The everyday mind: that is the way. Buried in vines and rock-bound caves, Here it’s wild, here I am free, Idling with the white clouds, my friends. Tracks here never reach the world; No-mind, so what can shift my thought? I sit the night through on a bed of stone, While the moon climbs Cold Mountain.
“No person is free who is not a master of himself.”
This quote is usually attributed to Epictetus, but found in works attributed to Pythagoras, and stated as: “None can be free who is a slave to, and ruled by, his passions.”
—As quoted in Florilegium, XVIII, 23, as translated in Dictionary of Quotations (1906) by Thomas Benfield Harbottle, p.368
“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, because an artful life requires being prepared to meet and withstand sudden and unexpected attacks.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 7.61
I often see Christians projecting their beliefs on Stoicism, let us compare them and be clear how these world views differ and overlap. I practice Stoicism and like to associate with others doing so, ancient and modern. There seems to be a tendency toward atheism these days among Stoics. Ancient Stoicism had the concept of Logos which represented a God figure, Zeus, but this concept was not defined by a personal relationship, as it is in Christianity. Zeus represented nature. I am not debating those differences between Stoics in this little essay. Disclaimer, I have no interest in Jesus or Christianity, beyond studying their historical impacts. I grew up as an evangelical Christian. I find the Stoic spiritual practices of ethics and virtue to live the best life, far superior to belief and faith in things unseen. Stoics help themselves using their reason and will.
Stoicism and Christianity are both concerned with how best to live, but Christians feel this life is a shadow of a life to come. The Stoics didn’t talk much about an afterlife and were agnostic about what, if anything lies beyond death. For the Stoics, what matters isn’t so much what may or may not happen after death, but how we make best use of the time we have now. This is one of the main reasons I practice Stoicism and not a religion idolizing people or worshipping a god beyond nature or the life we know now.
I do not agree with the Christian world view on original sin and death, which is why I practice Stoicism and not the Christian or any other religion. Stoics are focused on the life we have, not one to come. The Stoics viewed death as natural, a return to Nature. The Stoics believed that life should be lead through actions rather than words. I concur. What we do matters to us. The Stoics provide practices to help you control your reactions to thinking and difficult physical circumstances now, which is the only thing in your control.
Discourses Book 1.1 “About things that are within our power and those that are not.”
Epictetus speaks for Zeus/Nature, from Discourses,
“…I’ve given you a certain portion of myself, this faculty of motivation to act and not to act…the power to make proper use of impressions.”
—Epictetus Discourses, Fragments, Handbook, translated by Robin Hard, Book 1.1.12
Stoicism is an Ancient Greek philosophy formed in Athens while the Greek world was in chaos after the death of Alexander the Great. Zeno of Citium founded the Stoic school of philosophy, which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC. Stoicism is based on the moral ideas of the Cynics. Stoicism laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of virtue in accordance with nature.
“Now, If virtue promises to enable us to achieve happiness, freedom from passion, and serenity, then progress towards virtue is surely also progress towards each of the states.”
—Epictetus Discourses, Fragments, Handbook, translated by Robin Hard, Book 1.4.3
(Epictetus does seem to often have a personal view of the divine as related by Arrian in Discourses.)
The Greek term for word is Logos. Five hundred years before Jesus was born, Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, used Logos (the word) to explain what he saw as the universal force of reason that governed everything. He said all things happen according to the Logos. This belief became the foundation of Stoicism. Greek speaking Jews came to view the Logos as a force sent by God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is referred to as the Word, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; he is the driving force sent by God.
Modern day Christianity has a splintered past and is practiced differently between the Protestants and Catholic Church. Eastern Christianity is often thought closer to the original church that formed after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. I would argue that the Pauline Gospel is the foundation for the modern Western church more than other competing strains of early Christianity. This form of Christianity developed from the beliefs and doctrines espoused by the Hellenistic-Jewish Apostle Paul through his writings in the New Testament. These are muddy waters.
According to Christianity, it is only through Jesus of Nazareth that people can achieve eternal salvation. Humans save themselves through grace instead works, while the forgiveness of sins comes by faith alone.
I do not concur due to my experience. I take no one’s word as final on life and death. I am living this life now. Christian belief to me is a tyranny and not well reasoned or aligned with natural life and death. There are no similar concepts in Stoicism, where what you do is its own reward or punishment now, in the moment. We practice to be ready to act with reason and not be overwhelmed by emotions or fear.
Stoicism and Christianity are both monotheistic. Stoicism follows Heraclitus and believes in one Logos; Christianity follows Jesus, and requires followers to believe in the one true God and have no other gods before him [her]. Additionally, both Stoicism and Christianity serve the will of the Logos/God. They teach we can liberate ourselves from fear and anxiety by submitting to the will of the Divine.
In Christianity, the Word (Logos) was made flesh and dwelt among us. In Christianity, a relationship with the Logos is much more personal.
“The Stoics also referred to the seminal logos (“logos spermatikos”), or the law of generation in the Universe, which was the principle of the active reason working in inanimate matter. Humans, too, each possess a portion of the divine logos. The Stoics took all activity to imply a logos or spiritual principle.” — https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos#Stoics
“The Stoics often identified the universe and God with Zeus, as the ruler and upholder, and at the same time the law, of the universe. The Stoic God is not a transcendent omniscient being standing outside nature, but rather it is immanent—the divine element is immersed in nature itself.”
“The Stoics [defined] free will as a voluntary accommodation to what is in any case inevitable. According to this theory, man is like a dog tied to a moving wagon. If the dog refuses to run along with the wagon he will be dragged by it, yet the choice remains his: to run or be dragged. In the same way, humans are responsible for their choices and actions, even though these have been anticipated by the logos and form part of its plan.”
—(xix-xx) Gregory Hays
Another big difference between the two worldviews is Christians ask God for help, while the Stoics seek help from within. Through prayer, Christians ask to be released from suffering, healed when sick, and comforted in sorrow. By contrast, Stoicism tells us that if we want any good, we need to get it from ourselves. No spirit will relieve us from our pains.
Stoicism and Christianity have competing views about human nature as well. For the Stoics, nature has instilled people with the capacity to reason, which we can exercise to live out virtuous, dutiful lives. Christians, on the other hand, believe people are born with original sin, which has corrupted our internal moral compass. While it is possible to better ourselves by using reason, it is only by the grace of God that people are improved and saved.
This was just a high level survey of some of the differences between Stoicism and Christianity. I have nothing against Christians or anyone practicing Stoicism. The historical Jesus was not a Stoic as far as we know. We practice Stoicism here to live the best we can in a chaotic world beyond our control, bounded by birth and death. I’d argue Stoicism is about being the best Human Being we can be here now. We should not hold dogmatically to the ancient Stoics or cultural beliefs in my personal view. Epictetus said roughly the same. I think discussing these and other worldviews is beneficial if you can keep an open mind. But the words are just pointers to how to choose the best action any given moment.
“Such is the law that God has laid down, saying, ‘If you want anything good, you must get it from yourself.’”
—Epictetus Discourses, Fragments, Handbook, translated by Robin Hard, Book 1.29.4
DISCLAIMER: Where there is potential, there is danger. If you call a ghost, you must know how to get rid of it. Beware of unearned wisdom.
I did a recording on YouTube awhile ago, a reading from Carl Jung’s Red Book, recently reposted here. This morning had a very fun interaction with a young man, a butterfly. At least he sounded like a young man. He reminded me of myself, probably more intelligent than I, maybe, 😜
He wanted to share this dialogue from the Red Book with me below. As I had been talking about communing with our Daemon(s)/Daimon(s), your creative will or genius. I think genius is pure will unfettered, powerful and terrible. I’d read this dialogue before. But in a way I felt these invisible creatures of the unconscious were speaking through this interaction to me directly.
We went on for a bit back and forth in the video comments. Reminded me of one of my favorite poems below, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” He was almost as fast 💨 as me. I’d met my match I felt. I was playing a part with him. I was sincere, but I kind of got caught up in the energy of the conversation. It is rare I have found anyone to go toe to toe with my spontaneous style. He was fast. I really enjoyed the flow. I pointed to some practices that had helped me. But I don’t have any answers or questions about the inner Abyss really.
“Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.”
—Robert Frost – “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
The dialogue below is in reference to mythological creatures of the unconscious, the Cabiri. The invisible priests of Zeus divided into Good and Evil groups. Also maybe related or are the machine elves people meet on psychedelics this is a deep ancient hole in our unconscious. This may be Legion in the bible as well.
These are the Gnomes and Dwarves of myth. They were famed metal-workers, dwarfish sons of the god Hephaistos (Hephaestus), who served their father at his Lemnian forge. Like their mother Kabeiro (Cabeiro) the pair were also sea-divinities who came to the aid of sailors in distress. Related to daemons. we don’t know much about them. perhaps related to Atlantean myth.
Perhaps the good Cabiri. A protecting spirit. The belief in such spirits existed both in Greece and at Rome. The Greeks called them δαίμονες (daimones) and appear to have believed in them from the earliest times, though Homer does not mention them. Hesiod speaks of δαίμονες, and says that they were 30,000 in number, and that they dwelled on earth unseen by mortals, as the ministers of Zeus, and as the guardians of men and of justice. He further conceives them to be the souls of the righteous men who lived in the golden age of the world.
In mythology, the current race of Humans is a degraded version, 3rd Age of Humans, 1/4 of what were. Lord of the Rings is based on these myths.
Did Carl reconnect with these beings? The ones people are meeting today? Profound implications if so. I have met these beings inside myself as well.
Carl had a voluntary confrontation with the unconscious through willful engagement of what Jung later termed “mythopoetic imagination”. In his introduction to Liber Novus, Sonu Shamdasani explains:
From December 1913 onward, he carried on in the same procedure: deliberately evoking a fantasy in a waking state, and then entering into it as into a drama. These fantasies may be understood as a type of dramatized thinking in pictorial form…. In retrospect, he recalled that his scientific question was to see what took place when he switched off consciousness. The example of dreams indicated the existence of background activity, and he wanted to give this a possibility of emerging, just as one does when taking mescaline.
Interesting. “The similarities here are undeniable. Jung’s Cabiri work under the earth; while the Machine Elves live underground in a dome-shaped room. The Cabiri are described as mysterious and creative powers, and the Machine Elves can create unbelievable, fractal objects and new autonomous beings, not to mention the similarities in terms of knowledge, wisdom. Those who have visited the DMT realm also often describe encountering jesters, which could also be associated with Jung’s Cabiri as they, according to The Red Book, also lay all sorts of nasty tricks.”
I have seen these fractals myself. I have also met these jesters. What is going on in our unconscious? You had to be initiated in Greece to commune with them. Perhaps the Tarot is an artifact or doorway into the mythopoetic imagination these beings inhabit.
“This could indicate that an ancient pre-Hellenic cult had experimented with altered states of consciousness, either by using psychedelic substances or other meditative and mystical practices that initiated such powerful and moving visions.“
Just old myths, right? Perhaps the DMT realm and our unconscious mind are two faces to the same dimension, which includes infinite vaults of esoteric wisdom and knowledge. Perhaps we ought to frequent this dimension more often, or at least once during our lifetime on this earth, a visit which could unlock deeply-hidden treasures that would help us navigate not only our material lives, but also consciousness itself.
Well, I went and I have to say I feel this realm is more real than real. And the myths say this world Earth/Eden is the best game in town. See the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Make this life count is what they told me. I saw the consequences of all my actions to date, similar to a death review. It woke me right up to how I was wasting my life.
From Carl Jung’s Red Book:
What serviceable forms rise from your body, you thieving abyss! These appear as elemental spirits, dressed in wrinkled garb, Cabiri, with delightful misshapen forms, young and yet old, dwarfish, shriveled, unspectacular bearers of secret arts, possessors of ridiculous wisdom, first formations of the unformed gold, worms that crawl from the liberated egg of the Gods, incipient ones, unborn, still invisible. What should your appearance be to us?
What new arts do you bear up from the inaccessible treasure chamber, the sun yoke from the egg of the Gods. You still have roots in the soil like plants and you are animal faces / of the human body; you are foolishly sweet, uncanny, primordial, and earthly. We cannot grasp your essence, you gnomes, you object souls.
You have your origin in the lowest. Do you want to become giants, you Tom Thumb? Do you belong to the followers of the son of the earth? Are you the earthly feet of the Godhead?
What do you want?
The Cabiri: “We come to greet you as the master of the lower nature.”
I: ”Are you speaking to me? Am I your master?”
The Cabiri: “You were not, but you are now.”
I: “So you declare. And so be it. Yet what should I do with your following?”
The Cabiri: “We carry what is not to be carried from below to above. We are the juices that rise secretly, not by force, but sucked out of inertia and affixed to what is growing. We know the unknown ways and the inexplicable laws of living matter. We carry up what slumbers in the earthly; what is dead and yet enters into the living. We do this slowly and easily; what you do in vain in your human way. We complete what is impossible for you.”
I: “What should I leave to you? Which troubles can I transfer to you? What should I not do, and what do you do better?”
The Cabiri: “You forget the lethargy of matter. You want to pull up with your own force what can only rise slowly; ingesting itself affixed to itself from within. Spare yourself the trouble, or you will disturb our work.”
1: “Should I trust you, you untrustworthy ones, you slaves and slave souls? Get to work. Let it be so.”
“It seems to me that I gave you a long time. Neither did I descend to you nor did I disturb your work. I lived in the light of day and did the work of the day. What did you do?”
The Cabiri: “We hauled things up, we built. We placed stone upon stone. Now you stand on solid ground.”
1: “I feel the ground more solid. I stretch upward.”
The Cabiri: “We forged a flashing / sword for you, with which you can cut the knot that entangles you.”
1: “I take the sword firmly in my hand. I lift it for the blow.”
The Cabiri: “We also place before you the devilish, skillfully twined knot that locks and seals you. Strike, only sharpness will cut through it.”
1: “Let me see it, the great knot, all wound round! Truly a masterpiece of inscrutable nature, a wily natural tangle of roots grown through one another! Only Mother Nature, the blind weaver, could work such a tangle! A great snarled ball and a thousand small knots, all artfully tied, intertwined, truly; a human brain! Am I seeing straight? What did you do? You set my brain before me! Did you give me a sword so that its flashing sharpness slices through my brain? What were you thinking of?”
The Cabiri: “The womb of nature wove the brain, the womb of the earth gave the iron. So the Mother gave you both: entanglement and severing.”
1: “Mysterious! Do you really want to make me the executioner of my own brain?”
The Cabiri: “It befits you as the master of the lower nature. Man is entangled in his brain and the sword is also given to him to cut through the entanglement.”
I: “What is the entanglement you speak of?”
The Cabiri: “The entanglement is your madness, the sword is the overcoming of madness.”
I: “You offsprings of the devil, who told you that I am mad? You earth spirits, you roots of clay and excrement, are you not yourselves the root fibers of my brain? You polyp-snared rubbish, channels for juice knotted together, parasites upon parasites, all sucked up and deceived, secretly climbing up over one another by night, you deserve the flashing sharpness of my sword. You want to persuade me to cut through you? Are you contemplating self-destruction? How come nature gives birth to creatures that she herself wants to destroy?”
The Cabiri: “Do not hesitate. We need destruction since we ourselves are the entanglement. He who wishes to conquer new land / brings down the bridges behind him. Let us not exist anymore. We are the thousand canals in which everything also flows back again into its origin.”
1: “Should I sever my own roots? Kill my own people, whose king I am? Should I make my own tree wither? You really are the sons of the devil.”
The Cabiri: “Strike, we are servants who want to die for their master.”
I: “What will happen if I strike?”
The Cabiri: “Then you will no longer be your brain, but will exist beyond your madness. Do you not see, your madness is your brain, the terrible entanglement and intertwining in the connection of the roots, in the nets of canals, the confusion of fibers. Being engrossed in the brain makes you wild. Strike! He who finds the way rises up over his brain. You are a Tom Thumb in the brain, beyond the brain you gain the form of a giant. We are surely sons of the devil, but did you not forge us out of the hot and dark? So we have something of its nature and of yours. The devil says that everything that exists is also worthy, since it perishes. As sons of the devil we want destruction, but as your creatures we want our own destruction. We want to rise up in you through death. We are roots that suck up from all sides. Now you have everything that you need, therefore chop us up, tear us out.”
1: “Will I m’iss you as servants? As a master I need slaves.”
The Cabiri: “The master serves himself”
1: “You ambiguous sons of the devil, these words are your undoing. May my sword strike you, this blow shall be valid forever.”
The Cabiri “Woe, woe! What we feared, what we desired, has come to pass.”
The Cabiri were the deities celebrated at the mysteries of Samothrace. They were held to be promoters of fertility and protectors of sailors. Friedrich Creuzer and Schelling held them to be the primal deities of Greek mythology, from which all others developed (Symbolik und Mytlwlogie der alten Volker [Leipzig: Leske, 1810-23]; The Deities ofsamothrace , introduced and translated by R. F. Brown [Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1977]). Jung had copies of both of these works. They appear in Goethe’s Faust, part 2, act 2. Jung discussed the Cabiri in Transformations and Symbols of the Libido (1912, CW B §209-II). In 1940 Jung wrote: “The Cabiri are, in fact, the mysterious creative powers, the gnomes who work under l the earth, i.e., below the threshold of consciousness, in order to supply us with lucky ideas. As imps and hobgoblins, however, they also lay all sorts of nasty tricks, keeping back names and dates that were ‘on the tip of the tongue,’ making us say the wrong thing, etc. They give an eye to everything that has not already been anticipated by consciousness and the functions at its disposal … deeper insight will show that the primitive and archaic qualities of the inferior function conceal all sorts of significant relationships and symbolic meanings, and instead of laughing off the Cabiri as ridiculous Tom Thumbs he may begin to suspect that they are a treasure-house of hidden wisdom” (‘~ttempt at a psychological interpretation of the dogma of the trinity,” CW II, §244). Jung commented on the Cabiri scene in Faust in Psychology and Alchemy (1944, CW 12, §203f). The dialogue with the Cabiri that takes place here is not found in Black Book 4, but is in the Handwritten Drift. It may have been written separately; if so it would have been written prior to the summer of 1915.
Had a visitation by the Green Man. This morning I read a Taoist meditation saying nature speaks through the birds and flowers. Read this poem below as well. Big medicine. By Lauren Raine,
The Green Man
Remember me, try to remember,
I am the laughing man with eyes like leaves.
When you think that winter will never end,
I will come.
You will feel my breath,
a vine caressing your foot.
I am the blue eye of the crocus,
opening in the snow,
a trickle of water, a calling bird,
a shaft of light among the trees.
Life Starts Clapping
God lays His glance
Creatures grab their instruments
And join the
Whenever love makes itself known
What’s left to do
But be cut
And let your
By all around
And left to the wind
Or hung to dry
These are just flowers blooming inside…’tis the season. Cut them, share their fragrance, let them dry, crush them and make a salve of forgiveness. Apply it liberally in your life. You are perennial, you shall bloom forever.
God, Sant Kirpal Singh Ji, Dr. Harbhajan Singh, Biji Surinder Kaur, Kirpal Sagar, Unity of Man, Spirituality, Love, Compassion, Peace, Non-Violence, Right Understanding, Consciousness, Togetherness, Religions, Mind, Maya, Poems, Aphorism, Digital Art