Saturday, February 24, 2018

Commentary on Meditations: B12:16-19

Presented with the impression that someone has done wrong, how do I know that this was a wrong? And if it was indeed a wrong, how do I know that he was not already condemning himself, which is the equivalent of tearing his own face?  Wanting the bad man not to do wrong is like wanting the fig-tree not to produce rennet in its figs, babies not to cry, horses not to neigh, or any other inevitable fact of nature. What else can he do with a state of mind like his? So if you are really keen, cure his state.

If it is not right, don't do it: if it is not true, don't say it.

Your impulse on every occasion should be to a complete survey of what exactly this thing is which is making an impression on your mind - to open it out by analysis into cause, material, reference, and the time-span within which it must cease to be.

Realize at long last that you have within you something stronger and more numinous than those agents of emotion which make you a mere puppet on their strings. What is in my mind at this very moment? Fear, is it? Suspicion? Desire? Something else of that sort?

Giving others the benefit of the doubt is a mark of a Stoic.  Marcus details what this looks like.  Someone does something wrong.  First off, how do you know that it is wrong?  The first step, therefore, is checking your assumptions.  And then, let's suppose indeed the person has done wrong.  Do we also know if he or she has already beaten themselves up about it?  Maybe give them a break before condemning them.  Then there are truly, indeed, bad men.  Don't be surprised by this, just as you would not be surprised that an apple tree grew apples.  And if you really wanted to help a bad man, then attempt to smartly do so.

How much clearer can Marcus be in chapter 17 of Book 12?  If it is not right, don't do it.  If it is not true, don't say it.

The goal of the discipline of assent is to ensure your impressions exactly match reality.  Therefore, reserve immediate judgement of events.  Instead, take time to do a full assessment and analysis: what is it made of, what is the context, how long will it exist?  Always going through this removes emotions and strips away false impressions.  Fear and anxiety and exuberance and haughtiness vanish.

Continuing with the topic of the discipline of assent, you should recall that you are more resilient than you think.  There is a part of your soul that is stronger than the fears, anxieties, giddiness and ecstasy.  Let that part of your soul out.

(see also Citadel p. 40-41, 287) 

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