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3 Wonderfully Inspiring Lessons Learned from Classic Literature

3 Wonderfully Inspiring Lessons Learned from Classic Literature

Study the classics, they say, but make your own rules. In a similar tone, Edgar Degas claims that “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” If the reader is indeed the one who writes the story by filling in the blanks with his own intellect, imagination and sentiment, then no literature piece is ever fully red, nor fully written.

Instead of being fossilized, forever closed structures with a single, universal moral, classic books have the power of opening themselves toward the world. If there’s anything universal about them, it’s the innate, deeply human truth that makes them applicable to every age and culture, and most importantly, to each of our lives.

So, let me ask you a question: when was the last time you drank vodka with Dostoyevsky? Sure, we’ve all had our fair share of “Crime and Punishment” during our high school years, but I dare you to pay another visit to poor Rodya!

Now that your consciousness – which envelopes both your self-awareness and understanding of the world – has fully developed, this failed overman will teach you a couple of life tricks more. First, you’ll be surprised at how many things you never understood in your mind’s youth; then, you’ll realize that Dostoevsky is every bit as hardcore as our modern Burroughses and Bukowskis.

Overwhelmed by pure ingenuity, elevated by a pageantry of style, you’ll see yourself anew.

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1. The Iliad: What Life is Really About

    Now, you can start your journey at the beginning, in the formidable company of one Gilgamesh, but the Plant of Heartbeat will keep slipping away. In consolation, you’ll learn a thing or two about immoderation, the power of twinship and inevitability of death; though born god-like, we all die as humans that we are. Similar, if not the same, is the destiny of your first companion, Achilles.

    Assuming you hadn’t dozed off at the English class in question, you’ll likely remember that one of the major themes in Homer’s Iliad is a quest for everlasting glory. A thirst for Kleos urges both our hero and his counterpart, Hector, though their reasons greatly differ. While the latter acts in the name of family, love and honour, Achilles does it all for the immortality. And, for the sake of immortality, he slaughters them all.

    The next time we encounter him, the glorified warrior claims he’d rather “follow the plow as thrall to another man, one with no land allotted him and not much to live on, than be a king over all the perished dead”. Without going deeper into the analysis of the Odyssey from which this quote is taken, I’ll remind you of this – the restless Odysseus finds him in the Underworld, deeply disappointed in his life choices.

    The moral is quite simple, yet universal and omnipresent: whenever you lust to achieve, take it slow. The ultimate victory – be that an everlasting legacy or not – is meaningful only when shared with your loved one (Briseis), your friends (Patroclos) and your family (Peleus), so be sure not to lose them in the process.

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    2. Hamlet: It’s the Thought that Counts

      What is the value of life in the face of death, and can human beings achieve immortality are questions old as time. To question ourselves and what surrounds us, however, is not only our prerogative, but our very nature; even when unanswered, questions compel us to grow and spread inwards and outwards alike. That’s why our quest for lessons to live by continues with the prince of inquisition himself, Hamlet.

      The madman that he is, Shakespeare’s Hamlet truly makes you wonder. The reasons we failed so gloriously to understand the significance of the world’s most contemporary drama are the very reasons behind Hamlet’s own flounder – the uncertainty of knowledge and the complexity of what makes it actionable. Is there any way of knowing the truth with utmost confidence? Are our own thoughts as elusive as the meaning itself? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, meanwhile, and the evil prevails.

      Hamlet’s indecisiveness is understood too lightly and misunderstood too often. Rather than a lack of action, it implies the inner schism that tortures us all – are we heavenly beings or predestined fallers, inherently good or inclined to evil, human or dancers? Whatever the ambivalence, the reconciliation of contradictory wholes, as always, lays within a thought. The greatest critical thinker of them all, Hamlet chooses not to act until he fathoms the naked truth, if there is any at all.

      No lecturer is more monumental than Shakespeare, nor will there ever be one, and the lessons from Hamlet will only continue to pile up with time. For the time being, take the ultimate one: the world is endlessly complex, governed not only by reason, but emotions, psychology and ethics as well; the only way to glance at the truth is to think and evaluate. Only then, your actions are justified.

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      3. Anna Karenina: In Pursuit of Fulfilment

        Speaking of uncertainties, has there ever been a bigger one than Anna Karenina? The debates will never end. Rather than the most popular one (“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”), two other quotes from Tolstoy’s saga stir up the discussion.

        Throughout all interpretations, Anna Karenina stays the ultimate novel about marriage as the epitome of love and the (im)possibility of happiness and harmony: “Man survives earthquakes, epidemics, the horrors of disease, and agonies of the soul, but all the time his most tormenting tragedy has been, is, and will always be, the tragedy of the bedroom.” To compensate, like Stiva and Dolly (thesis), break molds like Anna and Vronsky (antithesis) or to seek marriage in love and love in nature like Levin and Kitty (synthesis), that is the question.

        Though choices are different for all characters, the pursuit of the other half is the same and eternal. A human life is nothing but a never-ending yearning for partnership and fulfillment, regardless of where, when and how. Both Anna and her long lost brother Levin linger in stark discontent, but while she gets terribly lost in her pursuit, he eventually finds his furrow. What makes them the same is the love that’s absolute and, more importantly, pure.

        So, should we judge our Anna or not? “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”, cites Tolstoy. Karenina’s motives may be pure, but her actions are soiled with blind, selfish determination. Love is a force of harmony, not destruction, and that’s only the main of many Tolstoy’s life lessons. We all bear or crosses and it’s not ours to judge, would be the second.

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        And, there you go – the true meaning of life, the vast importance of thought and the true nature of love are the three most vital lessons in the universe. Seemingly simple, they move us forward, compel us to search for the reason behind it all. Rather than lessons, these classical thoughts stand as a foundation that our humanity has been built upon.

        Along with Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita”, which reminds us that “Manuscripts don’t burn”, thus introducing the question of art and its all-prevailing eternity, Camus’s “The Stranger” that argues that the ultimate freedom lies in acceptance of existence as it is, however, absurd or meaningless in the face of the universe it may be, and many, many others, the likeliness of Achilles, Hamlet and Anna Karenina hold the key to a simple, ruminated and fulfilled life. Ultimately, that’s everything we could ever wish for.

        Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/yIMy3ERBc3o via pexels.com

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        Aleksandar Ilic

        Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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        Last Updated on August 13, 2020

        12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

        12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

        As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

        1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

        I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

        Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

        Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

        2. What is the purpose of meditation?

        The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

        It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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        Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

        In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

        You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

        This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

        The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

        Less Physical, More Psychological

        Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

        This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

        The First Benefit of Meditation

        The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

        1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
        2. Relaxation of the body

        Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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        Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

        That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

        When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

        When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

        Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

        Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

        This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

        Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

        Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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        This benefit takes you to the second one.

        The Second Benefit of Meditation

        While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

        1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
        2. Observance
        3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
        4. Patience

        Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

        You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

        This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

        1. Energy

        Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

        2. Observance

        The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

        3. Peacefulness

        Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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        4. Patience

        The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

        The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

        Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

        Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

        The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

        • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
        • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
        • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
        • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
        • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
        • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

        These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

        Final Thoughts

        Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

        Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

        Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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        Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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