Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Body Language - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VII.04
Meditation VII.04 - Body Language - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
In discourse you must attend to what is said, and in every movement you must observe what is happening. And in the one you should see immediately to what end it refers, but in the other watch carefully what is the thing signified.(1)
(1) This meditation suggests that each of us, in our primary role as political actors in all that we do, must attend closely not only to the words that are said by those around us, but also to the inner intentions. Marcus is aware that our world is full of trickery and deception. While we ought always assume that people will act and speak with honesty, Marcus is a realist. Not everyone speeks the truth. Many people are motivated by self-interest, and speak only words that they presume we wish to hear. To do this well, the Stoic needs to master the art of reading - not just between the lines - but reading the hidden language of the body. This is clearly a difficult task. We need to be able to deflect flattery, know the speaker, understand the situation, and to detect deception. Even more difficult is the task of disarming deception without doing harm to the speaker. We are guided in this by our roles as teachers. Our aim is never to humiliate or antagonize the speaker, but to find ways of turning deception into truth. A Stoic is helped in this regard by recalling that the speaker is in truth being dishonest because of his basic ignorance of the Law of Nature. We need to find ways of correcting and guiding the speaker toward a self-understanding that will eventually lead him to honest discourse and disclosure.
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.