Monday, July 3, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B4:10

'All's right that happens in the world.' Examine this saying carefully, and you will find it true. I do not mean 'right' simply in the context of cause and effect, but in the sense of 'just' - as if some adjudicator were assigning dues. So keep on observing this, as you have started, and in all that you do combine doing it with being a good man, in the specific conception of 'good man'. Preserve this in every sphere of action.

The discipline of desire is nothing more or less than loving what the nature of the world and universe desires.  Since what naturally happens in these spheres is out of our control, we have no choice but to desire the will of the world and universe.  If we were to wrap up our contentment and happiness in the weather and we wished for only 75 degree weather, with clear skies and 30% humidity with a slight breeze, we might be deeply disappointed and sad most days of the year if we lived in Texas.  Therefore, one should not place their happiness in the weather.  Rather one ought to focus on what is in their control and be happy and content with what they can control.

Continuing with the weather analogy; to be happy and content every day, we ought to love and embrace the will of nature and weather.  It if is a rainy, cloudy day, we can love it; go with the flow and settle down to read a book.  If it is hot and steamy, perhaps we can swim in the pool that day.  We cannot change the weather, but we can adjust our attitude toward it.

To make this point even more impactful, consider this quote from Stephen Hawking from a recent news report:
"In his talk, titled My Life In Physics, he spoke about his early realisation of his medical problems when he went skating with his mother, according to Cambridge News .
"I fell over and had great difficulty getting up," he said.
Prof Hawking was later diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), at the age of 21.
"At first I became depressed," he said. "I seemed to be getting worse really rapidly.
"There didn't seem any point working on my PhD because I didn't know I would live long enough to finish it.
"But then the condition developed more slowly and I began to make progress in my work. 
"After my expectations had been reduced to zero, every new day became a bonus and I began to appreciate everything I did have. While there's life there's hope."
Hawking eventually embraced and loved his fate (amor fati).  No one says embracing fate is always easy.  But if you want to be content, you must embrace and love your fate.

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