Sunday, December 10, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B8:28-30

Pain is an evil either to the body - so let the body give its evidence - or to the soul. But the soul can preserve its own clear sky and calm voyage by not assessing pain as an evil. Every judgement, every impulse, desire and rejection is within the soul, where nothing evil can penetrate.

Erase the impressions on your mind by constantly saying to yourself: 'It is in my power now to keep this soul of mine free from any vice or passion, or any other disturbance at all: but seeing all things for what they are, I can treat them on their merits.' Remember this power which nature gives you.

When you speak in the senate or to any individual, be straightforward, not pedantic. Use language which rings true.

These three passages all seem to deal with the discipline of assent.  We are bombarded with impressions from our bodies, other people, environmental events and news.  Without thought we might think something is good or bad.  As rational, social beings, we need to use our unique qualities and think about things before we give or withhold assent or agreement.  There is a gap between event and reaction.  The discipline of assent aims to widen that gap to allow us to think about things before reacting (or not reacting).

Pain is an external event.  Most types of pain can be dealt with without having the need to add on top complaining and grumbling.  Even in some extreme cases of pain, we can still separate the the mind from the bodily pain and keep ourselves from complaining.

As impressions enter your mind, you can remind yourself that you don't have to agree with them.  A very recent example was my wife was passing some information on to a friend.  Mid-way through the conversation, the friend stopped her and said, "don't tell me anything else; I've had a bad day."  My wife could have easily assumed she offended the neighbor by something she said.  But she took it a face value and simply said the neighbor had a bad day and left it at that.  Nothing 'bad' was added on top of the statement.

When speaking with others, plain speech is best.  To be pedantic means to use precise, technical, legalistic language, which is cold and doesn't facilitate good communication.  No one likes or enjoys speaking technically all the time.  And, whenever someone says, "technically speaking" it means they are trying not to be straight forward with you - there is some narrow definition that they want to constrain the conversation through.

(see also Citadel p. 30, 41, 70, 103, 216, 270)

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