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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life is like an Onion

WHEN you have shut your doors, and darkened your room, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not; but God is within, and your genius is within; and what need have they of light to see what you are doing? To this God you likewise ought to swear such an oath as the soldiers do unto Caesar. For do they, in order to receive their pay, swear to prefer before all things the safety of Caesar; and will you not swear, who have received so many and so great favours, or if you have sworn, will you not stand to it? And what must you swear? Never to disobey, nor accuse, nor murmur at any of the things appointed by him, nor unwillingly to do or suffer anything necessary. Is this oath like the former? In the first, persons swear not to honour any other beyond Caesar; in the last, beyond all, to honour themselves. - EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §14. ¶1.

The quote above is today's Words of the Ancient Wise reading  ( for this morning.

"beyond all, to honour themselves"... Wow that is a huge principle to live up to. We often find it so much easier to live to an external set of rules or ideals. Stoicism takes it internal and makes us step up to the plate and live worthy of ourselves, worthy of that potential that lives inside of all of us, the Sage.

In our modern age we can just join a religion or group that will set out guidelines that we can live by.  We can adopt a lifestyle that is set on a predefined set of rules that will help us set goals and standards that we must live by, once adopted.  I have tried to find a "source" for a lifestyle many times in my life.  Each time it has been an experience that has left me feeling out of sync, a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.  This morning it hit me, by reading this passage, just what was wrong with all of those belief or lifestyle systems...  They were not able to go deep enough.  They did not bring me closer to a knowledge of Myself.  For me, these systems allowed me to put on a uniform of rules that made "ME" fit in, some even allowed "ME" to hide behind a mask.  These systems allowed me to hide and cloak myself in the guise of the perfect X (insert label here) so that I could focus on doing all of the prescribed actions that would show the outside world what I was.

In living the Stoic principles on a daily basis, actually actively practicing Stoicism as a living process, I am uncovering more of the inner "ME" rather than adding layers to the masks I have worn in the past.  In forcing myself to live up to the standard of authenticity; practicing mindfulness, reservation and hesitation, I am like an archaeologist or analyst digging past the layers to find the hidden ME, my best self and full potential.  This is the goal of the Sage, the work of the Stoic practitioner - to constantly be discovering themselves, to go deeper and further in to find a life of true contentment and joy.

I have set off on a journey full of wonder and enlightenment with many companions beside me.  Let's keep traveling together, encouraging one another and holding each other accountable when necessary.  Let's be to life like a bridegroom to his bride, full of joy and wonder.