Seneca – 8 Lessons from Letters to a Stoic

I’m currently reading Letters from a Stoic from Seneca.

He was a Roman Stoic Philosopher. His work has been geared to help people through a variety of ways.

Whether it’s wealth, love, education, death, joy, getting older, etc.. Seneca has something to say about it.

Although, I haven’t even scratched the surface of this book, I wanted to share some parts that I underlined and wrote commentaries on. 

This post is rather long (5 pages), so reading a quote and my commentary in sections might be better.

1. On Friendship

“And this is what we mean when say the wise man is self-content; he is so in the sense that he is able to do without friends, not that he desires to do without them. When I speak of being ‘able’ to do this, what I am saying in fact amounts to this: he bears the loss of a friend with equanimity.”

Commentary – I find contentment in solitude because no matter how many friends or lovers I may have, I’m still alone. Thoreau once said, “I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” As I become older my circle of friends grows smaller, but these relationships are as deep as they would be with a lover. My time with friends are special. I look at every interaction with one as my last. I know death is looming at a time and place that is unknown, so you could say I have prepared for death. I will continue to expand and strengthen the roots of all my relationships, but understand there transient nature. I’m not attached to anyone person, however, the ephemeral nature of life has left me with a relentless pursuit to show as much love as one can in every encounter with another.  Continue reading “Seneca – 8 Lessons from Letters to a Stoic”

What is Unity?

Fighting for Unity

Throughout history many people have tried to unite the human race. Mandela, King, Malcolm X, Kennedy, Lincoln, and Gandhi to name a few were all controversial figures who were vilified at their time, but history has absolved them for they had a vision, a voice, and a determined mindset to unify all people. They saw humanity as one voice cloaked in many different bodies.

Of the names mentioned, Mandela is the only one that was not assassinated, but even he was not without hardships and faced 27 years in prison for trying to unify the citizens of South Africa.

With so many good people punished for attempting radical change, it begs the question, is humanity ready to unite as one? What does unity even mean?

Unity means to join as one whole in harmony. Do you believe this has happened in our world today? Do you feel we are one unifying force? I ask myself these questions constantly when I see the turmoil in our planet.

We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing, but in the interim we are busy accumulating more and living less. The top leaders of nations are waging blind wars thus controlling the fate of child soldiers. We have introduced mobile technology to make our lives easier, but not without cost – the cost lies in losing touch with what is real while feeling temporary satisfaction with information overload.   We live in a world of checks and balances, yet we are far from balanced. With all the shit going wrong in the world, is it possible to feel united?

I’ve come to a truth that is unique to me in regards to unity (you have to find your own truth).

Unity begins and ends with the self, PERIOD.

Through much soul-searching, meditation and reading, I’ve come to some understanding about unity. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to become a unifying force in this world. This discipline takes place when all conformity to identity, ideals, and beliefs come to an end. Let’s explore this by a lesson with nature.

The Redwood Tree

Have you ever looked at a tree carefully – so carefully that the thought of its beauty, grandeur, and the peace of mind that it embodies becomes non-existent?  In other words, have you looked at a tree without any thought at all?

Living in the Pacific Northwest I’m fortunate to be surrounded by redwood trees. Every time I see one, I can’t help but stop and stare in complete stillness. The subject of my awareness becomes more than just the redwood tree. It becomes the many rays of light the sun sends from the cosmos, it becomes the gentle pittar-patter of the flowing creek water, the cold, misty but refreshing air, the singing blue jays, and the bright green moss attached to the wet bouldering rocks. The redwood tree becomes a gateway to the awareness of everything surrounding it and in this awareness I lose my sense of self – I forget myself. There is only stillness. There is only this moment where time ceases and joy becomes paramount. 

The Observer and Observed

Let’s explore this more. When you look at a tree, you are the observer and the tree is the observed. The distance between you and tree is time – for it takes time for you to see the tree (speed of sight). Are you with me so far?

Let’s go deeper. When you are looking at the tree,  you (observer) are seeing the tree as it is in the past. Time and space have made this so. For example, say if someone says hello to you. By the time it takes for you to hear and conceptualize the word hello (speed of sound) – it has already become the past. 

Another example to illustrate my point. Think about the warmth of the sun. That warmth you feel is the sun’s energy 7 minutes in the past.  It is important to note that, although the sun’s energy is in the past, you can only feel it NOW.

Let’s get back to the tree now. When I talked about the stillness I feel when I see the tree, that same stillness is born with no thought – this is referred to as presence. Presence is when there is no observer nor observed. When the mind is completely still and free from thought, then there is no difference between you and the tree. There is no more distance of time, nor does past or future exist. You are not observing the tree, instead you are the tree. This is a powerful way to look at life. The east refer to it as transcendence. 

This is what I refer to as UNITY.

Unity is being free from thought. Unity is seeing your world as something that is indispensable from you, rather everything you experience is an extension of you just like your body is. 

A Glimpse

Have you ever been in love? My guess is that many of us have at some point. Doesn’t love feel great, especially the beginning? But what’s so great about it?  Think about this – when we love someone, we are not in love with them, but rather the way they make us feel. In essence we love ourselves. When we are in love why does an hour feel like a second, and when we are caught with something we don’t like, why does a second feel like an hour? The more we love, the less we think about time. This is true for our lovers as it is for LIFE for they are not separate.  Although this example is a testament to human selfishness, it does give us a glimpse into what unity is.

When you start to see all images in the world as a part of your experience (without thought) then you can transcend the limitations of human consciousness for it is rooted in past and future thoughts and this is where ego resides.

With complete stillness and awareness – peace and an abundance of love for all things takes place. 

The Point of Understanding Unity

Someone may look different from me, but what if I viewed that person as a part of me? What if I became present without the distance of time – what would happen? I will tell you. That person will not be black, white, asian, gay, straight, republican, democrat, christian, muslim, hindu, or any other man-made dividing ideology (surface driven illusions). Instead that person will be me. When separation and time ceases, only then does unity begin to flow into the river of love. You don’t co-exist with others. You become EXISTENCE. You don’t tolerate others because to tolerate is just a clever way to be intolerant.

To understand unity in this way, you must want to understand the nature of existence like you want your next breath. My longing for the truth has switched gears to what it was previously. The questions of where did I come from, why am I here, and where will I go after death are not nearly as important as the following:

  • How can I understand the existence of humanity better right now?
  • How can I live in more joy right now?
  • How can I end my own suffering?

JOY is NEVER outside of you

I have given up the treasure hunt for the meaning of life for I am the gatekeeper of the treasure that resides within myself.

Everything that is anything will only happen now in my experience.

Understand this moment, become one with this moment, see others as yourself and the freedom to live this short life becomes beautiful and full of joy – always.

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With Love,

Anand

 

The Cat Chasing its Tail

In his philosophical book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan Watts described the world of suffering as flies caught in honey.

As we enjoy the sweetness of the world (money, sex, relationships, politics, careers, traveling, food, etc.), we also get more involved in it thus becoming more trapped and stuck to the limitations set by our desires. Continue reading “The Cat Chasing its Tail”

Death – The Stoic Meaning

Death – The Stoic Meaning

When amongst friends, family and acquaintances I bring up death quite casually. After all, it’s a destination we will eventually share so why is it not commonplace to discuss? It can be scary and daunting, but I prefer to see death differently. My intention is not to talk about death carelessly, rather treat death with the same regard and respect we give to life. Continue reading “Death – The Stoic Meaning”