Demand of Human Psyche

We make a daily effort to choose friends consciously and unconsciously because the human psyche needs that kind of grouping sensitivity to exist. We are not an island that stands alone in the middle of the sea without any other support. However must be expressly vigilant in selecting and deciding if they are worthy of our investment of time and energy. Even the offering of aspect of our lives and whether the giving of our space in time add meaning or make any difference to their welfare. Some people are givers for our services to them even before we make an investment in them.

Athenodorus of Soli a Stoic philosopher and disciple of Zeno of Citium, claim that he ‘would not even go to dinner with a man who did not thereby feel indebted to him.’ I suppose you realise how much less inclined he was to visit those who repay their friends’ services with a meal, and count the courses as largesses, as if they were overdoing the honour paid to another. Take away their witnesses and spectators and there is no fun in private gormandising.  You must consider whether your nature is more suited to practical activity or to quiet study and reflection, and incline in the direction your natural faculty and disposition take you. Isocrates forcibly pulled Ephorus away from the forum, thinking he would be better employed in writing history.

Inborn dispositions do not respond well to compulsion, and we labour in vain against nature’s opposition.  However, nothing delights the mind so much as fond and loyal friendship. What a blessing it is to have hearts that are ready and willing to receive all your secrets in safety, with whom you are less afraid to share knowledge of something than keep it to yourself, whose conversation soothes your distress, whose advice helps you make up your mind, whose cheerfulness dissolves your sorrow, whose very appearance cheers you up! To be sure, we shall choose those who are as far as possible free from strong desires; for vices spread insidiously, and those nearest to hand are assailed and damaged by contact with them.

It follows that, just as at a time of an epidemic disease we must take care not to sit beside people whose bodies are infected with feverish disease because we shall risk ourselves and suffer from their breathing upon us, so in choosing our friends for their characters we shall take care to find those who are the least corrupted: mixing the sound with the sick is how disease starts. But I am not enjoining upon you to follow and associate with none but a wise man. For where will you find him whom we have been seeking for ages? In place of the ideal we must put up with the least bad. You would scarcely have the opportunity of a happier choice if you were hunting for good men among the Platos and Xenophons and all that offspring of the Socratic breed; or if you had access to the age of Cato, which produced many men worthy to be born in Cato’s time. (It also produced many who were worse than at any other time and who committed appalling crimes: for both groups were necessary for Cato to be appreciated – he needed the good to win their approval and the bad to prove his strength.) But in the current dearth of good men you must be less particular in your choice. Still, you must especially avoid those who are gloomy and always lamenting, and who grasp at every pretext for complaint. Though a man’s loyalty and kindness may not be in doubt, a companion who is agitated and groaning about everything is an enemy to peace of mind”

 

– Seneca, On Tranquility, Book VII

 

 

#stoicism  #friendship

A Troubled Mind

“But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you… Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair” (Psa. 88:13-15NIV).

This sounds like a pretty bad place to be, is it not. I mean that place where, you feel that the host of hell has overtaken you and you are in fear for your life. Where your faith and confidence in God is weakened because there is no response from Heaven to your plight? You feel rejected and alone, abandoned even as your troubles instead of decreasing, they seemingly multiplied?

Many of you know it well; you have been at that place repeatedly in your life when it seems God ignores your plight. You want answers, after years of struggles you want an end. After years of seeking, knocking and asking but no credible substantive answer is revealed. Your mind start to play tricks on you, God no longer loves you, He forget you or do not care about your circumstance. Especially when you look around and see people evil ones prospering, those who have no faith or belief in God. David declared this a personal issue, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He is not alone in this mystery, Job asked, “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? That question continues to plague us even now.

When things get rough with us, we want instant release. The prophet Jeremiah said, “You are always righteous, LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? This is the significant part is it not? Why do all the faithless live relatively at ease and without a care in the world? It is human that we look on the growth and wealth, even prosperity of ungodly people and wonder why others who know God, our suffering are prolonged. Though we are encouraged in Scriptures, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things… For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God… When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3: 2-4)

Therefore, the problem is not in what is actually happening, it is the perception of what is, in Greek thought, “the fault is not in one’s surroundings but in the mind itself. Whatever it was that made poverty a trial makes riches a trial as well. When a person is sick, it makes no difference whether you lay him on a wooden bed or a golden one: he will take the disease along wherever you carry him. Even so, it matters not at all whether one sick in mind is placed in wealth or in poverty. The trouble is his own, and it follows him” (Socrates and the Stoics). The mind can always put us into a place where we feel helpless and disenfranchised, God no longer cares he will say. However, exactly the opposite is true; God cares more than we will ever know. The bible gives us enough meat to chew on about God’s unfailing love towards the human race and the things He has in store for us. Satan does not want us to fully understand and appreciate that so he fills our hearts with fear and doubts.

The mind of a human being, the place where our thoughts take place and our opinion and choices to do good or evil, come to manifestation. A number of terms in the Scriptures are used for mind and reason, some of which overlaps in meaning and others that view the inner man (mind/spirit) from opposing views. The significance of this aspect of human reality is viewed mainly in its relation to God and His revelation to man.

The simple difference between Hebrew and Greek thought, is that in Hebrew it serve as allusions to the mind or reason most often, mainly, ‘heart,’ ‘spirit,’ ‘soul’, so are not limited to these meanings, but cover a wide range of ideas as they seek to describe the inner man or the unseen dimensions of the human person in an all-inclusive way, i.e. specifics of eastern thought. However, advances in the Old Testament are not, for lack of such specific language to be thought of as less refined but rather as linked

to Hebrew culture, which reflected the cerebral and sensitive aspects of human life from the standpoint of the whole person? I.e. ‘heart, soul, and spirit’ are not separate parts of the inner man, but are reference to the whole inner man and is to be understood in relation to the whole human person. Consequently, the aspect of the inner thought and knowledge is view in connection to right behaviour.

Likewise, in Hebrew the heart is view as connected to the Mind. The term ‘heart’ (leb ‘bel’, ‘lebab’ or ‘b’bel’, in its metaphorical practice, is the most significant term for the ‘inner person.’ It sights the inner person from different viewpoints, of which the unease here is its reference to the ‘thought’ or ‘will’ of human beings or to the structure of understanding. Therefore, the ‘heart’ or ‘to set the heart’ means to make up the mind or choose (2Chron.12:14; Neh. 4:6). ‘Calling to mind’ in Deut. 30:1; Isa. 46:8; 65:17; Jer. 3:16; ‘recalling’ is similar (Deut. 30:1; Jer. 51:50; Ezek. 38:10).Wisdom and understanding are located in the heart (1Kings 3:12; Prov. 16:23) and perceived with the heart (Prov. 18:15; 22:17; Eccles. 1:1, 8:16). Moreover, it is the heart that plans or purposes to act (Prov. 16:1 Proverbs 16:9). God’s ‘mind’ is sometimes described this way (Jer. 19:5; 32:35; 44:21). Decisions of a moral nature take place in the heart (Gen 20:5; Job 11:13). This being the case, evil will also be manifested in the heart, where decisions to disobey and rebel take place (Jer. 17:9). The heart or mind can be perverse and therefore incapable of apprehending truth and wisdom (Prov. 10:20; 11:20; 12:8; Prov. 17:16, 20). The heart is also the place where deception occurs (Isa. 44:20).

Therefore, ‘heart’ serves as a reference to the person as thinking, perceiving, and willing being, bringing together the ideas of knowledge, understanding, and will. When we are faced with mind-blowing decisions, when circumstances affects our lives in such a way that we are unable to see the price. We are advised to, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding’ (Prov. 3:5NIV). When we lose sight of God, fail to rise above our fears and doubt of God, the visions of prosperity around us, will cause us to fail. When we struggle and people are advancing and developing, especially if those people are wicked, we are thinking as the world does. Paul advised, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will’ (Rom. 12: 2). Only when we are fully transformed in our way of thinking, can we see and understand the full picture of why others prosper living so wicked year after year. David was tempted to be envious at their prosperity, but when He searched the Scriptures he realised they were living on slippery ground.

So friends work hard in controlling the mind and its perception of what is or is not. We have to take control of out thought processes so we win the battle of wits, Satan throws at us because winning will not come to us without that spiritual fight. We have to be strong in spirit and soul and be courageous, knowing that we can do it if we put our backs into it. Our heart can accomplish anything and everything that our mind can conceptualise. If anybody puts us down, analyse us for lack of physical progress, keep on fighting, believe in your own ability, but have faith in God who strengthens you. God can do anything but fail, and in Him, we can turn our negative life and way of thinking into something positive!