Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B4.4

If mind is common to us all, then we have reason also in common - that which makes us rational beings. If so, then common too is the reason which dictates what we should or should not do. If so, then law too is common to us all. If so, then we are citizens. If so, we share in a constitution. If so, the universe is a kind of community. In what else could one say that the whole human race shares a common constitution?  From there, then, this common city, we take our very mind, our reason, our law - from where else? Just as the earthy part of me has been derived from some earth, the watery from the next element, the air of my breath from some other source, the hot and fiery from its own origin (for nothing comes from nothing, nor returns to nothing) - so the mind also has its source.

We humans, were designed to be social.  To go against that notion goes against our very nature.  At the very center of our view is our individual self - our individual mind - our soul.  Therefore, knowing we we our individual selves need, we can reason that other rational beings need the same things.  We ought to have compassion and we ought to share and have compassion towards others.

One of the concepts that helps me have love towards others is the concentric circles.  Some call it the circles of compassion.  The Human is Contemplative blog does a great job describing this concept:
Hierocles used concentric circles to explain the oikeiôsis, which could translate as appropriation. The first circle is our own minds, the next circle outward is our immediate family, then extended family, community, country, and the entire human race. The stoic endeavor is to draw these outlying people closer and closer toward the inner circles with respect to our concern. Thus, the process of oikeiôsis in human beings is one of expanding our identity of 'self' to encompass everyone. This has also been described as the stoic notion of brotherly love.
The next time you are commuting and someone cuts you off, give them the benefit of the doubt - bring them into your circle.  Viewed differently, you should pretend it was you who just cut someone off.  What "excuse" would you offer as an apology to the person you cut off?

In summary: put yourself in other peoples' shoes.

(see also Citadel, p.42-43, 312)

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