From Vol. 4, Issue 5, May 2022
Thoughts on the passing of a modern Stoic
“Dirk was a man who cared about wisdom, truth, and virtue.”
Quill in hand, I humbly write,
In search of God’s great truth and light,
For in the midst of this dark night,
My soul prepares to soon take flight.
And though I search the darkest caves,
Where souls have seldom been,
My God ignites a spark within,
Which lets my path be seen.
And deeper will I journey,
Till I find an ounce of gold,
In a word or in a sentence,
Written in a style of old.
And I’ll yet set my quill to work
In search of a deeper vein,
That could free a certain wise man,
Or could make a fool insane.
“Have courage, son,” my God now speaks,
“For man knows not which aims he seeks,
And lest thou be now tied to me,
Ye’ll never, from the darkness, flee.”
At last! I’ve found my holy vein!
A rich man I’ve become!
And not a shov’l I’ve lifted,
Nor an axe, and nor a gun!
So guide me, God, that I may know
The paths where thou wouldst have me go,
And the aims that thou wouldst have me
And the place from which thy golden rivers
Friends, it’s a pleasure to be writing to you for the first time in this magazine which continues to serve the Stoic community as a sanctuary of wisdom. Can anyone truly say that they understand the mystery of how they ended up here, now, reading these words written by some crazy poet from Australia? Perhaps all that matters is that you are here, now, absorbing these words, accepting the opportunity and challenge to be transformed.
The passing of a Stoic
Recently, I was saddened to hear about the death of a great man: Dirk Mahling (fellow Stoic and tutor at the College of Stoic Philosophers). While I only spoke with Dirk on two occasions, I still feel that I knew him. Once you get a sense of a person’s soul, it doesn’t matter how many details you know about their life – you know who they are, and that is enough. Dirk was a man who cared about wisdom, truth, and virtue, and he was also the man who introduced me to Heraclitus. For this, I will forever be indebted to Dirk, for there may be no other recommendation that has given me more philosophical and spiritual benefit than this.
We dig a lot of earth - for an ounce of gold!
Heraclitus taught me that mysticism and poetry are paths to knowledge just as much as books and essays, and he taught me that there is a place for the esoteric in Stoicism. After all, much of the Stoic philosophy is derived from the ideas of this strange poetic genius. On top of this, he is likely the influence that bubbled up from my subconscious in the form of the poem you’ve read above, for it was he who wrote,
Men dig tons of earth
to find an ounce of gold.
This poetic insight woke me up to the fact that we are currently living in the middle of the greatest metaphysical gold rush that humanity has ever experienced. But the difference with this gold rush is that the gold we desire is freely available to everyone who would truly seek it. There is no scarcity – it is right here before our very eyes. Open up. Look. Listen. Be moved.
World’s wisdom at your fingertips
Never before have we had access to so much of the world’s wisdom at our fingertips. At any moment, we may read the most powerful texts ever conceived, and if we are fortunate enough to have the insight to do so, we may also consider what these texts mean. Once we start asking what these texts mean, it will immediately be clear that we need not read more, but that we must rather read deeper.
Wisdom, virtue, the Divine, and living in agreement with nature
On this note, and in honour of Dirk – a true philosopher and teacher – I will not explain my own poem, nor the words of Heraclitus. Rather, like the Poet I aspire to be, I’ll encourage you to go on your own adventure and to allow yourself to be moved by the words of Heraclitus, and perhaps by my own words, too. Please, buy the fragments of Heraclitus, and consider deeply what he means as you read each of his poetic insights. As you do this, pause, reflect, and recognize that reading is not the end, but the means to an end. What is the end? Wisdom. Virtue. Communion with the Divine. Alignment. To live in agreement with Nature.
With that invocation out of the way, I’d like to encourage you to go back and re-read the poem I’ve shared with you. But this time, pause after every line and ask yourself, “what does this mean?” Perhaps in doing so, you may awaken to a new reality, and a new vision.
Simon Drew is an Australian poet, musician, philosophical mentor, and co-founder of The Walled Garden Podcast and community. His first book, The Poet & The Sage, is available now at thewalledgarden.store.