Self development, Stoic advice

On the god within us


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No man ought to glory except in that which is his own.

Seneca.

It is easy, especially in our days, to fall into the trap of materialism. Thinking that money, looks or a nice car represent ourselves and our identity. None of it represents what a man truly is, and what is that? Gods, literally.

When your mindset is on having more instead of being more you are doing it wrong, you are neglecting your god given identity for some external, petty identity. Everything that you can attain in life is going to be a direct reflection of the person who you are, of the person who you’ve chosen to be.

A god doth dwell, but what god know we not. 

Seneca 

Seneca wrote in his book Letters to Lucilious a letter called “on the god within us”. I just realized what a terrible writer I am in comparison to this great Stoic, Seneca. The best I can do is cite him:

We venerate the sources of important streams; places where a mighty river bursts suddenly from hiding are provided with altars; hot springs are objects of worship; the darkness or unfathomable depth of pools has made their waters sacred. And if you come across a man who is never alarmed by dangers, never affected by cravings, happy in adversity, calm in the midst of storm, viewing mankind from a higher level and the gods from their own, is it not likely that a feeling will find its way into you  of veneration for him? Is it not likely that you will say to yourself, „Here is a thing which is too great, too sublime for anyone to regard it as being in the same sort of category as that puny body it inhabits.‟ Into that body there has descended a divine power. The soul that is elevated and well regulated, that passes through any experience as if it counted for comparatively little, that smiles at all the things we fear or pray for, is impelled by a force that comes from heaven. A thing of that soul‟s height cannot stand without the prop of a deity. Hence the greater part of it is situated where it descends from; in the same way as the sun‟s rays touch the earth but are really situated at the point from which they emanate, a soul possessed of greatness and holiness, which has been sent down into this world in order that we may gain a nearer knowledge of the divine, associates with us, certainly, but never loses contact with its source. On that source it depends; that is the direction in which its eyes turn, and the direction it strives to climb in; the manner in which it takes part in our affairs is that of a superior being.

Seneca

The magnificent way in which he described this man touched by divinity, this man being divine himself left me just plain speechless. Every one of us has experienced might before in our lives, this is why I found it so relatable, it reminded me of the mountains I’ve seen before, the rivers, the truly majestic spectacles of life.

What attracted me so much was that there are no qualities outside of what you or I can attain, in fact, they can only be attained independently. At any given moment you can choose to be courageous, at any given moment you can be magnanimous, mighty or any other divine attribute you can imagine. This is entirely your choice, at any given moment.

The divine is readily available, it just takes your choice to embrace it.

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