Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Which I Wax Philosophical about Life, the Universe and Everything

Marcus Aurelius' Meditations helped me get my head straight about interpersonal relationships and how to marry the spiritual with the daily grind. It's like I had all these brightly colored blocks of information in my head that after reading the Meditations, suddenly was put into a configuration that spelled out a word instead of being a jumbled mess. These are some quotes from Aurelius I wrote in my journal:

Say to yourself in the morning: I shall meet people who are interfering, ungracious, insolent, full of guile, deceitful and antisocial; they have no understanding of good and evil. But I who have contemplated the essential beauty of good and the essential ugliness of evil, who know that the nature of the wrongdoer is of one kin with mine - not indeed of the same blood or seed but sharing the same mind, the same portion of the divine - I cannot be harmed by any one of them, and no one can involve me in shame. I cannot feel anger against him who is of my kin, nor hate him. We were born to labor together, like the feet, the hands, the eyes and the rows of upper and lower teeth. To work against one another is therefore contrary to nature, and to be angry against a man or turn one's back on him is to work against him.
Always keep this thought in mind: What is the essential nature of the Universe and what is my own essential nature? How is the one related to the other, being so small a part of so great a Whole? And remember that no one can prevent your deeds and your words being in accord with nature.
What then can help us on our way? One thing only: philosophy. This consists of guarding our inner spirit inviolate and unharmed, stronger than pleasures and pains, never acting aimlessly, falsely or hypocritically, independent of the actions or inactions of others, accepting all that happens or is given as coming from whence one came oneself, and at all times awaiting death with contented mind as being only the release of the elements of which every creature is composed.
There's loads more that's awesome, but that'll give you the gist. The Meditations is a fairly longish work, so I was amazed to find all of that wisdom wrapped up in a single poem (such is the power of poetry) by the Sufi Master Hafiz:
Rewards For Clear Thinking

Think about this for a second:

God (being God), having Infinite Knowledge,
Not only knew your every thought and action
Your life would ever experience

(Even before you were born)

But He also, being the Divine Creator,
Has etched every moment of your existence
With his own hand

With the precision and care
No artist ever could.

Think about this for a moment:
I have never heard a bird or the sun
Ever say to God,
I am sorry.

There seems to be a great reward
For clear thinking
All existence is a pawn in the Friend's hands.

Look, one gets wings and gifts to the world
Music each morning;
One turns into such an extraordinary light
He actually becomes a sustainer of a whole planet,

One makes a thousand moons go mad with love
And blush all night
When one can surrender the illusion, the crutch, of
Free will,

Though still live - for the benefits of others -
The highest of moral

If you replace "God" in there for "Cosmos," "Universe," or "Collective Unconscious," that's more along the lines of how I read it. Because I think god is just the symbolic X answering the equation that is everything everywhere.

More and more in life I've come to realize that the path I'm taking was laid out for me with incredible care in order to create, balance and shape my mind, emotions and person to be just so, in order that I'd fit into the perfectly intricate interplay of life on Earth that went on long before me and will continue long after, building the great work of consciousness to express itself ever more perfectly.

I'm learning that the more I "let go and let god," and just concentrate on doing what only I can do, the more power and wisdom I find in even the most casual of events. It's living life on mythic terms and it's terrifying and exhilirating to find that even my bitterest, most selfish tears have water the beautiful blossoming of the divine.

I think all our human helpleassness is a joke at which our godselves are laughing. Like when grownups pretend to be all weak while playing with kids cuz we think it's hilarious to play their games without "unfair advantages."

"Sometimes I go pirtying myself,
and all the while I am being carried
on great winds across the sky."
-Ojibwe Indian poem

Related posts:
May's Rules for Living Well
Buddha, Bisexuality and Betrayal
FAILure and Humor

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Kristin Maun said...

I love the poem! I'm also partial to replacing the word "God" with "The Universe."

Have you read "Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac? My main meditation is imagining myself in a grove of yellow aspens in the fall when the wind has just that slight chill to it, that makes you feel cool all over. And I always seem to come back to that line:

"Everything is possible. I am God, I am Buddha, I am imperfect Ray Smith, all at the same time, I am empty space, I am all things. I have all the time in the world from life to life to do what is to do, to do what is done, to do the timeless doing, infinitely perfect within, why cry, why worry, perfect like mind essence and the minds of banana peels."

May said...

I haven't read that, but I love the quote AND aspens! I'm totally going to get an aspen tree tattooed on my back and side one of these days. Trees in general are awesome images for meditation, I think.

Kristin Maun said...

Aspens are truly inspiring. My mom loves them, too. She's an awesome artist and has some great paintings of yellow aspens she did. A tattoo sounds awesome. I've always wanted to get a tattoo based on that quote, like a banana peel. I just don't know where to put it.

Unknown said...

It difficult differentiate that What is the essential nature of the Universe and what is my own essential nature? How is the one related to the other, being so small a part of so great a Whole? Here you have good interpretation on it.

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