Friday, May 12, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B3:3

Hippocrates cured many diseases then died of disease himself. The Chaldean astrologers foretold the deaths of many people, then their own fated day claimed them. Alexander, Pompey, Julius Caesar annihilated whole cities time after time, and slaughtered tens of thousands of horse and foot in the field of battle, and yet the moment came for them too to depart this life. Heraclitus speculated long on the conflagration of the universe, but the water of dropsy filled his guts and he died caked in a poultice of cow-dung. Vermin were the death of Democritus, and vermin of another sort killed Socrates. What of it, then? You embarked, you set sail, you made port. Go ashore now. If it is to another life, nothing is empty of the gods, even on that shore: and if to insensibility, you will cease to suffer pains and pleasures, no longer in thrall to a bodily vessel which is a master as far inferior as its servant is superior. One is mind and divinity: the other a clay of dust and blood.

Every day death should be before us - we should think about it and embrace it as our fate.  We should love our fate of death.  Accepting death leads to greater appreciation for the life we do have at this very moment.  Greater appreciation for life at this moment leads to greater impetus to make the most out of what we have - to truly live life - carpe diem!

In this passage, Marcus reminds himself of "great" people who all succumbed to death.  Then he reminds himself to think nothing of it.  We got on the boat, set sail, arrived at the port, we go ashore.  We should not have anxiety over this; rather we should enjoy the journey.

He further analyzes if there be gods and an afterlife or not.  This too is out of his control and he exercises his discipline of assent to adjust his attitude accordingly.  If we go on to another life, so be it.  If we die into nothingness, then no more pain or pleasures.

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