This month's guest post is brought to you courtesy of The Stoic Gym. One of the very best sites in the world for all things stoic. Enjoy:)
By Dr. Chuck Chakrapani
Mindfulness is not a standard Stoic term, but the concept plays an important role in Stoic thinking. For our purposes, if we define mindfulness as the art of paying deliberate attention, then we will see its critical role in moving us towards Stoic virtues and towards the good life.
Mindfulness And Wisdom According to Stoicism, we are constantly presented with what are known as ‘impressions’. Impressions are stimuli as they appear to us. Someone tells you that you are hard to understand. You may think that:
All of the above are ‘impressions’. Any of them may be correct or incorrect. Impressions often involve judgment. In the above example, let’s say your initial judgment is that the other person is not paying attention. If you accept this judgment, then your subsequent behaviour towards the other person will be coloured by this judgment. If you reject this judgment and instead think that perhaps you were talking too fast, then what you do next will be decided by this judgment.
Most of us are too quick to act on our initial impressions. In Stoic practice, this is not a good idea. We need to tell the impression:
''Hey impression, wait for me a while. Let me see what you are and what you represent. Let me test you before accepting you.'' Epictetus, Discourses 2.18.24 (Chuck Chakrapani, Stoic Choices, Ch. 18)
This is the art of choosing our response before responding. The art of examining the impression and deciding whether to assent to it or not is Stoic mindfulness. We should not mindlessly assent to the first impression that comes to us but mindfully examine it to decide whether to assent to it or not because, as Viktor Frankl points out, “in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
The first virtue in Stoicism is wisdom. Wisdom is the art of choosing to act or not to act in a particular way. It is the art of right assent. It is the result of paying attention to impressions and examining them in a mindful way.
Mindfulness And Justice
Mindfulness is also related to the second virtue of Stoicism, justice. Justice refers to two things in Stoicism. One, to know what belongs to you and what does not belong to you so you can give everyone their due. The second is to understand that we are not isolated beings.
We are a part of a family, a society, a country, and the world. Our good is related to what is good for things we are related to. What is not good for the world we live in is not good for us.
"What is not good for the beehive is not good for the bee."
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.54 (Chuck Chakrapani, Stoic Meditations, Bk 6.54)
Whenever we are carried away by greed and try to grab what is not ours and whenever we mindlessly damage our relationships with our family, friends, society, or the world, we can pull back and mindfully examine our impulses. We may find that:
"i. This thought is unnecessary.
ii. This thought is destructive to our fellowship.
iii. This is not our true thought (it is out of place because it does not come from our heart.)
iv. When we are tempted to blame our self, our divine part is beaten by our body, the inferior and perishable part."
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. Ch. 11.9 (Chuck Chakrapani, Stoic Meditations, Book 11.9
Mindfulness And Moderation
We are carried away by our desires. Some of us eat or drink mindlessly. Addictions to food, alcohol, and drugs can be the result of our not being mindful of our actions. When we are mindful, we deliberately look at our desires. Do we really want to have another drink or are we having one out of habit? Are we just eating for the sake of eating? When we question ourselves mindfully, we may moderate our desires. A mindful look at our unexamined desire may strengthen our self-control or moderation, a cardinal Stoic virtue.
Mindfulness And Courage
We have many aversions or fears such as fear of poverty, fear of illness, fear of old age, and fear of death. Such fears are groundless for two reasons. First, they are not under our control and it does not help to be afraid of what is not under our control. Second, we will have same resource we use now to cope with them when we come to them.
"You will meet it — if you have to — with reason, the same resource you use now to deal with life."
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. Ch. 7.8 (Chuck Chakrapani, Stoic Meditations, Book 7.8)
When we examine our fears, we will see that we have several resources.
'Remember that, for every challenge you face, you have the resources within you to cope with that challenge … When you have pain, you have the resource of endurance. When you are insulted, you have the resource of patience. If you start thinking along these lines, soon you will find that you don’t have a single challenge for which you don’t have the resource to cope.' — Epictetus Enchiridion 10
Because we often panic when we face our aversions, we become fearful. But when we mindfully examine our fears and understand that we have nothing to fear, we develop the fourth Stoic virtue, courage.
Stoicism teaches us to deliberately examine the validity of our impressions and not accept hasty judgments but, rather, move towards Stoic virtues. This ‘pause-and-examine’ approach to a life of virtue is Stoic mindfulness.
Books by Dr. Chuck Chakrapani
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THE SEVEN UNIVERSAL LAWS EXPLAINEDTHE PRINCIPLES THAT GOVERN EVERYONE & EVERYTHING
By Tania Kotsos
Today's blog is a republished article by author Tania Kotsos. We have wanted to share with you a greater understanding of the 7 Universal Laws for a while and this is by far the greatest piece out there. Enjoy:) Though it is a longer read than we normally publish we feel its importance cannot be overstated.
There are seven Universal Laws or Principles by which everyone and everything in the Universe is governed.
To name them, they are the Laws of Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect and Gender. The Universe exists in perfect harmony and order by virtue of these Laws. Ancient mystical, esoteric and secret teachings dating back more than 5,000 years from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Greece, all have as a common thread these seven Hermetic Laws of the Universe. Once you understand, apply and align yourself with these Universal Laws, you will experience transformation in every area of your life beyond what you have ever dared to imagine. The governing Laws seek neither to punish nor reward you. They are impersonal, operating automatically along unconscious lines without your conscious participation.
The Immutable and the Mutable Of the seven Universal Laws, the first three are the Higher Immutable Laws, meaning that they are Absolute and eternal. They can never be changed or transcended. They have always existed and will always exist. The remaining four laws are the Lower Mutable Laws, meaning they are transitory and can be transcended, or else worked with to create an ideal inner and outer world. This is not to say that you should ignore the four Mutable Laws or attempt to defy them because even if you do they will still govern your existence. Your aim is to understand each of the seven Universal Laws and then learn to transcend or master the Lower ones through your knowledge of the Higher Laws.
1. The Law of Mentalism (Immutable) The first of the seven Universal Laws is the Law of Mentalism that tells us that "The All is Mind—The Universe is Mental". This means that mind or consciousness is the underlying substance of the entire Universe, and that this consciousness is the Mind of The Absolute--Universal Mind. Being an Immutable Law, nothing can or ever will change it and it holds true on all planes—the Physical, the Mental, and the Spiritual Planes. ‘All is Mind’ however does not mean that everything belongs to the Mental Plane. Rather, the Mental Plane is that plane of Mind associated with what we consider to be mental activities such as thinking, imagination and your overall mental state.
All energy and matter, both visible and invisible and at all degrees of existence, is created by and is subject to The Absolute of which your God Self is a Divine Spark. Your mind is one and the same with Universal Mind in Its entirety. And your reality is but a manifestation of your mind, a projection of your consciousness. And since all is mind, this means that you do not have a mind, you are mind. This is the essence of Mind Power.
2. The Law of Correspondence (Immutable) The second of the seven Universal Laws is the Law of Correspondence that tells us "As Above So Below, As Below So Above", "As Within So Without, As Without So Within". This means that there is "harmony, agreement and correspondence" between the Physical, Mental and Spiritual Planes. There is no separation since everything, including you, is Mind. The only difference is the rate of vibration or frequency. The same pattern is expressed on all planes of existence from the smallest electron to the largest star, from the visible Physical Plane to the invisible Spiritual Plane.
The practical use of the Law of Correspondence is that it allows you to logically understand the nature of those things beyond your understanding by studying the nature of those things that you do understand and then finding the analogy.
For instance, by understanding the creative aspect of Universal Mind, you can precisely understand how your mind creates your reality. You can understand the state of your outer physical world by looking to your inner mental world. Similarly your inner mental world can be revealed to you by looking to your outer physical world.
The New Thought author, James Allen, perfectly captured this Law when he said, "Circumstances do not make a man, they reveal him." And the Ancient Greek Temple of Apollo at Delphi was referring to this great Law of Correspondence in the inscription "Know thyself and thou shalt know all the mysteries of the gods and the Universe".
3. The Law of Vibration (Immutable) The third of the seven Universal Laws is the Law of Vibration that tells us "Nothing Rests—Everything Moves—Everything Vibrates", "The Whole Universe is But a Vibration". This is confirmed by modern-day science that states everything, including you, is pure energy vibrating at different rates of vibrations. The only difference between all manifestations of consciousness or mind, be it matter, thoughts, emotions, things or circumstance, is their corresponding rate of vibration. The higher the rate of vibration, the less dense or more subtle (less physical) that thing is. And the lower the rate of vibration, the more dense or less subtle (more physical) that thing is.
Everything that you experience with your five physical senses is conveyed to your brain through vibrations. On the Mental Plane, when you think you emit thought-waves and each thought-wave has its own signature frequency albeit invisible to your physical senses.
The overall frequency of your mental nature is determined by what you persistently think, feel, imagine, believe and so on, which in turn determines the corresponding nature of your projected 3D experience. Since you can consciously choose your thoughts, you can intentionally increase the rate of vibration of your mental frequency by thinking more positive thoughts of a higher frequency.
In this light, the axiom that "like energy attracts like energy", upon which the Law of Attraction is based, is founded in the Law of Vibration. You can learn to control your mental vibrations at will by consciously choosing what you focus on, what you imagine, what you assume and how you emotionally react to outer world circumstances. Similarly, you can also change your personal belief system and reprogram your mind. This is the foundation of true thought power.
The Law of Vibration and Directive PowerImportantly, we also know that in accordance with the Law of Vibration, higher rates of vibration have directive power over lower rates of vibration. This means the higher your degree of consciousness towards the mighty I AM, the greater your directive power over the denser degrees of consciousness below it, including your Mental Plane and the 3D Physical Plane. This then explains why the 'higher' you go in consciousness on the inside, the greater your ability to effortlessly manifest your desires on the outside because the former has greater directive power over the latter.
4. The Law of Polarity (Mutable) The fourth of the seven Universal Laws is the Law of Polarity that tells us that "Everything is Dual, Everything has Poles", "Everything has its Pair of Opposites", "Opposites are Identical in Nature, but Different in Degree". It is the first of the Mutable or transcendable Universal Laws and means there are two sides to everything. Things that appear to be opposites or contradictory are just two extremes of the same thing. For instance, heat and cold appear to be opposites but in truth they are varying degrees of the same thing called temperature.
The same applies to all opposites. The opposite pairs of love and hate, peace and war, positive and negative, good and evil, yes and no, light and darkness, energy and matter are all but varying degrees of the same thing. You can transmute your emotions from hate to love, from fear to courage and so on by rising above your emotions and by consciously choosing to focus on higher emotions. This serves to raise your Mental Plane's overall vibration and hence also your corresponding 3D experience. In Hermetic Teachings this is called the Art of Polarization and Mental Transmutation.
Rising Above the Law of Polarity. This Principle of Duality may appear to be very real in your life but it operates only in the Physical and Mental Planes, not in the Spiritual Plane where All is One. As it says in the Bhagavad-Gita, "God is Above the Opposites". By always placing the All-Powerful, All-Knowing Absolute that is one and the same with your True Self, behind everything you say and do, and by endeavouring to focus on the positive even when things appear not to be going your way, while also avoiding the extremes, then in time you will come to master the Law of Polarity.
5. The Law of Rhythm (Mutable) The fifth of the seven Universal Laws is the Law Rhythm that tells us that "Everything Flows, Out and In", "All Things Rise and Fall", "The Pendulum Swing Manifests in Everything", "The Measure of the Swing to the Right is the Measure of the Swing to the Left", "Rhythm compensates." It is the second of the mutable or transcendable Universal Laws and means that all things, be they visible or invisible, swing between the opposites courtesy of Rhythm's pendulum.
This Universal Law is evidenced in the waves of the ocean, in the rise and fall of empires, in business cycles, in the swing of your thoughts from being positive to negative and in your personal successes and failures. In accordance with this Law, when anything reaches a point of culmination then the backward swing begins almost unnoticeably until such time that any forward movement has been almost totally reversed, then the forward movement begins again and the process is repeated.
Working With the Law of Rhythm. To work with rather than against the swing of the pendulum, you must become aware of the subtle start of the backward movement in any of your endeavours whether it be to improve your health, finances, relationships or any goal you may set in motion. When you feel the Law start to draw you back do not become fearful or discouraged. Instead, remember that you are one with the All-Powerful Absolute for which nothing is impossible, keep your thoughts focused on your desired outcome and remain positive no matter how far back this transitory Law pulls you. Even if your efforts meet with failure, find comfort that by virtue of this very same Law, the upward motion must start again.
Rising Above the Law of Rhythm. You can rise above the Law of Rhythm in your inner world and hence also in your outer world by avoiding the extremes so that the pendulum has nothing to correct. This does not mean to be mediocre. Rather, it means to seek balance because balance is in fact what this Law seeks. When for instance you experience mental extremes on both sides of the spectrum, be they in the way of fear, panic, over-excitement or a sense of obsession or attachment, seek to calm your mind so that your thoughts, emotions, words and actions that follow are not extreme.
In this way the swing to the one side will be so measured, that the swing to the other side will be unnoticeable. Extremes are relative and what is extreme for one person may be measured for another and vice versa. You can only gauge if what you're thinking, feeling or doing is extreme and the criterion, according to Pythagoras, is whether it's hurting or harming you—your present or future self.
6. The Law of Cause and Effect (Mutable) The sixth of the seven Universal Laws is the Law of Cause and Effect that tells us that "Every Cause has its Effect", "Every Effect has its Cause." In accordance with this Law, every effect you see in your outside or physical world has a very specific cause which has its origin in your inner or mental world. This is the essence of thought power. Your thoughts, your beliefs about yourself, others and life, and your overall mental state set in motion specific causes that come to materialize over time as corresponding effects in your outer world.
To Master Your Destiny, Master Your Mind. To become the master of your destiny, you must master your mind because everything in your 3D reality is but a mental creation—a projection of consciousness. There is nothing like chance or luck, at least not in the way we define them. They are simply terms used by humanity in ignorance of this Law of Cause and Effect. Remember always that the invisible mental world is the cause and the visible 3D outer world the effect. Do not allow your outer world to determine your inner world. Persist in the thoughts, feelings, assumptions and imaginings of the life you wish to live and the outer world will in time follow suit, in line with the conscious creation process.
Your Imaginings are Instantly Created. The Law of Cause and Effect applies on all three planes of existence—the Spiritual, the Mental and the Physical Planes. Having said this, on the Spiritual Plane cause and effect are instantaneous such that they appear inseparable. On the other planes our experience of time and space creates a time lag between the cause and the eventual effect. When you focus on your chosen desires with intention using creative visualization or other manifesting techniques, what you want to create in the Physical Plane is instantaneously created in the Spiritual Plane. With perseverance, practice and continued concentrated imagination, your desired outcome will also come to manifest in the 3D Physical Plane because the higher vibrations of the Spiritual Plane means it has directive power over the lower ones.
7. The Law of Gender The last of the seven Universal Laws is the Law of Gender. It tells us "Gender is in Everything", "Everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles". This mutable Universal Law is evident throughout creation in the opposite sexes or genders found not only in human beings but also in plants, electrons and magnetic poles to name but a few. Everything has both masculine and feminine aspects—the masculine is directive and the feminine is creative and the two must work together with harmony. In the Mental Plane, the directive masculine aspects are your conscious mind, your will and your logic. And the corresponding feminine creative aspects are your subconscious mind, your desires and your emotions respectively. Both genders are equally powerful and important.
The Law of Attraction as Part of the Equation. You will notice that the Law of Attraction is not mentioned as one of the seven Universal Laws. This is not to diminish its importance. The Law of Attraction is in fact the basic Law of the Universe which runs through all the seven Universal Laws. One could say it holds everything together.
Credit to The Kybalion and The Science of Being. This article draws largely on two sources of incomparable wisdom on the seven Universal Laws. First, on the 1908 seminal work on the Universal Laws--The Kybalion—which is a study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece, based on the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus and written by the Three Initiates that we today know is the New Thought author, William Walker Atkinson. And second on Baron Eugene Fersen's 1923 The Science of Being, which is one of most comprehensive books written on the subject. My book, The Adventure of I, covers these Laws extensively with my insights and understanding with nearly 20 chapters on the subject.
"The Principles of the Truth are Seven; he who knows these, understandingly, possesses the Magic Key before whose touch all the Doors of the Temple fly open"—The Kybalion
Today's blog is a republished article by author Tania Kotsos. To contact her or read more of her amazing work visit MindYourReality.com