Saturday, July 18, 2009
Stoic Communion with Nature - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VIII.61
Meditation VIII.61 - Stoic Communion with Nature - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
Enter into every one's ruling faculty; and also let every one enter into yours.1, 2
(1) This is the sacramental act of Stoicism, although not formally described as such in Stoic philosophy (Stoicism is not a religion). In Christian theology Christ is the Logos. In the Eucharistic tradition we are in communion with Christ or the Logos when we consume consecrated bread and wine. There is a profound difference however between the Stoic and Christian traditions. In Stoicism (which predates Christianity) all human beings are by nature in constant communion with the Logos because the Logos is in us always. Human beings are free to act in accordance with the Logos (live according to nature) or to reject the directives of nature by responding exclusively to the demands of the body over the dictates of reason (live in opposition to nature). But such a rejection of nature does not leave us devoid of reason. Because the Logos is the source of all reason, all human beings are by definition in constant communion with all others. This meditation recognizes the importance of this Stoic communion with nature, and directs us to enter into, and be open to the reality of our cosmopolitan nature. It is through this sacramental union of one-with-all, and all-with-one, that we are able to act rightly in the world. Our duty in life and our key to serenity is acting rightly for the benefit of the universal community.
(2) The published annotation on this meditation provides an extensive commentary on the importance of this meditation and its relationship to Ralph Waldo Emerson's (1803-1882) concept of the "Over-soul." (The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained, Ch. 3, "Stoicism and the Mind - The Supremacy of Reason II," p. 115, 2007)
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.