Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Martyr's Mind - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VIII.48
Meditation VIII.48 - The Martyr's Mind - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
Remember that the ruling faculty is invincible, when self-collected it is satisfied with itself, if it does nothing which it does not choose to do, even if it resist from mere obstinacy.1 What then will it be when it forms a judgment about anything aided by reason and deliberately?2 Therefore the mind which is free from passions is a citadel, for a human being has nothing more secure than this impregnable and permanent refuge.3 Whoever then who has not seen this is ignorant;4 but whoever has seen it and does not fly to this refuge is unhappy.5
(1) The human mind is divine both in its origin in Logos and in its function in will. We are like gods in this respect. But the Stoic wills that we be what nature has designed for us. We accept what is as we merge with cosmic reason. In this we will be content. In this state we are invincible insofar as we remain insulated from the draw of our animal nature and unmoved by passion.
(2) The sky is the limit really. The mind aided by reason is not just invincible, it is boundless in its potential for understanding and wisdom. We can and will achieve great things. When I read this sentence I think of Mozart, and Einstein and Socrates and Christ and the other great Stoics of history. When we act with deliberation we are in a position to mirror through the mind the beauty and truth we witness. And free also to express this witness in literature, in music, in art, in poetry, in blogs, and in parable.
(3) I think of Hypatia of Alexandria (355-415 CE) when I read this sentence; and of the great heroes and heroines of history; and of the martyrs; and those who battle fearlessly against injustice and oppression and ignorance.
(4) And alone, and isolated, and a coward - by default.
(5) It is possible to see that we have this refuge and to not seek it. We are free to do as we choose.
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.