Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B7:32-34

On death. Either dispersal, if we are atoms: or, if we are a unity, extinction or a change of home.

On pain. Unbearable pain carries us off: chronic pain can be borne. The mind preserves its own serenity by withdrawal, and the directing reason is not impaired by pain. It is for the parts injured by the pain to protest if they can.

On fame. Look at their minds, the nature of their thought and what they seek or avoid. And see how, just as drifting sands constantly overlay the previous sand, so in our lives what we once did is very quickly covered over by subsequent layers.

No one knows (or if they do, they have not successfully communicated the result back to the living) what happens after death.  All are theories with a smattering of anecdotal information and data.  Marcus admits as much and notes two extremes.  When we die, we are simply returned to dust and atoms or if there is a God or ultimate directing mind or minds guiding the Universe and all in it, then possibly we may have a "change of home".  This alludes, possibly, to reincarnation or resurrection.  In other places, Marcus makes mention we have all lived this life before and we will live it again.  In the universe - the vastness of time and space - anything is possible.  All of these things are out of our control.  The only we choice we have in the matter, is accepting that we will die.

With regard to pain.  Some pain is unbearable; do what you must to endure it.  I am constantly amazed by stories of people who have endured unimaginable pain.  Some people must have an incredible high pain tolerance.  I think of the pains endured by soldiers, refugees, sailors and athletes.  One particular example comes to mind: Aron Ralston.  Then there are those who deal with chronic pain.  I've run across a lot of stories on social media of those who seek Stoicism to help them deal with chronic pain.  It is possible to maintain serenity in spite of chronic pain.  In all these examples, Marcus reminds himself that pain is external to the directing mind.  A human can still reason and think despite of pain.  It certainly is not easy, but it can be done.  Which further proves the point that pain is indifferent (our contentment and happiness does not depend on not ever experiencing pain).  In fact, some philosophers went out of their way to self-inflict pain (hugging cold statues with their bare skin) to toughen them up and prevent themselves from seeking pain avoidance.

Fame: so many seek it.  In the age of social media, people actively pursue "going viral."  They want their Tweet or picture or video to be seen, liked, argued over or talked about.  Some seek fame in the pursuit of becoming more wealthy.  Others seek fame solely for popularity.  Yet others seek fame to garner social wealth and then be in a position to more easily persuade others.  The endless flow of time will quickly cause anyone and everyone to be forgotten.  If you've ever observed the waves and sand on a beach or sand dunes and wind, you will quickly learn how frequently and rapidly they change.  Also observe vast cities: London & New York - all the layers of civilization that people continue to build upon today.  Archaeologists find new cities that have been buried by land and time and water.  I think of Mexico City and the thousands of years people have continued to build upon previous cities.  Those cities used to have people in them - people of fame and repute and power.  And now, no one knows who they were.  Only names and grand acts may be found inscribed on walls.  Yet many of these grand acts are relegated to a few words or sentences in a history book.  And that history book too will soon be forgotten.

No comments:

Post a Comment