Sunday, January 14, 2018

Commentary on Meditations: B10:1

My soul, will you ever be good, simple, individual, bare, brighter than the body that covers you? Will you ever taste the disposition to love and affection? Will you ever be complete and free of need, missing nothing, desiring nothing live or lifeless for the enjoyment of pleasure? Or time for longer enjoyment, or amenity of place, space, and climate? Or good company? No, will you not rather be satisfied with your present state and take pleasure in all that is presently yours? Will you not convince yourself that all your experience comes from the gods, that all is well and all will be well for you, all that the gods see fit to give you, now and hereafter, in the maintenance of that perfect Being which is good and just and beautiful, which generates all things, sustains and contains all things, embraces all things as they dissolve into the generation of others like them? Will you ever be such as to share the society of gods and men without any criticism of them or condemnation by them?

In chapter 1 of Book 10, Marcus opens up and, as if with a sigh, wonders if he'll ever make moral progress.  He makes a really good outline, in the form of a question, as to what he thinks the ideal is.

What makes that ideal soul?

Being good and simple; having integrity and being positive.  It is a disposition of love and affection for others.

The ideal soul does not desire anything - no needs, no passionate desires, no pleasures, no coveting of a better place or space or climate, no wish for good company - other than simply desiring things as they are.  The ideal soul loves what is, without extending the reach of desire for anything else.

The ideal soul loves its fate (amor fati) and all that life sends to it.  The ideal soul embraces what the Gods sends to it.  The ideal soul loves the Gods or the Universe or Fate.

The ideal soul gladly accepts change in all forms.

The ideal soul never criticizes the gods or men.

To me, this passage is exceptionally close to the notion Friedrich Nietzsche tried to capture when he said, "My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it...but love it”

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