Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Commentary on Meditations: B9:30-31

Take a view from above - look at the thousands of flocks and herds, the thousands of human ceremonies, every sort of voyage in storm or calm, the range of creation, combination, and extinction. Consider too the lives once lived by others long before you, the lives that will be lived after you, the lives lived now among foreign tribes; and how many have never even heard your name, how many will very soon forget it, how many may praise you now but quickly turn to blame. Reflect that neither memory nor fame, nor anything else at all, has any importance worth thinking of.

Calm acceptance of what comes from a cause outside yourself, and justice in all activity of your own causation. In other words, impulse and action fulfilled in that social conduct which is an expression of your own nature.

In chapter 30 of Book 9, Marcus reminds himself how little his existence is and how it truly does not matter.  One of the oft-used Stoic practices is to reflect on this "view from above."  The purpose of this exercise is to give yourself a reality check and a strong dose of humility, as well as to strengthen your love and kindness for all humankind.  In other words, it puts everything in the proper perspective.  In this passage, the purpose Marcus is trying to achieve is to beat down his pride and desire for fame.

In chapter 31, Marcus alludes to the other impact of taking the view from above: that of accepting that there are things bigger than you as well as developing a stronger kinship with all people, which naturally leads to healthy social conduct.

If you have about 20 minutes (and you should), take the time to watch the video below.  Astronauts who see the Earth for the first time experience what is now called "the overview effect."  At the heart of this effect is the deeply profound sense of love and unity they experience once they see this fragile oasis of a blue marble sitting in the vastness of space.  All thoughts of hate, anger, pride and selfishness leave.  And what is left is an unforgettable feeling of love and compassion.  As you watch the video, you begin to get a sense of how important it is to take a "view from above" and how it can change you.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

(see also Citadel p. 48,

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