Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Morning Meditation From a Roman Emperor

Marcus Aurelius (120-181 C.E.)
Two thousand odd-years later, the Roman Emperor and neo-Platonist philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, is far more renowned for his "Meditations" than he ever was for his battlefield exploits fighting the "Barbarians" on the plains of Germany.

"All we have to live and lose is this ever passing present moment," he observed, a philosophic idea which is wholly consistent with popular inspirational and spiritual teachings today. My favorite of Aurelius' meditations, however, is the following paragraph which reminds us that we interact in a world where most individuals are driven by their self-centered egoic thinking, rather than by any appeal to the higher parts of their consciousness and being.

Aurelius (at Book Two, Verse 1) reflects upon just how we can "turn the other cheek,'" metaphorically speaking, in the following way:
"Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness - all of them due to the offenders' ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow-creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of these things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man's two hands, feet, or eyelids, or like the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against nature's law - and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction?

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