Thursday, June 11, 2009
Universal Consciousness - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. IX.32
Meditation IX.32 - Universal Consciousness - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
You can remove out of the way many useless things among those which disturb you, for they lie entirely in your opinion; and you will then gain for yourself ample space by comprehending the whole universe in your mind, and by contemplating the eternity of time, and observing the rapid change of all things, how short is the time from birth to dissolution, and the illimitable time before birth as well as the equally boundless time after dissolution.1
(1) The human psyche, or soul, is a physical emanation of the universal intelligence Logos. As such it retains qualities of the universal including a a proto-consciousness of space-time. This awareness informs the basis of Stoic physics, the foundation for our personal inquiry into the fabric of nature and her laws. We may access this awareness through meditation, and in so doing the cares of the world that so color the daily lives of so many of us will pale into insignificance. Those issues which "disturb" us proceed from our animal and emotional sensibilities, and will serve as the sense data for the formation of our attitudes, opinions and orientation toward the world. If we are ignorant of our place within the universe, our attitudes will remain animal-centered and self-serving. We will live exclusively for the pursuit of pleasure, the avoidance of pain, and the satisfaction of our animal drives. This is the parochial position of those who remain unaware of our place in nature. Meditation places our physical essence into relief by opening the door to the universal and the cosmopolitanism that comes from perceiving our connection to the universal community of sentient life. The Stoics are not trivializing the role or usefulness of the animal side of experience. We are living beings, and we must survive, and we must pay attention to our physical needs. But our animal nature is not our reason for living. It ought not rule. Human beings ought to be ruled instead by intelligence, and intelligence is all comprehensive, all reaching, and inherently flawless, perfect and beautiful. In this sense when we enter the universal we become aware of our larger role and place in nature. We are also able to act rightly in the world, to exercise our capacity for virtue, and to find the peace and tranquility that we deserve.
Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing. The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book. The published selections are referenced in this Blog by page number and section.