Advice From Athena Goddess of Wisdom – Navigating Choppy Waters
Life is full of ups and downs; one day we can be sitting on top of the world and the next we can find ourselves in the gutter with problems we don’t know how to solve. Some days you may feel that you are swaying unsteadily on a tightrope between one extreme and another, between good moments and bad. We all have to accept the fact that life’s journey will sometimes take us on rocky paths, through choppy waters or down dark alleys. Who better than Athena Goddess of Wisdom to help us deal with those challenging times?
Aristotle said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light;” you have probably also heard “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” maybe this is the light that Aristotle was talking about.
If you read my previous post you would know Athena Goddess of Wisdom has agreed to talk to me on a regular basis to impart some of her godly wisdom. Who better to ask about seeing the light?
Goddess Athena is often depicted as a warrior holding a spear and wearing a golden helmet. Goddess Athena was admired and renowned for her role as judge, diplomat, and mediator, but it was as a mediator and planner that she really excelled. Goddess Athena was known for her superb logic and intellect, her decisions were well-considered and displayed great compassion. She avoided war whenever possible, but if negotiations failed, she could turn herself into a fierce warrior and was known to have never lost a battle.
Author Joanne Reed, “Goddess Athena, I am grateful for another opportunity to talk. Last time, your advice was to ‘Be like a River.’ However, not all rivers are calm and peaceful, some are tumultuous, dangerous, churning. How can mortals navigate these choppy waters and life’s ups and downs?”
Goddess Athena, “Tell your fellow mortals to ‘Be like a Cave.’ Tell them to stay calm, to breath deep and find beauty in unexpected places. Tell them to search inward and see the ‘hole’ picture. Tell them that good things take time and that they should look beneath the surface and hang tight”.
Goddess Athena, “My last words are to REED Joanne’s book ‘This Is Your Quest’ and keep tuned-in to her blog. I will be talking to her regularly to share more ‘divine wisdom’ to spread more joy and happiness.
Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to listen to Nature, be like a cave, pay attention to a Goddess and just do what she says!
Advice from a Cave is part of the True Nature series by Ilan Shamir.
Life is a balancing act and your Quest should be to embrace the ups & downs, the good & the bad, the joy & the challenges.
The Golden Mean
In chapter 14 of my book This Is Your Quest I describe with the help of Aristotle, the concept of the golden mean. Aristotle explains that the golden mean is an intermediate condition between two other states: one involving excess and the other deficiency. To take an example, the courageous person judges that some dangers are worth facing and others not, and experiences fear to a degree that is appropriate to his circumstances. The courageous person lies between a coward, who feels every danger and experiences excessive fear, and the rash person, who experiences little or no fear. Finding the golden mean in any situation is not a mechanical or thoughtless procedure but one which requires a full and detailed acquaintance with the circumstances.
This golden mean concept is known as the middle way in Eastern Philosophy, such as Buddhism; it describes the path between two extremes. The middle way can be considered a universal pursuit – a Quest for a way of life that would give the greatest value to human existence.
Aristotle’s followers are said to have discussed philosophy while walking about with him. They literally walked the talk!
Every person, great or small has important work to do. There is for each and every one of us a goal that we must follow. A path that bears our name. A hand that we must hold. A word that we must say. A smile that we must give. A song that we must sing. For seldom do we realize the importance of small deeds. For great things can happen if everyone of us would brighten up the spot on which they are standing.
I made it my Quest for 2019 to help as many people as I can (through the words I have written in my book 📖) to find the path which bears their name.
To be or not to be is one of the most famous line of Shakespeare’s  play Hamlet. The main character, Hamlet, lives through a full-blown tragedy with no happy ending in sight; the play deals with questions about life and existence, sanity, love, death and betrayal. Tragedies are part of our everyday life. The philosopher Henry David Thoreau  managed to encapsulate this concept in one sentence when he said: The mass of men leads lives of quiet desperation. This feeling comes from the fact that for a lot of people they feel that they are stuck in the rat race unable to make their own choices but forced instead to go through the motion of waking up every day, go to work to get a pay check which is necessary in order to afford all the necessities of life, pay all the bills, put some money aside (if possible) for a well-deserved vacation somewhere (to get away for just a little while) from the mundanity of everyday life and repeat the process year after year after year; but people are not born to just go to work, pay their bills and then die. Surely, there is more to it than that.
Living a life of quiet desperation can affect everyone, young, old, poor and also the rich & famous. For the majority of people, the ultimate measure of success is to become rich and if you can achieve fame at the same time – all the better; but sometimes notoriety and money alone is not enough to save people from a life of quiet desperation.
The most fundamental question that each one of us should ask ourselves is What is the meaning of life? It is in essence a very philosophical question and as such we should seek the assistance of some of the most prestigious philosophers in order to help us gain some clarity on this subject; because philosophers are the ones who spend the majority of their time thinking about the most fundamental question i.e. how to live. The art of living is at the center of what preoccupies most philosophers.
Aristotlespent a fair amount of time thinking about the concept of human well-being and what virtues are necessary to achieve a life well-lived; he wrote his findings and conclusions in Ethics. Aristotle reached the conclusion that what we need in order to live well, is a proper appreciation of the way in which friendship, pleasure, virtue, honor and wealth fit together as a whole. The principle idea with which Aristotle begins is that there are differences of opinion about what is best for human beings. Most people would agree that it is good to have friends, to experience pleasure, to be honored, and to have such virtues as courage, at least to some degree. The difficult and controversial question arise when we ask whether some of these are more desirable than others.
To answer this question Aristotle came up with two key principles to help us live a full and happy life, the first one is the use of reason and the second one is the use of virtue. What separates humans from other species is our capacity to use reason. In order to live well, we have to use reason well. This means that when we face a choice between several options we have to choose the option that is most rational according to the current circumstance and the most virtuous
But not everyone has the capability or the willingness to travel through life exercising virtuous acts, now, then and always. So, if one is unable or unwilling to be virtuous, what does it make him or her? According to Aristotle, someone who is unable to resist pressure to go the opposite way of being virtuous can be describes as “incontinent.” Someone who refuses to try to do what an ethically virtuous person would do, because he/she has been convinced that justice, temperance, generosity and the like are of little value, can be described as “evil.” Evil people are driven by the desire for domination and luxury.
And this is where the American Philosopher Richard Taylor enters into the frame to add an additional layer to Aristotle’s concept by proposing to add another quality that is necessary in order to pursue virtuous acts; and that quality is creativity. For him human excellence can be achieved through the fulfillment of our capacity for creativity.
Richard Taylor urges people:
Do something – Create something. To do otherwise is simply to waste your precious life, because if the only thing you do is eat, sleep, reproduce then die, for a person to do no better than that is in effect to lapse into a mere animal nature.
What if I have no passion? This time round we will ask the renown philosopher Carl Jung  to help us answer this question. According to Carl Jung: “If you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself. To give style to one’s character is a great and rare art”.
Furthermore, Richard Taylor tells us that:
Don’t suppose that a work of art must be something that all can behold – a poem, a painting, a book, a great building. Consider making of your own life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be what you are, and even though you may be quite content with who and what you are, it will not be hard for you to think of something greater that you might become. It need not be something spectacular, or even something that will attract any notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself and then attain. Something you can then take a look at with honest self-appraisal and be proud of.
The answer to the most fundamental question of all time (i.e. what is the meaning of life and by extension how to be happy) can be found in the following words: The Use of Reason, Virtuous Acts, and Creativity. That is all there is to it. To be or not to be that is the question?!… Over to you.
William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616): English poet, playwright and actor. Best known for his plays; Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing to only name a few.
Henri David Thoreau (12 July 1817 – 6 May 1862): American essayist, Poet, Philosopher, Abolitionist, Historian. Best known for his book Walden – a reflection upon simple living and his essay “Civil Disobedience.”
Aristotle (384-322 BC): Greek Philosopher, Scientist and Student of Plato. Best known for his contribution to the field of science, psychology, politics, history and arts.
Richard Taylor (5 November 1919 – 30 October 2003): American Philosophe. Best known for his work and papers on the meaning of life.
 Carl Jung (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961): Swiss psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and prolific writer. Best known for creating some of the best known psychological concepts such as synchronicity, extraversion and introversion, the collective unconscious.