Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B3:15-16

They do not know all the meanings of theft, of sowing, of buying, of keeping at rest, of seeing what needs to be done - this is not for the eye, but for a different sort of vision.

Body, soul, mind. To the body belong sense perceptions, to the soul impulses, to the mind judgements. The receipt of sense impressions is shared with cattle; response to the puppet-strings of impulse is shared with wild beasts, with catamites, with a Phalaris or a Nero; having the mind as guide to what appears appropriate action is shared with those who do not believe in the gods, those who betray their country, those who get up to anything behind closed doors.

So if all else is held in common with the categories mentioned above, it follows that the defining characteristic of the good person is to love and embrace whatever happens to him along his thread of fate; and not to pollute the divinity which is seated within his breast, or trouble it with a welter of confused impressions, but to preserve its constant favour, in proper allegiance to god, saying only what is true, doing only what is just.

And if all people mistrust him, for living a simple, decent, and cheerful life, he has no quarrel with any of them, and no diversion from the road which leads to the final goal of his life: to this he must come pure, at peace, ready to depart, in unforced harmony with his fate.

The ability to separate impression from reaction is a uniquely human trait.  Dumb animals cannot do this.  Humans can experience an impression, but they can also pause and think about something before deciding to react to an impression.  This is what a human was designed to do - to think about things and take appropriate action.  And not only can a human do this, but they can truly love the fate directed at them - the fate from ancient time woven to this moment in time.

And a person who does this well (the disciplines of assent, desire and action) will live a fulfilling and simple life and will enjoy contentment.

(see also Citadel p. 113, 123, 138)

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