A Most Burdensome Companion
The Roman philosopher Seneca, most notable for his contributions to Stoicism, wrote extensively on ethics and personal development. The following passage, captured from his Essays and Letters, demonstrates the depth of insight:
As Lucretius says: 'Thus ever from himself doth each man flee.' But what does he gain if he does not escape from himself? He ever follows himself and weighs upon himself as his own most burdensome companion.
A most burdensome companion indeed. Which is why everyone "flees from himself".
The escape attempts might not be readily apparent, but the destination domains into which we run certainly are: the striving for improved health, better relationships, more entertainment, reduced pain, enhanced self-esteem, less stress, and so on.
A few moments alone with thoughts rapidly lead to considerations of self. Past moments that might have been different, or perhaps more fully appreciated. Future ponderings of potential delight or dread.
Yet always fleeing from the only moment where unconditional peace resides; the present now.
Lucretius and Seneca intuited the dyadic nature of selfhood. There is the conscious, seemingly aware self that seeks to survive and sensate while minimizing sorrow. Remaining deeply repressed, however, is one’s true identity — a reflection of infinite love. The realm of what A Course in Miracles refers to as the "holy instant." That is from which each man flees. As quickly as possible.
Which begs the question: If within the present moment lies the joy of heaven, why do we run? Why the urgency to escape?
The Stoics weren’t quite able to develop a suitable exposition, governed as they were by rational providence. But they certainly paved the way for piercing insight. The reason everyone flees from their true self is fear. Not fear of the unknown. But fear of the "un-sown".
Within the now resides the holy instant of love. The non-dualistic, eternal is-ness of infinite oneness. Which, to sentient selves, clearly spells the end of duality and the dissolution of self. And thus we’d rather suffer in selfhood than consider such a synthesized alternative. Inevitably and indubitably leading everyone to be their own most burdensome companion.
But there is another way. A reunion of the selves, so to speak. A framework through which awareness may be returned to the present moment, reflecting the joy of perfect peace.
Join me in this Thursday’s class where we’ll explore these concepts in greater depth. I look forward to seeing you then.