Monday, February 12, 2018

Commentary on Meditations: B11:20

All the elements of air and fire that are mingled in you have a natural tendency to rise, but nevertheless obey the dispensation of the Whole and are kept waiting here in the compound of the body. And all the elements of earth and water in you, whose tendency is to sink down, are nevertheless raised up and stay in a position unnatural to them. So even the elements are obedient to the Whole: assigned their place, they are forced to stay there, until the signal authorizing their dissolution once more is given from that same source.

So is it not strange that it is only your intelligent part which rebels and complains of the place given it? And yet there is nothing forced on it, only what accords with its own nature. But still it refuses to comply, and sets off in the opposite direction. Any movement towards acts of injustice or self-indulgence, to anger, pain, or fear is nothing less than apostasy from nature. Further, whenever the directing mind feels resentment at any happening, that too is desertion of its proper post. It was constituted not only for justice to men but no less for the reverence and service of god - this also a form of fellowship, perhaps yet more important than the operation of justice.

The elements don't rebel against their nature.  They each have a job to do and they do it.  Elements in the human body, such as carbon and water, carry out their mission.  They stay composed and "keep" the human body in its form.  Then when the signal is made (death), they dissolve.  They simply carry out their mission and do no rebel.

Now, let's talk about what makes humans unique.  We have this rational mind that has all sorts of tugs and pulls at it.  A lot of these tugs and pulls have to do with things that are not under our control.  We may complain it is too cold or too hot (it's out of our control).  We begin to worry about having to deal with a certain person at work (it's out of our control).  We get angry when someone cuts us off in traffic or is talking loudly in a movie theater (it's out of our control).  We fear we will lose all our money in the stock market (it's largely out of our control).  Our duty, as humans, is to focus on things that are in our control (our attitude, our love of virtue, helping other people).  And our duty with regard to all those other things, is to love it - to love what comes our way.  In summary, if we focus on becoming more disciplined in our desire (love our fate) and if we focus on becoming disciplined in our proper, right actions (love and help for others), then we are doing our duty as rational, social beings.

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