Adjust Mindset towards Offenders

“Keep these nine points in your mind – take them as gifts from the Muses! – and begin at long last to be a human being, while life remains.” – Marcus Aurelius

Things have a way of embedding themselves into our psychology through repetition, in turn reinforcing our beliefs or biases about the world, so if we are not selective about the quality of thoughts we regularly contemplate, then we may find ourselves at odds with the way things are by nature, and acting contrary to our best interest.

This sort of mindset seems to play a part in Marcus Aurelius’ undertaking of chapter eighteen in book eleven of his Meditations. Here he lays down 9 approaches by which to subdue the attacks (including those which exist in potential and of his own imaginings) that may derail him from his ethical orientation and/or philosophy.

My goal here is to summarize Aurelius’ method into a basic list for the sake of clarity. In addition, the associated video provides a reading of the actual chapter. Taken together these sources may help one to better understand his golden verse. Now in order to consolidate this presentation even further, feel free to share a relevant quote in the comment section that aligns with one or any of the nine items in the list below.

1. Interdependence demands action, forethought and leadership, so keep to primary principles to navigate the way.

2. Learn about the nature of others, right down to their base drives and instincts.

3. People also desire what is good and just; consider what disillusions them.

4. Empathize with others; acknowledge your own proclivity for vice.

5. Abstain from making a judgement without knowing the full story.

6. Remind yourself of the shortness of life whenever you feel exasperated with another.

7. Realize that the wrongful acts of others are unable to disturb us if we choose otherwise.

8. Suffering breeds more suffering than its original cause.

9. Show genuine kindness towards others, knowing that this virtue in particular possesses the power to calm even the most crude of individuals.

Click here or on the image above to hear the Meditations (11.8) of Marcus Aurelius being narrated by yours truly. Be free and expand your wings of liberty by sharing relevant quotes in the comment section that complement our capacity to adjust our mindset in view to those who try to harm us.

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Respect Supports Common Ground

“Our own worth is measured by what we devote our energy to.” – Marcus Aurelius

Representatives from all around the world powwow in order to address the major issues pertaining to Global Change but seated at the round table resides an individual without any pertinent expertise. How the guy actually landed himself there is anyone’s guess. His turn comes to speak on a particular topic and so he gabs on about something that has neither bearing nor relevance. As an invested member of this committee it would be rather difficult to respect this person for wasting precious time, resources and funds, as well as detracting from the objectives of the group.

The same can be said of one who starts forest fires or loudly passes wind during the exchange of wedding vows or punches a pedestrian in the face for failing to stop at a red light. Such actions merit disapproval and are quite frankly disrespectful by and large. Mind you there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to respecting our neighbour. Cultures foster different expressions of respect as families praise certain careers over and above that of others.

One of the things to keep in mind when it comes to honour or showing respect resides in the context of the situation and/or environment in which we find ourselves. For example, if you are committed to performing a role within an organization that serves the needs of a community, then you will have to respect the other parts of the system so as to work more effectively and avoid redundancy. The nature of the company will determine to a large extent the sort of respect one ought to demonstrate.

Unfortunately, the more wealthy the business, the greater the conflict of interest, which can have dire consequences and lead to the destabilization of the community at large. Corporate corruption didn’t appear out of nowhere; greed has plagued humanity for centuries. Should you find yourself at the tail end of this machine or at the head of this economic beast, you can stab it all you like in hopes of making the system comply with your wishful thinking, but there are synergistic forces at play that undermine our ability to be respectful in view to the common good.

No matter how advanced or sophisticated or cyborg we become, once we sever that fine line between good and evil, we may discover an endless slew of things far worse than death. And like the reveries of grandiosity and vain-glory that sweeps mankind off its feet, honour and respect dwindle under the superfluous tides that render our earth deplete.

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Avoid Unnecessary Suffering

‘Suffering is neither unendurable nor everlasting, if you keep its limits in mind and do not add to it through your own imagination.’ – Epicurus

Whether grieving loss or separation, or experiencing the tension of fatigue or anxiety, the reins of suffering are softened whenever we put things into perspective and remind ourselves that it’s going to pass. Whereas if we sternly plow through the day, and elbow everything in our way, we add fuel to our impassioned dismay, thus speedily turn the hair on our head into grey.

How many times have we encountered a situation and walked away from it feeling distraught or downhearted, but later realized that we were tired and/or agitated before entering the scene. Knowing the temperature of our emotional intensity before we enter into some kind of action can help us to better deal with whatever should come our may. Continue reading

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Garden of Earthly Delights

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

Hieronymus Bosch, a Medieval Dutch Painter, is renowned for his triptych oil painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. From a fantastic blue horizon he both graciously and uniformly brings the observer into a majestic enterprise that abruptly ends in a bosh of twisted imaginings. As your virtual curator, it will be my honor and pleasure to guide you through this work of art beginning with the beatific simplicities of life and ending in mindless debauchery.

Along the way (as you observe the video above) pay special attention to the objects that appear as ‘spheres’. Notice how they gradually dwindle into absurdity as the story unfolds through this artistic splendour of delights. This feature is by no means part and parcel to Bosch’s work but is more of an introspective exercise by which to elicit and make further connections into the psyche of one who intimately felt the pulse of the zeitgeist. And not just the pulse of a middle age, but that which stretches back to the beginning and onward to the end of times. Continue reading

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Dignity Grounds the Profound

“Wisdom purges our minds of illusion, giving them a substantive dignity while curtailing the sort of dignity that is all empty show.” – Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Based on this quote one might gather that dignity allows for composure and the ability to act appropriately. It also infers that some kind of knowledge is required in order to sustain such a disposition. Seeing that the text is taken from Seneca’s moral letters, we may conclude that the wisdom he is referring to is grounded in virtue. However, it’s not my wish to play the scholar here, nor give dignity a dignified definition as such, but to shed some light on its nature.

So where in the world can we begin to make sense of what it means to possess human dignity? How about we begin by drawing upon an event from our past or we can create a new scenario. So you’re walking down the street when you notice two young lovers in a nasty fight. The boy is telling his girlfriend that she’s a slut for the way she behaved around his associates. She claims that she was only trying to be nice to his friends out of courtesy. He continues to belittle her while shouting to the top of his lungs. Continue reading

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Where Body-&-Mind Meet

“Philosophy consists in keeping the guardian spirit within us unviolated and unharmed, master of pleasure and pain, doing nothing in a random manner and nothing with falseness or pretence” – Marcus Aurelius

It is one thing to say what we want but another matter to actually follow through with it. Regularly exercising our will helps to fortify our ability to take charge. So it’s important to keep our ruling centre unobstructed.

For the ancient Stoic philosophers – who I dearly appreciate for widening our understanding of ethics and cognitive theory – it was believed that the intellect (guardian spirit) resided in the heart. The modern man can scoff at this easy enough, but what if the heart actually plays a significant role in the way we make decisions. Continue reading

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Stand on Guard for Thee

“What are you willing to die for?” “What are you willing to kill for?”

People from all around the world can answer these questions without blinking an eye. Yet few can say as to exactly why, and even less can commit to either or, so what if we minced the extremes, as in what are you willing to die and kill for? This seems to soften the blow, but the intensity remains the same.

Do our cultural programs allow us to ask these sorts of questions honestly, or are we expected to show a little modesty. Should Justin Trudeau address such questions in a private discussion, would his personal opinion affect his office without repercussion.

Neither conservative or in need of a valet, yet the curve in his spinal cord gives him away. He seeds with the red of liberal blood, by which our flag remains a leafy bud. Does duplicity make him unfit to bear the weight of the crown; maybe not, probably so, what do I know, easy come, easy go. Continue reading

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Dignity Remains Steadfast

“People hate you because you proved that dignity is meaningless.” “No one needs to prove it. Everyone knows already. They just pretend not to.” – Dr. Hannibal Lecter

From the mouth of a sophisticated and esteemed psychiatrist, such a ludicrous and misleading sentiment may upon first sight carry some weight. For the naive it can become a core belief by which their world becomes transfixed. Whereas a fully formed monster may be entirely bereft of what it takes to corrupt an individual from the inside out.

You may have noticed that the second quote works to reinforce the argument; namely, that dignity is meaningless. This procedure of informal logic snaps together into a coherent whole, yet it comes apart at the seams because none of the premises stand up under the light of reason.

Nevertheless the words come together ever so eloquently. Its cunning intrigue can be used to lead others in a nonchalant sort of way. After all the road to hell is paved with good intentions; a trite and over used saying, yes, but nonetheless effective should the author wish to guide your attention in a direction that serves his ends. Continue reading

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Living with Congruence

“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” – Gordon A Eadie

We experience personal integrity when what we say, do and believe are in congruence. This doesn’t automatically fall into place, but requires ongoing effort and learning as we enter into new arrangements. Integrity also requires the courage to be true to ourselves, temperance to keep our desires/emotions in line, and justice to maintain healthy boundaries in our relations with others.

Many of us have come to understand our sense of right and wrong, as in our personal ethical framework, through a religious and/or spiritual paradigm. We can’t simply override that part of our selves and expect to be objective and clear in our estimation of things. Neither can we impose our belief system upon another and expect that relationship to be hunky-dory.

However, without good moral principles to guide our interactions with others we come to a standstill. Walls go up and defence mechanisms are employed. Eventually war becomes inevitable on all fronts, from the macro-level to the micro-level, not a stone is left unturned when contentions escalate. Continue reading

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Sharpen the Mind

“At every moment keep a sturdy mind on the task at hand… giving up every distraction, emotional subversion of reason, and all drama, vanity, and complaint… mastery over a few things makes it possible to live an abundant and devout life.” – Marcus Aurelius

There are a number of ways to help keep the mind agile and attentive. Such as reading, writing, physical exercise, appropriate nutrition, and sufficient rest. Finding what works best for us as an individual will largely depend on our capacity to learn and remain engaged in an activity, so tasks that improve upon our ability to concentrate and focus will likely be to our advantage. My goal here is to present a handful of techniques that help me to remain sharp.

Read broadly and actively think about the text. Don’t confuse the practice of reading broadly with surfing the net. It has more to do with carefully choosing content from various sources that will assist us in remaining well-rounded and grounded in view to our responsibilities and roles. Whereas thinking about what we read requires time to reflect and question the material, which includes using our imagination to see how ideas relate and to what end. Continue reading

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