Monday, April 17, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B2:3

The works of the gods are full of providence. The works of Fortune are not independent of Nature or the spinning and weaving together of the threads governed by Providence. All things flow from that world: and further factors are necessity and the benefit of the whole universe, of which you are a part. Now every part of nature benefits from that which is brought by the nature of the Whole and all which preserves that nature: and the order of the universe is preserved equally by the changes in the elements and the changes in their compounds. Let this be enough for you, and your constant doctrine. And give up your thirst for books, so that you do not die a grouch, but in true grace and heartfelt gratitude to the gods.

The discipline of desire consists of two views as outlined by Hadot:

First "in refusing to desire anything other than what is willed by the Nature of the All" and second "in wanting to do that which my own nature wants me to do." (see p. 129).

The passage above (book 2, verse 2) in Meditations alludes to the first type of view - that is we ought to desire what the Universe / Zeus / God desires.

This world and universe, of which we are a part, was designed well.  It functions as it ought.  However, it is man's negative perception which causes us to view it in a negative light.

A farmer, for example, may view the sunlight as good and beneficial for his crops.  Water is also viewed as beneficial.  However, too much sun and not enough water can be viewed is not good for the farmer.  The farmer ought to use his reason to understand the risks and take appropriate action.  But the abundance of sun and the lack of water are forces that naturally occur and are not inherently good or bad, rather, they just are.

Practically speaking, the sooner you understand the true nature of the situation, the better off you are in finding contentment and not spending energy or effort being angry at something that is entirely out of your control.  In summary, love what the Universe / Zeus / God has sent your way.

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