WHAT IS THE GOAL OF LIFE?

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I remember talking once about an existential subject with one of the workers at my father’s company, who looked well educated.
“What is the goal of your life?” I asked.
“I have given up trying to find a goal in life, otherwise I get lost,” he answered. “I pursue small goals like planning an enjoyable vacation, or saving money to buy a gift for my girlfriend. These are my little aims, and have nothing to do with metaphysical speculations.”
Who knows if the worker was right! As for me, I cannot live without asking myself the why of things. It is probably because of my conditioning from my philosophy teacher.

“I’ll fail you, Vincenzino, unless you start to ask yourself why everything exists and happens. You have to ask yourself why the earth is round, why the moon orbits the earth, and why the planets orbit the sun. If you are on the bus, you have to ask yourself why it is moving. In other words, you have to find an answer to everything that happens.”

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

FEAR OF DEATH

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It was the fifth time that I had come in touch with death. My grandfather, Biagio, Pietrino, Vincenzo, and my grandmother had all passed away. What had happened to them? Had they disappeared into thin air forever, or were they still alive in another dimension? What will become of me once I am dead?
The terror of my annihilation grips me day and night. What if there is no life after death? What to do? At the mere thought that I will simply be sleeping forever, I fall into desperation. Is it just delusion to believe in life after death? Does the immaterial world exist? I mused upon my fear of death, and finally decided that I had to do something to better understand the topic. In my opinion, human beings put aside the issue of death and life after death, even though it may be the most important subject to learn more about.
Time flies very fast, and sooner or later we will die. We have to leave our possessions to our heirs. We have to part from the people we love, and we have to quit our identity, our name, and our role in society.
I had no other means to do this kind of research except by using my mind and reasoning, and collecting information from learned people and books. I wanted to know whether or not there is some kind of immaterial entity or energy inside our body. Where does the inner energy go when it leaves the body?

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE BORDERS OF THE SKY

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“What is that long line of clouds in the sky?” I asked.
“Those are not clouds, Vincenzino. It is Saint James’s Ladder, also called the Milky Way. Through it souls go up and down. They come from faraway stars, stay on the earth for a
while, and then migrate towards new lands in the sky, always passing through Saint James’s Ladder.”
“Where are the sky boundaries, Sebastiano?”
“There are no boundaries in the sky. It is infinite, with neither beginning nor end.”
“That’s impossible! I cannot imagine anything without a limit. Everything has a boundary. For instance, our estate borders other neighboring properties.”
“If you are convinced that there is a border in the sky, tell me what there is beyond the border, Vincenzino.”
“Another universe, of course!”
“And where is the border of the second universe? And that of the third and so forth? As you see, we cannot find the last border, and we cannot understand the universe because our minds are limited. It is like trying to teach our dogs to read. You’ll never succeed.”
“When was the universe created, Sebastiano?”
“According to some scientists, it seems that the universe is expanding; in fact, both stars and planets run away from a center. In other words, there was a time when all the matter of the universe was concentrated in only one spot—like a storehouse where bricks are packed. Then suddenly the storehouse exploded and the bricks were cast into the space. They started moving in different directions and are still moving.”
“Who made the storehouse explode?”
“I don’t know, Vincenzino. Christians say that it was God who did it. Atheists, who are people that don’t believe in God, think that the explosion happened naturally.”
“What was there before the explosion? Has the storehouse always existed or was it made by someone?”
“I am not able to answer your question, Vincenzino, but I am sure that when you become an adult you’ll study this subject and find the answer. Now, it is the time to go to bed.”
“Do you know, Sebastiano, where all those souls are going that you say come up and down through Saint James’s Ladder?”

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHAT DOES ESCAPE FROM REALITY MEAN?

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On that point, I cannot help thinking of a surveyor from my town who was married to a charming wife and had a daughter. He had a job at a state firm that did road maintenance. He was an indefatigable worker. His office was by the side of the Palermo-Catania freeway, and many times when I went to Catania on Sunday I spotted his car in the parking lot near his office. Obviously, his work was everything he had in his life, as he worked continuously, but it was probably just an escape from something he considered unbearable. Apparently, his family appeared to be close-knit in public, while in the privacy of their home things were quite different.
If you run away from situations that cause you stress, anxiety, or uneasiness, you have the illusion of ridding yourself of unbearable problems, but that is a false impression. You cannot resolve your troubles by escaping. You should cope with your issues and overcome them.
Later, the tireless surveyor was found dead in his chair with his head laid on the desk in his office, a revolver still gripped in his hand. That was evidence that his overzealousness was just an escape from his family problems.
I have seen many people who read books continuously. At first glance they look very learned, but if you observe them carefully, you’ll see that their so-called love for books is just an escape from reality. In other words, any action that is repeated too often and which goes on without interruption for long periods of time is assured to be pathological.
Even going to Mass may be an escape. I once noticed a person that attended a 6 p.m. Mass and then headed for a 7 o’clock Mass in a different church. He had nothing to do, so he moved from one church to another just to kill time.
A dear friend of mine who was a Protestant pastor once confessed to me that he had had many arguments with members of his congregation and was on the verge of quitting his office, but he didn’t because he didn’t know what he would do without his church.
There was a shop seller who had a notions store, and even though he was too old to run his business and no customers bought anything from him, he continued to keep open his shop just to have a way to spend his time. Otherwise, he had no idea what he would do.
A trader of building materials used to struggle daily to manage his firm. He was always overwhelmed with debts, and had a lot of trouble honoring his bills of exchange. He finally went bankrupt and all his worries vanished. One day I stumbled across him. I didn’t know he had quit his job, but he looked much too flabby; moreover, he was pale.
“How is business?” I asked.
“I don’t work anymore!” he answered with a disconsolate air.
“You should be more relaxed now without anything to do. You have no worries!”
“No, it is not quite that easy. When I worked, I had lots of worries about my customers, my suppliers, the bills and taxes to pay, and I had many things to do. I had so many concerns that I couldn’t sleep at night. But I felt alive and satisfied. Now, with nothing to do, I am like a dead man.”
Some individuals seek shelter inside their family or get married to feel safe and stable. Often, people become engaged to someone who is a second-choice lover. They cannot get the person they truly desire, and resort to living with someone they don’t love just for the sake of safety.
For some people, meeting friends seems to be a daily challenge. They go to dance schools, gyms, bars, and similar places in an attempt to meet friends. But the more friends they get the more they feel alone, because their search for friendship comes from the void they have inside. Running after friends might be considered as an escape from reality as well. People fear remaining alone. They dread having to look inside themselves, so they flee from their loneliness and try to fill their inner void through friends.
All the cases mentioned above are clear examples of escaping from reality, from life. Some people are unable to live as they want, and flee from their painful condition to take refuge in some activity that can give them the illusion of being alive and safe. I have always avoided watching too much TV or staying in front of my laptop too long, as it can also signify an escape from reality.
I don’t set myself up as an expert. I am just a good observer of people and situations. I have realized that anything we get involved in so much that we become identified with it, takes us away from real and authentic life, which requests that we live it fully and in all its facets.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

GOD, FUTURE, AND FREE WILL

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When I was a high school student I asked my philosophy teacher this question: “If God is omnipotent and all-seeing, He knows what is going to happen in the future since He is beyond space and time. Therefore, where is our free will? If the life to come is already plotted and known, what can people do to change a scene already set up?”

She gave me her answer by paraphrasing Saint Augustine. “If I see a man standing on the edge of a ravine, I know that he is going to throw himself down. Yet he is free to give up his resolution to die.” She meant that despite the fact that the future is already known, our free will remains.
Her answer didn’t convince me then, and I am still not convinced. In my opinion, if God knows our future and the events to come, it means that the railway tracks that we follow
are already laid.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

MY REVIEW OF ENCHIRIDION

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Epictetus was born into slavery and was also disable. Later, he became a freedman and a stoic philosopher. It means that if you have a great spirit, nothing is impossible in life. You can achieve any goal.
This short book, Enchiridion, shows the great soul of Epictetus and contains pieces of advice that are still valid, even though the book was written almost two thousand years ago. A few Epictetus’s sentences have remained imprinted in my mind. He says, “Instead of herd of oxen, endeavor to assemble herds of friends in your house.” He also says, “If you wish your house to be well managed, imitate the Spartan Lycurgus. For he did not fence the city with walls, but fortified the inhabitants by virtue and preserved the city always free.” It means that instead of erecting protective walls around ourselves, we had better fortify our inner energy and spirit to be free persons with open hearts.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHERE IS THE EGO?

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It is possible that the mind or soul, whatever you like to call it, doesn’t exist at all. In this case, we are composed of two elements: the body and the ego, which I define as self-perception, self-consciousness, or the thought of ‘I am.’ I wonder, where is the ego that decides, acts, has self-awareness, and aims even at surviving physical death? Is it inside the brain? Inside the heart? Near the heart? We don’t know. It is invisible. How can we know? If you know something about this, tell me! Anyway, my opinion is that we act unconsciously and are not fully aware of what we do. Therefore, we can’t label ourselves guilty or not guilty, good or bad. Good and evil don’t exist indeed. We act out of ignorance and unconsciousness.”

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo