Wednesday, April 13, 2011
What Happens in Vegas... - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VII.29
Meditation VII.29 - What Happens in Vegas... - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
Wipe out the imagination.(1) Stop the pulling of the strings.(2) Confine yourself to the present.(3) Understand well what happens either to you or to another.(4) Divide and distribute every object into the causal (formal) and the material.(5) Think of your last hour.(6) Let the wrong which is done by anyone stay there where the wrong was done.(7)
(1) Deal with what is real and concrete. Do not add anything to what you know to be true.
(2) The "strings" are the physical sensations that drive our appetites. Each string is a source of pleasure or pain. These strings serve a purpose in our lives by allowing us to survive. But the strings need not be added to by the imagination or fantasy.
(3) The past is done. The future is yet to be. The only influence we can have on our lives is in the present. Live there.
(4) Think carefully and critically about everything that makes an impression on you using your reason.
(5) Marcus often draws on Aristotle's four causes (material, efficient, formal and final) as a guide to formal reasoning. For example, the material cause refers to what something is made of while the formal cause places the "object" within a category of objects with similar form or essence. (see also Meditation XII.29 - Living Rightly)
(6) Life is brief. Live each hour always as if it were your last.
(7) Let go of wrong. Perhaps an early expression of the popular expression "what happens in Vegas ..." This is really an appeal to mercy. We have been wronged. We will experience wrong again. For the Stoic all wrong is based on ignorance. We need to let go of wrong by forgiving those who attempt to do harm. This perspective is also found in the Christian tradition in the Lord's Prayer - 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.'
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.