Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Stoic Path: A Meditation on Hard Times
These things, which you see, change immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these changes you have already witnessed. The universe is transformation: life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius
Stoicism offers incomparable comfort in hard times. This comfort comes from meditation on the real nature of life. Is it sensible that our measure of satisfaction and happiness should be tied to the value of our bank account, pension fund or house equity? For a majority of us, this is where our security lies. Not so for Marcus. The Stoic is happy when he is just and truthful - whatever the consequences. The current economic, environmental and social turmoils swirling about us have been a feature of human existence always. Physical wealth is transient, as is our health and social standing. The only indestructible and invincible power any of us has is our capacity to know that money and possessions will never confer lasting security. Acting rightly in all of our relationships toward each other is the only path toward peace. Life is opinion.
Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing.