Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Cosmic Consciousness - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VIII.54
Meditation VIII.54 - Cosmic Consciousness - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
No longer let your breathing only act in concert with the air which surrounds you, but let your intelligence also now be in harmony with the intelligence which embraces all things.1 For the intelligent power is no less diffused in all parts and pervades all things for the one who is willing to draw it in than the aerial power for the one who is able to respire it.2
(1) The Christian tradition has borrowed from this Stoic idea in its creation of the idea of the Holy Spirit, the third person of Christianity's divine triune God. Stoicism has not deemed it necessary to create a second or third person out of Logos. There is one divine universal intelligence Logos which is of, and in nature - and in us from birth. Our intelligence is not just similar to the divine, it is divine. We of course are free to ignore our divine essence, and crawl through life responding to our animal drives, But, if we do harmonize our divine nature with the universal "intelligence which embraces all things," we will experience the enlightenment of universal bliss - the timeless serenity of cosmic consciousness.
(2) There's nothing particularly 'airy fairy' about this claim. Stoic divinity is quite tangible. We touch bits of it when we observe and comprehend the various forces of nature at work in the world. Flip on the switch of your comprehension and you will see the divine in every aspect of nature, in the blush of a tiny flower, in the swirl of a remote galaxy, in the poetry of William Wordsworth. We do not - yet - fully comprehend how the various forces of nature interact with each other in the full manifold of existence. If we did, we would truly see what the religious traditions call the 'face of God.' Nature writ large is under the control of Law. I know this as a physicist, although I do not understand the full scope of this Law - no physicist does - yet. As a Stoic, I accept that this Law is universal, immutable, and perfect. It is senseless to argue imperfection in natural law. But, it is this perfection of the Law - writ large - that I see as Logos. It is intelligence, because I have intelligence and I know that my intelligence is distilled from this universal fabric. If I will harmonize my nature with the divine that is in me, I will understand the meaning of existence.
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.