. My gripe is with the progenitor of this universe. We are all trapped between a selfish gene and a selfish soul. Why? Because duality is a poor platform for consciousness. We start pep rallies in high school and repeat them ad infinitum in an attempt to offset a bad situation. Evolve? Progress? It’s true that if I play a violin every day the adversity faced by my fingertips will evolve callouses such that I can play long and maybe even well. From outside people see that and applaud it. I have progressed/advanced/evolved to a superior state! Hooray? Ho hum. Everything that happens in time is an illusion; that which appears solid today will pour like sand through our fingers tomorrow. I like this analogy: Everything (picture the infinity symbol) is nothing (picture a zero) with a twist. This action, this movement, results in duality as a plane for consciousness. It is a juvenile form of creativity. The result is raw, primitive and quickly becomes tiresome. It is based on the creation of desire. It unfolds in a sine wave where chaos and disharmony inhabit the bottom of the wave (think the Kali Yuga), and harmony and order inhabit the top. When our species tire of the independence and chaos at the bottom of the wave we begin desiring order and harmony. Slowly that becomes a reality, and then we grow weary of the restrictions of order and begin desiring chaos and disharmony, etc., etc., etc. Just say no. It’s the only sane answer to this madness.

  4. Meet the 109-Year-Old Veteran from Texas and His Secrets to Life.

    12 Cigars a day, whisky, ice creams every night, milk and he still drives – just renewed his license!

    He does not have credit card and buys everything cash and keeps what he buys.

    Yet, his best secret is that he is positive and he he believes God wants him here.

    Wonderful and simple words of wisdom from a wonderful 109 year old. He has a message for us all…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXyfCGDnuWs

  5. Speaking of quality thoughts and how they create your reality, Goldi mastered the Trinity with as little adversity as hot v cold, small v big, hard v soft. Just sayin! Can’t wait to experience this series. Thank you.

  6. “Weltschmerz”

    German language has some words and terms that describe a particular condition all in one word. Weltschmerz literally translates to “World’s pain”. It defines a state that all of us at a time in our life will feel and it is a normal process of feeling the enormous burden that life may impose on us all from time to time. This seems to happen at our adult years and to some with more frequency which can result a breakdown. However, to acknowledge this phenomenon is a sign that we are adult enough to see life and it’s sometimes painful challenges and hopefully we endeavour to overcome them. Denying that life can be cruel and unjust is not facing the reality we are confronted with.

    I find what Nietzsche tried to do, was an attempt to make us realize that we are born with a gift, that is the free will and that Christianity that arose from the Greco-Roman cultures with their predominantly slave holding values did us a disservice in continuing the acceptance of the this Weltschmerz. This is perhaps why the semitic/Abrahamic religions have always been fast growing as it has always appealed to the majority of the population who were downtrodden, weak and basically slaves! It is possible to see the very popular appeal of Marxism which is the continuation and appeasement of the Abrahamic system and the slave mentality of majority of the population. Marxism, does not offer and opposition to the Abrahamic faiths but it solidifies them further and we assume Marxism does not recognize a god, although the supreme leader act as god on earth!

    It seems, it is far easier to fall into the mentality of a slave than to actually see one as otherwise. It becomes imperative for any sane, rational and wise individual to see the world for himself/herself without the preconditions of his society and relegion. This is often not an easy task but the prize is freedom and the downside, is the possibility of separation or being ostracized by the herd. Yet, to be the Ubermensch is possible and that is to rise above our programing and to make every attempt to discover the gift of life alive is. The aim should not be to Understand life but more to overcome its challenges and eternal questions as to what is the meaning of life by looking for an answer. This is because of the complexity of us as species in a seemingly random and infinite domain may not provide one answer but perhaps infinite answers which we must be able to welcome and marvel in.

    The fascination of Nietzsche with the Iranian philosopher Zarathustra (Zoroaster) was possibly due to Zoroaster’s view of the human beings and their potential for growth hence the term Ubermensch which I would prefer to translate as advanced human and definitely Not Superman. In this way, every one of us is capable of reacting to the heights of potential given our unique intellectual and physical capabilities. However, Nietzsche saw Christianity as unhelpful for the individual growth of people of his era because of its insistence on scriptures and basically to view god and the entire universe in a few hundred pages.

    One thing that is worth considering is the way the Aryan and Indo-European philosophy of Zoroaster in contrast to Abrahamic beleif systems in that, in Zoroaster’s view human beings are born free to pursue their goals in life given that they are bestowed with the gift of the free will. This means that they have a choice in choosing a right or wrong path and there is no psychopathic god waiting to pounce on their misdeeds and they only judgment is their own conscience, so the concept of justice is a much debated and thought through one in Zoroastrianism.

    On the other hand, in all Semitic/Abrahamic faiths and beleif systems, man is “Sinful”, that is a newborn child is sinful by default and he/she needs to be redeemed. I find this concept totally contrary to logic and regressive but it can bee seen how a priest class created such myths as a way to rule over the masses and act as their overlord and redeemer! In this way, the individual is weak, sinful and basically a slave that should not think of things in any different ways other than what he is, a slave.

    To lead a good life it may be best to try and see the big picture in relation to our place in the universe, also to claim one’s power back from authorities whether governments religions or other cults. Yet, seeking noble mentors that will illuminate the path for us in a positive and life altering way is absolutely an excellent idea. I personally have a few some of whom I have never met but their ideas and ways of seeing the world provides me with hope and methods of finding an improved version of me as a possibility. Good Mentors can lift us up and show us the way to higher potentials. In our human history the role of the elders in educating the young has played a crucial role in our development as a civilization and the role of the elders and their wisdom will continue to play a major role in the future.

    For those of noble POMers, I would like to recommend this excellent 59 minute BBC documentary regarding Nietzsche and how his genius changed our perception of the world.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzcD-LCKuNs

    1. Dear Carpe Diem:

      You say:

      … man is “Sinful”… he/she needs to be redeemed.

      Actually, he/she has already been redeemed !!!

      You also say:

      – Christianity (…) insistence on scriptures and basically to view god and the entire universe in a few hundred pages.

      I believe you may update your vision with a basic knowledge of the last 50 years of Christian theological reflection on the divine revelation and the Word of God.
      I invite you to read:
      – the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation “Dei Verbum”, 1965 => https://goo.gl/kn8J
      – the Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum Domini”, 2010 => https://goo.gl/UdqL6x

      Cordially,
      Rogelio

      1. Thank you Dear Rogelio for the information you’ve kindly attached,

        I sincerely hope that my limited knowledge of Christianity as a beleif system did not cause any upset as that has not been and never will be my intention either here on POm or anywhere else for that matter. I respect people and their beliefs and my statements regarding what Nietzsche thought regarding his unhappiness at the church of his era was based on my limited knowledge, and no harm was intended.

        What I wrote regarding the sinful nature of man, is I believe to be one of the important elements of Christianity and man can be redeemed only if he believes in Christ, which by itself is a condition. The condition then places the individual in a contract or in other words, a covenant.

        I am somewhat confused when I read:

        “… basic knowledge of the last 50 years of Christian theological reflection on the divine revelation and the Word of God.”

        My confusion is if you are saying that the Christian message has changed in the last 50 years? I am seeing more and more books and articles have been added to the already voluminous books, articles etc. that is has there been a change of the message in the past 50 years? Can you please elaborate?

        This morning to my shock I saw this news item, “Communist-ruled Cuba hosts first transgender Mass”! Is the holy see aware of this degeneracy and if so what are his views, since as a non-Christian, I find this progressiveness both oppressive to the majority hetrosexual population whether Christian or not.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-lgbt-church-idUSKBN1830EZ

        Thank you and wishing you a great Sunday,

        CD.

    2. Carpe Diem:
      In my previous comment I’ve omitted to mention a most recent and specific reflection about Nietzsche’s criticism of Christianity for having reduced human existence by removing adventure from life and, as you say, being unable to help the individual growth of contemporary people.
      Thats why I also suggest you taking a look to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter “Lumen Fidei”, 2013 => https://goo.gl/x9TTGy

      Kind regards,
      Rogelio

  7. There is no proper context within the immediate discussion to provide the following information. I really enjoy the youtube channel Forum Borealis from time to time. These last two interviews, I thought, were worth sharing.

    These are the Suppressed Cancer Cures (Part 1 of 2) – A conversation with John Apsley
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqh3F9tz4RI

    These are the Suppressed Cancer Cures (& how to get them) (Part 2 of 2) – John Apsley
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvX8kBMpVXE

    http://drapsley.com/

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