Monday, April 23, 2007

(4) Ancient Voices, Modern Thoughts

"Heraclitus: God, he called the Logos, Reason, Intelligence, a
Whole made up of the sum total of all opposites, constantly in
motion, birthing, living, dying, and being born again. The
Heraclitean universe is a place where all parts are related to
the whole, and its symbol is fire, a rarefied fire that permeates,
consumes, destroys, creates, and lights the cosmos as one
single organism of life His cosmology and ours describe a
universe that is a unified, organic view of the cosmos."
[With permission, from Erik Wiegardt's, THE PATH OF THE
Wordsmith Press, 1996, pp. 11-12.]

"Zeno taught a unified system of philosophy in three parts:
ethics, physics, and logic. He established principles...based
not just on what he said they should be but on an understanding
of man's relation to the universe (physics) that followed from a
careful and accurate method of reasoning and rhetoric (logic) to
confirm the truth of these principles." [p. 15.]

"Posidonius of Rhodes: ...the Stoic doctrine of the interdependence
of all parts of the whole...our intelligence was more closely akin to
the intelligence that ruled nature, and that our reason was our
special link to the Logos." [p. 17.]

"In the Roman Empire: The Stoa...was the only philosophy
addressed to all, regardless of sex, race, or social class." [p. 19.]

"The Roman gods were largely viewed with skepticism, and
religious activities were limited to formal ceremonies carried out
by State officials that held little meaning to an individual's daily life.
The Stoa, on the other hand, showed the right way to live each day,
provided counsel for the hard decisions that had to be made, and
promised a direct and personal identity with the God of all
Creation, of nature and reason." [p. 20.]

"The Stoa and Christianity: Stoic doctrine was gradually
absorbed into Western intellectual history with the help of
Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, St. Jerome, John Cassian,
St. Augustine, Peter Abelard, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas,
and Meister Eckhart, to name a few...Stoicism was permanently
impressed into the traditions laid down by the Christian thinkers
of the early Middle Ages...By the time of the Renaissance,
Stoic philosophy became even more central to Western
thought...And the ethics of the Stoa predominated and inspired
Renaissance philosophies and essayists in their creation of
the new humanism of that era that is still a powerful force in the
world today." [p. 25.]

"Classical Stoic physics, although entirely theoretical, more
closely resembled modern physics than any other early science.
Even so, much of it is dated." [p. 29.]

"Stoic physical theory [is] the first to propose that physical laws
on earth were the same everywhere, even though they didn't have
the experimental proof or the language of modern mathematicians."
[p. 31.]

"The Logos: A force endowed with reason, continuous in space
and time, pervading, defining, and uniting the cosmos. A world soul."

"The first and Ultimate Principle of Stoic physics is that the Logos
and Matter are one of a continuum. The Logos is the active principle
and Matter is passive, not dead, and each is contained in the other.
We see the cosmos as a single, living organism shining in the
emptiness of the void, and that which makes it alive pervades,
defines, and unites each part of the whole. The Logos, God, the
Natural Order is one whole made up of interrelated parts, and such
a One is by our reckoning self-contained and self-sustaining." [p. 33.]

"Question: Did the cosmos, the Logos, have a self-reflective
awareness *before* the development of noetic consciousness
here and elsewhere in the universe; or, is its consciousness only
now awakening to itself?" [p. 44.]

"Stoics believe we are *all* sons and daughters of God. And our
consciousness, our reflective awareness, our reason that we use
is our evidence for this relationship. Is the Logos more than
that, something higher and greater than reason? What we do
know is that we have the kind of consciousness that recognizes
the Natural Order, and from our recognition comes our own
designs and creations, technological manifestations of our
understanding..." [p.47.]

"The sub-atomic world is a web of relations unifying the whole...
we acquire a clearer vision of reality as it is. Knowing our world,
its seasons and cycles and laws, is how we can best determine
our actions and expectations. We are not exempt from natural
laws. We are in it, and it is in us." [p. 54.]

"The Mystical Position: What the whole does, we do. What the
whole is, we are. The fate of all is our fate, and the appearance
of separate individuals is an illusion of the ego, part of the game
nature plays with itself...Actually, the Stoa isn't that far away from
the mystical position. We are the Logos. Remember, our
cosmologist was Heraclitus--the mystical genius..." [p. 60.]

"For you free will enthusiasts, don't despair. There is a solution,
a way of viewing the situation--a solution, a way of viewing the
situation...a solution that can be summed up in a single world, an
idea that was reformulated from the Stoa by the Christian scholar
monk, John Cassian. ATTITUDE!" Cassian...taught that all virtues
and all vices arise from one source: our inner attitude directing
the choices we make. Therefore, all virtues are one and all vices
are one because they all come from one source: ATTITUDE." [p. 60.]

"The Stoa never encourages indifference. a term
the Stoics invented to describe those things preferred but not in
and of themselves a good. Values are neither good or bad
because a Stoic rises above both prosperity and adversity...the
larger view...these external things happen, they come and go,
and that the only certain refuge is inside, in the *attitude* he
has taken to them." [p. 65.]

"Evil: There is no evil in nature; evil only comes from human
vice; vice comes from only one source, the passions; the passions
we identify as pleasure, pain, fear, and desire to avoid becoming
slaves to these passions...if we find we can't regulate it, moderate
it to our own benefit..." [p. 66.]

"Apatheia: Don't forget our motto: live according to nature--which
includes the obvious fact that we have feelings, given to us by
nature, and to deny them is like asking a human being to be a
tree...we have emotions, we feel, but we make a distinction
between the positive and negative among them. It is in a state
of apatheia that one is freed from enslavement to the passions
allowing the Stoic to follow his reason, to focus and cultivate
positive emotions, feelings of benevolence, prudence, friendship,
sympathy, and everyone's favorite, joy..." [p. 68.]

"The Imaginal Realm: Traditionally the Stoa was divided into
three areas of study: physics, logic, and ethics. Today a more
complete understanding must divide it into four: history, physics,
ethics, and metaphysics...The laws of physics, of course, are an
attempt to understand the laws of nature. To know the laws of
nature guides us in our efforts to live well in this world...And,
finally, we can't help but wonder if there isn't something more.
Our pending confrontation with death, our mortality,is one
compelling reason for many of us to search further and deeper
into the cosmos to know what sages know in their serenity."
[pp. 71-72.]

"Where do we go from here, we who are the flowering of noetic
consciousness in the universe, we who are the mirror of cosmic
awareness? Is there another level to which we may aspire and
self-evolve? What is the next level of consciousness and how
do we get there? [Just maybe we need to] come to know the
mystical experience as a routine part of our education." [p. 94.]