One of the great things about the universe is that it has been created as a paradox. Everywhere we look there are examples of this and I’m going to share with you such an example here; a truly wonderful example.
The philosophy of Stoicism has come in for a lot of criticism over the centuries because it is viewed (wrongly) as the philosophy of doom and gloom merchants; people who are constantly agonising over pain and death etc. But if you look at Stoicism it is exactly the opposite. It was apparent to me very quickly that the principles of Stoicism are the exact same principles that form the basis of all the worlds major religions. That there is an individual in-dwelling spirit within the human physical body which is a part of the One Universal Spirit, that all of nature is interconnected with that self-same Universal Spirit and that each of us as individuals are responsible for our own lives; and that it’s not our circumstances that determine whether we are happy or not, it’s the way we deal with them.
One of the early Stoicist philosophers was the Greek Epictetus who was born into slavery. He was moved to Rome by his master but later moved back to Greece after being granted his freedom. Marcus Aurelius, one of only five Roman Emperors ever to have been considered “good”, also became a great philosopher who based his work on the teachings of Epictetus. What a truly wonderful paradox, that Marcus Aurelius, a rich and powerful Roman Emperor who became a world-renowned and revered philosopher, was influenced by, and based his philosophy on, the work of Epictetus; a man who was born into slavery. You really couldn’t make it up, and this inspiring and heart warming story truly and aptly illustrates the wonder of paradox.