I enjoy philosophy because it gives me direction. Though it doesn’t always tell me what I want to know, it reveals what I ought to know. Following are five short, philosophy lessons that have guided me in asking the right questions in life.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.” — Heraclitus
Permanence is an illusions. Everything changes, every moment — physically, biologically, psychologically. Even you have changed since the time you started reading this. You will continue to change forever, and so will everyone in your life. Change conquers everything, especially those who don’t expect it.
“Man is affected, not by events, but by the view he takes of them” — Epictetus
How things affect us depends on how we feel about them. How we feel about them depends on what we believe they mean. Our mind is our home; it’s where we live. But our world is an unpredictable jungle filled with chaotic events scrambling this home like wild animals. The only real control we have in this ever-changing world is in our home; what we permit in, where we put it, and how we use the meanings we give it to tame it.
“We shape clay in a pot, but it is the emptiness inside the pot that holds whatever we want” — Lao Tzu
Formulating meanings and opinions is important. But just like a bowl that isn’t hollow, can’t hold water, a mind that isn’t free of uncompromising preconceptions can’t occupy anything new. Nothing exists without nothingness, especially life.
“There are conditions of our existence that we cannot change, so it is best to adopt a noble spirit towards them.” — Seneca
Hopes are like energetic dogs tied to a running chariot. Like life, the chariot may turn and they must turn with it. But sometimes, these hopes get lured in a different direction, causing the leash to strangle it. Frustration happens when unforeseeable reality crashes in to misplaced hope. Foreseeing events is almost impossible. Therefore, it is wiser to withhold hope. This is not pessimism but an under-reliance on hope. It is to acknowledge our immediate realities before investing great emotions into expectations.
“This too shall pass” — Attar of Nishapur
Because, it always does. Time heals all wounds. No matter how difficult things become, patience survives all obstacles. In the words of Marcus Aurelius — “We are each of us, stronger than we think”.
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