Humans are the only beings on the planet who are capable of rational thinking and reasoning. Unlike animals, their behavior and existence are not dictated solely by the primal instinct for survival and continuation of the species. Humans analyze, observe and ask many existential questions to discover the cause and effect of life itself. This constant search of theirs is one of the reasons for the emergence of the science of philosophy. Over the centuries, philosophy has developed in different directions. Perhaps the most significant one from the aspect of human beings is the school of Stoicism. Stoic philosophy focuses on the metaphysical principle. For Stoicism, the goal of human philosophizing is to achieve a state of absolute calm. This is possible through progressive education. One of the representatives of late Stoicism is Lucius Aeneas Seneca.
Seneca defines philosophy as the knowledge that conforms to the cultural values of the past and forms the human spirit. His beliefs strongly advocate the spiritual improvement of people. According to Seneca, the moral philosophy is based on individualism – one must belong to oneself and be master of oneself. From these views was born one of his most influential to this day phrases – “Imperare sibi maximum imperium est” which in English is translated to “To rule yourself is the ultimate power.” But what does this mean for the human being?
Controlling yourself is a source of true freedom. Looking for a change in your surroundings without first looking inside yourself is a waste of time. As much as we want, we cannot change the external conditions on our own.
However, something we can certainly influence is our inner world. This is the thing that we are capable of truly transforming. Only we can gain power over the chaos within us. It is impossible to try to control others around us. What we can do, however, is to have control over our reactions and ourselves. The true manifestation of power is having the will to control our thoughts, desires, and aspirations. As thinking beings, we can make judgments and choices. Thanks to this, we can control ourselves. Knowing that we are intertwined with conflicting thoughts and desires, the most sensible thing we can do is to show our innate quality to bring order to our inner chaos. This is the only way to be masters of ourselves.
We cannot consider our every desire as reasonable. Each of us has destructive forces that manifest at different times through our existential path. If we let them control our choices, our lives can take a direction that is not good for us. Everyone knows that the law of cause and effect works in the world.
Each of our actions has consequences – good or bad. What we make for us tomorrow depends on the choices we make today. That is why it is so important to have power over ourselves.
Every victory over the ego is a step towards the attainment of our higher nature.
Each of us builds his/ her worldview thanks to all the experiences we have on our path. We form on our own the idea of what is right and what is not for us. The only person to whom we are responsible for one thing or another is ourselves. But to be able to influence yourself in the first place, you have to know and accept yourself for who you are – an imperfect being. When you can distinguish what is good for you and what is not, you know how to control yourself and act in certain situations. This quality is inherent in wise men. They have the ability and strength to turn to their inner world and to seek there the peace and balance that they want to project in the outside world. Following this path, we will inevitably reach a higher form of thought, enlightenment, and the true power that is to rule over ourselves.