Practical Stoicism
Practical Stoicism

Episode 10 · 6 months ago

Do not forget these 5 things


This week we'll be working through meditation #9 from book 2 of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius "Don’t ever forget these things:

The nature of the world.

My nature.

How I relate to the world.

What proportion of the world I make up.

That I am part of nature, and no one can prevent me from speaking and acting in harmony with it, always."

Meditations: A New Translation (the book I read these meditations from) --> [link]

I'm going to start this week with an apology and then with a thank you. I'll start with the apology. That seems like the right thing to do. I am a day late getting this episode out. I know I've never formally said, hey, this comes out on Saturdays. I never exactly set that expectation, but I think my behavior over the last nine episodes has set that expectation without me having to say anything. I was recently offered a job as a chief content officer at a company that I've been advising for for a while and it was a lot of good news and it meant I had to change a lot about my daytoday, operations during the week and my Saturday I kind of sucked up with planning that kind of stuff, those kinds of changes. In the future will be back to Saturday releases and some days if something goes sideways. But just to let you know, I know I'm late and I hope that hasn't caused you any inconvenience. I hope you still get a chance to listen to this before your week starts. And now how about a...

...thank you. In just nine short episodes, this is the ten practical stoicism has received over fivezero downloads, and that is extremely fast growth. PODCASTING as part of what I do for a living. So five thousand downloads across just ten episodes is really impressive and I only have you to thank for that. For listening, for sharing and for a reviewing. You have helped to rock at this podcast, in fact to the top fifty of all podcasts in the philosophy category in Apple podcasts in the US apple podcast store and in the top hundred in the UK apple podcast stores. So I just wanted to take a minute to recognize that. It's a huge accomplishment for me, but it's only made possible through all of you listening and sharing and saying such nice things about the program so thank you for that. Now on to today's meditation, which reads as follows. Do not ever forget these things. One, the nature of the world to my nature. Three, how I relate to the world,...

...for what proportion of the world I make up and five, that I am part of nature and no one can prevent me from speaking and acting in harmony with it always. Marcus is kind of putting a bow on the previous eight meditations for us, reminding us what's been considered and what's been learned so far. It is important for us first not to forget the nature of the world, and practically speaking, I would translate that as remember that you cannot control the wild whims of nature or those of the individuals around you. Don't forget your own nature either. Your nature is that of an animal with rational faculties, with the ability to reason and decide. But you're also an animal which must choose to reason and decide. You are not like a honey bee. A honey bee, for example, wakes in the morning and does its honey beat duty. It doesn't think about what it would rather do. It...

...doesn't decide to fulfill its role, it's honey bee duty. Instead, it's simply wakes and fulfills its purpose. It plays its part and it makes no decision in doing so. So in a way, we human beings are cursed. Our human function is to be useful, we've talked about that, to benefit our communities, to work together like the upper and lower rows of teeth, and to work in alignment with the rest of nature. And here perhaps you might finally understand what this really means. Nature, all of it, has a job which is not only apparent to its individual parts, the honey bee, the flower, the Salmon, the aunt, etc. But which is also programmed into those parts. The honey bee can do nothing other than its job, but human beings, having the gift of reason and thought, can choose to be part of nature or apart from nature. We can choose not to do our jobs. So you've got to remember this nature of yours,...

...or else you will never be in control of yourself enough to do your job. Also, don't forget how you relate to the world, how you are a part of it and how you can influence its future, but how you are not its master. Consider the following from Zeno, the father of stoicism. Quote, when a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow, it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity. But if the dog does not follow, it will be compelled old in any case. and quote. You are the dog and the cart is nature and life and the world. You are tethered to it, you are part of it and it will do as it wills, and you may be able to steer it occasionally or slow it down by resisting, but the relationship should always be kept clear, you will succumb to its women the end. So how do you want to spend your years being dragged walking alongside or running out ahead, because you're going to the same place anyway? And then,...

...finally, remember also what proportion of the world you make up. It's very little, isn't it? Remembering not to place yourself at the center of the universe will prevent you from growing prideful or from becoming self important or self absorbed. What good can you be to other human beings if you are self important and self absorbed? You are but a single, small part of all that is and you control none of it. And then, lastly, do not forget that you are autonomous, that you are in charge of deciding what you do, and so no one can prevent you from living in accordance with nature. But also only you can make the decision to live in accordance with nature for yourself. No one can force you to do it. You are not the honey bee. You have the power of reason and the freedom of choice. It's easy for the honey bee to do what he does. It is easy for the honey bee to do what it does because there's no decision made in doing it, it is hard for us to do the thing that... our job, and that is to help our communities, to take care of those around us and to participate wholeheartedly in our existence, and no one can force you to do that. Thank you so much for listening today. I hope that you found it useful. If you're enjoying the show, I'd love to hear from you in the form of a written review on Apple podcasts, spotify podcast or podchasercom. It's always nice to know what people are getting out of the show. It helps me make it better. Again, thanks for listening and until next time, take care.

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