Tuesday, November 17, 2009
To Move a Star - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VII.71
Meditation VII.71 - To Move a Star - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
It is a ridiculous thing for you not to fly from your own badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from another's badness is impossible.1
(1) Badness is nothing other than conduct that is not aligned with universal Law. In Stoic language it is living contrary to nature. Human beings are completely sovereign in the actions we take and in the opinions we hold. We can live according to nature or live outside of nature's framework. But whatever our choice, the consequences of our actions are universal. If we are good, the totality of nature is moved by our actions. If we are bad, the totality of nature is also moved. This is because action and thought emanate from the activity of mind, and although the particular individual mind is sovereign, it is connected to the universal nature as a thread in a universal web. Those connections are based on the physical nature of the Stoic conception of mind and matter. The human mind or soul is not a distinct supernatural entity. It is indeed a physical construct regulated by natural laws with universal reach. Nothing in nature exists in isolation from anything else. The Stoics understood this intuitively from their observations of nature two thousand years ago and long before the work of Issac Newton (1642-1727) in the 18th century who asserted that the force of gravity exerted by a single partcle extended to the farthest reaches of the universe. One of the greatest minds of modern Physics - 1933 Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac (1902-1984) - reasserted this essentially Newtonian and Stoic idea in the modern era: Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.