“Consider with thyself how man, and by what part of his, is joined unto God, and how that part of man is affected, when it is said to be diffused. There is nothing more wretched than that soul, which in a kind of circuit compasseth all things, searching (as he saith) even the very depth of the earth; and by all signs and conjectures prying into the very thoughts of other men’s souls; and yet of this, is not sensible, that it is sufficient for a man to apply himself wholly, and to confine all his thoughts and cares to the tendeance of that spirit which is within him, and truly and really to serve him.” ~Marcus Aurelius
The above quote from Marcus Aurelius is difficult to follow so lets start by rewording it.
Consider for yourself what part of man is joined to God, and what effect it has when that part becomes diffused. There is nothing more wretched than a soul which at its depth, knows all things, seeking knowledge from other men and from the planet and the things on it. If a man applies himself to awakening and caring for his own soul, his inner self, it will reveal to him all he needs to know.
Seeking Divine Knowledge
Actually, Aurelius is only half correct. You can learn a lot from other people and from studying the planet and the cosmos. But that leaning is only on the material level. You will learn much about matter, but little of spirit. That is like studying the flow of water in a river, but not learning how the water got into the river in the first place.
On the other hand, awakening yourself to Divine Knowledge caused you to learn everything about the spiritual realms, and also the material that came from them.
He part of us that is “joined to God” is the soul. The divine soul that is, because we also have a mundane soul which all life forms have, but which cannot gain us entrance into heaven.
Tending the Spirit
Marcus Aurelius says we should apply ourselves wholly to the care of the spirit and soul. This doesn’t mean that we should ignore the body and mind. It means the development of our spiritual faculties must be our top priority if we are to succeed.
If you had two cars, one an old clunker, the other n expensive luxury car, which one would you give more careful care to? Unless you had some emotional attachment to the clunker, you would do more to care for the luxury car.
The same logic applies to caring for yourself. Your body and mind need to be cared for. But they are temporary, mortal. Your spirit and soul are immortal, so they are more important.
While doing good deeds on the physical level is great, it doesn’t do much for the spirit and soul. They must be awakened and nourished with Divine Light, spiritual Light.
A common misunderstanding when spiritual people like Aurelius say we should look within is that we should look ONLY within. This is not the case. While we do need to look within, we also need to look without. We need to look to the Spiritual Sun. We need to look to Heaven. While we link to them through our soul that is within (in a sense), we can’t just look within. And only those who have awakened their spirit and soul with the Divine Light can achieve that state of ultimate knowledge called Gnosis.