Monday, June 12, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B3:11

One addition to the precepts already mentioned. Always make a definition or sketch of what presents itself to your mind, so you can see it stripped bare to its essential nature and identify it clearly, in whole and in all its parts, and can tell yourself its proper name and the names of those elements of which it is compounded and into which it will be dissolved.

Nothing is so conducive to greatness of mind as the ability to subject each element of our experience in life to methodical and truthful examination, always at the same time using this scrutiny as a means to reflect on the nature of the universe, the contribution any given action or event makes to that nature, the value this has for the Whole, and the value it has for man - and man is an inhabitant of this highest City, of which all other cities are mere households.

Ask then, what is this which is now making its impression on me? What is it composed of? How long in the nature of things will it last? What virtue is needed to meet it - gentleness, for example, or courage, truthfulness, loyalty, simplicity, self sufficiency, and so on? So in each case we must say: This has come from god; this is due to a juncture of fate, the mesh of destiny, or some similar coincidence of chance; and this is from my fellow man, my kinsman and colleague, though one who does not know what accords with his own nature. But I do know: and so I treat him kindly and fairly, following the natural law of our fellowship, but at the same time I aim to give him his proper desert in matters which are morally neutral.

The discipline of assent, in my estimation, is all about attitude adjustment.  Properly seeing the world as it is and clearly seeing the difference between what is in my control and what is out of my control, enables a person to effectively deal with anxiety, fear, zealousness any other emotions.

At the time of this writing, my wife and I are dealing with a bathroom that needs repair.  In our estimation, the best course of action (in light of our long-term strategy) is to repair and upgrade the bathroom.  However, this would require us incurring some more debt.  At this same time, our children are growing older and the cost of additional vehicles and college are looming over us.  We have the means, but getting over that hump of spending the money is difficult.  To a large extent, these things are out of my control.  And so I choose not to get overly worked up about it.  I concentrate on the positive side of things and I strive to embrace the fate dealt me at this time.

This concept is applicable and scaleable to any situation.  A month ago, my father-in-law passed away, very unexpectedly.  A quick change in plans during a very busy work season as well as towards the end of the school year, had a significant impact our me and my kids' finals.  But we put on a stiff upper lip, adjusted our attitudes, made the trip to be with my wife's family and mourned with my mother-in-law and my wife's siblings.  The death of my father-in-law gave me the opportunity to meditate on the shortness of life and it gave me a very profound appreciation for what I have in my life now.

Don't just let your emotions run your life.  Make an assessment of the situation; challenge yourself to meet fate with the proper attitude and reaction.  Every turn of event is an opportunity to improve yourself.

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