Saturday, November 18, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B7:47-49

Observe the movement of the stars as if you were running their courses with them, and let your mind constantly dwell on the changes of the elements into each other. Such imaginings wash away the filth of life on the ground.

Further, when your talk is about mankind, view earthly things as if looking down on them from some point high above flocks, armies, farms, weddings, divorces, births, deaths, the hubbub of the law-courts, desert places, various foreign nations, festivals, funerals, markets; all the medley of the world and the ordered conjunction of opposites.

Look back over the past - all those many changes of dynasties.  And you can foresee the future too: it will be completely alike, incapable of deviating from the rhythm of the present. So for the study of human life forty years are as good as ten thousand: what more will you see?

You must know your place in time and space.  Once you appreciate your position in time and space, you will begin to realize how small and petty things can be.  Once you realize this, worries and anxiety about these things ought to decrease.

Hence, Marcus counsels to observe the stars and their movements.  You will see repetition and it will give you a sense of calm and order.  He advises to imagine a "view from above" in which you see all the great nations, armies and cities in the world.  Such a view may fill you with wonder and awe and you may realize how small the 'blue dot' is.  Then think of the hundreds and thousands of years of time and how so very little time you occupy in this life.  Change is constant and repetitive.  Don't get worked up about things.  Forty years is as good as ten thousand years to 'see it all.'

Lastly, remember all these things are not in our control.  Don't let your contentment and happiness depend on these things.  Let your peace and contentment rest on whether you life a life according to nature and virtue (reason and moral virtue).

(see also Citadel p. 48, 167,  173, 178, 256)

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