Let me start by telling the truth. I rarely spend time pouring over the wisdom of ancient or modern philosophers. I found this intriguing quotation in Terry Patten’s book, The New Republic of the Heart.
Frederich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, captured many profound ideas in his writing. among them:
“Let the young soul survey its own life with a view to the following question: What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted you at the same time? Assemble these revered objects in a row before you and perhaps they will reveal a law by their nature and their order: the fundamental law of your very self. Compare these objects, see how they complement, enlarge, outdo, transfigure one another; how they form a ladder on whose steps you have been climbing up to yourself so far; for your true self does not lie buried deep within you, but rather rises immeasurably high above you, or at least above what you commonly take to be your I.”
I love this quote!
It reminds me of many classes in which I ask students to identify what they would love to bring into their lives. To help them identify what wants to emerge through them, the question “What have you loved?” is a great starting place.
The next question about what has dominated and delighted our souls pulls us deeper.
Thinking about what has delighted my soul helps me identify what makes my heart sing. When I also ask what has dominated my soul, I realize that when paired, the answer to the first question, I am uplifted and inspired.
If these ideas were separated, and I simply asked what has dominated my soul, I admit that concerns, worries, cares could easily capture my attention. (Especially when I am being less than awake.) But paired with delight, then the answer will be a synonym for the divine.
I will be focused on a precious relationship or an exquisite piece of art.
Don’t you love the idea that the beauty, love, truth that we contemplate has been forming a ladder and we have been climbing up to ourselves? Nietzsche says that our true self does not lie within us but lies above us.
Years ago when I had my spiritual awakening, I felt the divine presence which filled my physical body and felt as if it extended past the top of my head by ten inches or so. It was a feeling of profound joy and light, of perfect wholeness and indescribable beauty.
What had I been doing before that experience? I spent every free moment I could find, to open to the wisdom of God… to talk to God. God delighted and dominated me for months.
Thank you, Frederich Nietzsche for reminding me of my true nature!