Ep. 1 - Meditations
Not to be constantly correcting people, and in particular not to jump on them whenever they make an error of usage or a grammatical mistake or mispronounce something, but just answer their question or add another example, or debate the issue itself (not their phrasing), or make some other contribution to the discussion and insert the right expression unobtrusively.
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.
Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people – unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You’ll be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they’re saying, and what they’re thinking, and what they’re up to, and all the other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own mind.
You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, “What are you thinking about?” you can respond at once (and truthfully) that you are thinking this or that thing.
He does only what is his to do, and considers constantly what the world has in store for him – doing his best, and trusting that all is for the best. For we carry our fate with us – and it carries us.
People try to get away from it all – to the country to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like.
By going within.
Nowhere you can go is more peaceful – more free of interruptions – than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: complete tranquility. And by tranquility I mean a kind of harmony.
What’s there to complain about? People’s misbehavior? But take into consideration:
-That doing what’s right sometimes requires patience
-And the number of people who have feuded and envied and hated and fought and died and been buried
Or is it your reputation that’s bothering you? But look at how soon we’re all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of all those applauding hands. The people who praise us – how capricious they are, how arbitrary.
In a sense, people are our proper occupation. Our job is to do them good and put up with them.
But when they obstruct our proper tasks, they become irrelevant to us – like sun, wind, animals. Our actions may be impeded by them, but there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and covers to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.
The impediment to action advances action.
What stands in the way becomes the way.
Like seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig. Or that this noble vintage is grape juice, and the purple robes are sheep wool dyed with shellfish blood. Or making love – something rubbing against your penis, a brief seizure and a little cloudy liquid.
Perceptions like that – latching onto things and piercing through them, so we see what they really are. That’s what we need to do al