man looking at the sea

Particular providence in stoicism

Stoicism introduces the concepts of the "original impulse" (the benevolent intention of nature) and the "accidental consequences" (the events that unfold from it). Today, I will delve into the idea of "particular providence."

Here the idea of special providence is summarized in one sentence:
What happens to you
      good or bad
 has been specially destined for you.

Accidental consequences are common to us all.
Particular providence is individual.

The gods (the embodiment of universal reason) want certain things to happen to you, parallel to their original impulse. This means that a certain destiny will unfold in a way that is good for you. Certain events are destined for you and you must accept them by participating as an individual in the Whole.

— So you're telling me that the God you're talking about, this Universal Reason, decides what happens to me? I thought this was a program about stoicism, not a mystical worldview : /

— Yes, nature is omniscient. It decides everything.

If, at this stage of reading {{username}}, you become skeptical when you read these words that evoke in you an (overly) mystical or even religious vision, I'd advise you not to get too hung up on this. Here's my advice - and I'm running the risk of alienating the most purist among us, but I'll take that risk: You don't have to believe in or completely follow the idea of an all-knowing nature that decides everything. You're free to make your own decisions. You can choose what resonates for you in stoicism and leave the rest; and who knows, maybe later, like me, your view will change. I've never liked dogma and think we should choose what we want to believe in, so if these beliefs put you off, just leave them aside.

If it makes you feel better, I won't come back to it after this section, apart from a few references here and there.

On that note, I'll continue with my presentation:

According to the Stoic view,
the thousand facets that make up **your** life
can be so willed by universal providence
that each of them has a positive effect on the universe,
on the Whole.

The beauty in everything

Whatever its thousand facets, Stoicism encourages you to see the beauty of nature in everything and everywhere, as long as you develop your sensibility and strive to understand nature:

Here is {{username}} a complete text by Marcus Aurelius that exemplifies the very mindset he himself vows to cultivate in his Meditations 3, 2:

“We must also observe closely points of this kind,
that even the secondary effects of Nature's processes possess a sort of grace and attraction.
To take one instance, bread when it is being baked breaks open at some places; now even these cracks, which in one way contradict the promise of the baker's art, somehow catch the eye and stimulate in a special way our appetite for the food. And again figs, when fully mature, gape, and in ripe olives their very approach to decay adds a certain beauty of its own to the fruit. Ears of corn too when they bend downwards, the lion's wrinkled brow, the foam flowing from the boar's mouth, and many other characteristics that are far from beautiful if we look at them in isolation, do nevertheless because they follow from Nature's processes lend those a further ornament and a fascination.
And so, if a man has a feeling for, and a deeper insight into the processes of the Universe, there is hardly one but will somehow appear to present itself pleasantly to him, even among mere attendant circumstances. Such a man also will feel no less pleasure in looking at the actual jaws of wild beasts than at the imitations which painters and sculptors exhibit, and he will be enabled to see in an old woman or an old man a kind of freshness and bloom, and to look upon the charms of his own boy slaves with sober eyes.
And many such experiences there will be, not convincing to every one but occurring to him and to him alone who has become genuinely familiar with Nature and her works.”

What is Marcus Aurelius saying here?

A different perspective

That all events, all creations, are beautiful because they are the result of a particular providence intended and designed for you, or an accidental consequence that serves a greater, universal purpose. This philosophy encourages us to see every event, no matter how trivial or challenging it may seem, as an integral part of a larger mosaic. It assumes that every aspect of existence has inherent value and meaning, and challenges you to embrace the complexities of life with acceptance and grace as you realize that everything has its place and purpose, thus developing a sense of peace and resilience; learning to navigate life's ups and downs with an unwavering faith in the benevolence of the cosmos.

This perspective not only deepens your appreciation for the world around you, but also fosters a deep connection to the universal human experience in which every joy and misfortune contributes to the universal tapestry and in which you can approach your own life with more empathy. Know, however, that this acceptance does not diminish your efforts to improve or change circumstances, but rather strengthens your will to act with intention and purpose, knowing that your actions resonate within a larger, interconnected framework.

When you see things in this way, you change your perspective: what used to seem ugly, repulsive or frightening to you now, knowing nature, seems beautiful to you; it seems to belong to the same world as you, to come from the same and unique source. When you recognize the beauty in all events and creations, you can live a life dedicated to the common good and align your individual path with the unstoppable flow of universal progress.

In other words reader,
When you have this deep understanding of universal logic: that of the sacred connection that links // all //natural processes together,
you are armed like a sage
      to recognize the beauty
      in everything and everywhere,
for even the most repulsive things carry beauty within them. Being themselves an emanation of Universal Nature, you cannot see them as anything other than beautiful, beyond their initial appearance.

This is wisdom: accepting things for what they are.

This acceptance allows you to look at the world not with a sense of contempt or fear, but with a deep reverence for the intricate dance of creation. Whether it's the rotting leaves nourishing the soil or the chaos of a storm providing water to the parched land, each element plays a crucial role in the grand scheme of things. When you internalize this view, you see challenges not as mere obstacles, but as necessary steps that contribute to the growth and balance of the universe — and to yourself.