Issue 882
This week's practice

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Dear All,

Last week I was told a very moving story by one of the members of the class I was taking.  It was in response to the Stoic idea that it’s not what happens that’s important but how we meet what happen. for virtue is the only good.  The virtue that they are speaking of is our fundamental quality, our ‘sovereign reason’.  This is the story.  This man’s son phoned him with the news that his doctors had told him that they could do nothing more for him and that he had only three months to live.  He told his father that under these circumstances he had a choice. He could live the three months in fear and misery or he could  choose to be happy, and he knew which he'd prefer.

We must accept that we have an allotted time.  It might be more than three months but it is inevitably limited.  The question is are we to live this allotted time in disquiet or contentment.  It is quite evident which is preferable.

All the best, William


All the best, William

https://schoolofphilosophy.org/collections/horizons-saturday-studies/products/philosophy-as-a-way-of-life-1

This week's reflection

LETTING GO

One of the most obvious ways of preventing the growth of natural energy, is by giving energy to the wrong things.  The most destructive thing that we give ourselves to is negative emotion. People who give themselves to this may through that energy appear strong, but consider the final result of all their fulmination, very little in terms of real understanding either of themselves or of the world in which they live.  Real strength is a clear and rational thing, and if action is required it's done from reason with quiet decisiveness.  These actions may have huge effects but the source of them is still and reflective.

How is my soul's helmsman going about his task?  For in that lies everything.  All else, within my control or beyond it, is dead bones and vapour.


 

Marcus Aurelius, who was a ruler of the Roman Empire, was quite clear as to what was important.  He was determined on one thing only, to head home.  This was his continual reference point.  All else, including the control of his vast empire, was of secondary importance : 'dead bones and vapour'. It's only when the orientation is right can the good and the useful follow.  Something which is ‘dead bones and vapour’ has already passed the point of vitality, and yet this is what everybody takes notice of.  Vital action takes place elsewhere, ruled by different principles.  Manifestation may have the signs of vitality, may appear inspired, but only if the source of action is genuinely alive.  When that source is true, actions can be seen for what they are, inspired by wisdom. 

For the Stoics the individual's primary role is to steer this centre of consciousness away from all the petty involvements that consume us, back to the centre of our lives.

Of these consuming factors in our lives, involvement in negative emotion is the most consuming, the most destructive of conscious energy and the avowed enemy of measure.


Practice:

Gain strength by letting go of self generated sources of debilitation.
Don't toy with them.
Immediately they're recognised, let them go.

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